Outdoor Recreation

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From Missouri Conservationist: Aug 2009

Scout it Out

Henry Sever Lake

  • Name: Henry Sever Lake Conservation Area
  • Location: One mile north of Newark on Highway KK.
  • For more information: visit our online atlas, keyword "Sever".

Good Fishing information is as valuable as bait to an angler heading to a new lake. To help anglers, the Conservation Department provides a weekly report of fishing conditions on waters throughout the state at MissouriConservation.org/4183. If you were heading to Henry Sever Lake in Knox County, for example, you’d learn recent water conditions and — most important — what kinds of fish are biting and what kinds are not. You could also call the Conservation Department’s Northeast Regional office at the number listed on Page 3 and ask to talk to someone familiar with the lake. You’re likely to be put in touch with Darlene Bryant, who manages Henry Sever Lake Conservation Area and describes the lake there as one of the most pleasant little waters she’s seen. At the Web address shown above, you can find other pertinent information, including a map of the 158-acre lake and details about the boat ramp, disabled-accessible fishing dock, fishing jetties, boat rentals and other facilities, as well as fishing regulations. Find more gold mine lakes through the online Conservation Atlas.

The Night Patrol

When the air cools down, the fishing action often heats up.

August offers anglers a blazing sun and sticky days. Early morning fishing can be pleasant, but by about 9 a.m. the lake often becomes uncomfortably hot and might stay that way until nearly dusk. Some anglers really look forward to summer’s oven-like days, however, because they’ve learned to fish at night.

Almost all species of fish will feed at night. In fact, the variety of fish you might catch is one of the attractions of fishing after dark. Common targets include crappie, white bass, catfish and black bass, but you never know what might show up on the end of your line.

Lights are often the key to finding fish. Shore-bound anglers are likely to catch more fish under dock or park lights than in dark areas. The lights attract insects and plankton that in turn attract fish. Set up your own food chain by placing an artificial light near shore. If you have boat, hang a lantern from a boat bracket or a convenient branch and fish nearby. Anglers often prefer underwater lights, because they don’t produce a blinding glare and don’t attract airborne insects.

Trolling and casting also have their nighttime followers. Whatever your strategy, it’s usually best to set up your equipment and decide on where you’ll fish before it gets dark. Be extra cautious when running a motor, and have a light handy for getting your bearings or alerting other boaters.

Native Beauty

Wild Grapes

Smaller than cultivated varieties, wild grapes still pack a lot of punch — concentrated flavor. We have about seven species of wild grapes native to Missouri. The fruits appear in bunches starting in late summer. Wild grapes are highly edible, although some species, especially riverbank grape (Vitis riparia), are sourer than others. Generally, wild grapes become sweeter as the season grows longer. Beware of mistaking moonseed (Menispermum canadense L.) for wild grapes whose leaves are similar. Check the seed in the fruit. If it has a single seed in the shape of a crescent moon, it’s moonseed, which is thought to be poisonous. Archeological records show that people have been taking advantage of wild grapes long before they were cultivated. The berries, for that’s what grapes are, make great jams and, of course, wine. The leaves are also edible. Native Americans found medicinal uses for most parts of wild grape plants. They also used the leaves and berries to make dyes, and the vines for weaving or making rope.

Wild grapes often climb trees and fences by means of tendrils. They can overload some trees, toppling them. Wildlife managers may cut a tree to open up the understory, but leave the vine intact. The grape plant quickly covers the downed tree and nearby brush piles, offering cover and a ground food-source to quail and other animals.

From Dressy to Drab

Many birds use the summer to change into winter plumage.

You may notice fashions changing this time of year both indoors, as retailers preview their fall wear, and outdoors, as many species of birds lose their bright colors. During late summer many birds go through a molting period, during which they replace old feathers with new ones. Depending on the species, molting might be complete or partial. Following the summer molt, many species — especially the males — will have lost their colorful breeding plumage and returned to their basic plumage. Other species replace old feathers with new ones of the same color. Birds also molt from juvenile to adult plumage in a process that can take several years.

Summer is a good time for molting because the stresses of breeding and nesting are over, and new and often more abundant feathers help birds cope with winter cold and migration. A few species, including ducks, geese and swans, replace all their feathers at once, usually in less than a month. Because these synchronous molters can’t fly during this period they tend to spend it in secluded places, where they are less vulnerable to predators. Some birds molt more than once a year. Many molt into more vivid colors prior to the breeding season in order to attract mates.

A Summer Census

Look in the mud for signs of wild animals.

Mink, raccoons, possums, weasels skunks, muskrat and other wild animals can live in densely populated urban areas. They survive by remaining in cover and living nocturnal lifestyles. They can’t help leaving footprints, however, and there’s no better way to conduct an animal census of your neighborhood than by looking for tracks in the mud along nearby creeks and rivers. Each species can be identified by its footprint, and you can often tell if the animal that made it was a youngster or an adult, and whether it was in a hurry or just rambling. For help identifying animal tracks go to MissouriConservation.org/8314.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler