Outdoors

Lively minnow entices big Meramec smallmouth

Updated: 2013-08-09T00:03:51Z

By BRENT FRAZEE

The Kansas City Star

Dianne Tattitch figures she put in her time for the trophy smallmouth bass she caught recently on the Meramec River.

She started floating the river 30 years ago when she began dating the man she would later marry. And she and her husband, Rick, have caught plenty of bass over the years.

But never one like the fish she reeled in July 28.

“I remember catching a big smallmouth when we were dating,” said Dianne, who lives with her husband in St. Peters, Mo. “But I don’t think we measured or weighed it.

“It wasn’t as big as this one, though. I doubt if I’ll ever catch another smallmouth like this one.”

The fish Tattitch caught measured 22 inches. And to make the catch even more special, it was found just around the bend from the place where the Tattitiches have had a weekend home for the last 10 years.

“We were fishing a long pool with lots of boulders and rocks,” she said. “We usually don’t fish in areas like that. We find most of our smallmouth bass in areas with more current.”

Dianne caught the big bass on a minnow under a bobber. She had a good feeling when she reached into the minnow bucket and found a particularly lively baitfish.

“I thought at the time, ‘This one is going to catch a big fish,’” she said. “I guess I was right.”

Tattitch posed for photos with her catch, then released the fish and watched as it lazily swam back to the hole from which it was caught.

Rain changes outlook

A week and a half ago, the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in central Kansas looked like a dust bowl.

But a drought-busting week of rain changed the picture dramatically.

“We have water in all of our pools right now,” said Charlie Swank, district wildlife biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “We have had inflow since the weekend.

“It’s unbelievable how fast things have changed. I’d say we’re set up to have a good hunting season now.”

The heavy rains also helped conditions at managed waterfowl areas such as Jamestown, the McPherson Wetlands, Marais des Cygnes and Neosho.

After a period of 50 days without rain, the moisture was especially welcome at Marais des Cygnes.

“We have ‘ponded’ a little water in some pools,” said Karl Karrow, manager of the area. “And there’s definitely a possibility of conditions improving even further.”

Rain, rain go away . . .

Some recreational facilities in Missouri have had too much of a good thing when it comes to the recent rain.

After a week of heavy rain, campgrounds at Montauk and Sam A. Baker state parks in Missouri were flooded, state parks director Bill Bryan said Wednesday. At Roaring River State Park, flooding also forced the closing of all campsites in Campgrounds 2 and 3 and parts of 1 through Sunday.

The lower access to Bennett Spring State Park was closed as of Thursday because of high water, though the level has receded. The upper access to Bennett Spring remains open, and fishermen are still using the stream and catching trout.

New commissioner

Tim Dollar of Blue Springs, a longtime hunter and conservationist, was appointed to the Missouri Conservation Commission this week.

Dollar, 53, got started hunting small game with his grandfather. Later, he developed a passion for deer hunting, which endures today.

As a sideline to hunting, he became intrigued with wildlife management. He began acquiring land and managing it for deer, turkeys, quail and other wildlife.

Dollar will replace Becky Plattner, whose term on the commission expired. Dollar will serve a six-year term.

To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to bfrazee@kcstar.com.

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