Fishing, Family, Fun and Country Music! All in Branson, Missouri

Lake Tanneycomo in Branson, Missouri, is full of trout surprises!

  • Country Music, Nature Trails, Fishing, Great Food, Museums, and the Aquarium on the Boardwalk.
  • Klondike-like gold rush music boom started in the 1980s – it’s even better now.
  • The Osage Indians were first here in Branson. Perhaps they were drawn here by the fantastic fishing. 
The History of Fishing Museum in Branson offfers more than 40,000 historical fishing items on display. These early Rapala lures are a collector item of great interest. David Gray photo

By David Gray

My old friend Larry Whiteley asked me if I could describe Branson, Missouri, in just three words. I said, “Sure! Fishing, Family, Fun.”  Grinning his usual warm-hearted smile, Larry said, “So true. I especially like that Branson is neatly nestled in these Ozark Hills. The four seasons add color twice a year, too. Even better, I like the many Grade-A fishing lakes and streams we have nearby – bass, crappie, trout. But you know, honestly, there is so much more to Branson that many folks never see.”

At a recent outdoor media conference event, Larry handed me a Branson Visitors Guide, and I took a day to explore more.  I found Country Music, Nature Trails, Live Entertainment, Attractions, All-Day Adventures at Silver Dollar City, Camping, Golfing, Friendly people, Great food, and Museums. Don’t overlook that last one.   

Family fun deserves a visit to the Branson Centennial Museum. The Museum guidebooks share that kids who learn history in school have many questions when touring historical displays.   

Some things I learned at the Museum: The Branson Hills were blessed with music long before the music theaters sprang up.  Before modern settlement, the Branson area was home to the Osage Indians, the original local music stars.

The Osage were well-known and admired for their extraordinary music and style of dancing.

Today, area tackle shops offer trout flies, guide services, advice, and tackle rental if needed. Understanding the history of this area, you might wonder how the Osage Indians fished here. Forrest Fisher photo

In 1839, the first couple to settle in Branson was Calvin and Cassandra Galyer. Calvin was 15, and Cassandra was 14. Cassandra raised 11 children. Calvin was a gunsmith, and during the Civil War, he was sought by both sides as a gunsmith. When their home burned, the family hid and lived in a cave so Calvin would not be taken away by the North or South for his gunsmithing skills.   

Cassandra stared at the Branson cemetery as a final resting place for fallen soldiers of both sides. None of the graves were marked Union or CSA, as Cassandra did not want the graves desecrated by the other side.  

When European settlers arrived, they brought their fiddles, and the hills and hollers enjoyed the evening front porch music sessions.   Each evening, the picking and playing echoed among the hills.

After the war, more settlers arrived in the Branson area. It took long days of hard labor to make a living by raising cotton, tomatoes and tobacco. Doing the wash was physical, and the phrase “Wash Day” was literal, as it took all day to do the family wash. The Museum displays include the earliest washing machines. 

More recently, Branson was labeled a Country Music Phenomenon when a Klondike-like gold rush music boom started in the 1980s. Country Music stars visiting the Branson area fell in love with the Hills and Hollows, the residents, and the natural beauty here. They decided to build theaters and move to Branson to perform. 

The first music performer in the area was Box Car Willie. Box Car loved being in the Ozarks and invited Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn to perform with him.   

The Ozark Hills of Branson quickly became a must-do destination for country music lovers. 

Today, the Branson country music passion has grown to 24 live music theaters, and also offering music of every genre.  

Fishing in the Ozarks has always been an attraction.  First, the Osage Indians, then the early settlers, and later, anglers from many places have been drawn to the exceptional fishing for many species, including Bass, Crappie, Walleye, Trout and White Bass. 

Hi-tech bass fishing has a welcome home in Branson, Missouri. Professional angler, Jimmy Zaleski, prepares for a day on the water at Chateau on the Lake Resort and Hotel.  Forrest Fisher photo.

Today, the area’s lakes, rivers and streams offer unlimited fishing opportunities. Some of the best fishing guides provide a variety of trips on Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake, and the trout waters of Lake Taneycomo flow right through downtown Branson. Easy fishing is fun fishing.  

The most famous Branson area angler is Jim Owens, who is credited with creating the first commercial float fishing service, the Jim Owen Boat Line. Jim offered tailored floats up to 10 days long. Celebrities from all over the world came to float with the Owens Boat Line. Today, you can easily find many artifacts and photos of the Owen Boat Line around Branson, including some of the old fishing tackle in the downtown Branson Bass Pro Shops.   

Then there is the History of Fishing Museum. If you love fishing, take advantage of a side trip to the History of Fishing Museum. It is a beautiful attraction with 40,000 historical fishing equipment and items on display.   

Fishing tackle from the Stone Age to the modern era is displayed in an easy-to-follow walk-through tour. Even more astonishing to learn is the value of some of the rare collectible items. 

Want to see the first-ever modern bass boat? Here is a hint: it is a 1949 Skeeter on display at the Museum. Have you ever heard of the Spike Reel, a Haskell Fish Hook, the Snyder Reel, a Buel Trolling Spoon or the Comstock Fly Hellgramite? These rare pieces are all on display. Every old tackle box probably has a Rapala minnow in it. The Museum has one of the first Rapala lures. It was made with silver foil salvaged from chocolate wrappers.  

This complete set of original James Heddon lures was very popular many years ago. David Gray photo.

In your garage, there may be something worth a lot of money. Ever heard of a Kentucky Tackle Box? It is a rare metal tackle box that collectors today will pay a lot of money to acquire.  One of these is displayed at the Museum, and you can learn to identify one there.

Ever heard of Phillipp? It was a company that made popular trout flies. The company also made a few, very few, trout fly rods. Only three are known to exist. If you see an old bamboo-looking fly rod at a garage sale and the label is Phillip, buy it. Some say it would bring $100,000 to a collector!

I can’t wait to return to Branson with my family for the fishing, the fun, and now that I know – the museums!  Below, don’t miss one of the latest attractions on the Boardwalk: The Aquarium. This facility offers a virtual 3D submarine adventure ride as you are guided through the maze of displays by Aquarius the Octopus and Finn the Pufferfish. 

The Aquarium at the Boardwalk is one of the newest things to do in Branson, Missouri, and is unlike any other aquarium in the country. Forrest Fisher photo


Calling ALL Professional Outdoor Communicators   

  • Conference Event for Outdoor Storytellers: June 12-15, 2023 – Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
  • Learn “How-To” create Social Media links that generate Effective Distribution Relationships
  • POMA members “Network with Industry” at this Annual Meeting/Learning Session

By David Gray

The Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) is a vibrant group of communicators that share content-creation ideas and foster teaching moments about the modern, changing world of the outdoors.

The POMA Conference is a networking and friendship-making opportunity for Writers, Bloggers, YouTubers, Videographers, Website Contributors, Podcasters, Radio Show Hosts, Outdoor Industry Brands and Social Media Influencers who create and share stories, information, and content about the wonders of the outdoors and outdoor sports recreation. It’s a modern, changing world of outdoor communication, POMA has become a solitary leader in the new world of outdoor communication. Register Here.

Come visit with members from who will be at the POMA Business Conference, June 12 – 15, 2023, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Industry veteran Whitebeards, Larry Whiteley and David Gray, would like to meet and visit with you. Check out to learn more about their outdoor outreach.

At the annual business conference, seminars from talented communicators share tips, ideas and how-to information on how to do what you do to develop greater impact and reach.  All this takes place at the Professional Outdoor Media Association business conference from June 12 – 15.  The largest prize for attendance may be to network with representatives from Outdoor Brands and communicators from other regions of the country. Try new products, learn about new products and gather desirable information to share with readers, listeners and viewers. Check out the POMA Social Media Tool Kit.

If you are a communicator with many years in the business, or if you are just starting out, the POMA business conference is an event made for you. Make friends, and new contacts, and learn tips while you participate in a relaxed, enjoyable, effective business conference. Leave with helpful knowledge and new contacts that will help your purpose.

The Keynote Speaker this year is Col. Nick Nichols of Folds of Honor. Folds of Honor provides life-changing scholarships to the spouses and children of fallen or disabled U.S. service members and first responders. Toyota is a cornerstone ingredient and manufacturer for powered adventure in the form of flawless adventure vehicles and engines. Toyota is sponsoring the POMA Pinnacle Awards for best content creation among POMA members.

The POMA business conference is all about the POMA mission.

POMA Mission: To foster excellence in communications at all levels, help members build their businesses, connect media and industry, promote fair and honest communication of traditional outdoor sports and conservation stories, and mentor the next generation of traditional outdoor sports communicators.

Check out information about POMA or register to attend the business conference at

Hit by a Bass Boat traveling 70 mph, Alex Otte SURVIVED – The Story.

  • Alex Otte has grown from a severely injured 13-year-old girl to become an inspirational lady and leader.
  • Her positive-minded survival story shares her grief with every family that has ever lost someone to an impaired driver. 
  • Bottom line: Boating under the influence = Driving under the influence. She wants to spread that message.
Boating is recreational. Boating is fun. Safe Boating involves a choice, just like a choice to safely drive a vehicle. Boating under the Influence is as dangerous and life-threatening as driving a car Under the Influence.

By David Gray

Alex Otte, a young girl, shares what happened to her.  “On July 2, 2010, I was run over by a drunk driver.  My offender wasn’t driving a car; he was driving a 17-foot bass boat at more than 70 miles per hour.  I was sitting across the narrow lake from my mom and brother, and the boat was headed toward them when he banked it to the left and never straightened up.  The boat hit me, going more than 60 miles per hour and threw me off the Jet Ski.  I landed face down in the water, and the boat landed on top of my body before it sunk.  I sustained severe, life-threatening, and lifelong injuries from head to toe, including a severe traumatic brain injury.  I was classified with shaken-baby syndrome, having a shattered jaw, broken neck, broken collarbone, lacerated liver, and bilateral shattered femurs.  I incurred the loss of my right leg below the knee.”

On July 2, 2010, medics lifted Alex into a Life-Flight helicopter.  They told her parents that their 13-year-old beautiful young daughter might not live long enough to make it to the hospital.  But Alex did make it to the hospital, remaining in a coma for seven days.

Alex remembers waking up in the hospital with her Dad sitting by the bed.  “Dad would tell me what happened and that she had suffered severe brain injuries.” When she woke up the next time and the next time, her Dad was still sitting by her bed.  He had to tell Alex again and again what had happened.  Each time she could not remember.  Her injured brain could not recall what her Dad had repeated each time Alex woke up.

At 13 years of age, Alex Otte shared time with her creator and doctors for the next seven weeks in the hospital.  The young girl was strong and determined.  The following fall, she returned to school but would not walk into the classroom this time.  She was in a wheelchair.

On July 2, 2010, the woman that little girl would be, was nearly gone.  But the little girl survived to quickly become a strong, articulate, well-focused personality and inspirational leader.

Alex has become the woman she wants to be and has risen to be the President of MADD.  She is devoted to education about a choice you or someone in your family makes when they get ready to operate a boat.

Boating is recreational.  Boating is fun.  Safe Boating involves a choice, just like a choice to safely drive a vehicle.

Boating under the Influence is as dangerous and life-threatening as driving a car Under the Influence.

Alex Ott, a survivor and now the president of MADD, addressed the audience at Lake of the Ozarks in the middle of the country. Alex plans to share her message with all parts of the nation.  

In her speech, Alex states, “Operating a boat while impaired from alcohol or drugs does not result in unintended accidents while enjoying a recreational activity.  Operating a boat while impaired often results in an incident and a deadly crash, causing injuries and death because of a person’s irresponsible choice.”  Operating a boat while impaired is a choice, just like driving a vehicle.

Drinking and boat driving create the same dangers to others as drinking and driving an automobile.

A study of the relationship between the risk of fatality and blood alcohol concentration of recreational boat operators by Peter Mengert, E. Donald Sussman and Robert DiSario (1992) found that with a 0.1 BAC  (Blood Alcohol Content) you are more likely to die in a boat crash than a car crash.  Fishermen know that being out on the water in the sun, wind and waves will cause fatigue.  Combine on-the-water fatigue with alcohol in your system, and you are more likely to cause a severe crash.  Statistics show that you are more likely to NOT SURVIVE a boat crash with a 0.1 Blood Alcohol Content, even as a passenger.

On May 26, 2022, Alex Otte delivered a strong message as President of MADD.  Alex traveled to Lake of the Ozarks, in the middle of Missouri, in the middle of the country to announce and launch the nationwide BUI = DUI boating campaign.  Boating under the influence = Driving under the influence.

Starting at Lake of the Ozarks in the middle of the country, Alex will spread her message in all directions.

Doug Beck (L), Co-Chair of Lake of the Ozarks Water Safety Council, Akles Otte (center), President of Madd, and a USCG Captain all share the message of “No drinking when driving.”

The message is simple.  Do not operate a boat impaired.  Alex does not want anyone in your family to operate a boat while impaired and run over a person causing another family to endure what her family had to endure.

People impaired by alcohol or drugs can cause death and lifelong severe injuries to others.

We asked Ms. Otte, “If you could sit down one-on-one with a person who would NOT drink before driving their car but might also believe that having a couple of drinks before driving a boat is OK – what would you say to them?”

Alex said, “Everyone needs to understand that drinking is irresponsible if you are driving anything, and bad choices can be hazardous to others and themselves.  It is not OK to drink and operate a boat, just like it is not OK to drink and drive a car.”

Things happen fast on the water.  While Boating is fun, it can be dangerous to you, your family, and others if you operate under the influence.”

Thank you to our Military Heroes…with Lee Greenwood

Please click on the picture above to hear Lee Greenwood sing a tribute to America.

By David Gray

I grew up in a place that had many heroes.

That place was the United States of America.

