Family Outdoors: Fishing|Hunting|Camping



Whitetail Deer in Snow

Family Outdoors: Fishing|Hunting|Camping
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Hunting, Fishing, and Camping in Missouri's Ozark Mountains

BOURBEUSE RIVERWhen most people think of a hunting and fishing paradise, they most likely think of Montana, Alaska, Maine, or some other state in either the Rocky Mountains or the Appalachian Mountains. Few people travel from afar to experience the Ozark Mountains in Missouri, and to be honest, that's fine with me. This sole mountainous portion of Missouri provides everything from fishing for wild spring creek trout to hunting mountain ridges for Whitetail deer, to camping in a remote national forest.. Wildlife viewing is great, and black bear have become quite common is some portions of the Ozarks, along with the normal assortment of fauna that can be found in the midwest and deep south. This is a beautiful place that is often overlooked.

The Ozark Mountains are paradise for the hunter. The only big game species around are deer, but they are relatively abundant just about anywhere in this region. Tags can be bought over the counter by both residents and nonresidents, and are fairly inexpensive. One advantage to hunting this part of Missouri is the abundance of public land. Conservation areas as well as Mark Twain National Forest provide endless hunting opportunities for Whitetails. Some of the conservation areas are specifically managed for deer and have food plots planted, but mostly, this is big woods hunting. To have success, you absolutely must be where the acorns are, as they are a primary food source. Creek bottoms with stands of Oaks are great. It is even better if the creek is spring-fed, as are many creeks in the Ozarks. This way, it will provide a year-round source of water. Don't expect most of the deer to be large here, but based on antlers that I have found on the ground before, there are big bucks to be found. Other hunting opportunities include great squirrel hunting, impressive turkey hunting, and limited opportunities for rabbits as well as upland game. This is a great place to hunt, and is the only place in Missouri that you can truly hunt in the wilderness.

eleven point riverFishing in the Ozark Mountains is all about fishing for Smallmouth Bass, Trout, and Bream. The Ozarks are second only to the Great Lakes Region when it comes to Smallmouth Bass fishing. Virtually all decent sized streams and rivers hold smallies, and the region has some truly world class waters. They include the Jacks Fork River, Current River, Bryant Creek, and the Gasconade River. Smallmouth fishing can be as simple as buying a can of worms, buying some size 4 hooks, some split shot, and heading down to the river and taking a few casts. It can be as complicated as renting a boat with a motor, buying a full array of tube baits, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits. That's your choice, but you'll find something for you here.

Trout fishing is also very good in the Ozarks. There are more than a dozen year-round trout streams to choose from, and all are spring-fed, with the exception of Lake Taneycomo, which is a tailwater. Some of these waters are small creeks supporting a few, wild Rainbow Trout, some are trophy Brown Trout hotspots, and some streams are heavily stocked, with four streams being stocked daily.

gasconade riverCanoeing is another popular activity in the Ozarks. For those who want to float and fish, you can't beat the Current River. Here you can cast to trophy rainbow and browns, then fish for smallmouth, rock bass, and bream when you get further downstream. Another beautiful float fishing stream  is the Jacks Fork River. This spring-fed river is a special management zone for smallmouth, and it shows. Just about any of the normal baits work here, with tube jigs topping the list. Other good streams to float and fish are The North Fork of the White River and the Eleven Point river for trout. For smallmouth, float the Gasconade River, Osage Fork River, Meramec River, Big Piney River, and the upper Black River. Camp on public land sandbars on any of these rivers for the ultimate experience.

Whatever you come to the Ozarks to do, you can be assured to find beautiful mountains, spring-fed rivers, and windy roads. It's a great place to visit, and you almost surely will have a great time.

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Last Updated June, 2014
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