Branson Fishing Lakes rank among BEST-IN-AMERICA

The Tri-Lakes area of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas includes fishing hotspot waters, including Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake.

  • World class fishing is found everyday in the famous Tri-Lakes region of southwest Missouri.
  • Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake & Bull Shoals Lake offer trout, bass, crappie, walleye, catfish, perch and more.
  • Visitors discover affordable family fun, family fishing, family entertainment and restful accommodations. 
Big trout live here, including this 40-pound 6-ounce Missouri State Record Brown Trout from Lake Taneycomo.

By Larry Whiteley

Where can you go and fish three different lakes for 23 different species of fish in one trip? The answer is Branson, Missouri. Located in the famous Tri-Lakes area of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas, this family fishing hotspot includes Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake. All have been ranked among the best fishing lakes in America. In 2018, Branson was named #1 in ”Top 10 Lake Towns,” then in 2020 was ranked #2 in ”Top Affordable U.S. Lake Towns” by www.realtor.com.

Wrapping around the eastern border of Branson is Lake Taneycomo, renown as the “Trout Capital of America.” It is internationally known for world-class rainbow and brown trout fishing. The Missouri state record brown trout was broken twice in 2019 with a 34-pound 10-ounce fish, followed seven months later with a 40-pound 6-ounce brown. The world record is 42 pounds 1 ounce and was caught in New Zealand. In 1997, a dead brown trout was found floating in Taneycomo that was 41.75 inches long, and based on those measurements, it would have weighed over 44 pounds. Will the next world record come from Lake Taneycomo? The fabulous trout fishing is not the only great fishing that Taneycomo offers. The diverse fishery also features catfish, crappie, bass, sunfish and walleye that all thrive in the cold, nutrient-rich waters.

Massive fish thrive in the Tri-Lakes region, like this 65-pound 10-ounce Missouri State Record Striped Bass from Bull Shoals Lake.
Tasty yellow perch are among colorful fish to be caught here. This 2-pound 7-ounce Yellow Perch was taken from Bull Shoals Lake, it’s a Missouri State Record.

Table Rock Lake is also a big part of the fishing and fun in the Branson area, with shorelines covering both Missouri and Arkansas. When I say big, I do mean BIG! The 43,100-acre reservoir has excellent bass fishing year-round and is annually ranked in Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes listing. If you have dreamed of catching the “Triple Crown of Bass” (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted), this is the place you could make it happen. White bass are also in these waters, so I guess if you caught one of them along with the other three, you would have a “Grand Slam of Bass.” There are also a limited number of striped bass, but I have no idea what you would call it if you caught one along with the other four. A miracle, I guess, and something you can tell your grandkids about. In addition to all the bass species available in Table Rock waters, there are also white and black crappie, walleye, goggle-eye, channel catfish, flathead catfish, carp, bluegill and longear sunfish. If you are into catching something really different, Table Rock is also home to ancient paddlefish.

Bull Shoals Lake is a short drive from Branson, and like Table Rock, is in both Missouri and Arkansas. It, too, is nationally known for its excellent bass fishing. Largemouth weighing up to 12-pounds have been caught here. There is also hybrid bass, smallmouth bass spotted bass, stripe bass, and white bass too. Bull Shoals is not known for hybrid bass, but a local angler recently caught a state record 29-pound 1-ounce hybrid that might very well also be a line-class world record if it passes all the judging criteria. A 65-pound, 10-ounce state record striped bass was also taken from these waters. Bull Shoals is also nationally recognized as a fabulous walleye lake. The Missouri state record at 21-pounds, 1-ounce came from Bull Shoals. Crappie fishing is also popular and, if you’re into catfishing, there’s plenty of those too. There are a limited number of rainbow trout and a few of the historic paddlefish here. Another fish in Bull Shoals, and conservation folks are not sure how they got there, is the yellow perch. This species is very popular in America’s northern lakes and in Canadian waters. The Missouri state record is 2-pounds, 7-ounces, which is a good size for this good-tasting cousin of the walleye.

Besides fishing, there are many family fun things to do in this beautiful area of America. Go to www.explorebranson.com and check it all out for yourself, then come explore all that Branson, Missouri has to offer for fishermen and families. For additional information regarding travel or accommodations, you may also  contact the Branson Visitors Bureau by phone: 1-800-296-0463 . 