During the time that I grew up, we did not need the news channels to tell us who our heroes should be.

Though true heroes were pointed out to us so we would see them.

We learned about the actions that made them heroes.

Mom, dad, teachers, ministers and friends, all drew our attention to people who were heroes.

I learned that heroes are people who give of themselves when required.

I learned many live a very simple life, but often, their lives are a life of example and caring.

Heroes always give of themselves.

They serve others in whatever they do.

We have heroes today, but it seems we do not thank our heroes as much as we once did.

This writer citizen, and hundreds of Vietnam Veterans, want to thank Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler for organizing the 2022 Vietnam Veterans Recognition Event in Jefferson City, Missouri. A special thank you to those who served and are serving.

During the editing of this video, several veterans viewed it and many had tears in their eyes before it was over. One said the video was so patriotic and honest.  I know, and you probably know, more Vets that would enjoy watching this video and would share and pass it along to other veterans. Please do.

From all of us, a hearty thank you to our many military veteran heroes, you’ll see many of them in this video.


One Man – His Fishing, His Family, His Favorite Boat

  • 64-year-old Polar Kraft Jon Boat looks and works even better now than it did in 1957!
  • Memories are one key to future fishing fun, make them with your family
  • Humble Pat Richardson has won 43 fishing tournaments, his story follows
Humble, but savvy angler and friend of the outdoors, Pat Richardson, is ready to cast a line from his age-old Polar Kraft Jon Boat. 

By David Gray

One thing can be said about the sport of fishing, it doesn’t take long for extraordinary memories to start. Pat Richardson, a fisherman from Louisiana, will be a young 80 years of age in April this year. Like many of us that enjoy a passion for fishing, he remembers his early start with squirming fish from a very young age.  His introduction to fishing came at age 5 when he participated in an annual family tradition.  Pat’s Dad fished, but it was his Mom who really got him started as a fisherman. “Mom liked to fish, and she always used a cane pole.” Every Good Friday, the family would gather at the Bayou with cane poles, lines, hooks, and worms.  The fishing fun started upon arrival, and after catching enough Bream, everyone headed for the traditional family fish fry.  Delicious.

While Pat has enough fond family fishing memories to fill volumes, he went ahead from those early years to make new ones.  Pat used his cane pole to fish until he was 14, that’s when he got his first store-bought sport rod.  It was a fly rod.  When asked why not a casting rod? Pat said, “Back then, casting reels and glass casting rods cost more.” The fly rods and reels were in his price range.  Pat noted that first fly rod is gone, but he still has that fly reel in the original box with a price tag that says $1.05.  The whole rig, 8-foot rod, reel, line, and tippets went for $7.50.  It was easy to catch Bream on the fly rod, but catching Bass on it was another thing.

It wasn’t long before some Fenwick casting rod blanks became available. A friend wrapped them up and Pat went in search of Bass with casting gear. The challenge, then, was that Bass were not as easy to catch as Bream.  So Pat began paying attention when and why he caught them on some trips and not on others.  With special consideration to details and conditions, he learned more.  The more fishing logic he acquired, the more Bass he caught.  Pat said, “Dad was a kind of fair weather fisherman, but when the bite was on, he liked to go, so I would take him.”

We were fishing in old wooden boats back then.  You know the type—paddle some, bail some, fish some – the whole day.

One day Dad surprised us by saying, “You boys (3 brothers) love to fish, and I am going to buy you a good boat. They are making boats out of metal now, and we are going to get one.”  Off they went to the Western Auto Store in Gonzales, La.  Dad negotiated for a new 14-foot Polar Kraft Bateau, a 12Hp Wizard outboard, 2 life-preservers, and a paddle.  All for $300 – the year was 1957. For those not blessed in the language of the Louisiana Bayou, a Bateau is a flat bottom Jon boat.

Following the initial clean-up and restoration process, the Polar Kraft Bateau (Jon Boat), is ready for paint and new gear.

That Polar Kraft Bateau served them well.  The boat helped Pat learn more about how to catch Bass.  Pat got quite good at catching Bass, so he decided to try fishing tournaments.  At first, they were “Fruit Jar” tournaments.  All the anglers gathered at the launch ramp Friday evening and put $10 in the fruit jar.  They launched, and the tournament weighed in at midnight. The winner got the jar.

Pat needed a boat upgrade to fish bigger tournaments so a bass boat with a 45hp outboard was purchased. The Polar Kraft Bateau was retired to the back of the backyard.  Pat won 43 open tournaments in the next 8-year period.  Pat also joined a Bass Club and took first in 11 tournaments and second or third in 7.  Pat said, “At one of those tournaments, I took first place, big Bass for the tournament and big Bass for the year.  Then the club switched all their tournaments to Sunday.  I never fish on Sunday, and the club knew that, so I guess it was a polite way to ask me to look for another club. I got my son, Patrick Wayne, fishing and at 14 he fished his first tournament with me.  I like fishing tournaments, but it was never about the money. It was the competition and camaraderie that made it fun for me.  Because it was fun, I kept entering open bass tournaments and did pretty well. Well enough that it caught the attention of some sponsors.  My last tournament rig had a 225HP motor. Quite different from the 12 HP Wizard on the Bateau from which I learned so much about Bass fishing.

One day I got to thinking about the Bateau.  We had caught thousands of fish, literally tons and tons of fish out of the Bateau.  Bream, Gar, Bass, and when not fishing, we used it for pleasure cruising.  The Bateau was a family heirloom, a part of our family, and I thought about it lying in the backyard with junk piled all over it.  So in 2019, I decided to pull this 60-year-old Polar Kraft out of the pile and see what shape it was in.

I took it to the welding shop and was sure it needed a new wood transom board.  I asked them to check the entire hull and fix everything and anything needed to get it back in the water.

When I went to pick it up, the shop said, “This was a well-built boat.  We only had to replace 3 rivets and tightened 6 others.” That was all it needed.  The 60-year-old Polar Kraft Bateau was ready to fish.

But Pat decided that was not enough.  He would totally upgrade up. “I decided I wanted to convert to bass boat style and dedicate it to Dad, who took us to buy it.  The family approved of the dedication idea to Dad. We added fishing decks, Bass Boat seats, a new 20Hp Merc 4-stroke electric start, Xi3 trolling motor, bilge pump, and a Lowrance sonar with map. My Dad’s name was Clyde, he died in 1976, so we all agreed to name the boat after him and to honor his US Navy military service. So we added Mr. Clyde and Pacific Theater 1944 and 1945 to the new paint scheme.

At 64-years young (old for a boat!), the famed childhood Polar Kraft Jon Boat is restored and ready for the water – the high hand rail is an aid for access and exit at the dock for Pat Richardson.

This 63-year-old Polar Kraft Bateau is not only seaworthy, but it was ready to help us catch thousands and thousands more fish. I added a hoop hand-rail to help me get in and out of the boat, at my age, when I’m at the dock.”

Pat added, “It is those fond old memories of family tradition and fishing competition that helps me share that love for squirming fish and free fun on the water with family and friends, and others. Remember this, if you don’t have family, you don’t have anything.”

Author Note: Special thanks to Kristen Monroe for details and interviews noted in this story.

2020 Renegade Bass Classic Championship, TEAMWORK and LURE SELECTION was key

  • Drop Shot Rigs with finesse soft plastics was the secret bait key
  • Scented tubes, high-floating drop-shot baits and creature critters were most effective
  • Tough weather dictated our fishing plan, the rigs we used, and boat-positioning tactics
Lenny Devos is a finesse fisherman – his new secret fishing baits have helped him and partner, Jeff Deslodges, win fishing contests all over the Canada and the USA. 

By David Gray

Lenny Devos is a fisherman’s fisherman.

He loves to fish. Fishing is his passion.

Lenny loves to talk about fishing and loves to think about fishing, and he loves to tournament fish. Lenny is very successful at it and, at my humble request, he is willing to share some secrets with us ordinary fishing folks that toss lines for bass.

We might all learn a few things from Lenny and his teammate. His tournament winning formula is simple: use the team approach.

It works and is easy to do. Lenny and his tournament partner, Jeff Desloges, are very competitive by nature. They complement each other as a team. Lenny says, “We make a great team, we think similarly, we like to fish the similarly, and we can often fish the same cover more effectively using different, but similar, tactics to figure out the fish.” Style, lure types, colors, size – all these things can make a difference. 

The Teamwork approach has produced three Renegade Bass Classic Championships, including their most recent win: the 2020 Renegade Bass Canadian Tour Championship.  

Winning the 2020 Championship did not come easy. Day 1 of the two-day Championship delivered good weather and a variety of patterns were identified. Lenny and Jeff weighed in 22.51 lbs for third place but were more than 3 lbs behind the first-place team of Scott Lecky and Steve Bean. They had weighed in an impressive 5 fish limit of 25.66 lbs. On the St. Lawrence River, where giant smallmouth limits are the rule, making up more than 3 lbs would be a challenge for Lenny and Jeff.   

Two happy anglers, Lenny Devos and Jeff Deslodges, add one more championship to their wining streak.  

On Day 2, the weather took a significant shift with a front produced heavy rain and very high winds. The combination made boat control challenging. Precision deep-water bait presentation was, therefore, also difficult to achieve. The 30 to 40 mph winds also increased the river current (speed) and added to boat control difficulty. The extreme weather change played havoc with the shallow water patterns learned on Day 1 and challenged the precise bait presentation needed for the deep-water bite. 

The “STH-Drifter” is only 2.75 inches long, and has proven deadly for finesse applications like drop-shot, jig head and the bottom hugging Flatty Jig (shown above). The drifter floats, is super-soft, salted and scented, so it moves freely off a drop-shot without having to shake it.  The “3D eyes” add to life-like appearance. 

Lenny and Jeff continued to throw the Netbait STH Finesse Series of soft baits, including the Crush Worms and STH Drifters (American Baitworks), that’s what worked on Day 1. But the heavy wind did not let up. Lenny said, “It was difficult to present our baits the way that the smallmouth wanted it.” Then teamwork kicked in. Lenny says, “Jeff and I know how each other fishes, so I concentrated on boat control to allow Jeff to focus on lure presentation.

That teamwork strategy paid off, and despite the adverse weather, we had a good day. Our Day 2 bag of 23.06 lbs gave us a tournament total of 45.57lbs, and our 3rd Renegade Bass Championship win. It took a team to win as precise bait presentation was the key.” 

The Finesse Series Tube are 40% body and 60% tail, to deliver a new undulating action, quite improved when compared to other tubes, as the slightest twitch of the rod allows a fully exposed hook in the tail section. The 60% feature allows you to trim your tail to match feeding activity. Results mean improved hook ups with hard-mouthed smallmouth bass.

Born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, Lenny loves his job as a Fire Fighter because part of the job is helping others when they need it. When he is on duty, he thinks about being a Firefighter, but Lenny thinks about fishing the rest of the time. Lenny says he is always thinking about lures, techniques, reading the water, and figuring out new lakes. Lenny was not born into a fishing family but remembered “the Day” he became a fisherman. Even though his Dad did not fish, Lenny had a driving urge to go fishing and kept asking Dad to take him.

So Dad got a crash course on how to fish from a friend, borrowed a rod and reel, and took Lenny, his 6-year-old son, fishing. Lenny recalls, “All we had was that one rod and reel, a bobber, a hook, and a worm.” That was all it took to unlock Lenny’s lifelong passion for fishing and his drive to compete in tournaments.  

Lenny credits his tournament fishing success to several things. One is planning by thinking about an upcoming tournament. We like to make a plan based on how far or close the lake is on either side of the spawn. 

Knowing that helps you target where the fish will be. Also, there is no substitute for time on the water, which is crucial for success. We use that time on the water to tell us where we will fish and what we will fish with. To quote Lenny, “A day on the water with nothing learned is a wasted day. I usually learn the most on the worst days, especially those days when you are marking fish or seeing fish, and nothing seems to be working.”

Another plus is a great tournament partner. Since Jeff and I fish the same way, we both contribute to tournament planning and strategy. Lenny started tournament fishing in 1990, and a lot of anglers are calling Lenny Devos the best bass jig fisherman in Ontario.  

Robert Greenberg, who owns the innovative American Baitworks company, and is himself an accomplished tournament angler, says Lenny could be called the “Best Bass Angler in Canada.” Quite a compliment to be called the best bass angler in a country where some say the national sport should be fishing!

Questions and Answers

Question:  What lures did you use to win the Renegade Bass Championship?

Lenny: On Day 1 we used STH (Set-The-Hook) Drifters, Finesse Tubes and the Net Bait Kickin-B Chunk off a drop-shot rig. On Day 2, after the weather change, we used Carolina Rigs with a fluorocarbon leader with the Net Beat Kickin-B Chunk. 

Question:  Lenny, what are your favorite “GO-TO” baits and techniques?

Lenny: For Smallmouth, I like to throw tubes with Green Pumpkin as a favorite color. For Largemouth, a Flipping Jig is my favorite.  

I use a stout rod, but with a more flexible tip than most guys flip with. The softer tip really helps with good hook sets. My favorite is the Halo 7’5″ KS-II Elite with 50 lb braid tied directly to the jig. I do not use a leader. I also enjoy throwing topwater frogs. The Scum Launch Frog is one of those baits that just catch fish. When conditions are right, it is hot.  

The new KSII ELITE is light, balanced and built with a custom two-finger reel seat that exposes a portion of the blank to heighten the transition of the bite to the hand. The handles are triple grade-A cork for greater comfort and sensitivity. 

Question:  What is your favorite body of water to fish?

Lenny: In Canada, my favorite is the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario. In the US, I really like Stick Marsh in Florida.

Question:  What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Lenny: I always look forward to the start of the open water season and, of course, the first tournament of the year. I have been working with Freedom Tackle this year to develop several new bass jigs that work really well, and I’m excited about fishing the first production models in 2021.   

