Fri12192014

Last updateFri, 19 Dec 2014 3pm

Outdoors

A voice in the deep woods

    I promise this will be the last column this year in which I mention deer hunting. I intend to go fishing soon and write about that. But before I go on to something else, I have to tell you about something that got me to thinking about the good old days and missing those times gosh-awful.

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Try a Missouri native hickory nut pie

    The idea of a hickory nut pie isn't all that far-fetched in these days of organic eating and natural living. However, I wanted to make a hickory nut pie more to connect with the past than to keep up with the latest trends. I wanted to make one like my grandmother used to bake.

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Meramec River seeing return of brown trout

    Avid St. James outdoorsman Lyle Staab began my love affair with brown trout over 40 years ago. Staab’s photograph appeared on the front cover of an outdoor magazine. He held a brown trout that weighed in double figures. He caught it from the Meramec River.
    I have been searching for a brown trout of those proportions ever since. I’m still searching.
    The Meramec River became Missouri’s first Trophy Trout area in 1974, shortly after I became superintendent of Maramec Spring Park. The brown trout fishery was a new and exciting idea. There was still much to be learned, however, about managing brown trout.
    Regulations allowed for the use of live bait for those early browns. Most disappeared quickly because the fish swallowed live baits causing release mortality to be high.
    As evidenced by Staab’s colossal catch, a few browns did survive.
    A red Ribbon Trout Area was started on the Meramec River in the 1980s, with more restrictive regulations. Only lures and artificial flies could be used, increasing the number of fish that survived after being caught and released.
    The Missouri Department of Conservation continued releasing brown trout from eight to 12 inches once a year in the fall. Most fly fishermen regard the browns as being rather finicky. Regardless, anglers who knew about brown trout continued to catch them over the years.
    During the summer of 2014, brown trout fishing in the Meramec River took a turn for the better. A one-time supply of browns up to 15 inches were stocked in the river as a result on an experimental program at Maramec Spring Hatchery.
    Brown trout were used to help control parasitic crustaceans called copepods, which attached themselves to the gills of rainbow trout. Brown trout were placed at the heads of raceways and acted as bio-filters. The copepods attached themselves to the brown trout, but could not complete their life cycle on brown trout, like they did on rainbows. The result was fewer parasites to attack the rainbows.
    The brown trout were held in the pools longer than normal and as a result grew larger than normal eight to 12 inches used for stocking. They were subsequently stocked in the Meramec River.
    “The experiments were a success,” said biologist Jen Girondo. “The hatchery will likely continue raising a limited number of browns for the program.”
    Upon learning about the releases of browns into the Meramec, I had to give them a try. I knew browns do not like intense light, so I picked a dark, blustery day to fish. The results were astounding.
    I located a long, deep hole and cast a 1/8-ounce white Road Runner into the cold, clear waters. A jolt reverberated up my rod. A broad fish rolled to the surface and my six-pound line pinged. I was on to something.
    Over the next two hours I caught 560 inches of brown trout in about 40 installments. Only two were shorter than 14 inches. Several were 17-inchers, fat and broad.
    Perhaps a few of these brown trout will survive to reach double digits. I’ll keep hunting them.
    I returned two days later, on a bright, sunny day and caught one brown.
    To view a short video of some of the action I enjoyed, go to: www.aoutdoorstv.com. Look under fishing shows.

Winter catch and release at Maramec will hook you

    Two vehicles sat like a pair of big stones on the lower parking lot of Maramec Spring Park. No other cars or trucks decorated the lots, where hundreds had been just weeks ago.

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An odd duck and a weird deer

    Most of you who read this column on a regular basis know I don’t fiddle around much on a computer. If God only gives us a certain amount of hours on this earth and we can still hunt and fish and cut firewood and fix a garden and raise a few chickens, isn’t it a real waste of those precious hours to be sitting in front of one of these little boxes that all of us know is evil and deranged and ruins lives. It is akin to sitting in traffic each day wasting that hour or two when we could be doing something productive with our already too short lives.

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