White Bass are starting to run! Black bass bite amping up!

Little girl with a big catch

Lakes conditions show the water temperature at 56-58 degrees with the color being stained in creek arms and clearing toward the main lake.

Last weekend several whites were caught in the back of the creek arms on the flats using pearl sliders and rooster tails. The black bass bite was on with anglers reporting catching them on jerk bait and an "A" rig.

Weekly NewsCast

Water temperature: creek arms 79 degrees; main channel 81 degrees

Water clarity: fairly clear

Catch ratings by species: black bass, 6; white bass 4

 

What's next for TMR?

 

The fishing camp idea was great, but things change. If you want to survive you have to make changes. The fishing was what would provide our income, but in 1960 Table Rock became the hot new fishing lake and later Beaver, then Truman and several lakes in the south. It was also the time when folks who fished started buying boats and trailers and would go any distance for good fishing. 

In 1962 we decided we had to make a change if we wanted to survive, and with that thought the fishing camp concept was out. What should we do was a question of all new territory for the Cook family. Our first move was to build housekeeping cottages and a residence for Nadine (and me), and that would become the office for the new resort. The larger cottages had cooking facilities, a screened porch and two bedrooms. We hoped this would encourage more families to come and stay longer than a weekend in the motel. In 1969 we decided it was time to upgrade our small 10-unit motel. Starting after that season, we tore down the motel that had replaced the one that burned. 

By spring 1970 we were ready with some of what would be our new 20-unit two-story motel with an apartment on the north end for Polly and Cookie. The next move was to invest in pontoon and ski boats and more employees to help take care of the new equipment. The changes started working slowly at first, but each year we could see we had made the right move at the right time. With boat ownership increasing by leaps and bounds, a service department was also needed, and boat sales followed. But the big change was building dock stalls for vacationers who brought their own boats with them and also stalls for folks who wanted to leave their boats for the entire season. 

It didn't take us long to realize the value of customers who returned often and told their friends about the resort. We had also outgrown our original office dock. So in 1973 we built a much larger and more functional office dock where fishing tackle was only a small part of the sales. T-shirts, water skis and related items took up most of the room. On the other end of the new dock we had a large service shop with an inside stall for service plus a bigger outside work stall with a monorail to move the motors inside the new shop. Paddle boats became a common sight as we had several for rent, and we were the first in the area to rent jet skis. 

In 1976 we opened Fork Cook RV Park, and again the start was slow, but today we have more than 80 sites rented year round. Another big improvement was the large pool and two lighted tennis courts we built in the new RV park for the use of all resort guests. Through this entire time we were building more and bigger docks to accommodate the bigger boats;  that process has never stopped, and today we have a total well over 200 stalls and counting. 

In the early 1980s Nadine and I thought it was  time to advertise in Springfield, with its continued growth and Table Rock becoming crowded. We had a good customer who sold advertising for KTTS radio station, and it was a popular station for the area. It was expensive, or so we though, but the results were unbelievable. That's when our business changed forever, because KTTS covered more than 100 miles in every direction. We were well known by fishermen, but the advertising brought families who camped and who also rented our boats, pontoons and motel rooms for short stays. In 1983 we moved out of our home at the south end of the motel and made a large rental unit that would accommodate up to 16 people. In 1993 we bought the Lakeview Restaurant and changed the name to Cookie’s: A Place to Eat. The restaurant had been subleased and owned by 10 different families over its life, but we thought it was time to incorporate it into the resort. 

In 2007 we thought it was time for something a little more upscale, and we built Otter Creek at the water's edge. It has been very popular. 

P.S.: I have rambled on enough for this year, and the summer season is a busy time, so I will end the weekly newscast for 2014 and hope to see everybody at our new bigger and better fireworks show this Saturday.

Weekly NewsCast

Water temperature: creek arms and main channel, 77 degrees

Water clarity: fairly clear

Catch ratings, by species: black bass, 5; white bass, 5; crappie, 5; catfish, 8

 

Childhood memories

A few weeks back I received word that Greg Janian had died, and I realized all three of the young guys I met when I arrived in Ozark County were all gone, and with them a chapter of my life. The first I met was Dwight Ledbetter on the first day dad I stopped at Ledbetter's Store in Lutie, then Greg a couple of days later when he came by out camp and later Jarrett Robertson when we became friends at Lutie school, a one-room school. 

I was born in Joplin and lived there until I was 11. I thought I had a good life doing what city kids do like going to the movies on a Saturday afternoon. A good friend of Dad's, Homer Rains, owned a filling station on the corner of 16th and Main and during the summer he would pay me to mow his grass at his station. The are was small, but I would take out push mower (no motor) the city block from our home and Homer would give me a quarter and tell me to go to the movies. That quarter would get me a ticket, bag of popcorn, candy bar and a Coke. The theater was half-way between Homer's station and our store on 15th and Main. After the movie I would pick up my mower that Homer had used to cut his own grass. 

Compare that to a Saturday at Theodosia when I would get up at first light where we lived on a houseboat next to the boat dock, grab my fishing rod with a topwater lure and either fish the point a the mouth of our cove or go toward the back of the cove. It seems like I always caught or missed several bass on most trips then I would head to the dock to work. This was was summer when the Spring rush was over, so at about noon Greg would come to the dock, and we would load up and head out water skiing. Our ski boat was one of our Lone Star rental boats with a tiller handle, a 25 horsepower Johnson that belonged to Greg. We both learned to ski behind it.