Question:  Do you have sponsors you can recommend?

Lenny: I have some sponsors that I am very proud to recommend as they do a great job taking care of customers. Hunters Bay Marine in North Bay, Ontario; Triton boats and Mercury motors; Ultra Tungsten Weights; Vigor Eyewear; American Baitworks Brands. 



American Baitworks catches Doug Minor!

Doug Minor has a passion for fishing and sharing his expertise in building award-winning, fish-catching lure teams. 

By David Gray

Doug Minor just embarked on his latest fishing adventure.  Although this is a business adventure, it is very much about fishing.  It took some talking to get Doug, who led Strike King lures through 37 years of innovation and growth, to consider coming out of retirement just weeks after retiring. But American Baitworks, a new and innovative tackle and lure-manufacturing business, was doing the talking. After every call with American Baitworks, Doug said he came away with a smile on his face.

Doug was honored for the opportunity to join the team. Their commitment to providing the angler with excellent products of superior quality at a fair price is exactly what Doug Minor believes in.  As an angler, Doug knows that understanding lure performance provides an advantage in helping to create new fish-catching lures.  As a business manager, Doug knows that combining manufacturing quality control with fish-catching passion is a philosophy that creates satisfied customers.

An angler from a very young age, and after many years in the outdoor industries, Doug says, “The most important thing about every product is that it delivers consistent performance.” As anglers, we have all experienced that on occasion, when one crankbait out of 5 or 6 of the same lures will catch more fish, they all should be the same. Doug and American Baitworks aim for the manufacturing of their lure products to consistent standards.

For Doug, fishing and hunting are everything. He was blessed to have a father that introduced him to those outdoor sports at an early age. Doug remembers being taught how to skull a small Alumacraft boat from the front seat.

Paddle in one hand, never disturbing the water and rod in the other.  Dad also instilled in Doug a love of waterfowling at an early age. So early that Doug sat in the waterfowl blind in diapers!   Doug said his Dad’s philosophy was “no baby sitter no problem,” a change of diapers and Doug went to the blind with Dad.

A passion for fishing and hunting served Doug well when it came to his work in guiding lure makers.

It is essential to design and develop new lures that work.  Many companies put more physical movement into a lure that includes life-like images with more color, but fail to spend the time to thoroughly field test the product before releasing the product for sales. According to Doug, the action is the most critical part of a lure.  And that does not mean just more movement that the angler sees.  Bass are ambush predators and the action that the bass responds to is what is essential.

An angler only sees the action from above; a fish sees the action differently. Lots of field testing is needed to make a quality product with the type of action that interests the fish.

Take one of the American Baitworks lures the NetBaits – Paca Craw. Doug knew, like so many bass anglers, that the Paca Craw is an excellent weighted hook and jig trailer that outperforms many similar types of baits. The first time Doug looked at the Paca Craw in the technical test tank, not just an angler view from the surface, he was amazed at the action and knew why it was so effective.

The deadly action of the Net Bait Papa Craw is unique, effective, deadly. 

Another passion for Doug is serving the angler well. Doug got his first tackle job in a small hardware store in Dixon, TN.  His knowledge of fishing and hunting prompted the store owner to task Doug with setting up a fishing tackle department and then expanding to hunting and firearms.  They were the only store in the area that took guns on trade, so Doug learned a lot from trading and how to treat all customers fairly. After his 37 years at Strike King, we asked Doug what his fondest memory was.  Doug said, “The team spirit. No one was the star, and there were no heroes. We were a group, a team working all together to create great products and great service collectively.”

We asked Doug, “What got him to come out of retirement and join American Baitworks?” Doug said, “The consistent striving for excellence in product performance and quality by the American Baitworks team, and selling it at a fair price.  All on the team are committed to superior lure performance with consistent quality lure to lure.” Most anglers have had the experience of a soft plastic that comes out of the bag with a bend or twist that is not part of the lure.  Doug says, “The customer paid for a bag of lures, and every lure should be consistent and perform the same.  The customer deserves that.” Doug added, “The commitment to quality is so great at American Baitworks that if one toe on a soft plastic lure is not working right, we will not sell it until we fix it. Then we know it will catch fish.”

We asked, “Why did American Baitworks acquire ScumFrog and SnagProof who have the oldest of surface frog lures on the market?” Doug answered, “There are many frog bait lures available, but none have exceeded the fishing-catching performance of these original designs.

The new painted trophy series of ScumFrog patterns are attractive, affordable and fish-catchy!

These frog baits caught so many fish when they first came out, and they still do. They represent pure perfection in frog lure-making, they have great action. The action is the most important factor to a fish and these frogs deliver that. We manufacture each of these great baits in a new Trophy Series now, to a consistent performance quality that delivers performance and value for the angler.”

Anglers can expect new lures from American Baitworks soon; they are in development.  As soon as they are thoroughly field-tested, and we know they deliver fishing catching performance, we will be offering them to anglers at a fair price. What’s next? The Freedom Tackle Mischief Minnow will be available soon. Michael Tamburro designed it, the Einstein of evolutionary and competent lure designers, urging perfection with every wiggle, waggle, sound, movement, and fish-attracting feature.

New ideas from master design experts are among notable trademarks for Doug Minor.

Each of the American Baitworks brands is managed with quality by skilled people that share a passion for fishing.

Doug said, “The new NetBaits Flex Worm is a finesse bait made with injection molding that is second to none. It has tantalizing action, and the quality of manufacture, bait-to-bait, is perfect. That’s one of our goals.”

Doug shares, “It took me a while to get used to the weekly American Baitworks staff meetings. Instead of jumping right into business, each person starts talking about the fishing trip last weekend. Things like they caught a 4-pound smallmouth and were so excited.  After that, I realized it is the embedded fishing passion that drives this company to make fish-catching products at the highest measurable quality levels and sell them for a fair price. Maybe good for an angler to know the best part.  We offer great lures with great action that catch fish, and they are made in the USA whenever possible.”

That says it all.

Tighten your Hat, the 200 X-Shaft Yamaha 4-Stroke is Flying from the Hole

  • 200HP V6 Yamaha Outboard for 555 pounds
  • Instant Acceleration to 57 mph
Plenty of torque is what makes the Yamaha V-MAX/SHO 200 X-Shaft fun to operate at cruising speeds, and from start to finish.

By David Gray

Karen Lutto and I had barely shaken hands with the Yamaha outboard motor team when they gave us the Yamaha Marine “Hot Sheet” for their V- MAX/SHO 200Hp X-Shaft. As I looked over the motor specs, Product Education Manager, Ry Landry, provided even more “goodness details” for this newest member of the Yamaha outboard motor family. Dealer Communications Manager, Melissa Boudoux, suggested that we take a test drive – there was a test boat and motor at the AmericInn Hotel boat dock in La Crosse, WI. Having owned and managed an outdoor marine store for 19 years, I have driven thousands of boat and motor combinations, so I never lose interest in one more test drive if you know what I mean.

After the ride, Karen and I both agreed, “The V-MAX/SHO 200 X-Shaft needs some bragging!” This Yamaha 200Hp-V6 is a well-rounded motor package. Boat types from pontoons to Deep V’s to bass boats perform well with a 6-cylinder/200Hp engine, while 4-cylinder/200Hp motors are just not the same. The 4-cylinder engines might deliver 200 horsepower at wide-open throttle, but it takes a while, they do not have the mid-range torque of a V-6 either.   Plenty of torque is what makes a motor fun to operate at cruising speeds, and from start to finish.

Here is what is notable about this new member of the Yamaha V MAX SHO family:

  • It is a 4-stroke and the 25-inch shaft length makes the motor a good fit for a wide range of boat types and hull sizes.
  • The 200 X-Shaft is naturally aspirated which means it makes 200 HP without needing a supercharger. No supercharger means fewer parts in the motor and that means higher reliability.
  • Operating cost matters, supercharged engines love to stop at the gas pump.
  • Yamaha’s decision to go with plasma-fused sleeveless makes for a compact and lightweight package, weighing in at only 555 lbs.
After the ride, Karen Lutto and I both agreed, “The V-MAX/SHO 200 X-Shaft needs some bragging!”

Most 4-stroke outboards have a smooth and quiet idle and this 200 was very quiet at idle, and also had a low noise level at wide-open throttle. This 200 also has Yamaha’s variable camshaft timing system which develops more power at midrange. Lots of good things here.

What stood out most? Instant acceleration. It’ll push you back in your seat throttle response.

We both thought it was a 2-Stroke! Pure out-of-the-hole power. With three passengers and running a 3-blade, 18 pitch prop, the 200 effortlessly pushed the Deep V hull to 57 mph and the rep added that the motor was strong enough to run a 19 pitch prop which would edge past 60mph. This is a lots-to-like motor.

For more information go to or stop by your local dealer for a test drive.   Before you push the throttle down on the 200 X-Shaft, make sure your hat is on tight!

Why Does Grandpa Love to Fish?

  • A love story about fishing, grandpa and grandkids
  • Colorful, thoughtful, heartfelt…a great gift

By David Gray

It’s a Super Book and more.

It is a short story, well-written with the passion and message that all fishermen will immediately understand.

Why Does Grandpa love to Fish will touch you. It will bring a tear to the eye of many Grandpa’s.

The story will make you smile on the outside and on the inside. You will want to read it more than once, it’s that good.

Grandpas will want to read it to their grandchildren. The Grandkids will say when are we going fishing Grandpa? The best music ever for the ears and the hearts of every Grandpa.

Back in the day, a TV commercial said, “Look up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane. No, it’s Superman!”

After my first read of author Curt Wilkinson’s book, “Why Does Grandpa Love to Fish,” I thought to myself – look, this is such a great book! No, it’s a great gift! No, it is a cherished family keepsake for every grandpa!

When Mr. Wilkinson asked me to share my opinion on this new title, I agreed out of politeness, but with some reservation. It is not easy to pen a really good fishing book, but his book is so much more than a fishing book, because fishing is so much more than just about fishing.

Curt wanted to know if I thought the book was good enough for stores to stock and if it would sell. My reservations went away with the first page. The book delivered so much more than I could ever have imagined. Yes Curt, this book will sell. Thank you for creating it!

The graphics drawn by Curt are very pleasing. The hard cover and printing are top quality. After I read the book I shared it with others, every comment was, “I love this book. “

I suggest placing a photo of the grandkids in the front of the book or even better, on the dedicated space at the end of the story reserved for a photo of Grandpa. Perhaps include a short message that Grandpa will understand.

Created and written by Curt Wilkinson in honor of his two Grandpa’s, the book sells for $14.95 and for every Grandpa that has taken his grandson’s and granddaughter’s fishing, a copy received from them will be worth a million smiles.

You can order a copy at

I know many Grandpa’s that will be putting “Why Does Grandpa Love to Fish” on their gift and wish lists.

Click to hear a narration and see more about this book from a grandchild….

Chasing your Dreams…in the 3-D Archery World

Joella Bates coaching former JoCamp students, Trevor Funcannon and Brooke Hultz.

  • First memory of shooting a bow was at 4-H Conservation Camp
  • After a home burglary, her dad bought Joella an Indian compound bow, history was in the making
  • Today, Joella Bates is an 11-time 3-D Archery World Champion and teaches young people archery skills

By David Gray

Joella Bates, 11-time 3-D Archery World Champion

If you follow competitive archery, Joella Bates is a name that stands out. Among Joella’s many accomplishments, she is an 11-time 3-D Archery World Champion. Even more impressive is that she won five of the championships using a Compound Bow, five with a Recurve Bow and one with a Long Bow.

Add to her individual accomplishments being a team member on Team USA’s 2017 World Archery 3-D championship win.

For all who meet Joella, it only takes 30 seconds to become infected with her enthusiasm and energy for helping youngsters learn archery.

As a kid she grew up in the outdoors. Her Dad was an outdoor guy. Joella says, “I was my Dad’s shadow.” When he went to the woods or the lake he took me and introduced me to wonderful world of hunting, fishing and shooting.

The shooting however was not with a bow. It was always with a rifle. Using what Dad had taught her and her considerable competitive spirit, she developed an exceptional skill with the rifle. In college at the University of Tennessee, she soon found herself on the college rifle team.

Still, archery was not part of her life.   Her first memory of shooting a bow was at a 4-H Conservation Camp event when she was in the ninth grade. At the camp, the 4-H kids could shoot at the rifle range and the instructor let them compete for snacks. When Joella kept winning all the snacks the instructor finally said, “Why don’t you go try archery.” That’s when the magic started to happen.

Her first memory shooting a bow was not good. She only remembers the string hitting her arm and it hurt. Determined to figure out how to shoot a bow and wanting to win a trip to a 4-H Round Up event, Joella asked her Dad to help. He brought out his old compound for practice and she only remembers losing seven of his arrows.

While in college the family firearms where lost in a home burglary. Her guns were gone, but Dad knew she wanted to figure out how to shoot a bow, so he bought Joella a used Indian compound.

The bow did not fit, but she practiced. The draw length was too long and Joella remembers, “I ended up black, blue and purple all over.”

In 1989 after college, working with Tennessee Wildlife Research, a coworker offered, “I have a friend who owns a bow shop and he can set up one to fit you. If you learn to shoot it I will take you bowhunting.” At 28 years of age, Joella got her first bow properly set up with instruction on how to shoot it.

Her skills learned from rifle hunting helped. After much practice, she was invited to go bowhunting.

Joella says, “That was another giant learning experience. I had a world record case of Buck Fever and missed my first five deer. Later that first season, I did harvest my first bowhunting deer.”

In 2001, Joella began traveling, hunting, fishing, writing and speaking about the sports. “I was not getting rich, but I was paying the bills and making many friends.”

She received invitations to hunt around the world.