A School Program THAT’S RIGHT ON TARGET!

  • Student archery participation improves school attendance, increases student confidence, improves student behavior
  • All students are equal, not based on popularity, athletic skill, gender, size, or academic ability
  • MoNASP State Tournament will run March 22 – 24, 2019 at Branson Convention Center in Branson, Missouri
All students can learn and compete in the Missouri Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP).

By Larry Whiteley

In 2001, Roy Grimes was the Deputy Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources. He was assigned the task of creating what eventually became the National Archery in the Schools Program better known as NASP®.

Roy designed it as an in-school program to aim at improving educational performance among students in grades 4 – 12. Through the sport of archery, he wanted them to learn focus, learn self-control, discipline, patience, and the life lessons required to be successful in the classroom and in life.

Since the program officially started in 2002, it has seen over 10 million kids all over America discover a great activity that doesn’t discriminate based on popularity, athletic skill, gender, size, or academic ability. The program is open to any student and the biggest supporters are professional educators, because student participation improves school attendance, increases student confidence, improves behavior and provides them with increased exercise in the form of physical activity.

In 2007, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) agreed to coordinate the Missouri Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP). In these last eleven years, more than half a million Missouri students have participated. There are now 690 Missouri schools that participate and over 200,000 students that are learning the lifetime sport of archery and all the rest that MoNASP teaches as part of the school curriculum.

Last year, more than 3,100 Missouri kids from 140 schools competed in the state competition in Branson, MO  and were watched by over 10,000 spectators. 1,490 of the kids that qualified, made the trip to Louisville, KY for the NASP National Championships. Some 129 Missouri students went on to the NASP World Tournament!

The MoNASP State Tournament is now the second largest state archery tournament in the nation and continues to grow. This year, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF) will again partner with MDC to host the tournament from March 22 – 24, 2019, at the Branson Convention Center in Branson, MO. This year they are expecting 3,700 students to compete with more than 15,000 spectators. Proceeds from the event support MoNASP programs and conservation programs in Missouri.

There will also be an ASPIRE MoNASP Tournament for students who do not have a position at the state tournament due to space. This group will also include students who weren’t able to shoot a state qualifying score this year.

Student archery participation improves school attendance, increases student confidence, improves student behavior.

Even if you don’t have a child or grandchild taking part in the tournament, it’s a great event to watch and cheer on these kids. Plus, there are lots of other activities you can also enjoy over the three days of the event. Bass Pro Shops will have their Indoor/Outdoor Days with catch and release fishing, archery activities, bounce houses, air guns and animals from the Johnny Morris Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium.

Russ and Diskey – the Frisbee Stunt Dog Team, will also be there along with Mountain Man from Duck Dynasty. There will be special shows by Dolly Parton’s Stampede and Presley’s Country Jubilee. The World’s Largest Sidewalk Sale will be held at Tanger and The Landing.  RVs, boats, ATVs and archery exhibitors will be on display along with a Corvette Club Show. You can even attend the Sip the Ozarks event and sample Missouri wine, spirits and beer.

Business sponsorship opportunities are also still available and are a great way to help these kids and conservation too, as well as gain positive public exposure for the business.

For more information and to book hotel rooms, go to www.mochf.org and click on the MONASP drop down.

Grandson helps Grandpa catch giant rainbow trout at Lake Taneycomo

The big rainbow trout were biting on Lake Taneycomo over the weekend. Payden Hays and his Grandpa, George Hays, both residents of Lee’s Summit, made the trek down to Branson over the weekend. Their goal was to help George, who has fished his whole life, catch his very first trout.

They rented a boat from Lilley’s Landing Resort and Marina and took off to Monkey Island, a place where Payden has found success in the past when other spots won’t produce. Sure enough, the fish were there. In less than an hour, George had landed his very first trout at 86 years old!

When the fishing slowed, they made a move down lake past the Landing. It was a good move. Within minutes, they were seeing giant rainbows coming after their marabou jigs. George casted out and felt a slam. Fish on! A couple minutes later, his second trout was in the boat, only this time it was a lunker! The beautiful rainbow trout was 23.5 inches long and weight 3-pounds, 13-ounces. It was the biggest rainbow Payden had ever seen caught over several years of coming to Lake Taneycomo.

Visit Lilley’s Landing to learn more about how you can schedule your next trip to Lake Taneycomo too!

