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The crew from “Hooked on Wild Waters,” a web-based show that highlights kayak fishing in various locales, made their way down one of McDonald County main waterways earlier this month.

The episode is set for release near the end of November.

Shawn Cooper, president of the McDonald County Chamber of Commerce, said this episode could benefit the area by promoting it as an ecotourism destination.

It also should be a great opportunity to educate the public about bass — particularly with how long it takes for one to grow and how important it can be to let them go.

“That’s our whole goal — to conserve what we have,” he said.

The show’s host, Charlotte, N.C., resident Drew Gregory, said the area has something worth taking care of.

“We’ve seen a lot of beautiful scenery, most notably the clear water allows us to see all the fish, and believe me, there are a lot of fish,” he said.

He and his crew covered about eight miles of the Elk River, but they were careful not to disclose exact locations because they didn’t want to disclose any locals’ fishing spots, he said.

Gregory and Stetson Blaylock, his co-host and a professional fisherman of Arkansas, caught about 15 bass in the first few miles, he said.

“We love this area, we’ll definitely be back,” Gregory said. “I come to the Ozarks at least once a year.”

Gregory met with a pair of researchers from Oklahoma State University Department of Fisheries, Shannon Brewer and Andrew Taylor.

Brewer, who has a doctorate in stream ecology, landscape ecology and fisheries science, said she does a lot of work in this area, which includes tagging and tracking fish as well as taking DNA samples and monitoring populations. She also did her doctoral work on smallmouth bass.

“I like America’s favorite sport fish,” she said.

They’re important to the ecosystem because they sit near the top of the food chain, she said. They primarily consume crayfish, but will eat just about anything in the water, meaning everything interacts with them.

And they can occupy a wide array of underwater habitats, Brewer said.

One particularly special part of the local ecosystem is the Neosho smallmouth bass, a subspecies of smallmouth bass exclusive to the McDonald County area, she said.

Blaylock said he had a good time even though kayak fishing was a significant change of pace compared to his powerful bass boat. Kayaks disturb the water less and make it easier to slip into tight spaces.

“Fishing’s all the same,” he said. “You’re still trying to catch the biggest fish you can.”

Fishing in the Ozarks, he said, was a good experience. The Neosho smallmouth bass isn’t as aggressive as a lot of bass, he said.

The Elk proved to be an excellent fishing location with good scenery to boot, Blaylock said.

“It’s a good river. There’s a lot of fish here; there’s a lot of life,” he said.

“I think it’d be a great place to bring the family. It’s one of those places where if you don’t hear about it from someone or research it on your own, you’d never know it was here.”

Print Headline: Web-based fishing show films on Elk River

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