Saturday, May 7, 2016

Record Holders, and A Fish Fry -- 5/2/16

This is surely an alternative method record, a big bass caught by 7 year old Jack Luraas

-->         I think it was back in the 1950’s or 60’s that some good ol’ boys down in Kentucky got to yearning for fishing fame, and therefore figured out a way to have their names in the record books.  From some lying and paying off the right people they were soon the proud possessors of two world records.  One was a fictitious walleye weighing 25 pounds and a fictitious smallmouth bass at 14 pounds. 

         Trouble is, one of them had a conscience and when he got old he started thinking about how all that deception would play with St. Peter, whom he was getting closer to meeting on a first person basis.  So he spilled the beans and the records were cleared from the record books.

          Now the Missouri Department of Conservation has made it possible for perhaps hundreds of Missourians to get their names in the state’s record books in an honest though somewhat questionable manner, and someone has already taken advantage of it.  He is in the newly formed fishing record book with a three-pound white bass, a good two pounds smaller than thousands of other big white bass caught from Missouri waters.  I imagine in my lifetime I have caught a hundred white bass weighing four pounds or better myself.  Caught four of them in one night!  

         Many years ago when I was guiding fishermen on Bull Shoals I took a Nebraska fisherman out in May and he caught a five pound, two ounce white bass under the lights on a shad.  His name is Gary Butts, and he now lives down at Branson and is a well-known taxidermist.  I don’t know who caught the three pounder that was touted as an ‘alternative-methods’ record.  The MDC has just created that category and the three- pound white bass is a record for trotline fishermen since the fish of mediocre size was caught on a trotline!

         Now you probably know that you do not set trotlines for white bass or walleye or black bass or crappie, you set trotlines for great big catfish weighing 20 or 30 pounds.  Back in 1967 my old college buddy Darrel Hamby, and I caught a largemouth bass on a trotline that weighed almost eight-pounds and when we ran the line the bass was dead.  Today that bass would be a state record under the new alternative methods category.  Heck, anything you catch on a trotline now can probably be a record fish, say a one-pound crappie or a two-pound walleye, a three-pound bass.  For awhile anyway.

         But who cares!!!   What ARE all the alternative methods?  Can we include jug fishermen and cane pole fishermen… how about limb-line fishermen?  How about someone who catches something on a chunk of baloney, or a piece of cheese? That’s pretty alternative compared to a minnow or a night-crawler. If you grab a yeller sucker with a treble hook this spring is he a new record too?  If you bow-shoot a gar now or a carp, call the MDC and tell them about it because that’s got to be some kind of record, at least for awhile.  Alternative methods!

         Not many fishermen are going to want to get their name in the record book for catching a little old eight-inch green-sunfish on a trotline, or a ten-inch goggle-eye, but you can bet somebody will.  I think maybe up at Jeff City they may have some employees who don’t have much to do. Now they will.  Call in those alternative method fish you catch but be careful about it.  You don’t want to call in a two-pound smallmouth that you gigged. That’s illegal. And I would say dynamite is not considered an alternative method.

         I’d hate to say I caught another bass on a trotline.  But I caught a big eel once on a trotline and I caught an Ozark hellbender on a limb-line.  There’s two good alternative records right there that might never be broken. 

         We have a Missouri Sports Hall of Fame that has hundreds and hundreds of people in it. Lots of them didn’t grow up here and don’t live here now, they just played a sport in St. Louis or Kansas City and then got the heck out of Missouri.  Lots of the actual Missourians, no one has ever heard of. 

         They need to dedicate a wing to Missouri fishermen, and include those alternative methods folks who catch eels and hellbenders, black perch and punkinseeds… and white bass on trotlines!!  Now there’s you some hall-of-famers!

         I speak all over the Ozarks to various groups but as I remember I have never had a speaking engagement in my hometown of Houston, Mo. On May the 13th I will speak to a group at 1:00 oclock at the Catholic Church.  I understand it is open to the public and it doesn’t cost anything, so you can come and join us if you live close to Houston and can find the Catholic Church.  I will give away a bunch of my magazines and sell and sign my books. If you already have some of them you can bring them over and I will sign them for you.  I have no idea what I will talk about that day and may not know until I get there!

         If you want to come to a big fish-fry dinner, write this date and address down… Saturday, May 21 at the Panther Creek Lodge and acreage, 7140 SE 1200 Road, Collins Mo..  That is out in the country four miles southwest of Collins about forty miles north of Springfield just off Highway 13.  I am doing this to show our place for underprivileged children to all those who want to see it. 

         The old 1880’s iron bridge there is a real historic attraction, but boy are we going to have a big dinner that day.  We will eat between 1 and 2 p.m. and I need to know who is coming because I don’t want to be short of food.  So if you can come, write a postcard telling me how many there will be, to Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.  Or you can email me at  You can even call my secretary, Ms. Wiggins at 417 777 5227 and tell her you are coming.  And if you need a map we’ll get one too you.

         But again, we intend to have fresh fish and baked beans and cold slaw (as opposed to warm slaw) and baked potatoes and dessert and coffee, tea or soda.  You can see what a predicament I will be in if….  1. Nobody comes.  2. A whole bunch of people come that I am not expecting… or  3. If it rains.   In case of number 3, we will postpone it until the next Saturday. 

         There will be no charge for the dinner, but if you wish to make a donation to help us run this place, there will be a bucket at the door for your donation. And if there are any ladies out there who wish to bring any kind of dish or dessert, I welcome it.   If I make a pie on Friday I sometimes eat all of it before Saturday gets here.

         I am really hoping that area churches will send youth counselors to see this beautiful place on Panther Creek, and then use this 70 acre-outdoor education center and retreat with enough cabins and beds for up to 20 kids at a time. We have a wonderful place to bring kids who have problems, or boys without fathers…COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE. 

         My hopes for the future for these kids involves hiking trails, a shooting range, a trout pool, a sports field, canoes and kayaks on the creek, swimming and fishing on a clean gravel bar, special speakers and gravel-bar bonfires at night and many other things.   Some of my own friends will be there to help and all are good Christian men I know very well.  And I will always be there myself, anxious to talk to kids about nature and conservation.

Hope you can join us on May 21.  Come and spend the whole day.

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