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An Ozarks Heritage Lives On

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
― Gustav Mahler

If you take a look around at any grocery store, waiting room, classroom, cubicle, you name it, it is unavoidable.  Human progress is rolling forward and we’re more efficient than we’ve ever been.  Accomplishing more with technology than our forefathers would have ever thought possible.

In the face of this progress there have been some casualties.  Consumerism makes it perfectly acceptable to trash something your grandpa would have repurposed 3 different ways before ever dreaming of discarding.  Along with the disposable nature of things purchased, the desire, interest, and often work ethic required to physically create something new is almost lost.  Is there anything more appealing some days than to return to a simpler way of life?  What follows is one example to capture a piece of that if you’re willing to commit some time and effort.

While I’ve had interest in reading the work of author Larry Dablemount of Lightnin’ Ridge Publications I have not had time to really pursue recreational reading lately.  An old friend from high school, Bob Schwab brought his works to my attention and his books look like a perfect winter holdover reading.  What fascinated me most however was when Bob let me know he was planning on building his own wooden john boat.  Not being the handy type myself, I was definitely inclined to see someone else try this first. What follows is a simple photographic journal that illustrates what the process of building your own wooden john boat might look like.  

June 14, 2019

“Book says it’s a 16-20 hour job, start to finish. I think that is BS. Kids and I may give it a try. 2 weekends and evenings should get it done.”

June 20, 2019

“Already gathered up some scrap we had laying around and started on our forms.”

June 27, 2019

“Need to fit the front and rear. Then the bottom. Been slow going.”

July 5, 2019

“She is laying out the spacing for screw holes.”

July 17, 2019

“First time flipped upright”

July 28, 2019

“First coat inside and sides.”

July 31, 2019

“100% done.”

August 10, 2019

“In it now.  Paddled upstream from a low water bridge about 1/2 mile. Float back down. No leaks.”

There are some treasures in life that you don’t appreciate enough until they are gone.  Old men and women’s stories of sacrifice that are unthinkable in today’s era of ultra convenience.  Summers with your kids while they’re little and they still like you.  The simplicity of time in nature, without electronic devices, and teaching your kids about things unthinkable in today’s world.  A time when you would and could build your own stuff.  When a scarcity complex was not a psychological condition but just reality.  Living near the river, camping, and catching your dinner.

Our lives have become more complicated but some things lost on the path to progress should not be forgotten.  Efforts like that of Bob Schwab and his family have made to create this wooden john boat are a prime example that we should all look for something we see falling behind.  A tradition or practice of value from days gone past that still has enduring value.  This blog is all about fishing and it’s a tradition in my family that I intend to carry on for generations.  That love and respect for nature will be an enduring tradition to keep close and pass on to others.  Whatever you’re passionate about, whatever you love, find that equivalent in your world.  Then go do more of it!   Whatever you value, hold on to it, teach others, so they may carry it on to others. 




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From Fry to Angler: Bringing Together Family and Fishing Gear


“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

 Jane Goodall

Take a moment and remember being a kid.  Before we became jaded by the real world and when the smallest of surprises would just make your week.  That element of surprise and accompanying joy definitely gets numbed, even lost in adulthood.  One of those pure joys of childhood luckily stuck with me and still provides so much joy and that’s fishing.  I can still remember the lake by my house where countless bluegill and an occasional yellow belly catfish would just as well have been an Amazon adventure to this 6 year old Missouri boy. Family

For some fishing is just a hobby.  A way to kill some time and get away for a bit.  For many of us however, we got our start fishing because of someone important.  Someone took the time to show us we were important to them.  They took us for a walk to the lake or creek, showed us how to cast, bait a hook, and maybe even clean and cook our catch.  Even if it was a bore and you never went fishing again, it was a multi-hour investment of time that many quite frankly are not willing to make in the life of a child in today’s busy world.  That same feeling of being important enough that someone thought of us what From Fry to Angler delivers right to kid’s doorsteps nationwide.  The brainchild of Patrick McAnear, From Fry to Angler provides a Lucky Kid Tackle Box weekly to children all over the country.  Patrick is a passionate angler who wanted to do more.  He’s decided to make a difference with his non-profit that will hopefully play a pivotal role in the development of our nation’s future fishermen!  Always curious to learn more, we had a chance to catch up with Patrick McAnear to learn more.

Tell us about yourself?  Have you always been a fisherman or has that been an interest that’s developed over time? What’s your average day of fishing like? What fish do you target, preferred techniques, flies, etc. ?