We had taken the motor to Doc Sallee in Isabella where we he had a machine shop and did his magic to gain a few extra horsepower, so this was our speed boat. Jarrett would join us from time to time, but his interest was music and he was very good with any string instrument. Our speed boat came in handy when the there of us would head down the lake to visit the Pontiac and Oakland boat docks. The owner of Pontiac had seven daughters, plus the cafe owner had a daughter named Sandy that Greg dated one sumer, so our speed boat made several midnight runs south. Looking back, what I thought was a good life in the it didn't begin to measure up to my new life at Theodosia. Even today, after all the ups and downs, I would never go back. This August we will add another cook to our family when Mitch and Latasha will have their second child. He will be the fifth generation of Cook males to live at Theodosia. 

P.S.: Joplin had a reputation as a tough town and living that I was unaware of. Homer Rains, who owned the filling station, always carried a big flat billfold with a chain hooked to his belt, so each night he would carry the day's money home with him several blocks from his station. 

After a busy Saturday, he headed home late and pulled up to his garage in the alley behind his home, go out to open the door and someone hit him in the head with a metal pipe and cut his belt to take the billfold. He suffered some brain damage and never worked again. 

Also on another Saturday night, I was walking home from our store on Main Street at closing time around 9 p.m. when I went by a bar with a big plate glass window. Two drunks were fighting, and one knocked the other out the window on top of me. All I knew to do was get out from under the drunk who was notmoving, and I ran all the way home and told my mother what happened. She cleaned me up to stop the bleeding where I was cut by the glass and remarked that it was just another Saturday night in Joplin. 

Make plans to join us this Saturday at Cash Saver Pantry in Theodosia for great catfish and lots of prize drawings plus entertainment by the Schofields, Kermit, Sandy, Dale and a few friends.

Weekly NewsCast

Water temperature: creek arms, 71 degrees; main channel, 73 degrees

Water clarity: fairly clear

Catch ratings by species: black bass, 6; white bass, 5; crappie, 6; catfish, 6

 

Remembering LB Cook

In the last newscast I talked about dad's dream of owning a fishing camp. That was what my sister and I were told in the late 1950s after he and my mother had already placed bids on three sites on the new lake. It still wasn't a sure thing by a long shot. Cook Mercantile was put up for sale about that same time, and it sold in 1951. A few months later they got the call from the US Army Corps of Engineers in Little Rock telling them that they were successful on the bid for the Theodosia site in Ozark County, Missouri. 

Their next move was to sell the brick home on 1611 Joplin Street, pack up and move to what? My sister and I were shown a picture of a small cottage-type home at the water's edge where we could live. But there was no home. Dad and I camped out while we built the first dock. Then dad found a house to rent in the town of Lutie, about a mile from the lake. In 1953 we built the required motel and found a couple who would build a restaurant, which was also a requirement of the lease on the Theodosia site. It was to be a sublease, because the last thing Dad wanted to do was to operate a restaurant. Out of 12 lease sites on the new Bull Shoals Lake, Theodosia was the only one that required anything other than a boat dock. 

Over the next few years we did well to hang on through a drought, flood and a fire that destroyed our new motel, but we survived, and each fall Dad would find a way to get some duck hunting in. It often required travel to other parts of the state. Waterfowl hunting had been one of dad's passions, along with quail and of course fishing. 

In spite of the tough times, in the fall of 1958, Dad and a friend of his, Don Woolridge with the Conservation Department, made plans to go pheasant hunting in South Dakota, and I went along. The reason for the trip was that Don was writing a story about paying farmers for hunting on their property, and in our case, staying with the family. The story was called Mail Order Ring Necks and was published in Field and Stream in 1959. This planted the seed that started Dad's trips each fall to fulfill a lifelong dream. 

The next year we were off to Wyoming to hunt antelope, again staying on a private ranch called Greenwood Ranches near Colony, Wyoming. The year after that we were back to Wyoming with a stop in South Dakota for pheasant hunting on our way home. While we were there a thing called the Cuban missile crisis happened. This went on for the next 25 years. Dad would take a month off and travel as far as Montana to hunt elk, mule deer, antelope and stop in South Dakota for pheasants or northern Missouri for waterfowl hunting. 

Over the years there was still that little fishing camp that was growing and required more of my time, as well as Nadine's and my mother's. Like I said before, we were Dad's labor force. During the early 1960s wild turkeys returned to the Ozarks, and that became Dad's new passion that required him to take a week or two each spring to hunt them.

That was LB Cook at his finest, traveling around the country hunting and writing stories about it when he returned home. His dream of a small fishing camp worked out quite well. Don't you think? At this memorial service in April 2002 I had my good friend Joyce Noah sing the Frank Sinatra song I Did it My Way. I thought it then and still do today, it fit LB to a tee. 

P.S.: Big changes are coming this year for the fireworks show over the water at Theodoisa. It'll start with a floating barge parked across the lake for better viewing and bigger mortars for a better show. This will cost about double what past displays have cost, so we have colorful canisters around town to help collect money. On June 21 Cash Saver Pantry will have its annual customer appreciation day with all proceeds going to the new fireworks show.