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Scout it Out: Paddlefishing

Area Name: Table Rock Lake, James River Arm

For more information: General information on paddlefishing is also available online.

If you are intrigued by the unusual and love challenges, you should try paddlefishing at Table Rock Lake. There’s no mistaking paddlefish with other fish. Often called spoonbills, paddlefish have a long, paddle-shaped rostrum that accounts for about one-third of their body length, small eyes and no scales. The fish often weigh more than 100 pounds. Although they are among Missouri’s largest fish, paddlefish feed by straining tiny plants and animals from the water. The feeding method makes the use of baits and lures useless. Instead, anglers pursue them by snagging—jerking heavy lines with big, three-pointed hooks through the water.

Successful snagging depends primarily on water temperature and flow. As both increase, the fish make spawning runs upstream. That is why the best early season fishing is found in the warm waters of Table Rock Lake. On Table Rock, most snagging occurs in the upper reaches of the James River Arm, within 3 miles of Flat Creek near Point 15.

The paddlefish season runs from March 15 through April 30. Review the 2008 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations for season regulations.

Buy Your 2008 Permits Now

Get ready to head outdoors this spring.

The onset of spring opens the doors to many opportunities to enjoy outdoor recreation. Before you head to your favorite fishing hole or hunting spot, remember to purchase 2008 hunting and fishing permits. Most 2007 permits expired Feb. 28. The 2007–2008 Fur Handlers and Migratory Bird Hunting permits remain valid through June 30. Missourians ages 16 to 65 and nonresidents need valid fishing and hunting permits to cast lines in state waters and participate in hunting seasons. Permits may be purchased at Conservation Department offices and nature centers, retail vendors located throughout the state and online.

Discover Nature—Women

Workshops are a fun and safe way to learn.

Women looking to learn outdoor skills can get training at the Discover Nature–Women Workshop. The June 6–8 event at the Windermere Conference Center in Roach, Mo., includes courses in fishing, canoeing, archery, shooting sports and camping. The program is open to women ages 18 and older. Girls 14–17 may attend if accompanied by an adult. A $20 deposit is required with registration. The registration deadline is May 23. For more information or to register, contact Tracy Tomson at TracyTomson@mdc.mo.gov or (573) 522-4115, ext. 3808. Participants are responsible for making room and meal reservations with Windermere at (573) 346-5200 or 800-346-2215.

Feathered Fascination: Nest Building

When watching birds gather small twigs, grass and other seemingly fragile items, it’s hard to believe they can make nests that can hold eggs and withstand harsh weather conditions. But time-tested construction methods enable birds to build sturdy nests. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Handbook of Bird Biology description of how American robins build nests shows the ingenuity used to make structures that can lasts for years.

Robins construct their cup-shaped nests in about six days. The female builds the nest. She gathers a variety of coarse natural materials, such as twigs and grasses and some man-made items to form the outer wall of the nest. Once enough items are gathered, the female uses her body to shape the wall. She squats in the middle of the items, rotating and pressing down on them to form a cup. Pellets of mud and/or earthworm castings are gathered for use as a mortar to form the inner wall. The female again rotates her body inside the structure to shape the nest. The robins then use fine, soft, dead grasses to form a nest lining. To complete the nest, the female rotates her body inside the structure to shape the lining by pressing it into the mud layer. The female will begin laying eggs a few days after the nest is completed.

Goose-Proof Your Property

A few simple preventive measures may be all you need.

To Canada geese, a well-manicured lawn can look like an engraved invitation to take up residence in your yard. The birds’ presence can be a source of misery to people who must endure droppings and the risk of attacks from nesting birds. It is easier to prevent the birds from nesting initially than to make them leave once they have established nests.

A few simple preventative measures can help you avoid conflicts with geese. Remove nesting tubs that may have been placed years ago as part of Canada goose restoration efforts. With the population thriving, the tubs are no longer necessary, but geese will use them if they are available. Because geese typically walk from water onto the adjacent lawn, tall plants or a 3-foot high fence can help discourage them from entering your property. Further deterrence can be achieved with flashy plastic tape, air horns, high pressure water sprayers or using dogs trained to harass geese. More information on ways you can prevent geese from nesting on your property is available online.

Spring Wildflowers

Take a walk through the woods to see these beauties.

Although early spring is not the peak of the wildflower season, you can enjoy beautiful flowers in wooded locations around the state.

Wooded areas will be aglow with a variety of pretty white wildflowers. Dutchman’s breeches feature clusters of small white flowers amid fern-like, bluish-green leaves. You can identify spring beauty by the distinct pink veining on its five, white petals. Bloodroot is a pretty, white poppy. It gets its name from the sienna-red sap produced by its roots. The sap runs throughout the plant. Bluebells add a splash of color to woodland habitats. The showy flowers start out as pink buds and turn light blue upon opening.

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