I’m Patrick McAnear founder of From Fry To Angler a nonprofit that sends fishing tackle to kids all across America to get more kids involved in fishing. Also put on kids fishing tournament possible doing the worlds first online kids fishing tournament. From the time I was a kid my grandpa, mom, dad and uncle would always take me fishing. Some of my greatest memories are fishing with them when I was a kid. When I’m fishing I target bass I use jigs, drop shot and crankbaits for the most part.

Tells us the story how the nonprofit was started? 

I always fish with my little nephews and little brother when I get the chance.  My little brothers are just as crazy about fishing as I am and I always give them stuff I don’t use or was not planning on using and they love that. That’s when I came up with the idea to give that joy to others and I put together a box with tackle and started a Facebook page to find a kid to send it to Every week I kept making another box and sending it out.  The first few kids where local in Lubbock and then it started to spread across Texas and then New Mexico and just kept going into other states.  Now I’m sending boxes all over the US every week and it just keeps growing. The giveaway keep getting bigger and bigger.  We went from 1 box a week to 4 and I plan on getting as much out as I can. I want to give these kids fishing memories to last a lifetime as well as a reason to just get out of the house. The most touching box I have ever sent out was to a kid whose grandfather had always fished with him.  His grandfather passed away and the day of the funeral he put his favorite lure in his grandfather’s casket. That same day he got his Lucky Kid Tackle Box and some how I put that same lure in the box that he put in his grandfather’s casket!

How can others support your mission and help provide these kits to more kids?

Everyone is welcome to send in Tackle and lures to our P.O. Box that is found on the Facebook page they can also donate via PayPal or even just like and share the page also they can take a kid fishing.

If you had that one person take you fishing as a child, pay that forward!  A small donation of some tackle could not only make a difference in this child’s week but also start a lifelong love of fishing, the outdoors, nature, and more!

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Celebration Saturday: Fishing & Sobriety with Ian Wilson


"So let me get this straight, you spend all that time and money chasing after fish, only to throw them back? "  It's a question I've heard most of my life as others try to understand the appeal of fishing.  Often this line of questioning comes from folks who pay $75 to chase a little white ball in miniature cars after driving all week back and forth to the office.  Or those who drop $20k and countless amounts after that on accessories for their beloved motorcycles.  We all have our passions, interests, and hobbies that truly make life worth living.  Fishing however is much more than just catching fish.  For many it's a form of therapy.  Fishing can, as this HuffPost article aptly describes, make us a better person.

Fishing has always been an outlet for me during the good but especially the challenging times in life.  During middle and high school, I didn't have many friends.  I didn't date girls.  Some of the friends I did have were getting into things that were not good for any of us.  While fishing didn't help me develop social skills at all, it definitely helped me develop an appreciation for nature.  A respect for all living creatures I could demonstrate each time on the water.  I learned how interconnected our world was and that ultimately influenced a belief in intelligent design when I had been an agnostic for years.  The quiet solitude of the shoreline made being a very introverted kid feel at home.
Rapala 10% Off FISH10 125x125

These days, the lake, the forest, the stream, the rivers: they still provide the much desired respite from work, family, and more that can be stressors.  For many, it's the only way to escape the man-made constructs of daily life.  The floruescent light, cubicle walls, and bathroom air dispensors of the office workplace weigh heavy on the human psyche.  Maybe it's that stack of laundry, house cleaning, and the fighting kids at home.  Whatever your reason, fishing is a great stress reliever.  It gets you outdoors, it provides some exercise, time with family, and for those challenged with addiction, it's a healthy habit away from the temptations of alcohol and drug use.

This feature looks at the story of Ian Wilson, a fisheries professional who recently celebrated three years of sobriety by getting an entire day out on the water to chase trout. This was Cinco de Mayo no less of course, one of the biggest party events of the year.  His message below on Facebook I found inspirational and I was curious to learn more about his story.  Lucky for us, Ian was willing to share.

"My amazing wife let me fish all day today to celebrate three years of sobriety.  Three years ago I couldn't have tied a fly to save my life, my hands shook so badly.  Tying has been a big part of my recovery from years of abusing my body with alcohol and drugs.  I highly recommend tying as a form of therapy to anyone in a similar situation.  Thanks for everyone on here's direct and indirect support.  It means a lot.  Tight lines and God Bless!"

Have you always been a fisherman or has that been an interest that’s developed over time? 

I am a seasonal fisheries technician for a government wildlife management agency based in Steamboat Springs, CO. In the winters, I teach adaptive skiing and snowboarding to people with cognitive and physical disabilities for a local non-profit.