Joella is the first lady hunter to take the “Big 5 of Africa” bowhunting and the first lady to arrow the “Turkey Grand Slam.”

A love for teaching archery and especially helping young people to get started the right way, lead to the start of JoCamps. This is an archery instruction school that travels to the community the students live in which saves travel time and expenses for the students and parents.

Joella with former JoCamp students Trevor Funcannon and Brooke Hultz

JoCamps include the National Training System used to prepare archers for the Olympics and International competition.

At the recent MONASP (Missouri National Archery in Schools Championship), Joella…while tutoring young shooters, reunited with Brooke Hultz and Trevor Funcannon, former JoCamp participants.

Trevor said, “Joella actually teaches you how to be a better shot, her methods are very effective.”

Brooke said, “The JoCamp method is different and really works.”

Joella Bates can shoot, but to share and teach archery is what she loves the most.

If you have a youngster or archery team interested in a JoCamps archery
training event contact


Missouri State Record Brown Trout – CAUGHT and RELEASED ALIVE!

  • Hooked, Landed, Weighed, Transported, Released ALIVE!
  • Incredible True Story of a Passionate Sportsman and Friends
  • Lilley’s Landing Tournament Site is Home to New State Record Brown Trout at Lake Taneycomo


Paul Crews and friends with the new Missouri state record brown trout, 34 lbs – 10 oz, released alive back to Lake Taneycomo.  CLICK PICTURE FOR VIDEO. Ryan Miloshowski Photo      

An incredible true story of a memorial fishing tournament named after an honored friend, a new giant state record fish hooked under adverse conditions, landed, transported, weighed, transported, then released alive to swim away and fight another day.  

Because there are so many facets to this Lake Taneycomo trout saga, it’s hard to know where to begin.  The prime fact is that Paul Crews of Neosho, MO, landed the biggest brown trout Saturday that anyone has ever caught in the state of Missouri to date.  It was officially weighed by Missouri Department of Conservation Fisheries Biologist Shane Bush and documented at 34 lbs-10 oz. That beat the previous state record by a little more than six pounds, caught by Scott Sandusky of Arnold, MO, in November 2009, also on Lake Taneycomo.

Crews and partner, Jimmy Rayfield of Salem, MO, were fishing together in a trout tournament hosted by Lilleys’ Landing Resort & Marina on upper Lake Taneycomo.  It’s called the Vince Elfrink Memorial, named after Vince who was an avid sportsman, husband, father, and friend to many of the participants of the contest, including Crews and Rayfield. Vince passed away in 2011 of brain cancer at the age of 52.  And just so happens that the pair won last year’s tournament, sealed by a 21-inch brown trout Rayfield had caught.  The pair beat out 36 other teams to win this year’s event.

The day started out foggy and wet, but the afternoon brought out the sun and wind.  We all were watching for thunderstorms early, but anticipating the high winds forecast for later in the day that did arrive about 2 p.m..  Fishing in wind gusts up to 40 mph is not easy, especially tossing a small 1/8th ounce, sculpin-colored jig around.  Working a lure that small in high winds is tough, even with four-pound line, but feeling a bite is virtually impossible, unless it’s a huge fish, I guess.

Crews and Rayfield had had a good day up to the minute the big fish was hooked. They had been fishing down from Lilleys’ Landing most of the day but ventured up to the mouth of Fall Creek to make a drift, working their jigs along the east bank. Crews said they were in shallow water, able to see the bottom under their boat as they drifted. Table Rock Dam was releasing water at a rate of 6,850 cubic feet per second, generating two units at 3 p.m.  Even with the difficulty of the wind blowing his line, Crews still felt a “tap” and set the hook. That’s when the excitement started!

The fish came off the bank where it was hooked and ran toward the duo, swimming under their boat. Crews had to scramble his new rig, spinning it around so that his line didn’t catch the edge of the boat or trolling motor.  The trout stayed down almost the entire fight, so Crews didn’t really know what he had until the very end, but he knew it was big enough “to probably win the tournament” if he landed it.  Little did he know . . .

“Frank” eventually headed across the lake to the bluff bank, then switched back to the middle and eventually returned to the inside bank where docks dot the shore.  Yes, the fish has a name explained later in the story.  Frank then headed to places he’s probably familiar with — the docks. Crews said he swam under at least two docks. That heightened the high risk that the line might be cut on the dock itself or on the boats at the docks. Crews, a seasoned angler, kept his rod way down in the water to keep the line from rubbing on anything that would end his fight.

The giant brown trout named “Frank” was carefully handled, weighed by state officials and released alive back into Lake Taneycomo to live into the future. Ryan Miloshowski Photo

At one point, Crews said that Frank quit moving. He thought for sure Frank had wrapped his line around something and escaped, but Frank was just resting and a fish that big can do whatever he wants to do. Eventually he came out, tired and ready to give in. Rayfield worked the net over his head and the pair hoisted the fished into the boat. They were just above Short Creek when the fight ended.

Crews had just bought a new boat and this was its maiden voyage. Fortunately, the live well was just big enough to fit Frank in, but he filled every bit of it. Word got back to me that they were coming in with a huge fish, so we had everything ready to receive the package. Frank was immediately placed in a large, aerated tank on our dock to rest after his ordeal.

We determined right off the bat that we’d try to keep Frank alive regardless if he was a new record or not. Once he uprighted himself and was swimming around, we pulled him out and recorded a quick, unofficial weight of 33.4 pounds. He was easily a new Missouri state record. Now we had to come up with a plan to transport him to the hatchery to be officially weighed.

We filled a stock tank full of lake water and that’s where Frank rode, guarded by admirers in the back of my truck on the five-mile ride to the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery. Shane Bush was there with hatchery personnel, ready with their official scale to see if Frank made the record books or not. Everything was done quickly and carefully, pulling him out of the stock tank to the scale, verifying his weight at 34 lbs-10 oz, and then moving him to the aerated tank in Shane’s truck. We still had no pictures out of the water, just shaky videos, but the goal was to return him back in the lake as quickly as possible.

We caravaned down to the boat ramp access, less than a mile from the weigh-in site. Shane needed to get some official measurements before release: 38 inches long, 27-inch girth. He confirmed our observations that the adipose fin had been clipped, which identified Frank as a triploid brown trout. I’ll explain what that means later.

The sun was about to set over Table Rock Dam, so we hurried to the edge of the water to take a few pictures: Crews and Rayfield with the new Missouri state record brown trout. We slipped Frank into the water and Crews gently held him there until he swam out of his hand. We followed him a little ways downstream until he turned and swam close to the bank, holding his own in the swift water.  Frank dashed the record books, survived being fought, handled, trucked, weighed, trucked and photographed and back in Lake Tanneycomo before sundown. We hope he keeps growing and maybe, just maybe, give someone else a chance to catch a state record fish.

Crews lives with his best friend and wife, Rita, and their son Matthew in Neosho, Missouri. They own Crews Construction and specialize in wastewater treatment plant construction. He is an avid outdoorsman, but his home waters are the Spring and Neosho rivers as well as Grand Lake, so he rarely fishes for trout except in the annual tournament honoring his fishing buddy.

Frank’s story – we’ve always had trout hovering under our dock, feeding on pieces and parts of fish discarded from our fish cleaning facility. On occasion, there will be a big trout, either brown or rainbow, to stop by for a treat.  They move up and down the lake seeking out the best meal, never staying in one spot very long.

One day about three years ago, Duane Doty (dockhand and guide for Lilleys’ Landing) spotted a very large brown. He stood out from the other trout. He was a brute. Duane called him Frank. Shortly after Frank showed up, another brown trout showed up and he was much bigger! Duane changed Frank’s name to Frankie and called the new addition Frank. We have since videoed and photographed Frank many times when he has trolled by, so we have good records on him.

To sum up this incredible story, fishing in a memorial tournament named after his best friend, Paul Crews hooks a fish in extremely adverse conditions, fights a 34-pound fish on four-pound line for 20 minutes around docks, logs and boat traffic, then lands it using a small trout net. He fits it in his live well and keeps it alive while transporting it to be officially weighed, measured and photographed, then released back in the lake successfully to keep the story alive.

And Crews says, “Praise the Lord!”

Poaching Legislation Moving through House in Missouri

  • Sportsmen asked to show formal support (send note, call office) to their respective legislators
  • Control for poaching is needed
  • Violator fines will go to State Education Fund
Click to learn More.

Poaching legislation continues to make progress during the 100th meeting of the General Assembly. The Missouri House of Representatives will soon take up for debate legislation to impose civil penalties for poaching. House Bill 260 is sponsored by Representative Jered Taylor (Nixa). The bill has also been listed in the Senate under Senate Bill 356, which is sponsored by Senator Mike Bernskoetter (Jefferson City).

The Conservation Federation of Missouri applauds the work of both the House and the Senate on these bills so far. We ask our members to show their support to their respective state representative and senators in hopes to get these bills enacted into law. It also comes on the heels of poaching cases where elk have been illegally taken from the landscape.

Current poaching fines are so low they do not function as a meaningful deterrent, exposing our public wildlife resource to abuse and exploitation by those willing to ignore the law. The fees outlined in both bills would take fines from $2,500 to $5,000 for poaching black bear or elk, $1,000 to $2,000 for poaching deer, $500 to $1,000 for poaching paddlefish and $375 to $750 for poaching wild turkey.

These bills specify that the court may require any person found guilty of chasing, pursuing, taking, transporting, killing, processing, or disposing of certain wildlife in violation of the Missouri Conservation Commission’s rules and regulations to make restitution to the state’s education fund.

Information and updates on these bills and others, can be found utilizing CFM’s Legislative Action Center:

Full bill text for each of these bills can be found online:

Shore Magazine, NEW for Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks has a NEW MAGAZINE. Read more!

  • Kick back, chill out, shed the stress…unplug, hammock time, escape…wind down
  • Go Prepared, get a copy of the new Shore Magazine…then, get it done at the lake

By David Gray

In Missouri, from St. Louis to Kansas City and all points in between, when you say I am heading to the Lake, everyone knows you are going to Lake of the Ozarks. Tucked into the central Missouri Ozark hills, “the lake,” as it is called, is 92 miles long and offers 55,000 acres for the ultimate recreational destination magnet.

In addition to fishing, boating, swimming and water sports, the lake area offers every kind of recreational activity you might ever consider.

Among the endless choices of things to do are annual events like the Magic Dragon Street Car Show, Shoot-Out Boat Races with every level of lodging accommodations, including camping, are available.

With all the recreational options, the lake area delivers something for everyone.

Maybe the best lake activity of all is to just “relax.” Call it by any name, kick back, chill out, shed the stress, unplug, hammock time, escape, wind down – you can get it done at the lake.

As of 2019, relaxing gets a boost from the new Shore Magazine. Many people miss good print magazines that have been replaced by internet communications. If you fear there will be no new good publications, chase that fear away with the new annual print publication, Shore Magazine, which focuses on boating and recreation at Lake of the Ozarks.

Let’s admit sitting on a deck at the lake, morning coffee in hand, laptop off, phone turned down…is the preamble for getting relaxed. Add to that equation, Shore Magazine, a new excellent quality print publication to browse thru and everyday stress starts to melt away.

Shore Magazine was a collaboration between Showcase Publishing and Nauticus Media, and both companies are well versed in serving the needs for the Lake of the Ozarks area.

The folks that run Showcase know a lot about lake life. Showcase Publishing did their first magazine 34 years ago. Showcase publisher David Leathers learned the newspaper trade from his father, Tom Leathers, who published the Squire Newspaper in Kansas City for many years. David used his newspaper experience to publish Kansas City Home and Gardens, his first glossy magazine.

Lisa Larsen and David Leathers unveil Shore Magazine at Lake of the Ozarks Boat Show.

David Leathers knows the Lake of the Ozarks area well. His initiation began when he started selling ads around the lake for his Dad’s newspaper, then later for his own magazine. In a few years, the flow of people relocating and moving from population centers of St. Louis and Kansas City grew and David realized the need for a new magazine. David brought out Lake Relo and it was the right magazine at the right time. Lake Relo continues to be a very popular lake area magazine. The success of Lake Relo spun another great publication with the title “SHL,” Second Home Living, which is distributed free around the lake area. David Leathers enjoyed not only working, but being at the lake and like many others, could not resist the second home experience. He used the knowledge that goes into his Lake Relo and SHL Second Home publications to soon find a lake home getaway.

Even for experienced businesses, it is never easy to produce a successful new product, but your first look at Shore Magazine will tell you this one hits the mark. At the recent Lake of the Ozarks Boat Show, the new Shore Magazine was unveiled. Lisa Larsen, Showcase Publishing operations manager, shared the extensive amount of planning and development that went into creating this masterpiece before the decision to go forward with the new magazine was made.

                      Articles for the first issue offer Lake of the Ozarks insight and news

The Shore Magazine subtitle is directed at boating on Lake of the Ozarks and it not only lives up to the subtitle promise, it exceeds it. Articles and information include Fishing, Boat Reviews, Lake Fashion, and Dining on and off the water, places to go, area things to do, lake lore and more. Every page of Shore Magazine offers quality and good-to-know info. Even the advertising, which is exceptionally well done, is enjoyable to browse.

Shore magazine is coffee table quality with high grade printing, spectacular photos and interesting content that will draw your attention to look twice. Get your copy of Shore, grab a coffee or libation, and go directly to your deck, dock or back of the boat. Take a seat, open the magazine, flip thru the pages and move the needle on your relaxing timetable to ON while at the Lake.

Shore is an annual edition magazine. The 2019 edition is ready and will be available at select marina and water locations around the lake for free. You can also get a paid subscription copy sent to your home or business at

Fletcher Lake Lodge, Ontario – Back Home in Kansas City

  • If You’re Not Catching 100 Fish a Day, We’ll send a Guide with You
  • Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Musky
  • Fly-In Paradise in Ontario, Canada
Amid the hemlocks and Canadian morning silence, Fletcher Lake trophy pike are among regular catches.

