Rural Missouri - August 2012 - (Page 12)

O U T D O O R S ith a quick flip of a well-practiced hand, Earle Hammond pitches a bucktail spinning lure toward a floating dock in a secluded cove on Pomme de Terre Lake. He works the edges of this bobbing target, hoping to elicit a strike from a predator beneath the stained water. As he deftly guides his 24-foot pontoon boat past each dock, Earle casts and then casts again. And again. Reaching the end of the row, he turns and begins to repeat the process. As he casts yet again, he’s rewarded — a strike. Earle sets the hook sharply and begins a deliberate retrieve. “There’s what we’re after, boys,” he says matter-of-factly. The quarry that has brought Earle out at daybreak isn’t largemouth bass, crappie or one of Missouri’s other more common game fish. Instead, it’s the muskellunge, or “muskie.” Watch as Earle Hammond Known as the catches muskie at Pomme de “fish of 10,000 Terre Lake in the online edition at casts,” this fish photo by Kyle Spradley www.ruralmissouri.coop. has earned a reputation as beEarle Hammond of Urbana holds up a 30-inch-long muskie he caught on Pomme de Terre Lake in early June. The ing difficult to catch. However, on this morning, it lake has been stocked with the elusive fish since 1966, making it the state’s premier destination for muskie anglers. only took Earle roughly 20 minutes and about three dozen casts to catch a 30-incher. “You have to work at muskie fishing,” says Earle, a member of Southwest Electric Cooperative from Urbana. “Some days you catch ’em, some days you don’t. But it’s not the fish of 10,000 casts. You just have to work at it and spend your time on the water to know where they are.” striking. This is why all muskie anglers learn the For nearly 50 years, muskie have been stocked at optimal opportunity. The first is in figure-eight retrieve, reeling a lure to within a Pomme de Terre, a nearly 8,000-acre reservoir lake in the spring, beginning in April and foot or two of the rod tip, then dipping the Hickory County managed by the U.S. Army Corps of continuing into June. According to Pomme de Engineers. Today, the lake offers fishing that rivals Earle, the action begins to slow as these tip into the water and making two wide Terre Lake figure-eight motions. This will sometimes or surpasses what’s available in the muskie’s native fish deal with Missouri’s summer. • cause the fish to strike. waters of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and “We don’t fish for them once the water Craig Fuller, a fisheries biologist with northward into Canada. hits 80 degrees,” he says, noting that the Missouri Department of ConservaEarle, a former Kansas City, Mo., police officer, this year the water temperatures climbed tion, is the current coordinator for the and his wife, Mary, began visiting and fishing the quicker than in most years. “Then, we agency’s muskie program. He says thanks lake in 1967. It didn’t take long for the elusive wait until the third week of August.” to Missouri’s stocking efforts, the state affords a betmuskie to become his fishing obsession. “One sumMuskie fishing continues in earnest through the ter opportunity to catch a muskie than some areas mer, I saw they were holding a muskie tournament, fall as the fish feed heavily while preparing for winter. where the fish is native. and I told my wife I might fish it,” Earle recalls. These months can provide the best fishing at Pomme “Our management objective is to provide the “Well, I did and I haven’t missed one for 30 years.” de Terre. Fishing slows in about mid-November. opportunity for a muskie angler to catch one legalEarle eventually retired from the police departTwo methods of fishing can be effective when sized fish within 20 to 40 hours of fishing,” he says. ment, and he and Mary moved to the Pomme de targeting muskie: trolling and casting. Trolling is ef“In some northern states, their rule of thumb is Terre region they had come to love. Seven years ago, fective in deeper waters, while casting is best suited they’re doing pretty good if anglers there can catch a Earle decided to become a full-fledged fishing guide for shallow water. Earle says he especially likes to fish that size within about 70 hours.” and created Pomme Muskie Guide Service. Today, he troll the first three weeks of June, just before the To meet this objective, MDC adopted a manuses his four decades of experience on the water to water reaches 80 degrees. With a client aboard, he’ll agement plan in 2008 that called for standardized help those seeking the trophy fish of a lifetime. trail four to five lines as much as 100 feet behind the stocking of muskie fingerlings each fall. The re“I love catching these fish,” he says. “I can go out boat with lures at a depth of 12 to 15 feet. Somesults of this plan are now starting to be seen in the and catch bass all day long — that’s no problem — times he’ll troll as fast as 6 mph. muskie population. but I do like catching muskie. They present a little Casting with large crankbaits, buzzbaits and While Pomme de Terre is Missouri’s largest and bit of a struggle, and that’s what I like. It’s a fight to spinners can elicit the aggressive strikes that make best-known muskie fishery, the conservation departfind them and a fight to get them to hit.” muskie fishing so addictive. The size of these fish, ment currently manages four additional lakes for While it’s not unheard of however, requires heavier the species. These include Hazel Creek Lake in Adair that a bass angler will catch equipment. Earle fishes County, Henry Sever Lake in Knox County, Fellows a hungry muskie cruising with 7-foot, heavy-action Lake in Greene County and Lake 35 at the August A. for an easy meal, it’s the exrods and bait-casting reels Busch Conservation Area in St. Charles County. ception rather than the rule. spooled with 80-pound-test “I am after the big one,” says Earle. “I am out Hooking a keeper muskie — line. A steel or fluorocarbon here and want to catch a 50-incher. There has never the minimum length is 36 leader is a must to prevent been one documented out of (Pomme de Terre), but inches in all Missouri waters the muskie’s teeth from bitif I catch one, the whole world will know about it.” — requires both knowledge ing through the line. of the fish and the waters in Muskie often exhibit a To book a guided muskie fishing trip at Pomme de which they live. behavior known as “the Terre Lake with Earle Hammond, call 417-993-0035 or Anglers can fish for follow,” where the fish will visit www.pommemuskieguideservice.com. Learn more muskies year-round, but trail a lure all the way to about MDC’s muskellunge program at www.mdc.mo.gov. there are two windows of an angler’s boat without Catching trophy muskie requires extra-large lures. W by Jason Jenkins jjenkins@ruralmissouri.coop Forget 10,000 casts Fish Missouri and improve your odds of hooking a muskie 12 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://www.pommemuskieguideservice.com http://www.mdc.mo.gov http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - August 2012

Rural Missouri - August 2012
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Exploring yesterday today
Forget 10,000 casts
A hundred years on the hunt
H2O & Go
Hearth and Home
Out of the Way Eats
Bloody August
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Locomotives in the landscape
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - August 2012

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