I started fly fishing when I was a kid, probably around age 11-12. I fished a lot as a teenager and in my early 20’s, but stopped taking it seriously the more my drinking progressed. Now, living near a fantastic trout fishery has it perks. I get to fish around 150 days per year, even if just for a couple hours after work. I always have at least two rods rigged and ready to fish in my truck at any given time. I don’t subscribe to any one school of fly fishing, I just like to catch fish. More often than not, that means nymphing for trout. I do find dry fly fishing to be the most relaxing for me. Focusing on a drifting fly allows me to quiet my mind like nothing else I’ve found except maybe tying flies.

Below are a few of Ian's own fly tying creations.

Wire bodied soft hackle

Blue Wing Olive Emerger

Variation of a Charlie Craven pattern called the "Two Bit Stone"

At what point did you identify that your drinking was becoming a problem in your life? How did fishing play a role in helping with your sobriety?
I had known that I drank too much for years before I actually stopped. I knew I had to stop when after a doctor visit and routine blood work, my doctor called to tell me that my liver was in bad shape and I seriously needed to consider lifestyle changes. I took me over two years and three treatment centers of struggling to get 90 consecutive days sober. I just celebrated three years on May 5th. I quickly turned back to fishing and fly tying soon after getting sober. I found myself with tons of energy and enthusiasm for life once I wasn’t thinking about getting drunk all the time. Fishing gave me something to wake up early for, to be excited about.

Advice for others in general regarding how fishing can be a positive outlet that can keep them on track in life?
I have heard of people using fishing as a positive outlet in so many different ways, it blows my mind. In my opinion, getting outside, clearing your mind without drugs or alcohol, learning a new skill or method, and getting exercise at the same time is my idea of a perfect day.

Another great example of what's possible when you create new routines and experiences that don't involve alcohol can be found in Mike Fisher's story.  He set a goal to not only catch a fish in every state but to also help others on their path to sobriety in the process.  The film One Cast at a Time below is well worth the five minutes.

There are perhaps no better ways to spend a day celebrating independence from alcohol addiction than to spend it in an activity that helps you stay away from the temptation.  One of my "go-to" responses these days when people ask "why do you love fishing?" is that you can't get into much trouble doing it!  If you're finding yourself needing an escape, want to create a new healthy habit, or are struggling with addiction, fishing maybe helpful in your pursuit.  For actual help with addiction to alcohol, Alcoholics Anonymous can help.  If you're concerned you're seeing the signs, start by talking to your doctor or counselor today!

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Scout spots and hunt fossils to spend time with family in nature.

Nature Family

In Playing for Keeps by Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner, they share a very important data point.

We parents have less than 1,000  weeks from the time our kids are born until they move out of the house. 

Fishing is one activity I’ve incorporated with both my sons over the years as a way to get outdoors and spend time together.  Of course if you’re a serious angler, your kids will not be interested in going as often as you like but you don’t want to miss out on those chances to be together either.  One day in March, I had a few things I wanted to accomplish.  I had already been a good hour into a task when my youngest was bored.  He wanted to do something but just didn’t know what.  It was finally a warm enough day that we had no excuse to be indoors.  I wanted to go fishing but thought a good middle ground would be to scout a local creek for my future fishing and while we’re there, go on an adventure.  We’d try to see if we could find some “fossils”.

I honestly had no expectations of finding real fossils.  I assumed we needed to get out of the suburban area where we live to make any real discoveries but was shocked by what we found in only 20 minutes.  We brought home a bucket just full of fossils, some of which had real bone structures, leaf patterns, and shell impressions in them.  This short jaunt brought on a theme that has followed us all year in our fishing trips.  He wants to go fishing simply for the fossils, dig in the dirt, and just enjoy being a boy in summer.  It’s been such a fun fixture of our relationship I thought a parent or two may want to try this with their own kids.

Missouri doesn’t always have it going on. Few big things happen here outside the world of baseball or beer but we got fossil hunting potential galore. During the Paleozoic era, Missouri and other midwestern states were covered in water, so there’s many marine creature fossils embedded in our soil. As the eras progressed, saltwater seas even ran through southern portions of the state. These seas dried over time and an abundant plant base took root. Your odds are much greater to find plant fossils today as a result. Plant fossils are often found but sometimes you can get lucky finding invertebrate fossils (creatures without bone structures). Brachiopods are the most common to find per Wikipedia. They look like tiny shellfish do their shell shape can be pretty apparent in a rock’s surface to let you know it’s in fact a fossil.

If you want to give this a try with your own kiddos, here’s a few items to help you get started.

