Anglers who cannot resist the lure of trout fishing should check out the Mill Creek Blue Ribbon Trout Area on the Bohigian Conservation Area. Located about 8 miles southwest of Rolla, the 1.26-mile stream section provides public access to excellent trout habitat which supports naturally reproducing rainbow trout populations.
Mill Creek fits the bill for those who enjoy a challenge and prefer fishing in solitude. You won’t see the huge crowds and huge trout populations in this small creek like you do at state trout parks. Wild trout are cautious, so look for them darting in and out of rootwads. Approach a wild trout slowly and cautiously from downstream. Keep your cast to a minimum and stay low and out of sight as much as possible. The fish you catch likely will be under the 18-inch minimum length for keeping trout hooked in a blue ribbon trout area.
At Mill Creek only artificial lures and flies may be used. A Missouri fishing permit is required. A trout permit also is required to harvest a fish.
Expect big fish and big fun on the March opening day of the state trout park catch-and-keep fishing season. About 11,000 anglers are expected to fish. A combination of good weather and a Saturday season start could push attendance to a record high. A total of nearly 33,000 rainbow and brown trout will be stocked at Bennett Spring, Montauk and Roaring River State Parks and Maramac Spring Park. To fish you need a fishing permit and a daily trout tag. The daily limit at the parks is four fish. Get details on trout permits and regulations online.
Enjoy a little winter reading and spring planning by perusing The 2008 Fishing Prospects at Selected Lakes and Streams. The report includes the most current information about the sizes, numbers, and species of fish you can expect to find in selected streams and lakes managed by the Department of Conservation. It is based on the most recent fish population samples taken by fisheries management biologists and includes some tips on gear and methods to help make your fishing trips enjoyable. To receive a free copy of the fishing prospects booklet, write to: Missouri Department of Conservation, Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.
The old saying “birds of a feather flock together” implies the animals simply want to be with their own kind, but research indicates being a member of a flock can affect a bird’s chance of survival.
Birds often flock to avoid being eaten. With more eyes, they can better detect predators. Also being part of a group reduces each member of the group’s potential of becoming prey. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Handbook of Bird Biology reports that groups of birds, especially while in flight, are better than a lone bird at avoiding predators. When a predator advances, the group gathers into a tight cluster and makes several swoops and turns to confuse the predator. The movement of the flock makes isolating and capturing a single bird difficult.
Flocks also share information about food sources. Sometimes the more successful members inform the others of the best places to find food. It is a misconception that birds flock only with members of their own species. Sometimes two or more kinds of birds join in a feeding flock for mutual benefit. The more vigilant species acts as a sentinel against predators, while the other species detect food for the whole flock.
Some birds group together in preparation for the fall migration. In August, flocks of purple martins can approach one-half million individuals.
February offers many nature treats for the ears. Coyote howls and the melodic territorial singing of Northern cardinals let you enjoy nature sounds both night and day.
In Missouri coyotes are found in all types of habitat throughout the state. Those who step outside at night, when coyotes are most active, have a good chance of hearing the very vocal animals. Listen for a high quavering cry followed by a series of short, high-pitched yips. Howling is how a coyote communicates. Sometimes howls serve as a way to call the pack, or family group, together. Howls also let other family groups know where a pack’s territory lies.
To enjoy the sights and sounds of Northern cardinals, head to shrubby areas, especially near water. The cardinal song is a series of high, clear and sharp, mostly slurred whistles. It’s always a treat to view cardinals. The bright red body, black facial mask and tuft of feathers that looks like a crest on the head make the male cardinal one of the easiest birds to recognize.
Wild turkey enthusiasts lend us your ears. The Department of Conservation and National Wild Turkey Federation need additional volunteers to participate in the second year of a gobbling survey. The survey, conducted March 15 through May 15, helps track daily and seasonal trends of gobbling by wild turkeys throughout the state. For two days per week during the study period volunteers will document the total gobbles heard and the number of individual gobblers heard during a 20-minute period starting at 45 minutes before sunrise. New volunteers can sign up for the survey by contacting Tom.Dailey@mdc.mo.gov.
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