Enjoy MISSOURI’S GREAT OUTDOORS this September

  • Hike and Explore the Deer Trails
  • Hang Your Tree Stands
  • Enjoy Watching the Bird Migrations
  • Fall is On-The-Way
Acorns are not the only thing you’ll find walking the September trails.

By Larry Whitely

August has been unusually mild and wonderfully cool and comfortable here in Missouri.  Some mornings call for a light jacket and pants instead of shorts and t-shirt.  It has felt more like late September or early October.  I didn’t hear anyone complain about the weather.

Most years, September can still be hot, muggy and buggy here in Missouri, but this year the weatherman is telling us to continue to expect even cooler weather than we had in August.  Here in southwest Missouri they are even predicting some nights in the 40s.  Lake water temperatures have already dropped into the low 70s in some places.

After Labor Day the summer crowds will be gone from our local lakes and rivers, and the waters will be quieter and more enjoyable.  Because of this cooler weather, fish are starting to become more active and fattening up for the long winter months ahead.  It’s a great time to stock the freezer with fish to enjoy on the cold days to come.

Mornings are beginning to chill early this year.

If you don’t fish, it’s a great time to paddle around the lake or go float a river.  Maybe stop for a rest on the bank or gravel bar and build a campfire to sit around to relax and enjoy the flickering flames.

The cooler weather has also got the squirrels busy storing nuts sooner than usual.  The whitetail deer coats are changing from reddish brown to gray.

If you’re a hunter it’s time to get ready or go hunting.  Dove hunting opened September 1st and teal season opens September 9th.  

A handful of delight for our wildlife abounds this year.

Deer and turkey archery season opens September 15th.  Firearms turkey goes from October 1st to the 31st.  If you’re one of the lucky ones that head west to hunt, the majestic elk are waiting, so are the mule deer and pronghorn antelope.

This cooler weather will also make all your preparations for the hunting seasons a lot more tolerable than usual too.  Now you can make sure you can get those deer stands up and blinds set, get in more bow practice, make sure your rifle or shotgun is properly sighted, and get all your gear inventoried and ready.

If you are not a hunter but love to camp don’t put away your camping gear yet.  Campgrounds are a lot less crowded than summer days.  Sometimes you may even have the whole place to yourself.

The cooler September weather this year is also great for hiking the multitude of trails Missouri has to offer so get out there and enjoy. There’s no better way to get the exercise we all need and enjoy nature’s beauty at the same time.

Birds tell us that fall is at hand long before our human senses detect it. At wetlands and marshes throughout the state, shorebirds are already beginning to head to more exotic places than here.

Bird watching trips might offer the opportunity to see migratory birds that you don’t normally see at any other time of year in Missouri.

A cool and foggy September morning.

The bug-eating Purple Martin’s are growing restless and some are already bound for their winter home in Brazil.  Hummingbird feeders are suddenly abuzz with hummers energizing for their long flight south.

Other winged creatures sensing the cooler weather are also on the move.  Bats flutter and dive through the early night sky consuming the last of the insect crop.  What few Monarch butterflies we still get coming through Missouri are getting ready to begin their incredible journey to Mexico or have already left.

Leaves are turning on the Dogwood trees.

The buckeye tree has already lost most of its leaves, but a few buckeyes might still cling to the bare branches.  I was always told a buckeye in your pocket brings you good luck.  Maybe I need to make sure I have one in my pocket for deer season.

Papaw and persimmon trees have fruited and will soon be ripening for the enjoyment of the wildlife, and those of us humans who still enjoy them too.  Acorns are also falling to the ground, much to the delight of the squirrels, chipmunks, deer, turkey and other critters. 

The leaves of poison ivy and Virginia Creeper vines have begun to turn a crimson red.  So have the leaves of our Missouri State tree, the Dogwood.  The rest of the trees will soon follow with their special colors to give us the glorious fall kaleidoscope of colors that awaits us in October.

All of these are signs that summer is almost gone and come September 22nd it officially is.  Now, let’s just hope the weatherman’s predictions are accurate and we can get out in this year’s cooler September weather and enjoy Missouri’s great outdoors.

  

WHERE TO FIND MISSOURI JACK SALMON

  • Secrets to Finding and Catching Jack Salmon
  • Hot Lures can be Simple Lures When They Work
  • Missouri Fishing With a Special Friend   

By Larry Whiteley

Daron Whiteley and keeper Jack Salmon.