Things to bring with you:

Brush or old toothbrush

Bucket to hold water and your fossils later

Spray bottle


Safety Glasses



Features to look out for:

Exposed sandbars in the river

After flooding especially, look at the front slopes of sandbars where the current has carried debris around both or either side of the sandbar.

Rock wing dikes

In addition to being excellent fishing spots along major rivers, they can also collect a variety of rocks and artifacts when water levels are high.  Again the front side of these dikes where the current makes the most contact will often be a spot containing debris when those water levels drop.

Dry streams and creek beds

Disturbed soil near waterways/pathways

Near river beds where higher waters bring through higher flows of current can sometimes wash up fossils.  Sometimes remnants of a more recent period result.  Gas cards and even presidential campaign pins are among the discoveries I’ve made in local rivers growing up.  Sometimes the fossils are much more interesting.  I still recall on a sandbar as a child when a friend found a perfectly shaped arrowhead.  A painful discovery that pierced his foot but that made for a pretty fantastic keepsake and memory (I’m still talking about it 30 years later!).

Low water levels in summer

In creeks like the below, rocks under streambeds will be revealed after the spring rains slow down and elevated water levels recede.  These opportunities are not only a chance for you to scout local creeks but also discover fossils.


Below are just a couple of examples of the fossils we discovered at the above creek.

Make the most of your time together
Bring your phone to maybe snap some pictures but otherwise take this time to explore together. Look for crawfish, minnows, tadpoles, and aquatic insects. Overturn rocks and see what you find underneath. It’s also a great time to find some flat stones and teach them how to skip rocks. These simple things that we took for granted growing up don’t always happen for kids these days. Introduce them to the many ways to entertain themselves without the constant distractions they get in the daily routine.

Observe and share

The excitement of discovery in the eyes of your child is something to behold. As adults we’ve gotten a bit jaded over the years. We see more things online in a day than many of our forefathers saw in their lifetime because of the interconnected, global reach of online mediums. Your child has not gotten there yet. Enjoy that moment of genuine excitement in making discoveries.  Revel in their joy.

Leave it better than you found it
These are the times you can really impart the lessons of respect for nature. There will be others who inhabit this planet after us. Littering is not showing respect and you can show them first hand.

On a recent fishing trip, I explained to my youngest why breaking bottles by the rivers shoreline is dangerous to the other creatures and returning fisherman. After moving down the shore we found a dad and his 20+ year old son breaking bottles! I know this is common sense but Someday you can do this with your son or daughter as long as those who live here show respect, don’t pollute, and disregard our natural resources.

During your spring, summer, and fall, take as many opportunities as you can to get outdoors with your children.  Look for nearby creeks, rivers, and their tributaries with the above mentioned potential fossil features.  You can get some great ideas for where to later fish, teach your kids some basic lessons about nature, and show them they’re important with your undivided attention!

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Fishing fun for the whole family at Kentucky Lake

Fishing fun for the whole family at Kentucky Lake

Kick'n Bass Kentucky Lake Crappie

Our first Adventure Finder location to feature is Kentucky Lake.  Kentucky Lake is known for it's fishing.  Smallmouth, Spotted, Largemouth, White (5lb state record was caught here), and Yellow Bass, Crappie, Sauger, Catfish, you name it.  It's 250 square miles of solid outdoor recreation and is about 200 miles/3 hour drive from St. Louis.

Rich Bay from Kick'n Bass has ran his guide service in Benton, Kentucky for years like his grandfather before him.  He welcomes visitors to come enjoy all that this lake has to offer.  What I noticed about Rich's guide service was the appeal for the entire family.  A variety of fish to catch, comfortable accommodations, and an experienced, knowledgeable guide.  I reached out to Rich to learn more about why he chose to become a fishing guide and learn more about his story.

 1) Tell us your story.  How you got into the profession and why you do it?  

I love to fish and meet new friends! I have fished my whole life. My goal is to share my lake knowledge and fishing techniques with other fishermen to make your day on the water both fun and rewarding. My greatest satisfaction is seeing happy fishermen and women with a big smile on his or her face.

After 20+ years as a fireman I was blessed enough to retire to my favorite place in the world, Kentucky Lake. Following in my Grandfathers footsteps as a fishing guide is a dream I’ve had since I was a boy and now I’m living my dream!!! And now my grandkids are learning. My goal is to share my lake knowledge and fishing techniques with other fishermen to make your day on the water both fun and rewarding.


2) What's been your favorite experience/fish story you've seen first hand as guide?  I'm on the water a lot whether guiding or not, searching for those special areas that attract game fish and finding out the best baits and patterns that work here on Kentucky Lake. I am in the fishing business to pass on things I have learned to you, the angler. Not only will I put you where the fish are, but I will also teach you how and where to use lures and techniques that you may have only read about. Everyday I learn something new, which helps keep my excitement of fishing going.