By David Gray

Every January, Jeanne MacLean leaves the far north and makes a trek back to her home state of Missouri.  Jeanne says it is like “coming back home.”  She comes to visit friends and to set up a display in the Kansas City Boat and Sportshow for her Fletcher Lake Lodge.

Jeanne has many ties to Missouri. She was born and raised in Trenton, Missouri.  Her father, Fuzz LePage, was a career Missouri Highway Patrolman.  Few knew his real first name, everyone just called him Fuzz.  He had a love for law enforcement and when off duty, he had a love for flying.

When Jeanne was 14 and Fuzz had 20 plus years as a Highway Patrol Officer, Fuzz retired from active law enforcement and moved the family to Warroad, Minnesota.  Fuzz purchased a flight service business and began serving lodges, as well as anglers and hunters, flying customers and gear into remote Canadian locations.

One day on a return flight, Fuzz pulled back the throttle on his float plane, dropped into Fletcher Lake and taxied to the lodge dock. Fuzz wanted to meet the owners and thought he might pick up a new customer, offering them his flight services. In this part of Ontario, there are thousands of lakes, many of them gems, with Fletcher Lake being one of those diamond gems. The lodge owner informed Fuzz that his wife had recently passed away and he was going sell the lodge.

Fuzz made a quick return flight and told Jeanne, “Get a bank loan quick and buy Fletcher Lake Lodge.”

Jeanne did just that, buying the lodge in 1981.   The first part of the lodge was constructed in 1960.

Jeanne MacLean and her granddaughter ask, “Who’s ready for home-cooked breakfast?!”

Prior to the 1983 fishing season, a forest fire swept thru the region burning the camp and destroyed the lodge. Only one of the 14 structures, a guest cabin survived.  Considering the size of the rebuild task, it was amazing that their crew pitched in to rebuild the lodge and enough cabins to take care of all the incoming guests.

After High School, Jeanne worked for a year as secretary and then for a year at a Montana Elk hunting outfitter.  Then her dad called about buying Fletcher Lake Lodge.

Fletcher Lake Lodge is the longest continuous exhibitor in the Kansas City Boat and Sportshow.  She says working the show is much about getting to see friends and customers.  Almost all of the lodge guests rebook every year.

Watching folks stop at the Fletcher Lake Lodge booth in the sport show, it is obvious the customers are friends.  While interviewing Jeanne for this article, comments from customers were, “Absolutely the best walleye fishing” and “Magical fishing” and “Great fishing with wonderful lodge people” and much more.

Jeanne says her favorite day at the lodge is when the float plane arrives with new guests.  With a 90% plus rebook, the guests are all friends and each get a hug and give a hug when they get off the plane.  Nice way to start a fishing trip vacation!

Fletcher Lake is the only lodge on the lake. There are no roads to it. A short, but extremely scenic, 30 minute float plane ride from Kenora, Ontario, brings you to the lodge.

Two to five-pound Fletcher Lake smallmouth bass are fun to catch, especially when you can bring dozens to the boat in a day of peaceful fishing.

The lodge offers American Plan which is the most popular.  Breakfast and gourmet dinner is served in the lodge.  Lunch can be in the lodge, sandwiches packed for the day or the traditional shore lunch (PS – don’t ever miss a traditional shore lunch!).

There is absolutely nothing more delicious than a shore lunch cooked by one of the Fletcher Lake Lodge guides.

Fletcher Lake offers outstanding walleye, smallmouth and northern pike fishing.  It is Conservation fishing. You may keep only two fish a day for a dinner or shore lunch.  The lodge also has easy portages to a trophy lake and two musky lakes you can fish for the day.  The musky is said to be a fish of 10,000 casts, but Jeanne says at their musky lakes, “You won’t catch a 54-incher, but you will catch more musky in a day than you will believe.”  A rare and unique fishing experience only for guests of the lodge.  Most of the fishing is self-guiding, but Jeanne says if a boat with two anglers is not catching 100 fish a day, you are doing something wrong. We send out a guide to show places and how to catch them.

In 2018, three lady anglers (guests) were struggling a little on finding fish.  Jeanne sent them out with guides Shane and Kevin.  At the end of that day, total number of fish caught by the three ladies was 362.  Jeanne will not forget 362, as 362 was also Fuzz LePage’s Missouri Highway Patrol badge number. Now that’s pretty amazing.

Fletcher Lake Lodge has, along with other outfitters, teamed up with the Ontario Government to create a unique Trophy Waters program in the area.

Jeanne (left) shares dinner with guides, Kevin and Shane (back row), and 3 VERY HAPPY lady guests who caught 362 fish in one day!

Fletcher Lake Lodge is the only accommodation on Fletcher Lake and offers exceptional Canadian Fly-in fishing and hunting packages.  The remote location is only accessible by traditional Canadian bush planes and ensures exceptional fishing and hunting experiences.

Jeanne and Fletcher Lake Lodge can be reached in two ways: email and telephone. Their email address is: and their phone contact is: Winter, 218-386-1538; Summer, 807-224-3400.


Friends in Service of Heroes – F.I.S.H. – We Can All Help Their Cause

The Holiday Sportsman Show is proud to announce “Friends in Service of Heroes,” a veteran support organization as a deserving beneficiary of this sportsman show event.

A wise person said, “True greatness is not how much one achieves, but how much one gives.” Friends in Service of Heroes gives 100% of every dollar raised for the benefit of veterans and their families.

Click the image above to see a short video from a military veteran to learn about F.I.S.H. – it is our turn to serve.

F.I.S.H. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 2013. Our mission is to make a positive impact and improve the quality of life for our troops, veterans and their families. We are here to serve the heroes that have sacrificed so much to enable all of us to enjoy the freedoms that we have today. There is nothing more fundamental to our country than the freedom which these great Americans provide to all of us. Freedom is not free and the sacrifice can never be repaid. F.I.S.H. is honored to stand in the gap and do what it can to serve those that have served our nation.

The Holiday Sportsman Show believes participation in outdoor sports activities creates a positive effect on the individual, the community and our country and is honored to support the men and women who have defended our freedom by supporting Friends in Service of Heroes.
The Holiday Sportsman Show is a digital online Holiday Sales Promotion for quality companies and businesses serving outdoor sports consumers. If your brand would like information on how to boost 4th quarter sales in the Holiday Sportsman Show while taking advantage of a zero cost marketing fee promotion.

To help F.I.S.H. please contact:

Hungry fish, Great Food, New Best Friends – Welcome to Stone Creek Lodge

  • Southern Hospitality that is Matchless
  • Fish-Catching that is Unforgettable
  • New Friends that Make Time Extraordinary
Nothing like fresh crappie for that family and friends campfire dinner at the end of the day. Payden and Tyler at Stone Creek Lodge helped us catch lots of ’em.

By David Gray

A warm welcome is something you feel if it is real. Nestled in the Missouri Ozark hills near Stockton Lake, everything about hospitality is real at Stone Creek Lodge. I know it’s real because it’s genuine.

My SUV swung quietly into the parking lot of the Stone Creek office as I noticed a guy wiping down his boat. About the same time, he waved the way you wave to a good friend, like a glad-to-see-you greeting. I thought he might have mistaken me for someone he knew, but I would soon find out the guy with the wave was Kris Nelson, who with his wife Amanda, own and operate Stone Creek Lodge.   

Soon after that wave, I raised the bar of my surprise yet more. When you walk into Stone Creek Lodge you are a friend, not because you are a customer, but because the people who own and work there are just that way – genuine friendly folks that want to share the adventure of the outdoors with you.  

Stone Creek Lodge has many ways to satisfy their friends, who originally came is as customers. A fine line to draw there.

Their fully stocked tackle store includes the effective lures, the right line, terminal hardware, floats and hooks, jigs of the right color and size, plastic tails and plastic worms too, and a great selection of live bait. The Lodging has rooms that any fisherman can call home.    

The lodge office even has a snack bar with pizza. Famous pizza too. Mention pizza and most folks immediately brag on their favorite pizza establishment or brand. This pizza could win an award downtown, not to mention at any fishing lodge. The Stoner Creek pizza is great, best part, you can get your pizza with a conversation they call “fishing talk.” It doesn’t get any better than good advice with your pepperoni.  

Nice to enjoy a fishing lodge that delivers so much before you even get on the water.

The fishing on Stockton Lake is nearly boundless, with over 25,000 acres to explore. This Missouri Corp of Engineers reservoir straddles Cedar, Dade and Polk counties in the southwest Missouri Ozarks. Close by are the friendly adventure supply towns of Stockton and Bolivar. Stockton is only 6 miles travel, but Bolivar, about 45 minutes away, is a larger city of 15,000 with a special charm where folks visit the Polk County Museum and Dunnegan Gallery of Art. Don’t miss the Town Square either!

Kris and Amanda Nelson, owners Stone Creek Lodge, create new best friends on a daily basis.

While there are a number of excellent lakes in this part of Missouri, both large and small waterway, many offer good fishing for several species, Stockton Lake stands out with really great fishing. Anglers vie for multiple species including black bass, crappie, walleye and white bass, and you can catch all four species on the same day.

Stockton also delivers a special pleasure. Close your eyes and let your guide take you down the lake in any direction. Open your eyes and you might think your guide has whisked you away to a wilderness fly-in Canadian Lake. The Stockton shoreline is unspoiled with simple, natural beauty, as there are no lake homes on the water at Stockton. It’s great to feel like you are not fishing in someone’s back yard all the time.

Some people are born fisherman. Kris Nelson, the owner and head guide, is one of those. Very few guides are blessed with the fishing skills of Kris Nelson. He knows the lake, finds the fish, shares methods and expertise, teaches you how to catch them and after 10 minutes with him, you feel you have known him for years.  Another new friend.

Kris Nelsen and David Gray shared great fishing in a very shot time on the water.

Last Friday, September 21, with late summer weather hanging on, we measured high water temps, the fishing should have been tough and slow. It was anything but slow, with Kris and JT teaching me how to catch them. First jigging for crappie, then chasing white bass – the action was fast and fun. Kris and JT both sharing and helping with knowledge learned thru many days on the water at Stockton. I realized quickly that the goal of a late September fish fry for friends on shore was not in doubt.

You will be welcome at Stone Creek Lodge.  

You will enjoy the visit, the lodge, the fishing and the fun adventure that comes with laughter.  Great medicine for a getaway that you and I need more often than not. Especially when it’s affordable.

My advice is to come and relax here when you can, go fishing with these fine folks and take some fillets home for later. It will help you remember the fun you enjoyed here, like it has for me.  One thing for sure, you will always feel that warm welcome here.

To know more about Stone Creek Lodge, phone them at 417-276-1700, or go online and visit


Going to Disneyworld or WOW?

Wonders of Wildlife is dedicated to Johnny Morris’s mother and father who always found the time to take him fishing.

  • Johnny Morris, the Walt Disney of the Outdoors, Opened WOW in 2017
  • Museum offers more than 1.5 miles in Authentic, Immersive Habitats
  • Celebrating People who Hunt, Fish and Act as Stewards of the Land and Water
  • Walk to the depths of the Ocean here!

By David Gray

Kids love it.  The Aquarium was recently voted the best in the USA, it is spectacular. 

Thinking about taking the kids to Disneyworld? 

It’s expensive, but you know the kids enjoy it.  Did you know there is a less costly alternative the kids will enjoy and the adults will too?!  It is WOW, the Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium. 

WOW recently opened in Springfield, Missouri, immediately adjacent to Bass Pro Shops.  A creation of Johnny Morris, the Aquarium and Museum is one of those places to visit that cannot be properly described by the written word. 

WOW is not a place you visit, it is a place you experience.  Visit once, you immediately realize it is a concept intended for our kids and adults of this century.  It appeals to your eyes, ears, and vision to share in the wonder of nature, animals, fish, birds and our human civilization into the future.  You will want to return.

Kids of all ages love it.  The Aquarium was recently voted the best in the USA, it is spectacular.  It is not just one aquarium, there are many aquariums displaying fresh and salt water fish in their natural settings. 

You and the kids will find yourselves looking at the aquarium, under the aquarium, over the aquarium and even walk inside an aquarium with live fish all around you.  It is an all-day activity.  On my recent visit, I never saw one youngster that lost interest.  It is a certainly a big “wow” for the kids.

Wonders of Wildlife is dedicated to Johnny Morris’s mother and father who always found the time to take him fishing.   

The Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium is one of those places to visit that cannot be properly described by the written word. 

A great family vacation is waiting.  Visit Wonders of Wildlife one day in the near future.  Visit Bass Pro Shops the next day. 

Head down to Branson, Missouri, just a short drive south of Springfield, for family fun at Silver Dollar City and take in many other family attractions. 

The best may be a day of fishing on Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo. 

A plaque in the Aquarium says “Take a kid fishing, you’ll be glad you did.”   Your kids will be glad you found the time to take them fishing.

Springfield, Missouri, is in middle of the Ozarks region, which sits in middle of the continental United States.  It is easy travel from any part of the country.  Commercial flights are available to Springfield and Branson airports.  Driving on I-44 from St. Louis, it is less than 3 hours to a great WOW family experience.

Visit or call 1-800-268-4014 or more info.

Watch the video to understand just how this incredible place will appeal to your inner nature and passion for the outdoors.

4-H Shooting Sports in Missouri

4H Shooting Sports help our youth develop LIFE SKILLS, SELF-WORTH and CONSERVATION ETHICS. Click the picture for the story.

  • Youth Learn Marksmanship
  • Youth Learn the Safe and Responsible Use of Firearms
  • Youth Learn the Principles of Hunting and Archery

By David Gray

Rachel Augustine, Director of the Development for the Missouri 4-H Foundation, and Jim Sappington, Missouri Coordinator for 4-H Shooting Sports, discuss support to enable 4-H and 4-H shooting sports for Missouri youth.