 

 

To see more stories like this one covering outdoor news from around Missouri, follow along at https://mahoneyoutdoors.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Fish Bite in the Rainy Ozarks

  • Bass, Crappie, Trout Turning On
  • Guides and Resort Owners Report GOOD Catches
  • High Water Offers Some Silver Lining

By Brent Frazee

Though Table Rock Lake has dealt with flooding since late April, guides such as Buster Loving and their clients have still enjoyed good bass fishing.

April showers brought more than May flowers in the Ozarks.  They brought near-record flooding and a mess that residents are still trying to clean up.

That’s the bad news.

There’s also plenty of good news.

Though reservoirs such as Truman, Table Rock and Taneycomo are still high, guides and resort owners report that the fishing has been surprisingly good.  If anything, they say, the floods may have helped the fishing.

And then there’s the long-term outlook.  Fisheries biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation say that high-water springs usually result in boom year-classes of fish because of the added cover in which fry can hide from predators.

“We’re certainly not minimizing the hardships the high water has brought for many residents,” said Brian Canaday, chief of fisheries for the Missouri Department of Conservation.  “But some of our largest year-classes of fish have come in these flood years.  So this wasn’t a bad thing as far as the fish were concerned.”

At Table Rock Lake, a 43,100-acre reservoir near Branson, Mo., the water level reached almost the top of flood pool in late April after almost 10 1/2 inches of rain in a three-day period.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing water ever since.

It is now down to 11 feet above normal and some boat ramps are still hard to access.  But those who have been able to get on the lake have found good bass fishing.

Buster Loving, a longtime guide on Table Rock, has guided his customers to some impressive catches throughout May.

 “The bass were in the process of spawning when the high water hit, and they didn’t move,” Loving said. “For the most part, they stayed where they had fanned out their nests.

“I’m fishing the old banks. Those places might have been in 10 to 12 feet before, and they went to 25 to 30 feet after the water came up. But the fish have still been there.”

Loving remembers years when the high water hit before the spawn and the bass would pioneer into newly flooded cover.

“I won back to back tournaments one year when the lake was flooded,” Loving said. “The fish were in flooded campgrounds, around buildings and lantern holders and in green yards.

“But I haven’t seen that as much this spring.”

The huge releases from Table Rock into Lake Taneycomo caused some nervous times for resort owners, residents and fishermen for a time.  But now that release rates have slowed to a fishable rate, trout fishermen are finding excellent fishing. They’re even catching some fish not normally found in the nationally known trout lake that were flushed out of Table Rock.

“I’ve never seen so many smallmouth bass caught,” said Phil Lilley, who owns Lilley’s Landing Resort and Marina in Branson, Mo. “And the trout fishing from the dam to the Lookout area has been really good.”

“We’re seeing lots of 20-inch rainbows and more browns than normal, too.”

Lilley isn’t surprised. Every time high water hits at Taneycomo, an abundance of shad is flushed from Table Rock into Taneycomo and it sets off a feeding spree among the trout.

White jigs, shad flies, drift rigs and spoons have been the most effective lures.

The fishing has also been good at Truman Lake, the 55,600-acre reservoir in west-central Missouri that was hit hard by flooding.  As of May 18, the water level was still 20 feet above normal pool, but guides such as Jeff Faulkenberry are still helping their clients catch limits of crappies.

“The crappie spawn was about over when the water came up,” said Faulkenberry, who runs the Endless Season Guide Service. “The fish just followed the water into the new cover.

“You have to move around to find them; they’re not bunched up in one place.  But if you stay on the move and fish the green bushes, you can catch a limit.  The key is finding the schools of shad and fry.”

The biggest problem at Truman?  Access.  With the lake still high, some of the boat ramps are inaccessible.

But a few are open and others will be as the water continues to fall.  Go to the website http://www.nwk.usace.army.mil/Locations/District-Lakes/Harry-S-Truman-Lake/Daily-Lake-Info-2/ for up-to-date information on facilities.

 

 

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

 

The Old Oak Tree

  • The old giant Oak Tree was a friend to me and my family, and so many others. 
  • For about 200 years, the old Oak Tree was here for the Osage Indians, the early settlers, the farmers, and us.
  • With thousands of sunrise and sunset moments, this tree shared the character of our land.  
From tiny acorns, old oak trees grow.

