It’s a white world up here on Lightnin’ Ridge this morning, with a half inch of sleet on the ground and a dusting of snow over that. I have filled my corn feeders at the edge of the woods and bird feeders closer to the house and birds and wild creatures are taking advantage of both. This wooded ridge top is a paradise for wild creatures now that I have kept my secretary, Ms. Wiggins, from shooting at them.
A coating of ice, left as the rain began to freeze, makes everything sparkle in the sun, and yesterday’s evening sunset was spectacular as it back-lighted all the ice on limbs and leaves. But this is a sad week because duck season will close soon, and that makes it a difficult time for those of us who love to hunt them. There have been plenty of ducks in the past month, but the hunting has been tougher because of terrible water conditions.
Today’s column holds some important announcements, but before I get into that, I will point out that the White River trout fishing which normally is so good in February might be much different this year due to a lack of water. Flowing from beneath Bull Shoals Dam, the White normally flows pretty full this time of year because of the increased need for electricity. There are eight generators in the dam. This year Bull Shoals is eight feet below normal and so they are not generating much, and the White is very low. That is great news for fly-fishermen, and fishermen who like to don chest waders and fish the water above and below the shoals. The river is full of stocked rainbow trout, and they feed regardless of the amount of water they have to live in.
But it is not so easy to fish for the big brown trout, which are finishing up their spawning season. Rainbows do not reproduce in the White River to any appreciable extent, but brown trout do, and there are browns in the river that exceed 30 pounds. Usually in February you can catch them on white jigs or suspending rogues, but that is best when they are running three or four generators.
If you have an interest in fishing for trout in the White River, listen to my radio program next Sunday morning when I will talk with an experienced north Arkansas fishing guide, Frank Saksa. Few people spend more time on the White than Frank, and he will talk about what it takes to catch trout there this time of year, when fishermen are fewer than any other time. And he will tell you all about those big browns.
Frank also guides on Bull Shoals and Norfork, and you can hear his tips on winter fishing all of those waters, when we get together on KWTO radio, 560 AM, from 8:06 to 9 a.m. this coming Sunday. I just learned that no matter where you live you can listen to the weekly outdoors program online if you are computer savvy, by finding www.newstalk560.com, or www.radiospringfield.com. Readers of this column anywhere in the country can listen in each Sunday morning. We broadcast at 8:06 in the central time zone.
If you will recall, I noted a few weeks ago how the Ozarks Mountaineer magazine had ceased publication after 60 years. Lots of folks will miss that magazine which devoted pages to Ozarks’ history and nature. That is, unless we can resurrect it. I think that is a strong possibility, and those of us interested in doing that will meet in Springfield at Barnes and Noble bookstore at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, Jan. 22, to look into a new magazine carrying on the Mountaineer’s tradition. If you have an interest in that old magazine, you might want to come and put in your two cents.
But please contact me via phone or e-mail, (both given at the end of this column) because we will have limited seating unless we plan for it. Barnes and Noble is located just southwest of the corner of Battlefield and Glenstone in Springfield.
Folks have been asking about the Grizzled Old Outdoorsman’s Swap Meet we have held now for several years. The date of the event this year is Saturday, March 23, in the Brighton Assembly of God church gymnasium where we have had it for several years. What’s most unusual about our swap meet is the fact that admission is free, and the tables for vendors are free. We ask people to make a donation if they do well, and enjoy themselves, and that freely given money is given to the church to use in helping needy families over a wide area. Last year we raised about $600 and the year before even more. The people of the church are great people and the money is wisely used to help many.
If you have been there before, you know what you’ll find: An assortment of outdoor bargains from fishing gear and antique lures to camping gear, old hunting guns (we ask people not to bring pistols or assault rifles or ammunition) and just about everything you can imagine that has to do with outdoor or country living. Eventually, I will list many of the things you can find there in another column. I love this event because my whole family and the three ladies who work for me get involved. We give away a bunch of our magazines, and sell my books at good discounts, giving a percentage of what we make to the church. I have the chance to meet readers of this column and the Lightnin’ Ridge magazine we produce. It goes on most all day, and anyone who has a few items to sell, or even a boat and motor, can come and join us.
There has been a great deal of interest in our late winter day-long interpretive trips to Truman Lake where we take 15 or so nature lovers out to hike and see an Ozark wilderness setting. We have to have a fairly warm day for that, and I think several Saturdays in February or March will give us that. We meet at Wheatland at 8:30 in the morning and come back in at dusk. We take people across the lake in a big pontoon boat and at mid-day we have a fish fry and dinner out on the lake.
We have printed a page of details about those trips, and will send you one of those information sheets if you will contact us. You can call my executive secretary about that, and Ms. Wiggins will be glad to help you if she isn’t doing her nails. Participants need to be able to hike about a mile and a half in three hours at a very leisurely pace.
Our office phone number is 417/777-5227, or you can by-pass Ms. Wiggins by writing to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613. That page of information can also be sent via e-mail if you want to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It will also be posted on my website, complete with pictures taken on past trips, at www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com.
ICE ON THE RIDGE – Larry Dablemont’s daughter, Christy Dablemont , took this photo on Lightning ridgetop at sunset.