The University of Missouri, located in the city of Columbia, is like many State Universities as it offers a large, sprawling campus complex.  I have been on campus many times over the years, but had never noticed the 4-H extension building and offices.  It is not small, in fact, it is a large building with a large parking area, but it is surrounded by trees and greenery that almost places the unique site in a world of its own.

The site is so fitting, as so many 4-H youth development programs involve outdoor activities and animals for the youth of our nation in the setting of countryside areas.

Early in June, 2018, I travelled to the University of Missouri to meet with Rachel Augustine, the Director of the Missouri 4-H Foundation, and Jim Sappington, Missouri’s statewide coordinator for 4-H Shooting Sports.  We discussed ways to extend support to enable 4-H and 4-H shooting sports to deliver their service of great value to youth, our community and country.  4-H says, “We believe in the power of young people. We see that every child has valuable strengths and real influence to improve the world around us.”

“Share the Outdoors” says, “We agree!” Rachel Augustine is a 4th generation Arizona native.  She began working for the Missouri 4-H Foundation when she and her husband relocated to Missouri in 2013. When asked what she likes most about her job, Rachel responded, “Helping kids prepare to succeed by learning life skills, responsibility and ethics.” Rachel added, “I also enjoy meeting so many different people as I travel all over Missouri.”

Thanks to a recent challenge gift from Larry and Brenda Potterfield, the Missouri 4-H Foundation is partnering with the Midway USA Foundation to establish and begin building a Missouri 4-H Shooting Sports Endowment Fund. The Fund will support the long-term growth of 4-H youth shooting programs in Missouri. While the new endowment fund is exciting work, Rachel and her team also raise funds to support more than 70 statewide 4-H programs and initiatives for the University of Missouri Extension 4-H Center for Youth Development.

Jim Sappington has been state-wide coordinator for 4H Missouri Shooting Sports activities for about one year, but he brings so much experience, as he came to the position after 27 years as a 4-H volunteer.  Jim says ”The job is a tremendous amount of work, but so much work is beside the point when you watch a youngster succeed at something they thought they could never do.”

To that, we at “Share the Outdoors” say, “Thank you Rachel and Jim!” Now, “How can we help?”

If you would like to make a donation to the Missouri 4-H Foundation contact Rachel Augustine at or by telephone, 573-884-7641. 

Parsons, Kansas: Warm Country, Warm People, Big Deer and Lots of Turkey

  • No Traffic, Multiple Turkey Species Greet Visiting Outdoors Folks
  • Visit Parsons to meet and greet the Heartland of our USA
Labette County, Kansas, offers sportsmen the adventure of a lifetime.

By David Gray

The day started with the anticipation of attending the Outdoor Communicators of Kansas conference in Labette County, Kansas.  The travel was to Parsons Kansas which is nestled in the southeast corner of Kansas, just west of Missouri, just north of Oklahoma.  May 7, 2018 was a day well spent. 

The drive to Parsons, Kansas, delivers a calm serenity. Turning south out of Kansas City the land quickly transcends from what some call city to what many call country.  Hills, trees, and fields blend into scenery of all that nature presents in the heartland of America.

The highway is not clogged bumper to bumper. You drive with goodwill and absorb the view.  A landscape of nature dotted with horses, cattle, turkey and deer.  Everywhere you look is a place you would like to hike thru.

The land is changed from when it was part of the Cherokee nation, but a steady look can reveal many things that are much the same. Sameness in this light is a good thing.

Parsons, Kansas, is as so many towns in the heartland, full of people that are happy to see you and are happy themselves. Maybe some of their happiness comes from living so close to the land. The land opens its arms to greet you and presents itself ever so differently from the concrete, pavement, buildings and congestion of the metropolitan environment.

With only 10,500 people that reside in this peaceful city…Parsons, Kansas is one of those special places that many sportsmen consider among their top 10 places to take a hunting and fishing vacation.

This part of Kansas was well chosen by the Kansas Outdoor Communicators for a conference on how the outdoor media might best serve those who need to revisit the outdoors on a more regular basis. At the same time, the gathering introduced the area to those of us who also find time spent outdoors the best way to spend our time.

Multiple species of turkey are present here, making Parsons a place to remember for future gobbler hunting.

A great part of the outdoors is fishing and hunting. The Cherokee did it, our European ancestors did it and we Americans continue to do it. Those who do it best, do it with respect and connection.

Mixed with the conference business meetings and discussions, the attendees went to the land and water to participate. There are so many outdoor opportunities in this southeast corner of the great state of Kansas.

Maybe the best thing about Parsons, Kansas, is that people not only look at you and smile, but stop and talk to you.  You may get asked where you are from and you likely get a warm welcome and sociable, “Thanks so much for visiting!”    

That is nice. This place is special.


Where is the Guide?

  • Lake of the Woods: Walleye Capital of the World
  • Anchor, Relax, Catch Fish All Day…Seriously
  • Simple Jig-Minnow Fishing

By David Gray

Captain Cassy Geurkink makes happy anglers when they come to fish Lake of the Woods near Baudette, Mn.  Dave Gray Photo

“Where is the guide?” was my second question.  My first question was, “Which boat is mine?” 

The boat was one of many 27-foot long Sportcraft walleye charter boats neatly tied-up to the Border View Lodge docks on Lake of the Woods, Baudette, Minnesota.

This was my first experience going out on a walleye charter.   I really was not excited, a walleye charter never did sound like my kind of fun fishing.   

I was attending a conference at Lake of the Woods in Minnesota and fishing buddy, Dave Barus, a skilled Lake Erie angler, had arranged this Walleye Charter.  Going out in a big boat on big water with six anglers and a guide did not appeal to me.  By the end of the day, I found out it was not only productive, it was great fun!  It was a very enjoyable way to spend a day on water…in the rain!  

I enjoyed every minute of our fishing trip on Lake of the Woods, catching walleye and sauger at an unbelievable rate. Forrest Fisher Photo

Tom at Border View Lodge answered my first question, “Your boat is the one in that slip.”  “The one with the girl in it?” I asked.  “Yes, that is your boat.”

The girl, Cassy, answered my other question.  “Good morning, I am your guide.  Get in and we’ll get going.”  My first thought was this local trip has been engineered as a tourism publicity moment with a lady guide.  Preconceived notions are not good things, but one crept into my brain that Cassy did not look like an experienced or hardened north woods woman.  Of course, I really can’t describe what an experienced north woods woman should look like.

Cassy had a very serious look on her face as she readied six anglers and their gear, nosed the boat out into the river current and headed for the open water on Lake of the Woods.  I would come to understand this serious look latter in the day, it was pure focus.

The new Kamooki Lure is spreading like wildfire across the fishing world. They’re a unique vertical jerkbait that will invoke a strike even when fish are not hungry.  Forrest Fisher Photo

My thoughts turned back to Border View Lodge.   Part of the charm of fishing in the North Country is visiting a new lodge.   All have a charm of their own.   Border View Lodge had a special charm that makes any angler feel at home the minute you walk in the door.   Wood paneling, fish mounts on the wall, dining area overlooking the docks and river and friendly people saying welcome.   

Border View Lodge is a family owned and run business.  The original lodge was a commercial fish operation when burbot was harvested to make cod liver oil.  Around 1962, Border View became a fishing lodge serving anglers.  In 1981 the current family purchased the resort.  Today, Mike and Lisa Kinsella run the resort, oversee nine guides and 10 launch boats.  In the winter they have 60 Ice Houses on the lake.  Border View is a full service resort for people that like to fish and the resort has amenities all anglers like.  Mike has a variety of packages to fit the needs of any group.   Call Mike at 1-800-ProFish, tell him what you want and he will take care of you.

Another glance at our guide, Cassy, and the same serious look was locked on her face as she stopped, put out the anchor and baited up six rods with a jig and minnow. 

Charter Captain Cassy Geurkink at the helm, showed us a fun time on a rainy day when nearly no other boats dared to leave the dock due to the weather.  With the best country and western music playing from Sirius, we knocked the socks off the fish!  David Gray Photo

It wasn’t long before the first walleye hooked up.  A nice walleye and as Cassy skillfully netted it I noticed the serious look was replaced by a huge smile.  That was it, serious look when getting clients loaded and handling the boat, but all smiles when the bite starts.  That is my kind of guide!  

The rest of the day made me smile.  I went from never wanting to do a walleye charter to, “Can’t wait to do this again.”   We hooked more than 75 walleye and sauger, some to 28 inches long, and we put six fish apiece in the cooler.  Cassy kept minnows on the jigs – baiting every one with her secret hook-up method, netted every single fish, and kept everyone fishing and in conversation. Quite a feat. 

So much for pre-conceived ideas! 

Share the Outdoors editor Dave Barus says, “We learned that walleye and sauger, big and small, live and thrive here thanks to a good fisheries management program and plentiful baitfish supply.  David Gray Photo

Cassy Geurkink is currently the only lady guide in the area, we found this out when we returned to shore, AND, she is considered one of the best guides on this part of the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods.  Cassy grew up fishing and hunting with her dad Tom who is also a guide.  Before becoming a guide, Cassy worked at a Chevy Dealer in the Minneapolis, St Paul area. Cassy eventually worked her way up to the Sales Manager position.  She would visit Dad on the weekends and started not wanting to go home.  Cassy left the car dealership and for a season worked in the lodge office.  But, as she says, “I am an outdoor girl and wanted to be outdoors.”  To be a guide on a waterway that borders another country, you have to have a Charter Captain’s license which involves study and a lengthy Coast Guard test.   So I started studying and passed the tests.

Cassy now guides four to seven days a week.  On days off, she takes her 7-year old son Finley out jig fishing.  Cassy said the best part of guiding is meeting different people.  She says, “Guiding teaches you even more about fishing.”  She learned how to be patient and how to help people catch fish.   When Cassy first started guiding, a lot of guys looked and said, “Oh boy a girl guide.”   Now many of those have become regular repeat customers and ask for Cassy.  I can understand why.  Pure dedication, highly skilled, not afraid to try new things and focus with a smile.

Cassy puts you on the fish and makes a happy boat.  If you can book her, say, “Oh Boy,” because you are going to have a great fishing day.   

Catching fish with Cassy explaining the details, the options, the reasoning behind using chosen jig colors, that was pure fun.  It was an education in fishing.  We pay for the fishing, the fun and instruction is free.  Can’t wait to do it again. 

For more info, here is the link:

Where Fishing is King

  • Walleye Capital of the World – Lake of the Woods
  • Sportsman’s Lodge, Oak Island Resort, Eagle Ridge Lodge
  • Catch a Sturgeon here too!

By David Gray

Thanks to the fisheries management program for Lake of the Woods, happy angler and book author, Bob Holzhei, caught many healthy and plentiful walleye like this one, while fishing with guides from Sportsman’s Lodge.  Forrest Fisher Photo

It goes without saying that Sportsman’s Lodge on Lake of the Woods, Minnesota, is one of those iconic destinations where everybody with a fishing rod meets to catch fish. If you are a walleye angler and live in the north or mid-west, you have probably visited (or heard of) The Sportsman’s Lodge. It’s a bucket list destination for every honest angler.
If you have never been to Sportsman’s Lodge, you need to go. You WILL enjoy the lodge, the staff and most of all, the fishing. Anglers can target walleye, sauger, northern pike, musky, sturgeon, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch or crappie. Choices. A good thing. I’m drooling again! On each of three trips there, my friends and I caught more than 50 walleye and sauger per trip, simply jigging with a minnow, the old-fashioned fun way. Hard to beat the fun. So many fish.
Located right on the Rainy River, Sportsman’s Lodge offers long-standing fishing success story traditions with a proven heritage. The service of hosting outdoor guests started here in the 1940’s (Jesmes Resort) and has continued to grow since. For the last decade, Gregg and Diana Hennum have expanded services with modernization and new comforts for guests.

Walleye and sauger during September and October can fill the sonar screen just a half-mile from the outlet of the Rainy River.  Forrest Fisher Photo

For 46 years Sportsman’s Lodge has been a family owned and operated resort. Family-owned means the guests are treated like family and that is evident the minute you walk thru the door.
The staff are hard-working, friendly folks, dedicated to assuring that your stay is nothing but the best. Sportsman’s Lodge can handle groups from 2 to 200. They host weddings, family reunions, corporate groups, meetings and father-son fishing trips. The Lodge is full service. They provide anything and everything you need.
The great restaurant selections are offered in two large dining rooms: the Dockside and Riverside. At the end of the day, the “Sandbar” will accommodate your fish catching tales and provide refreshments for relaxation, the bar is over 70 feet long! A choice of hotel rooms, cabins, villas, ice houses and, of course, fishing guide services are at your option and are available. You only need to bring your clothes, a camera, yourself and be ready to put some fish in the boat.
In 2003, Sportsman’s Lodge expanded with the addition of Oak Island Resort, 34 miles up the lake by water. Oak Island is smaller, but a full service operation for multi-species fishing. Favorite fishing targets from this location include musky, walleye and smallmouth.
Not far from Oak Island Resort is Eagle Ridge Lodge, a beautiful and ultra-private vacation home resort with all the allure of the wilderness and all the comforts of home. Eagle Ridge provides the best of both worlds not often found on an island located in one of the worlds best sport fisheries.

Gregg and Diana Hennum have provided coordinated programs for fishing, food and accommodations at the Sportsman’s Lodge.  David Gray Photo

In any location, you have choice of meals and guides, or if you are an accomplished angler, bring your own boat and guide yourself.
Gregg shared that a new “Adventure Package” is becoming popular. You leave Sportsman’s Lodge main location in Baudette on a Charter Boat, then fish your way up the 34 miles to Oak Island, stay overnight, then fish your way back. A no-hassle fun fishing outing, though customized trip packages are also available.