By Larry Whiteley

For over 50 years, an old oak tree stood near the corner of our house. It was no ordinary tree. Two oak trees had grown together at the trunk many years ago. It was massive in circumference and stood over 80 feet tall. The shade over our house and the oxygen it produced were invaluable to us. The fall colors of that tree added beauty to our yard.

Six other oaks are in the backyard. Two other oak trees are in front of the house. All are big, all are old, but none as old or as big as the old oak tree. The giant stood out among the other oaks, the maple trees, the redbuds, the buckeye, the dogwoods, and the spruce trees.

The giant old oak was always home to the birds. They built their nests, raised their babies, and sang their songs. The squirrels enjoyed the acorns it produced and also built nests in it. Gathering up all the leaves every fall was a chore. Picking up small limbs that fell in our yard and driveway was a pain. My wife and I both loved that old oak tree.

The Wisconsin birdhouse.

One year I made a birdhouse. I painted it white and then put a Wisconsin red “W” on it. It hung on the side of the tree where we could see it every time we drove up our driveway. It reminded us of our youngest son, his wife, and grandsons living in Wisconsin. When our grandkids that live near were little, they enjoyed a rope swing tied to one of its limbs. It also served as a backdrop for many pictures.

Several years ago, I noticed a hole at the bottom of the tree and fungi growing around the base of it. I called an arborist to come to check it out. He told me it wasn’t anything to worry about and the tree would live for many more years. He was wrong.

The hole kept getting bigger. Black ants moved in and started eating the wood. Fungi kept coming back around the base. I called another arborist. His concern, as was mine, was the possibility of the massive roots starting to rot underground. If that was happening and strong winds or an ice storm came along, the tree could end up crushing most of our house.

A neighbor up the road has a tree-trimming business. We hired him to do the job. I told him to cut it down and leave the wood I could cut and split for our wood-burning stove. Then haul the big logs away.

On the day they were to cut down our old friend, I was out early that morning taking pictures to remember it. I stood there for a long time just looking at it. I admit, there was a lump in my throat and maybe a little tear in the corner of my eye.

As they started, I couldn’t watch. I went to my workshop and tried to keep busy. I turned up the radio. I did not want to hear the saws. When the saws went silent, I stepped out and looked at where the tree used to be. They had already moved and stacked all the logs I would keep. I would now spend a lot of time cutting, splitting, and stacking. The old tree will now keep us warm for several winters.

The beginning of the end.

I had asked for their final cut to be right above where the two oaks had grown together so long ago. The stump was almost six feet tall. I stood on a big rock to get high enough to count the tree rings. I wanted to know how old it was. When I finished counting, I did it again to make sure. It was over 200 years old.

I stood there and imagined a squirrel burying two acorns at this spot back in the early 1800s. Like most squirrels, he probably forgot where he buried them. Maybe the squirrel died before he found them from a Native American Indian arrow. The acorns eventually sprouted and pushed their way up through the soil. The two little trees grew closer together until they eventually became one.

Thinking about that, I went into the house and got on my computer. I started searching for what it was like in this part of America 200 years ago when the old giant old oak started its life. I wondered what that tree could have told me about what it had seen and heard.

It was here when the Osage Indians lived where our home now sits. It was still a young tree when the white settlers came to the land of the Osage. They built cabins and fences out of the trees and cut them down for firewood. It must not have been big enough to use, so they left it alone, and it continued to grow.

The old oak tree in all its majesty.

There were several dark marks on the tree rings. The neighbor said it was where barbed wire fencing was attached to the tree. Counting the rings from those marks to the outside told me there was probably a farm here sometime in the early 1920s. My wife and I have always thought there was a barn here at one time. I have found old rusted wire and nails around the property. The dirt is blacker in some places than in the rest of our land. That tells me there was a farm long ago. 

When we bought the land over 50 years ago, we wanted our house close to the old oak tree. Back then, there were only a few other houses around. I hunted for deer and turkey in the woods behind us. I hunted rabbits in the fields with my sons. I searched for morel mushrooms in the woods. My boys and I caught fish in the pond up the road.

It was quieter then. Now we hear lawnmowers running, dogs barking, and kids playing. Today, no matter which direction we look, there are houses. The road out front can get busy at times. There is no more hunting or fishing around our place. Life here has changed again.