Many years ago during a beautiful spring in the Missouri Ozarks, a good friend of mine, Bob Nelson, invited me to go fishing with him for a fish he called “Jack Salmon”.  I had never heard of such a fish so I went along mainly out of curiosity.

He took me north to Stockton Lake and a creek called Turnback.  We walked up creek and found this fish with the funny name as they headed upstream to spawn.  Casting spinner rigs and spoons the fight was a whole lot of fun in the swift water.  We caught our limit and the fish weren’t the only thing hooked that day.

Just when I thought this special day was over and it couldn’t get any better, it did. Bob fileted the fish, started a campfire on a gravel bar, pulled a cast iron skillet from his truck, added some lard, cut up some potatoes and onions, opened a can of beans, covered the filets with cornmeal and cooked up a meal I still remember over 40 years later.

A plate of delicious Jack Salmon.

Unless you are as old I am, if you tell someone you are going fishing for Jack Salmon they will probably look at you kind of funny.  Today most of us know them as the delicious, fun-to-catch walleye.

When you talk about walleye most fishermen think of the legendary fishing in the Dakota’s, Minnesota, Wisconsin and several of our northeastern states.  They might also think of the fabulous walleye fishing on Greer’s Ferry Lake in Arkansas or Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee.

And I, like many of you, have made several trips to fish legendary Canadian lakes for walleye.  The next time I go, I’m going to ask them if they have ever heard of a Jack Salmon.

Sometimes I wonder why I ever go out of state after walleye.  We have some really good walleye fishing right here at home.  In fact, the Missouri state record is 21.1 pounds, caught in 1988 at Bull Shoals Lake by Gerry Partlow.  That’s bigger than 90% of the famous walleye states I just mentioned.

Walleye are native to some areas of Missouri and in some waters they naturally reproduce.  However, in most of our large and small lakes, and reservoirs as well, as some streams and rivers they have to be stocked to keep up with fishing pressure.  The Missouri Department of Conservation started stocking walleyes in the 1970s and now stock 1.2 million a year all over the state.

Lakes that receive walleye stockings include Bilby, Bull Shoals, Jacomo, Lake of the Ozarks, Longview, Long Branch, Mozingo, Norfork, Pomme de Terre, Smithville, Stockton, Table Rock, and Truman.  The Mississippi, Black and Current Rivers are also known for good walleye fishing.

During the spring, walleyes will run up rivers and streams that flow into or out of a lake to spawn.  Just like they were doing the day Bob Nelson took me fishing for Jack Salmon.  They can also be found in areas of lakes with gravel or rip rap where they will also spawn.

Wherever you go walleye fishing in Missouri, make sure you check the season, length and possession limits of the water you are fishing because they can vary.

If you are new to walleye fishing, just realize it won’t be easy.  If you’re willing to go without a little sleep, that’s good.  Walleye feed actively at night.  If you don’t mind bad weather, that’s good too.  Walleye will sometimes bite the best when the weather isn’t best.

There are other times you can catch walleye.  Early morning, low-light conditions from a half hour before to a few hours after sunrise are also good.  I have better luck though, fishing a couple of hours before sunset to right up until dark sets in.

A dark, cloudy day is usually always good because the fish will sometimes feed all day.  If it is a bright sunny day they will be at 20 feet or more trying to get away from the sunlight that penetrates the water.

Spoons, crankbaits and plain jigs, or jigs tipped with a minnow or nightcrawler, are good most of the time.  Nightcrawlers and leeches work well on slip-sinker rigs. Trolling at 1 to 1.5 mph can also be effective.

Anna Whiteley with a Stockton Lake Jack Salmon a little under the size limit, the fish was released without harm.

Last year on Stockton Lake, my grandson Hunter, granddaughter Anna and I, did exceptionally well catching walleye.  We used 1/8 ounce Roadrunners with gray shad bodies and hammered willow leaf silver blades.  My son, Daron, caught his walleye with a crappie spinnerbait.

Walleye are usually not going to hit your bait hard.  When they take it, you might just feel a hesitation or a little bump and think your bait just ran into something.  That hesitation or bump just might be a Missouri Jack Salmon and you better set the hook.

To learn more about Jack Salmon, I mean walleye fishing, in Missouri, go to the Missouri Department of Conservation web site and search for walleye.