The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 11, 2013

Dave Woods: Guided fishing excursions fun for novices and pros

BRANSON, Mo. — Bill Babler spent the majority of last year fishing with fellow anglers on the lakes that surround the Branson area.

“I was out on the lakes 269 days last year,” said Bill, a 22-year federally licensed fishing guide. “I don’t ever get tired of it. I like it.”

He’s particularly fond of Lake Taneycomo, the White River basin and the trout fishing they provide.

“Lake Taneycomo and the White River are so diverse,” he said as he tried to teach me and Jeremy, my fishing companion, how to cast a spinning reel, take up the slack in the thin line and keep a watchful eye on the strike indicator floating dozens of yards away from the boat.

It wasn’t an easy task. I was watching birds, admiring the limestone bluffs and designing the lake house of my dreams in my head. Not a good morning for multitasking.

I met Bill during a weekend working in Branson. He came highly recommended by the folks at Lilleys' Landing, an old-school, lakeside family resort and marina on Lake Taneycomo. More on Lilleys' next week.

I had never been trout fishing, and I needed to scout for a guide for a grandma-grandson fishing trip this spring. Bill was my guy.

“There is just a lot of different ways to catch fish down here,” he said. “Whether you are fishing with bait or using a fly, it’s always fun.”

Fun is a good description of the couple hours I spent hanging out on the lake with Bill, watching his smooth spin casts, waiting patiently for my strike indictor to submerge and trying not to embarrass myself as I reeled in my meager victims.

Note to all of my PETA friends: No trout were hurt in the research for this column. Catch and release all the way. That’s how Bill rolls.

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