For over 200 years, the old oak tree was there for the Osage, the settlers, the farmers, and us. It was part of their life and part of ours. It was there as our kids and grandkids grew into adults. As my wife and I have grown old, it was always there. Just like the tree, someday we will be gone too.

I go out and visit the tree’s giant stump sometimes. The other day I was there when something caught my eye near the base of the stump in the fertile soil nourished by the decomposing leaves. There, fostered and protected by the decomposing leaves from the old oak tree, were two oak seedlings growing close together. I wondered what they would see in their lifetime. I wondered if they would grow together and become a big old oak tree.

These tree rings can tell us many stories.

“Age-Old” Goldfish Lures outsmart “Modern Day” fish!  Win Some FREE! See the story.

  • Al’s “Age-Old” Goldfish Lures are proven irresistible to hungry fish.
  • Al’s Goldfish Spoons are Made-in-America! We need more of this.
  • Al’s Goldfish Spoon is a tested and true fish-killer lure since 1952.
  • Al’s Goldfish Spoon is available in multiple colors and 3/16 to 1-1/4 ounce sizes.
  • Al’s Goldfish Lures are affordable (great holiday gift).
The Saltwater Goldfish has a 1/2 to 1-1/4 ounce weight choice and comes with a tough saltwater hook to match. Cast it, Troll it, Jig it. Deadly on a moving tide over emerging grass beds and harbor entrance sand bars for Pompano and Speckled Trout. 

By Dave Barus

Some of the best lures made for fishing were invented long ago and were made in America, too.  In 1952, in a small town near Eliot, Maine, a prototype spoon lure known as Stuart’s Goldfish hit the angler market big time, selling nearly one-million lures a year way back then.  Inventor Al Stuart renamed his flagship lure, Al’s Goldfish, and the company became Al’s Goldfish Lure Company in 1954.  Along the way, other Al Stuart lures became angler-famous, including the “Forty-Niner” and the “Helgy.”

The Forty Niner is a good casting lure and doubles as a trolling lure. The flatfish-style head creates vibration and flutter as the flat face helps it dive. Check out the videos posted Al’s Goldfish website product page of how this lure swims, and you’ll see why fish strike.

Using Al’s Goldfish lures in a recent fishing contest on Lake Tanneycomo in Branson, MO., I was lucky enough to win the event. I was fishing between two seasoned pro’s, Bass pro-Jimmy Zaleski from Parsons, KS., and Charter  Captain Mike Schoonveld from Lake Michigan. Proof positive once more time that these traditional lures are fish killers.

All of them are still Made-in-America!  Present-day owners Jeff and Mandy DeBuigne are admittedly “fish-heads” and want to share some of the famous good fortunes of catching fish with their fishing followers and customers.  They are celebrating the 70th anniversary of Al’s Goldfish Lure with a freebie contest open to everyone.

Al’s Goldfish Winter Promo Giveaway – To enter, simply go to Al’s Goldfish Lure Company Facebook page and click on the promotion or visit Al’s Goldfish Lure Company Giveaway.  When prompted, fill in your name and email address, and you are entered.  One entry per person.  Do it today!  All entries must be completed by midnight on December 15, 2022.  When prompted to join the Outdoor News America mailing list, additional entries can be made.  The lucky winner will be randomly drawn and notified via email.  Many of Al’s Goldfish products and lures are included in the prize package.

The “Classic” Goldfish lures represent a core selection of colors and patterns that are most popular with anglers.

Today the company still makes and markets the original Al’s Goldfish and much more.  These include tried and tested fish-catching lures, ice-fishing jigs, Sebago trolling rigs, bottom jigging rigs, and accessories.  Treble hook bonnets and other lure accessories were added to the company’s list of American-made products.  In 2015 the line was expanded to include the Saltwater Goldfish series.  For a complete look at Al’s Goldfish Lure Company’s entire line, visit https://www.alsgoldfish.com/ or call them at 413-543-1524.

Al’s Goldfish Lure Company PRIZE PACKAGE

The company’s American-Made core values will keep it strong and vital for this and the next generation of anglers.  Mandy DeBuigne says, “We value Jesus for our blessings and the example of unconditional love.  We value our veterans and active duty service members for our freedom and their sacrifice.  We value our friends and customers of all backgrounds, races, orientations, and abilities – we don’t care what you look like, where you came from, what your gender is, who you love, or what you can/can’t do – what matters is: Do you like to fish?  We are committed to making our products right here in the USA, which keeps Americans in our supply chain employed.  And we value an honest sale.  If your purchase fails beyond the normal wear and tear that happens to a product you are literally throwing as far away from yourself as it will go – to fish, let us know.  We will make it right.”