My favorite story was a family from Louisville, Ky. The dad was a Child head and neck oncologist...tough job. He brought his four children along for a catch whatever bites trip. We fished in a steady rain most of the day. Those kids smiled and laughed and hollered in joy for every fish we caught.  One of the most rewarding trips I've ever had! 


3) What are the fishing opportunities where you guide on Kentucky Lake? When are the best times for a given species? In March I start spider rigging for Crappies until the water reaches to 50+ degrees. At that temp, I start pulling crankbaits for crappies in the deeper bays.   I made this video with Kentucky Afield TV awhile back as an example.

Once May rolls around it's Redear/Bluegill time. When found on their beds there is no better fighting fish...and tasty too! Once June comes in I start casting Steelshad Bladebaits and Ken's Hybrid Spinners for Whitebass and Yellowbass. Then near end of August and beginning of September I switch back to pulling cranks for Crappies. Of course, during all of this fishing, a mixed bag of fish species will be caught. Largemouth, Catfish, Sauger etc.

Paducah, Kentucky is a short 35 minutes or so from Benton where Rich is located.  There is plenty to do in town as part of spring break or an extended weekend trip.  The kids might enjoy the River Discovery Center where they can learn about the importance of rivers to everyday life, especially in the Midwest.

There's plenty of shopping, dining, and a variety of activities in town for the kids between bowling, paintball, roller skating, movies, equestrian sports and more.

There are plenty of great accommodation options for the whole family in Paducah.  A great place to start would be the Holiday Inn.  With a very high Traveler Rank on TripAdvisor and their solid reputation, this is a strong one to consider.

Another highly rated option for consideration in Paducah is the Candlewood Suites.

If you want stay in town near Rich, a simple, low-cost option in Benton for a guys-only fishing trip could be the Benton Inn.

To book Captain Rich for your trip to Kentucky Lake, his contact details are below.

Captain Rich


Facebook: @kicknbassguideservice

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This e-book helps you catch more fish without the distractions.   This is done using a minimalist approach on light tackle targeting proven river structures from the shoreline.

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Variety is the name of the game fishing with Payable Guide Service in Branson.

Variety is the name of the game fishing with Payable Guide Service in Branson.

For our latest edition of Adventure Finder, Bruce Curtis of Payable Guide Service in Branson is a fascinating feature.  To say he wears a lot of hats (now and before his guiding days) is an understatement. Bruce can help you do any of the following and more in Southwest Missouri:

  • Troll for Rainbow and Brown Trout on Taneycomo
  • Bring home a mess of deep water Walleye on Stockton Lake.
  • Catch big Smallies on Table Rock Lake
  • Fly fishing for Rainbow and Brown Trout on the Taneycomo tailwaters.
  • Trolling with divers for White Bass and Crappie on Bull Shoals

1] Tell us your story. How you got into the profession and why you do it? I was born in Cairo Ill. Where the mouth of the Ohio river dumps into the Mississippi. I’m the oldest of five boys and my father had me fishing before I was six years old in the river bottoms of Barlow and Wickliffe Ky. There, we fished primarily for crappie, bass and cat fish. We always had trot lines set and fish along with other wild game was a primary food source. By the time I was 10 years old I was well versed in catching bait of all kinds. We used to strip naked and seine crawfish and minnows out of snake infested ponds and sloughs. I can’t tell you how many times we brought the big 3o’ seine up with an angry snake in it. I remember one time when I was about 12, a big Cotton Mouth came across the top of the water at us. It scared me so bad I threw the seine down and ran. Dad of course killed the snake but it took him about 20 minutes to convince me to keep seining bait that day. When I was in the 3rd grade my dad took a job in the winter as a welder in Jackson, Michigan. He would farm in the summer in Kentucky and weld in the winter in Michigan. Therefore I spent my winters in Michigan and my summers in West Kentucky in the river bottoms. I always started school late and got out early.

I went into the Marine Corp in 1965 upon graduation, spent time in Vietnam and later joined the Army and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. after completing OCS at Ft. Benning Ga. When I got out of the military and after holding various jobs I started a career with the Michigan Department of Corrections where I quickly attained the rank of warden and went on to become the Assistant Deputy Director of the Department. I served 42 years. This job offered me the money and time I needed to fish the Great Lakes and its tributaries as well as other rivers in the Mid South. I joined and held office for the Michigan Charter Boat Association where I met many Great Lakes Captains, conservation people as well as other fishing professionals. I spent so much time on the water my wife told me I should get my Captains License and at least make it pay for itself.

