So, you want to know how cold it was when Gary Stanton and Lee Brown competed in a national walleye tournament March 6-7 at Stockton Lake?
▪ It was so cold that the fishermen had to put non-toxic antifreeze in the livewell of their boat to keep the water from freezing.
▪ It was so cold that the fishermen had to dodge an ice floe when they were trying to land a fish.
▪ It was so cold that the thermometer read 17 degrees at launch, and a north wind made it seem even more frigid.
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Ah, but this story had a warm ending for Stanton of Overland Park and Brown of Springfield. By the time the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit tournament was over, they had beaten both the elements and the other 22 teams from 10 states.
They weighed in 8 walleyes totaling 13 pounds in the two-day tournament and hit the jackpot. They won the first-place prize of $5,000, plus another $3,310 in bonuses.
Oh, and that frigid weather we were talking about? It had disappeared by the end of final weigh-ins. The temperature was pushing 70 by the time the event was over.
“This was one of the toughest bites I’ve seen,” said Stanton, 61. “We knew where the walleyes were. In practice, Lee found some fish in a major cove near the dam. But with the water temperature 37 degrees at the start of the tournament, we had to figure out a way to get them to hit.”
Stanton and Brown, who have fished Stockton for years, hadn’t caught a walleye by noon on the first day. That’s when a key change in strategy turned things around.
They went from using bottom-bouncers with live bait to trolling crankbaits on lead-core line, which helped their baits get deeper. They caught three walleyes on the first day with that method, and added five more totaling 7 pounds, 9 ounces the last day to seal the win.
Randall Gaines of Salem, Ohio, and Mike Rhoades of South Bend, Ind., were second with 12 pounds, 1 ounce.
Missouri turkey hunting
Take heart, Missouri turkey hunters.
Wildlife biologists for the Missouri Department of Conservation are predicting good things for the upcoming spring hunting season.
The youth season will run April 11-12, with the regular season to follow April 20-May 10.
“Hunters should generally expect similar opportunities as those during the past several seasons,” said Jason Isabelle, who manages the state’s turkey flock.
He added that two-year-old gobblers, often the most vocal and easiest to call in, won’t be as abundant as they were in 2014. But the carryover of birds from previous seasons still should be enough to provide plenty of gobblers for hunters to pursue.
Kansas’ perfect record for no hunting fatalities continued in 2014.
For the third consecutive year, there were no firearms-related hunting incidents.
Missouri pheasant hunting expands
The entire state of Missouri will be open to pheasant hunting starting this year.
In the past, hunting was limited to the northern half of the state and a portion of the southeast region. But the Department of Conservation decided to expand hunting opportunities, a move biologists say will have little effect on populations.
“Our rooster-only hunting season has very little impact on overall population size and growth,” said Beth Emmerich of the Department of Conservation. “Habitat is what’s key for developing and maintaining wildlife numbers.”
Kansas City woman honored
Candice Price, executive producer of the Kansas City-based “Urban American Outdoors” television show, has received a Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media.
Price was honored in the category of “Outstanding Family Programming TV-Local Market” for the episode “U.S. Forest Service Science and Research.”
The segment was filmed in Missoula, Mont., and surrounding forests, and centered on U.S. Forest Service research labs and the efforts to protect and enhance public lands.
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter.com@fishboybrent.