For more information on Al’s Goldfish Lure Company, visit www.alsgoldfish.com.

Al’s Goldfish Lure Company PRIZE PACKAGE – Al’s Goldfish Lure Company has teamed up with Outdoor News America and Wolf Premium Oils to put an excellent fishing package together for anyone that likes to wet a line.  This giveaway package includes Al’s ice jigs, a trolling rig, a bag of hook bonnets, Kenny Kieser’s Christmas Kit filled with Al’s top freshwater spoons, Al’s Goldfish top Saltwater Series Goldfish lures, Al’s Goldfish Limited Edition 70th Anniversary Buck fillet knife, and a bottle of Wolf Premium Oil.  All combined, this “Al’s Goldfish Lure Company Winter Promo Giveaway” has a suggested retail value exceeding $250.

Touch, See and Feel Undersea Life in Branson

  • It starts with a short, virtual, 3D submarine adventure ride to the bottom of the sea…where you buckle up.
  • Gain up-close and personal physical contact with a variety of friendly sea creatures in the touch pool. 
  • Visit the Lionfish! They get their name from their long, colorful fin rays that resemble a lion’s mane.
Lionfish get their name from their long, colorful fin rays that resemble a lion’s mane.

By Forrest Fisher

The mountain darkness was so very welcoming during an early rise and shine morning to go fishing in Branson, Mo.  As I sipped a hot cup of coffee, the daybreak air was fresh with a sweet smell of morning dew. It was revitalizing. We drove toward Branson in the nightfall, and as we turned the corner to Main Street, we discovered the highway strip was alive with lights and displays. It was dazzling. One lighting array that caught my eye was a giant octopus. It was large enough to surround the building below it. The octopus appeared alive and moving with glimmering blue, green, purple and silver flickering reflections of backlit lights. It is a spectacular light display.

My friend and driver, Jim Zaleski, was familiar with Branson and mentioned that it has modernized and grown in the last five years. “This giant octopus marks the entryway to the new Aquarium-at-the-Boardwalk. If you have not visited that place, you should go there before you head home. It’s all saltwater ocean life oriented and cool, especially for big kids like you.” Our trips are filled with a bit of bantering.

Later that day, I mentioned the Aquarium to my bride of 53 years – she wanted to visit immediately, as Rose is a renowned venue explorer. I hurried through the shower, and away we went! After entry, the mesmerizing venue provides a walking journey of the undersea ocean world. It all starts with a short, virtual, 3D submarine adventure ride to the bottom of the sea. We sat in a large armchair with a safety belt. All hooked up; we met Aquarius the octopus and Finn the puffer fish as the sub took us to a remote and notably secret ocean location observatory. As we stepped off the submarine, Finn mentioned, “We are about to learn more about the oceans, fish, sea creatures, and the importance of weeds and kelp. Watch your step.”

One thing about the incredible walk-through exhibits, you can see the tops and bottoms of the many finny critters of the sea. My better half discovered that fish and sharks have peering eye expressions and fishy smiles. 

Our walking journey in the Aquarium continued, and we discovered that fish and sharks have peering eye expressions and fishy smiles…we never knew about those before. It provided more than one ah-hah moment for me. The nose-to-nose views of many colorful fish species and amazing sea creatures, including seahorses, jellyfish, octopus and eels, provided captivating and thought-stimulating flashes for a new voyage and realization of sea life. We both felt lifted to a new level of respect for sea life and conservation.

The Aquarium building is large and comfortable at just under 50,000 square feet. The displays deliver a measure of viewable magic that you are free to capture if you bring a camera, which is allowed, to relive these moments.

One thing about the incredible walk-through exhibits, you can see the tops and bottoms of the many finny critters of the sea. You stand above them as they swim below you in places, and they swim above you in areas. You look straight up to see them in other places. The 360-degree walk-around displays in the jellyfish infinity room, the fantastic sting rays tank, and the coral reef display provide new views of undersea life.

The Aquarium offers more than 7,200 critters – many forms of sea life, fish, animals, and creatures to view. Impressive….and astonishing.

