This is the story that won’t go away.
Ever since early May, the Ozarks have been under water. Heavy rains keep dumping on southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, swelling reservoirs, rivers and trout parks, and leading to headaches for fishermen, boaters and campers.
The statistics are mind-boggling. Since May 1, the Table Rock Lake areas has received 22.62 inches of rain, Beaver Lake 22.4 inches and Bull Shoals Lake 20.73 inches. That’s more than the region receives annually in some years.
“The last time we have received this much high water was in 2011,” said Jay Woods, a public-information specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “It’s been tough.
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“But the big thing is that our reservoirs are still open and people are still using them. We talked to one marina operator at Table Rock and he told us every one of their boats is reserved for the weekend.”
In Kansas, where the heavy rain caused high water at reservoirs such as Tuttle Creek, Perry and Pomona earlier, things are getting back to normal. But the Ozarks still are waterlogged.
▪ Bull Shoals Lake on the Missouri-Arkansas line is still 31.6 feet high, and it is difficult to launch boats. Five camping areas are completely closed and five parks have partial closures. However, Corps of Engineers officials report that there are still campsites available and the lake is still getting use.
▪ The popular Table Rock Lake near Branson is 10.5 feet high and and the high water has caused problems at some of the camping areas and boat-launch sites.
“Some of the ramps are still accessible, but the big problem is the parking,” Woods said. “The water has gotten up into the parking lots, and even the people who can launch their boats don’t have as many places to park.”
▪ Norfork Lake, also on the Missouri-Arkansas line, is 15 feet above normal, and that high water has affected camping areas and boat launches.
▪ The National Scenic Riverways — the Current and Jacks Fork — were closed to floating from last weekend into this week due to high water. But both rivers were reopened Thursday as water levels dropped.
“The No. 1 message we’re trying to get out is that you can get out on the reservoirs, but you have to be careful,” Woods said. “People need to wear their life jackets and be aware of the new hazards in the water — the trees that are under water, the road signs, the picnic tables, the trash barrels.
“These reservoirs have a different look to them than most people are used to.”
Ozarks legend passes away
Jim Gaston, owner of the nationally known Gaston’s White River Resort, passed away this week.
He was known as one of the leading promoters of Ozarks trout fishing, conservation and tourism.
When he took ownership of his resort in the late 1950s, there were six cottage and six boats for rent. When Gaston, 73, died, his resort had 79 cottages, a well-known restautant, two miles of riverfront property, a staff of guides, boat rentals and even an airfield.
Gaston was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame, was a lifetime member of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Commission, and was honored as Arkansas Business Executive of the Year in 2010.
When he started his resort, he was an avid trout fishermen. But in his later years, he took greater enjoyment from outdoors photography.
I’ll take one fishing rod and reel please
Books aren’t the only thing you can check out at some libraries in mid-Missouri.
Through a Missouri Department of Conservation program, seven libraries are now offering loaner fishing equipment. Participants in the program can check out rods and reels and a small tackle box that has hooks, bobbers, split-shot weights and a stringer.
The seven libraries that are included in the program are located in Boonville, Mexico, Marshall, Centralia, Sweet Springs, California and Tipton.
“We are working with these libraries specifically because of the availability of close public access waters that are managed and stocked by the Department of Conservation,” said Don Rahm, an angler education assistant for the Department of Conservation.
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@fishboybrent.