Bob Mitchell: Fishing in Cassville, Shell Knob

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Flags were at half-mast (for you Navy types), even at the Barry County Courthouse two weeks ago, honoring the death of former Missouri Gov. Joe Teasdale.

A friend of Cassville, he cornered a nickname during his run for the state's highest office by walking across Missouri during his campaign. A Kansas City lawyer by trade, he became acquainted to Cassville and Shell Knob through then Secretary of State Jim Kirkpatrick. The latter, who would journey here at the snap of the finger to participate in a fishing event, encouraged his fellow officeholder to take part in Roaring River State Park's March 1 openings for several years.

The governor, secretary, and a confident of Teasdale's, Bob Alyard -- who later became a member of the Missouri Conservation Commission -- headed a group for several years that would be counted on to provide someone to pull the trigger for the opening gunshot of Rainbow Trout season. The party, like Kirkpatrick, came to think of this area as their outing location.

Lake tournament

The group later became aware of the Cassville-Shell Knob fishing tournament, which evolved each spring into a major effort to put together teams because of the popularity. Both communities were quick to respond in a favorable manner regarding their participation.

Teasdale ended up in my boat for two years, and he was a blast to fish with. The lone problem was the group that followed him, possibly to make sure I didn't pull anything out on the water that might get him wet. He was an ardent fisherman, lasting the full day out on Table Rock -- although not very successful, possibly due to his guide's ability.

Anyway, we had a memorable time and the group became acquainted with some of the finest in this area. The late Howard McIlrath, a leader in the Shell Knob community, always recognized their interest in this neck of the woods.

Leaders for the meeting, and in charge of gathering teams, were Cecil Davis and Jim Patterson. The arrangements became heavy in the final years, with participants agreeing to fish and then canceling at the last minute, requiring the pair to find substitutes. It hasn't resumed since.

Always a winner

The lake event was always careful to place the officials on the Shell Knob team, to put them both years they were involved in the winner's circle. This meant they did not have to purchase dinner for their companion that day.

Being on the winning side was always a big deal at the evening dinner following the tournament. Several participants on both sides kept in touch with state officials and learned they had good friends in the state capitol.

Return trips

Teasdale continued his visits to Cassville, outside the Roaring River and Shell Knob activities. His choice for a guide this time was Rich Holmden of Shell Knob, who put him on more fish than he was accustomed finding before.

He was always vocal about his successes on Table Rock when he would return to Jefferson City. In fact, the entire party never failed to mention the outstanding reception they received in these two communities.

When not involving Roaring River, the group would take two or three units at Bass Haven Resort, which has since been converted to condo units. They were always appreciative of the confidential nature their reservations received to not distract from their intended purpose of being here.

Frankly, there hasn't been a pair of state officials since those days of Kirkpatrick and Teasdale who has paid equal amounts of attention to this area. There are those of us who sincerely appreciated their friendship.

June's busting

Like the song, "June's Busting Out All Over," we are just a few days from moving to the sixth month of 2014. Which makes you wonder the old saying, "Where in the world has this year gone so fast?" as we get ready to bump into the summer season.

Since there should be some good fishing days, even for fair-weather types, the best days are June 1, 10-11, 16, 18-19 with good days scheduled to come on June 9, 14-15, 17 and 27-28.

Through the middle of the month, there is predicted a mixture of weather, including some cool snaps and hot and humid times visiting the Midwest.

Then, toward the end of the month, there arrives the possibility of some severe winds blowing into the Kansas-Missouri area.

Also not to be overlooked during the month is Flag Day on June 14, and then Father's Day on Sunday, June 15.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.