Outdoor Recreation

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Scout it Out: Conservation Area Fishing

Area Name: Young Conservation Area

Location: Jefferson County, south on Route W off I-44, then 3 miles west on Route FF.

For more info: explore our online atlas, keyword "Young".

One secret to good fishing is finding spots that other anglers don’t know about or ignore. Even though conservation areas are open to the public, many contain waters that don’t receive much fishing pressure. A good example is Young Conservation Area in Jefferson County. This 970-acre area contains two fishing ponds and has LaBarque Creek running through it. These waters don’t get fished much, even though the area is within an hour’s drive of millions of Missourians.

It takes some prospecting to find fishful conservation ponds in your area, but that’s why they still exist. Not everyone is willing to undertake the effort, which often includes a short hike to reach the fishing waters.

To find nearby fishable waters, browse area brochures at your regional Conservation Department office, or go to our online atlas (listed below). Click “Detailed Search” along the left border, identify your county or region, and either select “fishing lake or pond” under “Natural Features” or select the exact type of fish you seek under “Activities.” Click on the selections to read an area summary. Links on the left side of the page lead you to area maps, brochures and regulations.

Ploop!

Bank anglers love to see their bobbers bob.

One of the best ways to catch fish from a small lake or pond is to stalk the shoreline, casting near floating vegetation, swatches of brush and other likely fish holding positions.

Bobbers help keep your bait and, sometimes, lures out of the mud and above the clutter that often litters a pond bottom. This means fish have a better chance of seeing your offering, and you experience fewer snags.

Usually it’s best to avoid large bobbers that fish can’t pull down easily. Add weight to your line as necessary so that the bobber just barely floats.

Adjust depths frequently, especially if you aren’t having luck at a fishy looking location. The fish may be above or below your offering. Be patient, but don’t camp on a spot.

Cast upwind of your target so that your bobber will drift toward where you want to fish. Make sure to retrieve before your bobber tangles. Riffles in the water will jig your bobber and bait plenty. If there is no wind, twitch your line occasionally.

You can often locate fish by casting far out and letting the bobber sit in one place for 15 to 30 seconds before moving it a few feet closer. Or, you might “slow troll” by reeling in at a steady, but extremely slow, pace.

Birds of a Feather

Redwings Love Ponds

Red-winged blackbirds frequently build their woven, grass-lined nests in vegetation near or overhanging the fringes of ponds. The brown, striped females are typically still incubating eggs in early May, and are feeding young by the middle of the month. The males, black with bright red shoulders, fiercely defend the nests and broods, even attacking or feinting attacks on large animals, including people, who venture too close.

Blackbirds often choose what seem to be precarious perches on reeds, twigs and cattail stems that sway or bend under their meager weight. The birds have an oak-a-LEEE song. Their call repertoire also includes chek and cheer sounds.

Although blackbirds around a pond are fascinating to watch, hundreds, thousands or even millions of them sometimes gather with starlings in winter roosts. The birds may venture as far as 50 miles from the roost each day to forage for food. Such large numbers sometimes cause landowners problems, ranging from fouling beneath a roost to the consumption of grain.

For information about blackbirds, go to see the links listed below. For help with controlling nuisance blackbirds, see the links listed below or call your closest Conservation Department office.

The Menace of Chiggers

These pests may come aboard each time you brush against vegetation.

When you part the reeds at a pond’s edge, brush against a shrub along the trail or set your bottom on the grass to rest, you risk infestation by chigger larvae. These insects, which cause grief way out of proportion to their mini size, climb vegetation to increase their chances of hitching a ride on animals they can feed upon. People don’t make the best chigger hosts, but that doesn’t stop the larvae from trying. Chiggers usually have their best success where they can push against something to help them scrape our skin. That’s why so many chigger bites occur beneath the elastic of socks or underwear. They also tend to be more successful at biting where our skin is thinnest or where opposing flesh gives them leverage.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants with the cuffs tucked into your socks to help keep chiggers away from your skin. A helpful precaution is to pretreat the fabric of your clothes with a commercial aerosol product that contains the pesticide permethrin. Regular insect repellent also helps keep them away.

Many chiggers may roam your body and clothes for hours without your noticing them. The best time to deal with a possible exposure is before you see or feel a bite. A shower sends them down the drain, but a dry overall toweling also helps. Unlike ticks, chigger larvae are fairly fragile. A brisk rubdown is enough to knock them off or crush them.

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