I love spending time on the water as well as meeting new people, especially families. Nothing like seeing families enjoying fishing together and making lasting memories. Families usually keep fish for dinner but I do encourage them to release very large bass and large trout. The way I fish, mostly trolling multiple lines and drifting make it easy for families to catch fish as they don’t have to be expert at handling a rod and reel. Some simple instructions as to how to fight the fish to the boat usually are all that is needed. I do however have professional fly fishermen book with me especially on Lake Taneycomo’s tail waters behind the Table Rock Dam to sight fish big trout. On these trips I strictly focus on placing the boat in various positions for them to place their offering in front of their target. Most of these folks are focusing on large trout and they generally get their pictures and release the fish.


2] What’s been your favorite experience/fish story you’ve seen first-hand as a guide? I have many favorite experiences so I will use a trip on Table Rock Lake this last summer. An uncle and aunt had booked a trip in mid July for their nephew’s birthday. Counting themselves there were five people. When they arrived at the dock at Table Rock State Park boat ramp they were worried because they had been advised the fish were not biting because it had been so hot. Many guide reports had been listing the fishing as slow. Indeed it was hot, the surface temperature had been running 90 degrees during mid day and the water was very clear. They were actually contemplating rescheduling their trip for another time. I spent several minutes explaining to them that I fish differently than anyone on the lake and that the hot surface temperatures were actually to my advantage and they decided to take the trip.

I had my first mate with me who is also a Charter Captain and an excellent boatswain in his own right. Our plan was to fish a bluff that contained 150’ deep water for about a mile stretch. Since we had already been fishing deep water we knew the fish at mid day were running between 45 to 50 ft. down. Fish in Table Rock in hot weather do come in and feed in shallow water very early in the morning after the water has had time to cool all night. Since we started at about 8:45 AM we used divers that run about 25 ft. in 50 ft. of water on a flat about two miles before you get to my targeted area. We were running 8 to 10 lines off my very large home made planer boards. These folks had never seen fishing with large planer boards and were quite intrigued. In about a two hour troll we caught about 6 or 7 fairly nice spotted and small mouth bass and the birthday boy was very excited. When I told these folks the best was yet to come they looked at me rather skeptically. It took us about 30 minutes to change 8 lines to deeper divers as we hit the 150 ft. deep water. These divers were running 40 to 50 ft. deep. The lines hadn’t been set for 15 minutes before we had a hard double strike. What fun two large fish on at once! Both the first mate and I were netting fish while the Garmin Auto Pilot on the kicker motor held the boat on course. For the mile troll and back we caught well over 30 bass of all species with most exceeding 3 lbs. with a couple of smallies over 4 lbs. A couple of times we had 3 fish on at once! Needless to say we had a very excited crew and everyone caught fish. The family kept enough of the smaller keeper bass for dinner and released the rest.


Please note however when it comes to keeping fish its not my call because people have a license and they have paid to go fishing. I will encourage them to release the larger trout and bass but the final decision is theirs. Crappie, white bass, smaller trout and walleye are in the cooler. Trolling deep water is the most effective way to catch large fish especially in the summer.

3] What are the fishing opportunities where you guide? When are the best times for a given species? I guide the three Branson lakes, Taneycomo, Bull Shoals and Table Rock. If someone wants to specifically fish walleye I will guide Stockton Lake as well. Taneycomo may very well be some of the best rainbow and brown trout fishing in the US. A 25lb. brown trout was taken just last fall. That is a monster brown anywhere in the country. Most days people who fish Taneycomo get their 4 trout limit rather quickly.

Keep in mind that from Fall Creek to Table Rock Dam no live bait or power bait or scented bait is permitted and there is a slot limit that does not allow you to keep a fish between 12 and 20 inches. Below Fall Creek you may use any type of bait and keep any size rainbow. Brown trout have to be over 20 inches to keep. Trout are very easy to catch in Taneycomo all year long. Also size and number limits are strictly enforced on Bull Shoals, Table Rock and Stockton Lake.

