OUTDOORS with Bill Wehrle: Seventh state-record fish this year landed

BILL WEHRLE, C-T/LCL Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T/LCL Sports Editor 

On July 3, Missouri’s seventh new record fish for 2021 was taken from a private pond in Franklin County.

A record-sized 5-ounces longear sunfish was pulled in by Robert Audrain from St. Louis, replacing a 4-ounce longear caught by Robert’s father on the same date last year. A new record taken on the same day of the year from the same pond by a member of the same family as the previous record. How about that!

This record fish was the seventh taken in 2021 with almost half of the year remaining. In both 2020 and 2018, eight new records were entered in Missouri’s record book; in between, 13 new records were recorded in 2019.

Recent cooler weather may have cooled down area fishing waters and made some of our local fish hungry again. It might be a good time to break out your rod and reel and see if you can connect with some of these local fish.

There’s plenty of time remaining to catch enough fish for one more fish fry before hunting seasons get here and takes up most of our spare time.

I’m always coming up with ideas for “combo” hunts when seasons overlap, and it occurred to me that doves and squirrels or doves and bullfrogs would be a possible choice.

You could find a good dove location, take a limit of doves during their morning feeding flight, clean the birds, and then head out to your best frog ponds or squirrel timber for another hunt. A combo dove-frog or dove-squirrel hunt could become another north Missouri classic.

It’s now only a little over two weeks until the dove opener on Sept. 1, so it’s time to do some scouting for a good location.

I’ve just begun my annual dove scouting and so far I haven’t found any concentrations of doves in my usual locations. I don’t know if there’s a shortage of doves this year or if they just haven’t begun to flock together as they usually do this time of the year.

I did notice that some of their usual food crops like sunflowers must have suffered from the excessive rainfall. They aren’t nearly as tall and headed out as well as they usually are. We might have to rely on cut corn and harvested wheat fields for dove hunting this fall.

There’s still a little time to get in some shotgun practice before the fall seasons are upon us.

Shotgun shells are finally showing up at dealer locations, although still not in great supply, so better get some whenever you can.

The summer sporting clays league at the Boot Hill near Hamilton is only a couple of weeks away from being over for this year, but they may still be open for practice shooting for a little while. 

Trenton Trap Club’s fall league begins next Thursday, Aug. 19, so there’s still a little time to get involved in it. They too will have some “practice days” for those who would like to “tune-up” for hunting season.

Get some shells bought, your guns cleaned and equipment ready, and be ready to head out for another fall’s hunting seasons. It won’t be long now!

(Bill Wehrle’s “Outdoors” column now appears in the C-T every Saturday and LCL every Monday)