I took Sondra Gray and her husband fishing this past week and she caught some really nice smallmouth.  All over again I had to explain to her why everyone should return smallmouth to the water, as they are a supreme game fish in the Ozarks, disappearing mostly because our streams are becoming so degraded, and filling in as the water recedes more and more each year.  But I gained some ground when I showed her the evidence of the little yellow grubs in the meat.  She doesn’t want to eat them now.  

It is a fact that largemouth bass and to some extent, spotted bass, have few to no worms in the meat most of the time. That’s because, in their feeding habits, they don’t often eat the little tiny aquatic snails found in the swifter, gravel substrate where they are found.  Those snails are one of the three reasons yellow grubs are found in the Ozarks streams.   They have three hosts, and they pass in a cycle through herons, aquatic snails and the fish that eat those snails… The fish eat the snails; the herons eat the fish and then pass a certain stage of the parasite back into the water where they seek out the snail again.  We might stop the whole thing if only the herons would just not… uh.. use the water for a bathroom.   If they would climb up on the bank to relieve themselves…. No grubs!

I have several really good fishing reels that have been used so much they need fixing, one little part replaced or repaired.   I have a fishing reel repairman coming to our swap meet who will set up a table and tell you if your reels are worth fixing.  I suppose he can take your broken reels with him, fix them and send them back to you.  I am darn glad I ran into him, as I am tired of paying what you have to pay at the bass pro shop repair center just for replacing some little spring and getting your reel cleaned.  The name of the repair business he runs out of his home on the west side of Pomme de Terre Lake is called “Brite-Water Rod and Reel Repair.  You can talk with him at our swap meet this coming Saturday.

That big day is pretty near upon us.   On Saturday, the 29th we will hold our big Grizzled Old Outdoorsmen’s Swap Meet Event at the Brighton Assembly of God church gymnasium. Who knows if anyone will show up? It might just be you and me.  The Church youth groups will have biscuits and gravy for breakfast and pork sandwiches and hamburgers for dinner with fixin’s and pie.  There’ll be 45 tables loaded with all kinds of outdoor stuff and it is FREE to the public. How many times do you find something of this magnitude you can attend free?

We open at 8 am and close at 2 pm. We have some really nice wildlife art by some of our state’s best wildlife artists, and some wildlife carvers as well.  You will see Larry Egger’s handmade turkey calls, some of them hand-painted and some plain, and some wing-bone turkey calls made by Eddie Davis which are decorated with scroll work and hand-painted. Dr. Carl Huser is bringing some of his wood bowls and vases made on a wood-lathe that are simply too beautiful to describe.

We have a fellow who has the heads of bobcat, foxes and coyotes mounted on stands made from deer antlers, and some old time fur hats and garments, like mountain men wore. And another taxidermist will bring fish and deer heads to add some outdoors to your den or office, or your wife’s kitchen.  How would your wife like to be the only lady in your town to have a ten-point buck mounted right over the dinner table, or a nine-pound bass over the microwave?

Of course, there will be all kinds of fishing lures, maybe thousands of them, some new, some used, and some antiques. There will be so many old fishing lures there, that if you are into vintage fishing stuff you won’t be able to see it all unless you spend all day.  One year there was a lady there who sold several lures worth 30 to 50 dollars for $3.00 each.  We will have camping and fishing gear and an assortment of used guns, many of them antiques.

Ladies who attend our swap meet need to see Dale Olson from down around the Arkansas border, who makes laminated cutting boards out of strips of differently colored Ozark wood that are beautiful, and cost less than 20 dollars.  Other vendors have hand-made bird houses and feeders.  I know there will be some wooden longbows and archery equipment, and a fellow there who makes stone arrowheads.  Another vendor will bring handmade wood furniture, and outside there will be several used boats and motors for sale.

Best of all, my bashful but beautiful wife Gloria Jean will be there, since it is her anniversary, and two of my daughters, Christy and Leah will be there too, since I am paying them two dollars and a quarter an hour, just like I did when they were youngsters.  I don’t know about my little grandsons, Ryan and Alex, who say they won’t work for that kind of money, since President Obama has been trying to raise the minimum wage.

This big event is sort of an anniversary gift for Gloria Jean, as I have told her that she can take twenty dollars and go around and look at everything and pick out something nice she wants.  There’s always jewelry and stuff for the ladies there, as we especially invite folks who have things outdoor ladies are always looking for.  

Sandra McCormick from MacCreeds Art Gallery, from over around Bennett Springs, always brings a bunch of stuff for the ladies, which fills and entire side room at the Swap Meet.   Lightnin’ Ridge Publications editor, Sondra Gray will be there giving away some of our magazines free, and signing folks up for subscriptions.  There will be a big drawing at her table for a valuable piece of art to be given to one of our magazine subscribers.  

I will be selling and signing my outdoor books of course, and making some of my famous turkey calls, guaranteed to call in big ground-raking gobblers on a regular basis. We are also bringing a pair of 6 week old, registered Lightnin’ Ridge old-style Labrador puppies that will attract some of the kids who show up.

But the real attraction will be my executive secretary, Ms. Wiggins, there to sign autographs as she works on her nails and talks on the phone to her lady friends at the beauty shop as she so often does here at work.

The church is found 16 miles north of Springfield just off Highway 13. You turn east at the Hwy 215 junction that goes to Pleasant Hope, then turn north on old Highway 13 just a few hundred yards to the east. If you are coming from the north the 215 turn-off is on the left, about 6 miles south of Bolivar.  Look for the swap meet signs.

Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613, or email me at lightninridge@windstream.net.  My website is under larrydablemontoutdoors.