From left, local guide Les Jarman, Stockton, cracks a smile as Missouri legend Ken White laughs at the little white bass Jarman readies to release back into the water.

As the sweltering summer heat continues to broil much of the Ozarks to a crisp, many are finding relief on the area’s many lakes.

Stockton Lake has been no exception and seen a dramatic increase in recreational water traffic and camping activities as social distancing continues to be recommended in many ways throughout the state.

Over the past weeks, local outdoor columnist Ken White has been burning up the keyboard with different ways to beat the heat and numerous places to fish, even when they are not biting in your favorite honey hole.

The guy knows his stuff, even when he gets skunked — which has been known to happen on rare occasions.

He knows the experts in the area, the secret hot spots, when and where to cast a line even when the fish are not biting.

With water temperatures at Stockton Lake approaching the mid-80s and triple digit heat indexes bearing down on Cedar County, White remains cool as a cucumber — never sweating, never worrying.

“It’s all about timing,” White said. “That is the secret to most things and fishing is no exception.”

One of White’s most trusted local resources is Les Jarman, owner/operator of Specialized Guide Service, Stockton, who has been fishing the area since before the Stockton Lake and Dam existed.  

“We know the fish are here,” Jarman said on a recent weekday outing with White and myself on Stockton Lake. “Getting them to bite and getting them in the boat when it is this hot is whole different ballgame.”

And, Jarman was right. It was small white bass and one 13-inch walleye reeled in by — you guessed it — Ken White.

Meeting Ken White and his gang of outdoorsman friends certainly has been a unique experience — knowing him means you are interacting with new people, hearing new stories and learning something new every time you are around the guy, especially if there is a line in the water.

And, beating the heat and semi-enjoying some rather intense sunshine while trolling for walleye on Stockton Lake is just one way area residents can break the monotony of social distancing — throwing back everything you pull in during a day’s outing is just part of what keeps a lake healthy and fishermen honest. After all, it is called fishing for a reason, right?

And, as the saying goes, “a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office.”

I for one am looking forward to heading up river when the temps begin to cool in mid-September.

I hope all of you in Cedar County feel much the same. Stay safe, be smart, do what you need to do to take care of yourselves, but do not forget to utilize our outdoor resources as a safe way to learn, explore and recreate.

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