Friday, September 18, 2020

Catfish on Norfork



      Most all waters in the Midwest have catfish, but if you want to eat some, you should go after those in ponds, lakes or rivers that are not muddy or of substandard water quality. 


      Preparing for a fish-fry event coming up this
weekend in Houston, Mo involving a class reunion, I needed some good-to-eat channel catfish so I chose Norfork Lake in North-Central Arkansas as the place to go after them.  It is a clean, clear lake, and my old friend and fellow outdoor writer Jim Spencer lives there. Jim catches more catfish than any Arkansawyer I know. 


      I took Michelle James with me.  Michelle is the assistant publisher, and editor of my magazines, and advertising executive too. She, --are you ready for this-- had never been fishing in the Ozarks, and had never caught a catfish.  How can you rely on someone who has never caught a fish?


      Well last week she caught a bunch of them, catfish and some big bluegill as we fished an afternoon on Norfork Lake from Jim’s pontoon boat, over a hole he had baited with calf-food pellets. The first catfish she caught was between three and four pounds and Michelle was delighted.  Jim netted it for her and minutes later she landed a big pan-sized bluegill.


      As I said, I can’t have an employee of mine not having fished and hunted, but then again, Michelle is compiling and editing and writing for a magazine I publish called the Journal of the Ozarks. It doesn’t deal with hunting and fishing, but with the history and people of the Ozark country.  The next issue will be the 13th we have published, but I lost my editor last year and Michelle is working on the edition about to come out.  If you love the Ozarks and like to read about old time stuff in the region, call my office (417-777-5227) and we’ll mail you one.


      Photos from the catfish trip on Norfork will be out soon in a picture story inside my outdoor magazine, fall issue.  You can call the same number to get that magazine also.


      I paid for that fishing trip with a certain amount of continuing pain between the third and fourth finger on my right hand, where I got spined by a fiddler-sized channel catfish.  Channel cat have those barbels on their sides behind the gills and they are sharp, with jagged spikes on the trailing edge.  You would think, as many times as I have been skewered with those, that I would have been more careful.  All catfishermen know that pain those barbels will inflict, and it continues.  No hornet, not even a scorpion can equal it.  Now there is a hole and a slight infection between my fingers and it won’t go away for a week.  There must be something to what old-timers say about a poison around those spines.  But it is also said that if you immediately take the slime from the body of the catfish and rub it on the wound it will subside the pain and hinder any infection.


      Here is a good place to change the subject. I wrote a column several years ago predicting that western fires would become more terrible and tragic as years passed. And I also said that immigrants who hate our country would use those fires as terrorist attacks.  Some more leftist-type readers made fun of that column, going so far as to ask newspapers to drop me as a columnist. 


      This week after a huge fire that caused death and destruction and the evacuation of tens of thousands out west, authorities arrested an illegal immigrant woman whom they caught setting fires out there.  You would think it can’t get worse, but it will!  The land of milk and honey is out of both! The hurricanes, the floods, the tornadoes, etc, etc, will all get worse.


      Some readers have asked my opinion on ‘climate change’ and I will write a little bit on that next week or the week after.  The climate is only part of the change that hurts people. People change may destroy the cities.  The biggest disaster may be just that, the coming “people change”!


      Mankind may not survive in the great increasing herds we live in if we attempt to reverse what we have done. If you have climbed out on a great long limb, you just can’t saw it off. I have written about seeing what we have done to the rivers here in the Ozarks.  If we can’t reverse that, what can we reverse?


      Some of my views as a naturalist that has lived close to the earth far from the gret herds inside concrete and pavement for a lot of years will be upcoming.  But so will the hunting and fishing and nostalgia columns readers also like.

I will use your letters in my magazines, whether you agree with me or not.  Just send them to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.


      I don’t live in that town, but it is where I go to get my mail, ten or so miles away.  However, if you email me at, I can read your letters out here in the woods.  Ain’t technology great?  That’s what Grandpa told me he said when they invented the Model T! Until one of them ran into his horse!!


Tuesday, September 8, 2020


Larry Dablemont outdoor column  9-4-20

       Some years back I took a pair of northerners on an Ozark float trip and in mid-afternoon dark clouds began to form to the west, with the ominous roll of thunder in the distance. I knew of a big, deep cave nearby with a dry floor, so I secured the boat in a protected spot and we carried our gear up to the cave.

       One of the men wanted to keep floating, thinking the storm might miss us, and confident that if it didn’t, we could be a least a mile or so downstream before it got to us.

I told him that when on the river in a coming storm, I live by the rule, “It is better to sit in a cave and wait for the storm than to sit in the storm and look for a cave!”  We spent about an hour and a half in the cave that afternoon listening to a raging electrical storm with heavy winds, rain and even some hail. When we left, the skies were clearing and the afternoon calm again.

       A strong fear of lightning is known as keraunophobia, which makes me a keraunophobic. I can endure the rain, and you can prepare somewhat for a tornado no matter where you are, but lightning is unpredictable and awesome in its power. People who ignore the danger of lightning often become part of the statistics.

       For instance, statistics show that lightning kills more people than hurricanes tornadoes or floods. Death from lightning does not always come from a direct strike; it can happen as a result of the spread of voltage through the ground or water.  People in boats on lakes or rivers are perhaps in the greatest danger from lightning, especially if the boat is metal. But there is also great danger to anyone holding a fishing rod or firearm, or anyone taking shelter beneath high trees.  A lightning bolt can be two miles long, and travel at speeds of 400,000 miles per hour, with 100 million volts of electricity and temperatures of 30,000 degrees.  I read that somewhere… I didn’t come up with it through any scientific investigation on my own.

       A half dozen times in my life outdoors I have been within 100 yards of powerful lightning bolts, and when I was a teenager I was flattened by a lightning strike beneath a river bluff as I was heading for its protective shelter. Authorities say that too many people wait for the main burst of the storm before taking shelter from lightning. Casualties seem to be greater during the weaker storms and at the beginning or end of heavier storms, suggesting that less caution is taken when it appears the danger hasn’t yet arrived, or has passed.

       So don’t fool around when you see a storm approaching. Get to the best shelter you can find and don’t “make a run for it” across an open lake or down a river. Lightning does have a good side. It converts nitrogen in the air to an oxide that falls to the earth with the rain and fixes nitrogen in the soil, without which, there would be no green growth.

       I often tell the story of my admiration for mark twain, who was born under the passing of Haley’s Comet, and then died about 80 years later when Haley’s Comet passed a second time, he passed away.  I would like to think he and I had much in common, except for the fact that he never was as good a duck hunter and smallmouth fisherman as I.  But on the night I was born, in a little farmhouse way out in the sticks near Yukon Missouri by the light of a kerosene lantern, a raging thunderstorm was going on and lightning hit the farmhouse just when I came into the world, killing a couple of chickens in the other room!  So, with my figuring that my life parallels Mark Twain’s as it does, I fear that I will leave this world riding a bolt of lightning.  When I see a dark cloud, I marvel that one has not already nailed me, and wonder if that brewing storm may be the one with my name on it.  Mark Twain didn’t have to worry like that because back then; no one had the slightest idea when Haley’s comet was coming back!!

If you aren’t a subscriber to my magazine, the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, you are missing some great reading.  Call me at 417 777 5227 and I will sign you up.  To see it and all of my books, (ten in all) visit my website if you haven’t already…  Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email me at