The new villa accommodations offer brand new rustic seating that is accompanied with a view of the Rainy River and a beautiful sunset each evening.

Fishing is king at Sportsman’s Lodge and Oak Island Resort. Winter Ice fishing is very popular and Gregg added, “More people are coming in the summer to get some relief from the heat of farther south, but winter fishing is also a tradition here for hundreds of families.”
Sportsman’s Lodge is a large, family-owned resort that has not forgotten its roots of treating guests like family. Fishing is king at Sportsman’s Lodge. This location on the Rainy River area of Lake of the Woods is noted to be the Walleye Capitol of the World. I asked Gregg Hennum why, he answered, “Because we have 10 Million of them!” After just spending three great days at Sportsman’s Lodge, I think it may be more than 10 Million!
My buddies and I can’t wait to go back next year.

Get Walleye Savvy Quick – ST. CROIX Walleye EYECON® FISHING ROD SERIES

  • Eyecon® ECS-70LF, 7ft., Lite-Power, Fast-Action, SCII Graphite
  • When a Fishing Rod Icon creates a Walleye Fishing Eyecon®
The St. Croix Eyecon® WALLEYE SERIES of fishing rods are sensitive, powerful and affordable.  

By David Gray
Part of the fun in the sport of fishing is the never-ending search for new equipment that works and fishes better. Last April, a friend introduced me to a new rod, the Eyecon ECS-70LF from St. Croix. The rod had such a “great feel,” I talked him into letting me borrow it for a couple of months so I could try it out.
The Eyecon ECS-70LF is one of the most impressive rods I have used in a long time. It says “Walleye Series” on the rod and it does a great job presenting finesse baits, but that is not all this rod does. The rod fishes well for walleye, crappie, bluegill, float fishing for smallmouth, and is great when spin fishing for trout. I used the 7-foot Eyecon with 3-pound line and 1/32 ounce jigs for trout and the rod was pure joy. Such are the numerous unadvertised advantages, since it can also handle medium-sized crankbaits with ease too.

Finesse fishing for walleye can be very successful with the right tools, beginning with the right fishing rod.  Forrest Fisher Photo

How a fishing rod casts, or more precisely, how the rod transfers energy to cast a lure, is where most rods fall short. It is one performance task to bring a large bass or walleye to the boat, but a very different performance task to achieve casting distance and accuracy. The Eyecon excels in both performance tasks.
My first use of the Eyecon was an eye-opener. When I picked it up, it made me stop to do a double-take on the rod, then the line and the lure. There was a captivating synergy in just picking the rig up to hold. Simple moments that are remembered like that mean good things. My first cast with the Eyecon surprised me. It went 10 feet farther than I was aiming. My second, third and fourth cast did the same. Every cast was 10 to 15 feet further than my aim point. The Eyecon is so efficient at transferring energy, it was casting farther than most similar action 7-foot spinning rods.
My experience with fishing rods is that when they can cast light lures well, they usually do not have super-sensitivity, but the Eyecon surprised me there. It is a very sensitive rod and lives up to its finesse label.
Every once in a while, a new product raises the performance bar and the Eyecon does exactly that. Everything that you want a fishing rod to do well this rod does extremely well.
The Eyecon ECS-70 LF is as a great buy in a 7-foot spinning rod. It delivers a higher level of fishing performance, helps you fish better and makes you a better fisherman. You gotta love fishing tools that allow you to achieve all that. I have one of my own Eyecon’s now. They sell for $120-$130 and come with a 5-year warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service.
If you need more info:

One of Too Few

  • One Man Trout Angler, Fly-Tyer, Wisdom-Provider
  • Roaring River State Park Trout Secrets
  • Tim’s Fly Shop – Fishing Advice for the Day
Beautiful trout are the usual order of the day with the right fly in the right place.

By David Gray

Opening the door to Tim’s Fly Shop, I walked onto “I Tie Flies” Boulevard.

Grinning without knowing it, I somehow felt a new twang of destiny on my side, positive energy and the odor of dry fly silicon or something.

There are times when you know your first time into a place, you made the right turn.

The quiet, the warm glow of the shop, this was going to be a powerful day.  You know the feeling when you are in the right place at the right time.

There was feathers, hackle, dubbing, chenille, thread, hooks and all that, but a guy named Tim Homesley sitting at his fly-tying bench with a fish-catchy grin and asking me if I needed some help.  That sealed the deal.

Some say that fly-fishing mentor Tim Homesley is one of a kind.

Others say Tim is one of too few.  I know that to be true.

Tim’s Fly Shop sits just outside the entrance to Roaring River State Park nestled deep in the Ozark hills of Missouri.

A baby boomer will call his shop “old school” where product selection is excellent, prices are fair and service is genuine.

A millennial will call his shop “trendy” where selection is great and service is awesome.

Tim Homesley is about real, live advice. No CD, no DVD, no memory stick. It’s just Tim’s way with words of wisdom, face to face.

Tim is one of the few.  Many tackle stores and fly shops like Tim’s that were prevalent not so long ago are now mostly gone.  Many have given way to on-line shopping and large retailers.

But what you will find at Tim’s you will never find online or at any big box store.   At Tim’s you will not only find tackle, you will find incredible knowledge that is shared with enthusiasm.

Mr. Tim Homesley is the owner, proprietor, tackle salesman, fly-maker and advice-giver at Tim’s fly shop.

Tim knows a lot about fishing.

His fishing advice is Priceless, Accurate, his fishing advice is a Sacred Vision into your Fish-Catching Future, his fishing advice is worth listening to. High-value wisdom is not found just anywhere.

“Dad probably thought I wanted a fly rod and brought one home for me when I was five,” Tim shared.

That fly rod sparked a 49-year long passion for fishing and learned knowledge about fishing.   Tim reminisced how before he could drive, Mom or Dad would drop him and a friend to the trout stream in the morning and pick them up that evening after they fished all day.  The passion started then.  Tim learned a lot about how to catch trout.

Prior to opening his shop, Tim spent 9 years managing the Roaring River State Park store.  And Tim added even more to his knowledge about trout fishing.

Perfectly perfect flies are the usual fish-catchers from Tim’s Fly Shop.

Then 23 years ago, he opened Tim’s Fly Shop.  That adds up to 49 years of fishing knowledge.

Buy $10 worth of tackle at Tim’s and you will get a couple hundred dollars of fishing knowledge thrown in.  Live advice.  No CD, no DVD, no memory stick. It’s just Tim’s way with words of wisdom, face to face.  Even if you don’t buy anything, you still get a couple of hundred dollars worth of knowledge and tips just by walking around at Tim’s Fly Shop.

Tim and Tim’s Fly Shop is one of too few.   Tim is so informative.

Question:  Other than Roaring River in Missouri where else do you like to fish?

Tim:  I like Montauk Trout area in Missouri.  It is the headwaters of the Current River and not many people know me there so I can just fish and enjoy.  I also like to float Missouri streams to catch and always release smallmouth.

Question:  Where do you like to fish outside Missouri?

Tim:  New Zealand, it is a favorite, beautiful country, friendly people and great trout fishing.

I also like the Western US.  There are some great places in the west.

Question:  What do you enjoy the most about running Tim’s Fly Shop?

Tim:  Helping people learn how to fish and catch trout. The best is teaching younger people how to fly fish and get good at it. I have taught kids to fly fish who are now Dad’s and they now bring their kids in for me to work with and teach.

Tim’s Fly Shop is like going to visit with a friend at your home. I have to stop there every time I drive by.

Question: What is your fondest memory of running Tim’s Fly Shop?

Tim:  I worked with a young man name Trent from Springfield for several years teaching him how to be a very good angler.  He wrote me a full length sincere letter thanking me for that.  It was special to receive that letter.

If you love camping, hiking, trout fishing and nature, Roaring River State Park in Missouri is one very special place to visit.  When you visit, be sure to stop by that special place called Tim’s Fly Shop, it’s located on the lower northwest side of the park on Highway 112.  On Wednesday, the shop is closed and you won’t find Tim.  He may be somewhere with rod in hand accumulating more knowledge about fishing that he will be more than ready to share with you on Thursday.

You can email Tim at, but the best bet is stop in at his store address: Tim’s Fly Shop, 233387 State Hwy 112, Cassville, Missouri, 65625, or call to be sure if you are traveling, call at 417-847-4956.

For lodging, campground and park information for Roaring River State Park, call 417-847-2330

One TINY Secret to Stabilize GIANT Outdoor Fun

My 3 outboards (from 9.9HP to 200HP),  my Sea Doo, lawnmower, 4-wheeler, pressure washer and chain saw all get a little more “LOVE” from me since I started using StarTron fuel stabilizer.  Everything runs great with this incredible engine life-saver for spring start-up fun in the outdoors.

By Dave Gray

It’s not glitzy, but it will show you some love!      

Jump on most e-commerce tackle store sites or walk into a Bass Pro Shop store and as anglers, we can browse an almost endless variety of equipment, gear, and tackle.

Today’s tackle is not only better performing, but better looking than ever. 

Rods, reels, lures, and about everything on the shelf is all jazzed up and makes you want to push two shopping carts so you can load them up. 

Even the new Plano tackle boxes are not just functional, but darn good looking containers.  So good looking it makes me want to retire my old shabby lure boxes and treat them to a new Plano.  

If you are like me, it is looking, shopping and putting new tackle in your shopping cart that is half the fun. 

It is hard to beat the fun of opening up the packages and stowing new gear in the boat.  Every angler can relate to the feeling of great anticipation.  And we know some fishing items work well for us and some disappoint.  That is OK, it comes with the sport and it is great to experiment with our tackle.

There is one item a fisherman needs where if it does not work it brings more than disappointment.  A lost day of fishing is only the beginning of what it costs if it does not work.

It is fuel additive stabilizer.  

I guess most anglers are like me.  End of season and time to store the boat.   Grab some fuel stabilizer, whatever brand they have, where you shop and dump it in.   And hope it works, so that next spring the motor runs when you want it to. 

I have not used every brand of fuel stabilizer on the market.  I used to grab any brand on the shelf.  And I have been disappointed more than once come next spring with hard starts, or non-starting engines.   I also had problems with fuel stabilizers that caused spark plugs to foul during the first spring start up. Leaving the boat on the trailer to go buy spark plugs is not a fun way to spend a first spring fishing or boating day.  

One product I came across and now ALWAYS use, is StarTron Enzyme fuel additive.  It works, and works so well, I use it in all my gas-powered equipment.    I use StarTron in 3 outboards from a 9.9hp to a 200hp.  I use it in my Sea Doo, lawnmower, 4-wheeler, pressure washer and chain saw.   And they all start and run the next season.  

Check out the engine formula type you need, order from this link:

Try StarTron Enzyme fuel treatment and it will show your equipment some love!  

Rapala DT® (Dives-To) Series Crankbaits

• Wear Out the Fish!
• Balsa Lures with “Swagger”
• Best Lure in my “Go-To” Arsenal

By David Gray
“Gimme my GO-TO bait!”
Most all of us have heard that, especially in a fishing tournament, or right after a tournament when the winner says, “I just went to my “GO-TO” bait and it hammered them!” You know, it’s a bait or lure we throw when our confidence is down, the bite is tough and it seems we just can’t get a fish-catching pattern put together.

The most important feature for a lure to reach “GO-TO” status is that it must perform, wiggle, wobble, dig down, float high or slurp along to attract a curious fish so that we catch fish consistently when we throw it. Our confidence is sure and high when we throw this bait.

In a slow or tough bite condition, we reach for that one GO-TO bait to eliminate the possible that it is the lure that is not working. After we throw that one, we’re sure that fish must not be there and it’s time to move and try a new location.

Rapala says DT® (Dive-To) series baits:

• Get to the strike zone and stay there longer, we find: they do.
• Their streamlined shape and strategic weight placement allows them to be cast to 150 feet, we find: they do cast farther than many crankbaits.
• Pull easier and we find: DT series have a uniform retrieve force less than some baits.
• Are hand tuned and tested, and we find Rapala DT baits do have a superior performance right out of the box.

My favorite sizes are the DT-6 and DT-16. Both sizes fish well for me. They come equipped with premium VMC Sure-Set Hooks that don’t miss on hook-ups from short strikes. As for GO-TO baits I always keep the DT6 (runs 6 feet deep) and DT16 (runs 16 feet deep) in two colors: Parrot (which I think outperforms Firetiger on most days) and Pearl Grey Shiner which seems to work everywhere.

Rapala DT series lures come in 5 sizes and depth ranges from 4 feet to 16 feet.
Look ‘em over in this video for a better look:

If you like ‘em like I do, check out the best assortment and inventory here:

The Two Most Asked Questions in the World

Ever wonder where Santa goes and does after the Christmas holiday is over? We think we found the answer!

  • Is There Really a Big-Foot? 
  • What Does Santa Do After Christmas?   
  • Campfire Island
Ever wonder where Santa goes and does after the Christmas holiday is over? We think we found the answer!
Ever wonder where Santa goes and does after the Christmas holiday is over? We think we found the answer!

By David Gray

Our good fortune last year allowed us to dig deeply into the Santa mystery.  Arriving at Campfire Island Lodge on Rainy Lake, Ontario, we did get to meet the man.

We are pleased to report that Santa not only likes to fish, he is pretty good at it too.

for-sto-12222016-fishing-picture-2of3Bumping into Mr. Claus at Campfire Island should not have surprised us.  As the world class traveler he is, we asked Santa about best places to wet a line and he shared there is no better place than Campfire Island.   Excuse the pun, but we hope Santa did not let that out of his secret bag, as we have not made our next year reservations at Campfire Island yet.  Maybe we should put that on our Christmas list?  For info:

We asked Santa for an extensive interview, but the twinkle in his eye always turned toward the dock to see if his guide was ready.  We understood.