Crappie and white bass fishing in these lakes is always best in the spring in both pre and post spawn. However, if you find either of these delicious fish in deep water in the summer it can be a bonanza. To find them in deep water you can troll with divers or you can use a bell sinker on the bottom with droppers and your electric motor to probe deep tree tops. If you use this technique be sure to use an extra light wire hook that will straighten out if you hook it into a tree. This way when you pull it free you can bend it back rather quickly and keep on fishing. White bass suspend over very deep flats in the summer where the water is well oxygenated. Once you locate them you can stay on them all day. Both Table Rock and Bull Shoals have some very large crappie and white bass. You can fish bass or walleye all year long. Your success will depend on location and presentation. One of the biggest mistake made for any species is fishing under the fish. Just about all fish strike up except maybe cat fish. Often when people fish walleye they always fish the bottom. Keep in mind the number one prey for walleye is shad. They will set under a school of shad suspended in the water column especially in the summer in deep water. Also keep in mind that walleye usually run to tail waters of dams in very early spring or up into creek arms with gravel. Bass: when you see bass beds which are very easy to spot please don’t fish them. There are plenty other fish to fish for during this time.

When you come to Branson, there is no shortage of available accommodations.  The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks is Traveler Ranked #1 on TripAdvisor but was also more than twice the cost of the following two accommodations at the time of this publishing.

1. La Quinta Inn Branson-Hollister is ranked #2 of 133 properties on TripAdvisor and only about 3 miles from Lake Taneycomo.

2. Comfort Inn is another solid option, ranked #3.

Regardless of where you stay, Bruce Curtis can provide you a variety of great fishing experiences you won't forget!

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The River King Shoreline Fishing Guide

New Cover 3.29.18

This e-book helps you catch more fish without the distractions.   This is done using a minimalist approach on light tackle targeting proven river structures from the shoreline.

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It’s not a man’s world and this is not a man’s sport.

It's not a man's world and this is not a man's sport.

Every day brings a different headline it seems.  A powerful man at the top of his game who thought for decades he was untouchable.  One day his bubble bursts to discover that his improper behavior and dated assumptions about what is acceptable in the workplace are thankfully being questioned and rejected where necessary.  It is not a man's world like that portrayed in an episode of Mad Men.  Also in the world of fishing, it's easy to forget that this is a sport, a hobby, a lifestyle that is open to all.  It's not a man's sport.

I write this piece to encourage parents, dads, and moms alike, that introducing fishing can be instrumental in the development of your girls as well as boys.  What's the real value in fishing with your children?  They will learn the following that they rarely pick up anywhere else in modern society:

1) Learn the basics of how their ancestors sustained themselves catching their dinner from local bodies of water.  Fishing is forming some basic appreciation for today's modern conveniences.  When your children have some inkling of where to start should they need to provide for themselves, the less Kardashian they can become!

2) Learn to appreciate nature.  Nature is therapeutic.  Time alone outdoors can be a solution to many an ill, physical and psychological.  Teach your children so that the next time they're stressed, overwhelmed and rejected by life, or need some release, get them hooked on that long hike among the pines.  Maybe it's a brisk ride on the trail, meditating by a stream, or hauling in that catfish from the river.  The psychological benefits of simply being outdoors can reduce incidents of depression.  We've seen in research that all this time on electronic devices has had an impact.  The before mentioned outdoor outlets and more are far better alternatives to the many distractions that consume our modern youth.

3) Learn conservation.  The resources of this planet do not get refilled like a college dormitory vending machine.  What you enjoy today is a privilege so that it can also be enjoyed by those who next inhabit the planet.  Introduce your children to the concept of stewardship regarding natural resources today and they will have a solid reference point when they learn to steward their own families, financial resources, and more.

4) Show your kids in a visible way that you care.  When you spend the time to be present, intentional, and naturally curious about their lives, they have been validated by the most important people in their lives as young children.  This can be done in a multitude of ways but fishing is yet another one you have at your disposal.  Particularly car rides can be that quality time together.  Turn down the radio, don't bring their tablet, and use the rear view mirror (responsibly!) in conversation with your kids. I've recently enjoyed this book to help me focus on this at home.

Not one bit of this is gender specific.  These are important lessons for our daughters no less than it is for our sons.  Meredith McCord is one of my favorite fishing celebrities.  I really enjoy videos like this below to remind all of us that women can love the outdoors, fishing, hunting, and more.  Show your sons and daughters the basics and see what develops.  You both may be surprised!

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The River King Shoreline Fishing Guide

New Cover 3.29.18

This e-book helps you catch more fish without the distractions.   This is done using a minimalist approach on light tackle targeting proven river structures from the shoreline.

ON SALE $2.99

Patrick Ritter

Patrick Ritter is the founder of River King Fishing, LLC.  Raised near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the outdoors, especially fishing, has always been a passion.

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Cabin Fever cures for the angler and family

Cabin Fever cures for the angler and family

Parenting, Outdoors, Nature

For many, this time of year can be a challenge.  We want to be spending time outdoors with our kids like we see in the image above when we're instead prisoners to the elements.  This winter, in particular, has taken a turn for the worst with only a few days of temperatures above freezing in prior weeks.  The love for Mother Nature among even the most avid of fishermen turns cold quick.  Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) sets in.

To add to the restlessness you might already feel, now your youngsters are bouncing off the walls too!  Children especially are prone to get locked in a distant stare in front of the wall-mounted flat screen TVs.  Their mobile devices can stay glued to their hands and by late morning or early afternoon, you can see the cabin fever is taking its a toll on the whole family.  You're raising your voice, they're anxious for some physical outlet, and both of you are frustrated by the state of the union at home.

Where do you start as a family?  Just a few minutes of planning can help a great deal.  I've spent far too much money in the past by leaving the house and doing something on the fly, just to do SOMETHING.  Make a poor choice doing this and everyone's further frustrated having blown $50-100 and we're still bored 30 minutes later.  Below is a short list to get you started and thoughts on some, not all of them.


Fair to Poor Options

Used video games are not a great option.  Your kids and you need some Vitamin D.  Even getting out of the house, walking the dog for 5 minutes can make a difference.  This encourages more time inside, at home.

Arcades Back in the day, Aladdin's Castle at the mall or your corner arcade could get you a lot of enjoyment for $5.  These days you're often clocking in a dollar per minute of entertainment which adds up real quick for a family of 4 or more.

Parenting, Outdoors, Nature

Strong Options


IF your gym provides daycare, this time could be the release both you and your children need.  Do be sure at gym daycare to bring plenty of hand sanitizer. One winter, we seemed to have our boys get pink eye every single time we went.

Games and Puzzles

Another solid option here.  It's far too rare to have 30 minutes to an hour with your kids uninterrupted.  That's often our fault too by the way so turn off your devices at the outset of the games!


The economical option is also the smart and social option.  They may learn something from the smart kids!  Train tables and other activities can sometimes be found there to encourage these interactions.  Plenty of computers here too but again, not why you're there.

Batting Cage

Even if your kids are not into baseball, it's a great deal of fun for the family.  Everyone gets the opportunity to exercise, maybe improve their hand-eye coordination, and most of all spend time as a family.


Some examples might be working in a soup kitchen or visiting a nursing home.  Resources like Volunteer Match can help make this process easier too.

Your church is often in desperate need for help in a variety of different services.  Just ask and you will be surprised to find the variety of opportunities there are to serve as a family.

Don't forget fishing!  

Winter Trout Fishing

While many lakes are frozen now, winter trout programs are available in many states where fishing is slow or non-existent during cold months.  Check with your state's conservation or natural resources department to see what's available.  Often urban lakes where trout would never be found naturally and can't be sustained through summer will be stocked providing access.  Rainbow trout are a great fish species to introduce your kids to fishing.  Stocked fish are often less wary/easily caught, beautiful to behold, and put up a respectable fight.  A child's first rainbow trout can be the experience that gets them hooked on fishing for life!

Ice Fishing

A variety of species can be caught ice fishing.  The upper Midwest is more known for this activity, catching healthy populations of walleye, crappie, trout, catfish, etc.  This may be the first winter in years where this is realistic in Missouri but do play it safe and get the right gear.  An auger helps to start.  The Missouri Department of Conservation can go far further in depth from there to help you get equipped and stay safe with the below info.

Speaking of getting equipped, retail therapy is real for anglers too!

Fishing Retail Therapy

For an angler, this time of year is especially brutal.  Fear not fishing brethren and sistren, we indulge in retail therapy just like our spouses.  If you got some gift cards from a major retailer, carve out some time and try to make it family time.  Get a meal before or after, a movie, or you may be surprised how much fun you have just hungout in the store.  At Bass Pro Shops we killed at least 30 minutes at the tank alone learning about the fish species of Missouri.

Parenting, Nature, Outdoors, Fishing Tackle

1. Now that you've got some ideas, do a few quick searches near you to confirm the costs of your activities.

2. Propose three choices to the kids to see what's their preference (rock paper scissors on disagreements)

3. Try to reset everyone's attitude upon leaving the home.  You want the frustrated, wall-climbing, and restless state of the home to stay there until you all recharge your batteries.

Get out, be engaged and intentional with your family to beat cabin fever this winter!

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The River King Shoreline Fishing Guide

New Cover 3.29.18

This e-book helps you catch more fish without the distractions.   This is done using a minimalist approach on light tackle targeting proven river structures from the shoreline.

ON SALE $2.99

Patrick Ritter

Patrick Ritter is the founder of River King Fishing, LLC.  Raised near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the outdoors, especially fishing, has always been a passion.