5 years ago

• Since 2008, I’ve been driving past the entrance to the new Current River State Park on Highway 19 between Eminence and Salem, waiting impatiently for the opening.

Good News! As of June 15, the park is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for day use activities, such as hiking, picnicking and fishing. People who love the current River area as I do will enjoy being able to visit this scenic and historic site.

The main attraction at the new park, other than the Current River itself, is the former Alton Club, a corporate retreat built from 1937 to 1945 by the Alton Box Board Company.

The club’s rustic facilities, which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, include dormitories, a large gymnasium and other buildings. (Barbara Gibbs Ostmann)

• Every fisherman wants to catch big fish, especially a big, once-in-a-lifetime monster fish that is a new record. Donnie Wolford, of Sikeston, lived that dream or at least part of it.

Wolford caught an 87-pound flathead catfish recently, which bested the current Missouri state record

by almost 10 pounds. The current record fish was caught from Montrose Lake, in northwest Missouri, in 2003. That behemoth catfish weighed 77 pounds, 8 ounces.

Wolford and his 12-year-old grandson, Ryan Swain, caught their prize fish in a floodway ditch near New Madrid. They baited several limb lines just before sundown on May 28 with worms bought from Walmart. (Bill Cooper)

10 years ago

• I hadn’t been on the Meramec since the last century, and it felt like it. In 2006, I made plans to camp on property near Steelville owned by my cousin, and he promised to take me out in his big jon boat.

I could also wade fish this stretch of the river and hoped to reconnect with its smallmouth bass, goggle-eye, and longer sunfish.

In late summer, the Meramec’s flow may be low, but the water clarity is apt to be more dependable than at any other season. (Charlie Slovensky)

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