Bob Mitchell: Spring has sprung. What’s next?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

With spring now being upon us, arriving 10 days ago, we can wonder what is going to come down the pike now in the way of weather.

We’ve already experienced a loss of the peach crop with the frigid weather that followed mid-March thunderstorms that spawned high winds, some tornado activities and a fairly good swath of hail damage that will keep insurance adjusters busy for several weeks.

From a weather standpoint, this area still has the Easter storm, which could easily be followed by the blackberry storm that can come about the time the brier bushes start to bloom. Either of these has been known to eliminate early plantings of gardens, resulting in more than one trip by early planters back to their source of plants.

This doesn’t mean garden preparation can’t be accomplished this time of the year, tilling and placing of wire to guide growth like tomatoes and other climbers, which are needed in advance of planting. It’s just those that want to get a jump on claims of having the first of any crop as a bragging point that frequently get their efforts claimed by Mother Nature’s cold snaps that can arrive well into the spring.

Spring rains can come

Welcome in the coming weeks will be the spring rains that will improve water levels in Table Rock Lake. Through the winter, the levels have been extremely low, often dangerous in some areas.

The last time Herschel Stehlik and I were in Owl Creek in the Big M Dock area, ancient rock fences that hadn’t been seen in years were completely out of the water. These once-favorite fishing spots as haunts for bass were no more, and access to upper regions of the creek were impossible due to low water levels.

Arrival of the hot fishing periods this spring, if current sub-normal readings continue, will once again need to be approached with extreme caution. There are stumps and rocks, points and obstacles under that surface that can cause considerable damage to boats and the humans that are in them.

Levels disputed

There is somewhat disputed information regarding the levels accustomed for Table Rock. The top of the power pool is at 915 feet elevation, which is somehow considered normal in this area. Whether this idea was one started by metropolitan media or not isn’t quite certain. But, the Army Engineer personnel with which we were once frequently connected stated this power pool top was not to be considered normal for the reservoir.

They never really set a “normal” reading for the 800-plus miles of shoreline on this lake, but if rainfall this past winter had been more sufficient, it would have surely exceeded what it has been most of the winter.

Fishing has been good

I can’t testify personally, but those early crappie and white bass pursuers seem to think the early part of their season has been quite adequate. Actually, those more experienced, who have their own areas in mind, have been quite satisfied with the live wells or baskets with which they have been returning home.

The fact of the matter is, a higher water level later in the spring — about spawning time — might serve in the best interest of preserving the hatching of fingerlings to provide future catches. Low, clear water over the nests of fish encourage “sight” fishing that eliminate those in the process of guarding or hatching during the season.

Checking equipment

While checking over equipment recently — just in case a trip with the MacFast might bounce up one of these days — I came across one of the first fishing accessories that Able 2 Products made in Cassville. It was a Moonglow that was used for night fishing that would illuminate the shoreline for casting assistance.

The light was equipped with a dimming switch that would permit an angler to adjust the amount of light being cast on the shoreline.

Moonglows were produced in a building that once housed Mozark Poultry on County Road in the northwest part of Cassville. It actually revolutionized nighttime fishing on Table Rock and was the forerunner of other famous items manufactured in the plant owned by Jerry Watley.

Luck ‘E’ Strike gone

Luck ‘E’ Strike USA, which began in Cassville by the Hendrix family — actually out of their vehicle used to peddle fishing baits and equipment in the lakes area, and later became the first to build in the Industrial Park here — later sold and was almost promptly moved to Mexico. The firm, last owned by John Hendrix, provided considerable employment for the community during its successful run. The company moved from buildings in the local business area to their final manufacturing facility.

It is probably unknown to many here that their payrolls extended into those employees who worked at home. They counted and bagged some of the baits manufactured by the firm. Those home-based employees were those who might have had small children or cared for family members who needed them at their residence.

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

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