As he jumped into his boat we asked what tackle he liked and, ever the gift giver, he pointed to his bag left invitingly (or was it suspiciously?) right in front of his cabin.  Was this for us?  We’d been good.

We raced to check his bag while Santa walked to his boat and drove out of sight.  We discovered that Santa really does a have a big foot!

He also likes to catch big fish.

Awe, oh, and what to our eyes should we find:

Then out on the lake we heard a whoop and holler with a HO, HO, HO.  Had Santa caught the biggest Smallmouth in the lake or was he inviting us to come join him?


We ran to the dock as we heard his jolly laugh and proclaim, “Merry Christmas and a great fishing year to all.”  For info:


Gamma – What? Gamma – Who?

  • Better Fishing Line through SCIENCE
  • Increased Angler Touch and Feel
  • Affordable High Performance 

for-sto-12142016-fishing-picture-1of2By David Gray

When your fishing has spanned three or more decades plus, you have likely:

  1. Learned a lot
  2. Tried a bunch of different brands
  3. Seen a lot of lofty marketing claims about fishing product.

So when I heard the name Gamma fishing line, my thought was that it was a catchy name, but would the brand be worth trying?  I saw information that said Gamma line is molecularly altered for more performance and I assumed it was just marketing hype – what does that mean?

I did not try Gamma for a number of years and that was a considerable fishing strategy error on my part.

Anglers move from brand to brand of fishing line.  Like me, you probably saw line on sale and gave that brand a try, or a friend told you his brand and you tried it yourself.

I did too.   Over the course of years I tried lots of lines. Some of my “go-to” line brands were Trilene XL, Stren, Trilene XT, Big Game, Maxima, and Bass Pro Shops Excel which I continue to use.

Then I met Dale Black, owner of Gamma Line at an outdoor show.  Dale is an angler.  He is a business manager too, but most important, Dale knows fishing and he knows line.  He gave- not just a sales pitch, but an angler’s explanation of why Gamma line delivers increased fishing performance.  Why it’s a better line.  When I see and hear that sort of fact-presented passion, I am all ears.

for-sto-12142016-fishing-picture-2of2As fluorocarbon is the fussiest of line materials, I decided to start with Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon.  If it fished as Dale said, I would try other Gamma line.  Let me share all my issues about fluorocarbon with the qualifier that not any one line brand is best for all anglers.

Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon provided considerable improvement for my fishing in these areas:

  • Did not jump off my spinning reels – it had less memory issues
  • Excellent knot strength for someone that is not a good knot tyer
  • Strength did not decline in colder water
  • Life of the line on my reels lasted my complete season

I next tried Gamma Fluorocarbon Transparent Leader and Gamma Touch Super Fluorocarbon with continued excellent results.  Thumbs up for Gamma Fluorocarbon Line, it does deliver superior fishing performance.

Review Gamma and let us know how you like it.  Find out more or click Buy Now at


Survive Big Fish at Campfire Island

Dale Black, Gamma Fishing Line inventor, used the giant Campfire Island smallmouth bass and walleye to come up smiling big and often.

  • Giant Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike
  • North Country Grandeur, Great Food
  • Peace, Nature, Sacred Moments 
  • The Perfect Christmas Gift – Affordable
Dale Black, Gamma Fishing Line inventor, used the giant Campfire Island smallmouth bass and walleye to come up smiling big and often.
Dale Black, Gamma Fishing Line inventor, used the giant Campfire Island smallmouth bass and walleye to come up smiling big and often.

By David Gray

If you were writing a Hemingway-like novel and wanted to pick a really eloquent name for a fishing destination, you couldn’t choose a better one than “Campfire Island, Rainy Lake.”   Even the name just sounds perfect and if you are in love with fishing, not just fishing, but fish, fish, fish – then you will find Campfire Island to be a sanctuary for unforgettable fish-catching moments.

Campfire Island Lodge is about just that.  Guests arrive by boat, tour the lodge and guest cabins, than get ready for a world class fishing experience.  At Campfire Island all you do is eat, sleep, fish and enjoy.

Although the island is close enough as the crow flies to Fort Francis, Ontario, and International Falls, Minnesota.  Folks that want to stay connected by cell phone realize that they might just turn it off, as Campfire Island is a true north country fishing lodge resort experience of distinctive quality.  Myself, I choose not to sacrifice my time here with distractions and like most folks today – I’m a busy guy, but I need some time to talk with my creator through the elements of where big fish live.  I figure I owe myself and my work crew this unforgettable destiny at least once a year.  This is that kind of sacred place for me.

Rainy Lake, which is divided by the US – Canada border, is a world class fishery, but at times I have set my rod down and just absorbed the natural beauty of the lake.  There is sanctifying silence occasionally interrupted by the shrill cry of an Osprey or Bald Eagle.  You will never find an angler who has fished Rainy Lake that will not rank it as one of the most stunningly beautiful lakes in North America.  The Campfire Island guides will target the species you want, but their specialty is trophy smallmouth and walleye, and you can see form the pictures that they deliver.

The lodge at Campfire Island is subtle and stunning with masterful amenities that earn respect and admiration from comfortable anglers and visitors.
The lodge at Campfire Island is subtle and stunning with masterful amenities that earn respect and admiration from comfortable anglers and visitors.

The main lodge was built in the mid-60’s and has been maintained just as it was many years ago, emanating that special charm of a premium Canadian fishing retreat.  I suspect that over the years the porch has seen far fewer fish tales than truthful “big fish” fishing stories every day.  The camp may be the perfect corporate or business fishing retreat experience.

The old saying goes that you get what you pay for.  Campfire Island is not a drive-to-do-your-own-thing resort.  At Campfire Island you eat, sleep, fish and fish and fish, while the cooks, guides and staff do everything else.  And the cooks, the guides and owners are some of the best folks I have ever been lucky enough to meet.  You cannot ask for a more justifiable fishing experience, even from a comparable wilderness fly-in fish trip.

The cost is affordable, the value of the services are worth twice the price.  The staff and guides, as well as Pat and Wayne – the owners of Campfire Island, Rainy Lake, all are connected to providing a boundless experience on the water as we meet the forces of big fish and nature in the grandeur of this place.

Campfire Island is a 5-star “Fishing Jewel.”  For more info, call 1-800/363-2018,  or check out the web at:

Gary Abernethy found great success and heavy-duty tooth mark souvenirs using action-style stickbaits in rainbow smelt or golden shiner colors with these effective LiveTarget Lures.
Gary Abernethy found great success and heavy-duty tooth mark souvenirs using action-style stickbaits in rainbow smelt or golden shiner colors with these effective LiveTarget Lures.

IceArmor® Clam Dry Skinz Gloves

DRY SKINZ Photo1Staying Dry, Keeping Warm – a Winter Priority

If you are an avid angler, hunter, or love to participate in anything outdoors, you have DRY SKINZ Photo2likely seen or read hundreds, if not thousands, of product reviews. Just about every TV show, magazine and website has them. The STO team does real world In-The-Field Product Reviews that are offered free and represent the consumer viewpoint. Nothing is more disappointing than getting to your destination and then discovering that the product you selected cannot you’re your expectations or the environment as anticipated.

Test Date: Dec. 20, 2015; Location: Bennett Spring, Missouri (Ozarks)

Activity: Stream Trout Fishing; Air Temp: 41 degrees

Water Temp: 54-56 degrees, spring fed all year long.

dryskionzIf you live in the ICE Belt of the northern United States and Canada, and you like to Ice Fish, then you already know about the IceArmor Clam brand. Clam is a leader in Ice Fishing Gear and related equipment for hard water anglers, especially those outdoorsmen that frequent the frozen north and get their hands wet. We had the opportunity to visit Clam Corporation in Minneapolis, Minnesota during the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers conference in September, 2015, and met with Clam staff to discuss new products. Dry Skinz Gloves entered the product discussion at that time. We learned that Dry Skinz Gloves are exclusive to IceArmor by Clam, where they are a relatively new product. Dry Skinz gloves are constructed with a waterproof, breathable membrane to offer a seamless and waterproof fit that is snug, but comfortable, over your fingers and hand. They offer dexterity and touch control, and they also provide an extra-long cuff for complete protection from wetness. We think they work everywhere outdoors, and we recommend that you don’t go outside when it’s cold and wet without them. Cost is under $30 and sizes are available to 2XL. After testing, we think this product is PRICELESS!

The Meaning of Christmas

Bass Pro Picture 1


Not just about Reindeer and Santa Claus, it’s about sharing the joy of family and helping other people be happy everywhere!

I looked the calendar, 6 days to Christmas Eve. Where has the time gone? Can’t put it off any longer, got to get started on my Christmas shopping. Noon, I was out of the office. Got out my list and checked it twice. I headed to the Mall and beyond.

First stop was the ladies apparel store. Next stop, yep, the next ladies apparel shop. Then the specialty gift shop. Next off to the sports store, had to pick up some KC Royals World Series shirts and hats. Next was hardware and home improvement.

This was a good day happening! Every store had many shoppers, gifts, and holiday specials, lots of items to choose from and buy. Some, but not all, had colorful holiday and Christmas decorations.

Remaining on the list were the outdoor items. I had saved the best for last! This is my kind of shopping! I headed to Bass Pro Shops in Independence, Missouri. This is my kind of store! But truth be told, any store with great fishing, hunting and outdoor gear is hard for me to pass up.  I got out my list and headed in. The greeter said, “Merry Christmas” with great sincerity. I think he really meant it. I dove into the list. Rods and reels, lures, a fly box, some fly tying materials, a pair of boots, holsters, targets, a couple of fleece shirts and a mid-weight jacket.  This is my favorite part of Christmas shopping. Outdoor stuff! I would take my time. Maybe I would throw a few items in the cart just for me (somebody has to help Santa).

Suddenly, I stopped. I realized something was different.   I had not seen these in other stores.  Everywhere I looked I saw families, lots of families. Families together, enjoying the season. I saw kids and children and toddlers with smiles. They were playing and having fun. Special kid’s areas were set up with toys just for them. A racetrack was here, a pop gun shooting gallery there, a radio-controlled toy over there, and tables and tables with lots of crayons.

I saw families taking kids to see Santa at Bass Pro. I saw smiles looking at the pictures with Santa. I saw Christmas decorations. When I entered the store I had heard, “Merry Christmas!”

When I left I heard, “Merry Christmas.” I replied Merry Christmas too. Part of the meaning of the Christmas season is to make others feel good.

Thanks Bass Pro Shops, for making families and kids happy.

And Merry Christmas to you Bass Pro Shops.

Thank you Lord.

2015 LUND Impact 1850 XS Review

LUND 1850 Impact XS

Real world boat tests are always the best. They answer the questions of how will this boat run, ride, fish and perform after purchase. The test of this 2015 LUND 1850 Impact XS was very real. We had scheduled an on the water testing with its new owner prior to participation in a fishing competition on Lake Minnetonka near Minneapolis Minnesota. Boat test date was September 27, 2015.

The staff and team of Share-the-Outdoors are not professional marine test personnel.    We are passionate anglers with heavy experience using many boats. We write product and boat reviews from a user point of view.   We may not include some technical specifications like the grade of rivets used but we do include what the boat will do for its owner.   We think what the boat will do, how it runs, performs and fishes is the information we all need to know.

Getting information about a boat from a sales person in a dealership is always helpful. Our boat tests information comes from a slightly different perspective.   Let us know if you like the way we do our boat testing.

Performance of the LUND 1850 Impact XS

The lake conditions were challenging! A windy day combined with a sunny warm weekend created heavy wind waves blending with heavy boat traffic to provide a mix-master of quartering waves in every conceivable size coming from every direction. Experienced boat operators can adjust a boat for optimum ride using a combination of throttle, motor trim, and angle of boat direction. Not so easy to set up for a cauldron of waves crashing into each other from boat waves and wind, but the LUND Impact XS handled this well.

Like all aluminum LUND’s this 1850 Impact XS was solid. Let me repeat that this boat was SOLID.   Despite extreme wave conditions the 1850 Impact XS exhibited the strength and structural integrity LUND is famous for. Pounding thru the waves this boat felt like it was made out of solid metal. We have to give it 5 Stars for rough water strength and hull rigidity.

A stable platform for fishing is important for all fishing boats. Some Deep V boats do not excel as a stable fishing platform but the 1850 Impact XS was stable and exceeded our expectations.

We put the boat thru moderate and high speed turns in waves from every direction and the boat handled the turns like a pro.   No bucking or jumping between the waves.   The 1850 Impact XS tracked well thru the turns.

The 1850 Impact XS was powered with a Mercury 150HP four stroke outboard engine. The motor and boat matched up well and the boat jumped on plane with 3 people aboard using 75% throttle.   We were greatly impressed with the Mercury 150 four- stroke.   It was quiet, very responsive to throttle change, and delivered exceptional smooth power.   The very rough water conditions prevented us from performing wide open throttle high speed runs but the boat achieved 46 MPH in considerable wave conditions with the throttle at approximately 75 to 80%. The motor was equipped with a 3 blade stainless steel prop.

The fit, finish and workmanship were exceptional.   Credit goes to the LUND manufacturing brand.   If you are in the market for a quality Deep V in the 18 to 19 feet range that will serve you fishing and taking the family for a boat ride or ski run then the LUND 1850 Impact XS is a good choice.

Specifications of boat tested: LUND 1850 Impact XS
Length: 18.7 ft.
Beam:   94 in.
HP: 150 Four Stroke Mercury equipped with 3 blade stainless steel prop.
Hull: IPS-Integrated Power Strake with double plated bow.
Chine width: 79.5 in.
Fuel capacity: 32 gallon.

Lund Boats website: