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From Missouri Conservationist: Aug 2006


Finally, our mysterious trees have a name—Wahoo [“I found this Plant...” May 2006]. For the past couple of years, we have kept an eye on these interesting trees in the wooded area next to our home. I noticed this spring that there were numerous seedlings, so I transplanted some around our yard for us to enjoy even more. Visitors would ask what kind of tree these were and I could only explain what they looked like when they flowered and produced fruits. Now I have an answer.

Sean & Leann Langton, Otterville

More Than Free Fishing

Thank you for an outstanding magazine. We have been receiving it for the last five years and have learned much from it.

We were so pleased to read in the June issue about the Free Fishing Weekend, June 10–11. My two teenage daughters and I took my husband to Little Prairie Conservation Area near St. James. What a beautiful area, and Lake Towell was clean and had a boat ramp, fishing dock and lots of picnic areas.

We had a super day fishing, but to get my teenagers out fishing with us was the highlight of our day. Thank you for the idea.

Virginia Applegate, Rolla

Anglers’ Resource

I read the article, “Catching Big River Blues” in the June 2006 issue. I go fishing all the time with my family and friends, and I am always after the big fish. I hope your advice will help me out.

Every time I read your magazine, I turn right to the fishing articles. I enjoy everything from ecology to fishing spots and techniques. I have learned a lot from the Missouri Conservationist.

David Boll, St. Louis

What Goes Around...

Your interesting article on box turtles [“Box Turtles and People,” July 2006] mentioned a study of 1700 turtles, the oldest of which lived to 59 years old. My cousin, Rainey Woody, carved the date and his initials into a turtle he found in 1913 near Meta. Sixty-five years later, in 1978, he found the same turtle with the initials and date still visible. A picture of Rainey and his “terrapin” appears in A Pictorial History, Maries County.

Kimberly Parker, Jefferson City

Editor’s note: A Pictorial History, Maries County MO, Volume 1, 1989 is available from the Historical Society of Maries County. For more information, contact them at P. O. Box 289, Vienna, Missouri 65582 or visit online.

A Little Courtesy, Please

I am writing in regard to the “Agent’s Notebook,” on etiquette [July 2006] and floaters on our Missouri streams, by Michael Lancaster.

I grew up on the Meramec River in Crawford County in the 1950s. Floaters were rare in those days. When we did see floaters, they were usually so courteous we couldn’t believe it. You rarely heard them coming and only noticed them as they neared you. Today is such a different story, and like Mr. Lancaster, I believe there should be a book titled Proper Etiquette While Floating to present to those who float our streams.

We now live in Phelps County on MO Hwy 68, which is the route a lot of folks take to the “scenic riverways” down south of us. I can tell you those “obnoxious floaters” start partying way before they get to the rivers. We’ve had them stop on the highway, urinate towards our home, pull into our driveways to vomit or change drivers. I even had one ask to use our bathroom! And they don’t think twice about throwing trash out for us to pick up. Somehow I don’t see that we’d get away with that type of behavior if we drove into the city and stopped in some of their driveways. I wonder how long it would take them to call the police?

We’ve seen firsthand some very rude, obnoxious behavior. Indecent acts, loud music and obscene language are just the tip of the iceberg. As a result, we rarely go to any of our streams, and that makes me sad. We would love to take our grandchildren camping on the stretch of Meramec where I grew up, but it is too dangerous. So they don’t get to enjoy that late night gurgling of the river, or watching the campfire burn low, or the early morning sunrise and absolute stillness that comes with it. Not to mention some of the best fishing I’ve ever enjoyed!

Maybe we should start at the beginning and make certain “parents are parenting” and providing proper etiquette and none of it would be a problem on our riverways or in our driveways.

Mary Norris, St. James

The letters printed here reflect readers’ opinions about the Conservationist and its contents. Space limitations prevent us from printing all letters, but we welcome signed comments from our readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: I just enjoyed eating my first blue catfish. Why doesn’t MDC suggest private lake owners stock them instead of channel catfish? The blues filet easier and taste much better than channels.

A: I don’t think I’ll weigh in on the taste issue as, judging from the fish-eaters at our house, this a fairly subjective matter which is sure to generate debate.

I visited with a coworker in our Fisheries Division who explained that channel catfish are faster growing, adapt better to smaller waters and are a little more hearty than blue catfish. Also, channel catfish are more readily available for stocking. MDC recommends a balanced ratio of largemouth bass, channel catfish and bluegill for the optimum fishery situation in small impoundments. Largemouth bass serve as top predator and keep the ratio in balance. Blue cats also have the potential to become a top-line predator. In a pond situation, you’d have both black bass and blue catfish at the top of the food chain, making fish management more complex.

Blue cats are a large-water fish. they do best in Missouri’s biggest rivers, and they are a favorite of catfish anglers at Truman Reservoir and Lake of the Ozarks.

Large channel catfish are sometimes mistakenly thought to be small blue catfish. The anal fin provides a good method of identification; channel catfish have 24-29 rays while blue catfish have 30-35 rays and a straight margin.

For more information on catfish, please see below or contact the MDC Distribution Center, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180 or e-mail and ask for the Know Missouri’s Catfish wallet card and/or the 36-inch stick-on catfish ruler.

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at <>.

This Issue's Staff

Editor in Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Writer/editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Designer - Susan Fine
Circulation - Laura Scheuler