Kids and adults alike can enjoy bonus moments of discovery with interactive fun at the touch pool. We were able to gain up-close and personal physical contact with a variety of friendly sea creatures. The touchy-feely sensation is a discovery moment for everyone.

With each display, the Aquarium focuses on fun with a wide variety of interactive and entertaining activities – there are more than 7,200 critters, forms of sea life, fish, animals, and creatures in the building. Kids may help make discoveries to help the fishes of the sea and people of the world learn much more about life and science. Together.

This is one stop we had o make, and I can still sense the power of learning more about the oceans as we drive home.

#bransonaglow2022

Family Entertainment, Visit the Great Branson Indoors and Outdoors

  • Endless adventure with hiking, biking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, bass and trout fishing, hunting, trap and skeet shooting, spelunking, rock climbing and more.
  • Visit public parks, resorts, campgrounds, forests or one of Branson’s three crystal clear lakes.
  • Water ski, boat or go bass fishing at Table Rock Lake, or kayak and trout fish on Lake Taneycomo

By Larry Whiteley

It’s time to start getting back to normal and plan a weekend getaway, or a week-long vacation that offers something for everyone in the family. The place to do all that is located right in the heart of America in Branson, Missouri.

There may be no better place in America to experience family entertainment and all the great outdoors has to offer in one place, than in the beautiful Missouri/Arkansas Ozarks with its forested hills, pristine lakes and clear-flowing streams. Plus, it’s only a short flight or within a day or two drive from two-thirds of the United States.

Lake activities are a great way to enjoy Branson. Water sports are available on each of Branson’s great lakes. Guests can swim, water ski, wakeboard, tube, boat, sail, scuba dive, Jet-ski, parasail, ride a hydro-bike, paddle-board, kayak, canoe and fish.

There are more species of fish to catch in Branson than almost anywhere else in America. Choose from rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, Kentucky bass, striped bass, white bass, rock bass, catfish, crappie, walleye, yellow perch, four species of sunfish and even the historic paddlefish. Unfamiliar with fishing in Branson? Book a guided fishing trip through one of the many guide services on any lake. Want to get some physical activity in? Branson has more than 200 miles of miles of hiking trails, with varying lengths, offering natural views of water, woods and wildlife.

Table Rock Lake has nearly 800 miles of shoreline and is one of Missouri’s top fishing destinations. Marina’s offer boat and equipment rentals, or bring your own, as there are multiple public and privately-owned locations to access the lake. Want to relax on the lake? Enjoy a lunch or dinner cruise and show aboard the Showboat Branson Belle or take a cruise on the Spirit of America catamaran.

Lake Taneycomo’s water comes from the bottom of Table Rock Lake, making it a cold-water lake perfect for trout fishing. The pristine, clear, water is stocked annually with approximately 750,000 rainbow trout, making it a world-class trout fishery. The state record brown trout came from these waters and many believe the next world record is swimming around right now in Taneycomo’s waters. This lake is also perfect for kayaking and there are plenty of resorts and other lodging along its banks.

Branson also offers plenty of family-oriented RV Parks and Campgrounds near and around the lakes. Spend quality time together with the comforts of a full-service RV site or unplug and reconnect with the family at a campground near one of the beautiful lakes. Prefer something more upscale? Stay in a log cabin, resort, lodge or hotel – the options are unlimited.

Looking for more outdoor adventure? Try trap or skeet shooting, visit a cave or enjoy the high-tech sport of geocaching. Ride a zipline through the hills and valleys at Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park or at Branson Ziplines at Wolfe Creek Reserve.

In addition to all the outdoor opportunities in the Branson area, visitors can enjoy Silver Dollar City theme park, nature parks, waterparks, museums and aquariums in the area. Have a great meal at one of the many restaurants or take in a dinner show. Play a round of golf at one of our 10 world-class golf courses, or have fun at one of the many miniature golf courses.

Branson is one of the leading entertainment cities in America. With over 100 shows playing throughout the year there are more seats than Broadway in Branson. It is a truly remarkable city with so much to offer. There is always something to fill your days with lots of fun-packed activities. Or, just come to relax and recharge your body and soul away from home. Go to www.explorebranson.com and check it all out.

Come for all the experiences in the great outdoors. Come for the all the entertainment. Go back home with lots of memories from Branson, Mo.