Ask the Ombudsman
Q: I noticed some odd-looking, purple cardboard devices hanging in several trees. Can you tell me what they are?
A: Those are traps that are placed in trees to help us gather information on an invasive insect called the emerald ash borer. The metallic-green beetle is native to Asia and was first discovered in Missouri (Wayne County) in 2008, making Missouri the ninth of 13 states to report the pest. The beetle’s larvae burrow under the bark of ash trees, creating a system of tunnels that eventually cause the trees to die by starvation. The adult beetles are attracted to the purple traps by their color and by attractants that mimic the chemical scent of stressed ash trees. The sticky surface catches the beetles and periodic monitoring of the traps will allow researchers to determine the extent of Missouri’s infestation. Traps may be noticed from March through early August in Wayne County and at likely introduction sites around Missouri, such as campgrounds. These pests can hitchhike in firewood, so when traveling, leave firewood at home. For more information, visit: extension.missouri.edu/ emeraldashborer/.
Q: What has happened to the whip-poor-wills that I used to hear so frequently when I was younger?
A: There are still whip-poor-wills in Missouri, but the species seems to be declining here as well as over much of its range. Habitat loss and degradation is probably the main reason for the decline. Whip-poor-wills need large blocks of forest with relatively little underbrush. The proliferation of feral and domestic cats with increasing residential development may also be a factor in reducing populations of ground-nesting birds, which include whippoor- wills.
Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Department of Conservation programs. Write him at PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at 573-522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov.
Challenge yourself to be a Master Angler.
Many folks see a nice big bass as the trophy of all trophy fish. I differ. I enjoy catching farm pond bass with friends and family, but more than anything, I love catching big flathead catfish. There is nothing I get a kick out of more than seeing my wife or one of my boys hoisting a big yellow cat over the side of the boat.
The size of a trophy flathead catfish is in the eye of the beholder. The fishing methods used, time of year and size of the fish all come into play. The rod and reel Missouri state record flathead catfish is 77 lbs. 8 oz., and a 94 lbs. 0 oz. giant is the record taken by other methods. That is a BIG fish either way.
Catching the state record of any type of fish may not be obtainable by many, but recording a trophy fish may be easier than you think. Challenge yourself to be a Master Angler. The Master Angler Award allows fishers the opportunity to obtain an award through the Conservation Department for trophy fish of all different species. The application can be found online at www.MissouriConservation.org/71.
Fish are entered by length or weight. Length requirements are included to promote and accommodate catch-and-release fishing and are intended to be used for released fish. A Master Angler flathead is 39 inches, or 30 pounds. In comparison, a Master Angler bluegill is 10 inches, or 1 pound.
Two years ago, my wife became the Master Angler of our household when she hoisted a 52-pound flathead into our boat. That weight will be hard to beat, but you can be sure I will spend many hours trying. I encourage you to not only go fishing, but to take family and friends with you. Who knows? One of you just may be the next Master Angler.
Vince Crawford is the conservation agent for Caldwell County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office listed on Page 3.