REGIONALS: Midwest

Plenty of turkeys in Missouri,steelhead points in Ohio, white bass in Oklahoma and exploding bass population in Kansas.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Missouri The timbered, rolling hills and pastures of the state's northeastern region hold some of the largest Eastern wild turkey populations in the nation. Not only that, but the birds are big: It takes a 25-pounder to raise eyebrows in this part of the world. For public-land hunting you can take advantage of any one of a number of excellent state-owned conservation areas in the region around Kirksville.

Indian Hills, Rebel's Cove, Mineral Hills, Sugar Creek, Big Creek, Union Ridge and Hidden Hollow conservation areas all lie within a half-hour drive of town.

The April 22 opener should see plenty of turkeys in the woods, with numbers of two-year-old gobblers especially high thanks to the strong hatch of 2000.

Often you can sit in one spot and hear a dozen or more gobblers sounding off before first light. Yet once those same birds hit the ground and meet their hens, every last one can go silent.

To avoid the frustration, roost a bird the night before a hunt; then slip in before daylight to set up within 50 yards of the roost. Or beat the crowds (of hens and hunters both) by heading to town for breakfast if you haven't scored by 7:30 or 8. When you come back around 10, the parking lots will be empty and the hens will have left the gobblers to nest. Cover as much ground as you can before the 1 p.m. closing time, cutting loudly to provoke a gobble.

Contact: Missouri Department of Conservation, Northeast Region office (660-785-2420). -Philip Bourjaily

Oklahoma When the redbuds bloom in Oklahoma, the white bass bite. For your best shot at big numbers of fish, try the tributary streams of Tenkiller Lake, Kerr Lake, Webber's Falls Reservoir, Grand Lake o' the Cherokees and Keystone Lake. Water temperatures in the 50s and spring rains filling the creeks start the white bass moving out of the reservoirs and into the streams to spawn. Fishing is best a day or two after a good rain.

Don't expect to find solitude fishing the white bass run. The promise of fast action and hard-fighting, good-tasting, plentiful fish up to 21/2 pounds brings out crowds eager to fill their freezers. The crowds will concentrate on the deeper holes where bass stack up. Join them, but slip away early in the morning to fish the shallows near stream riffles. White bass hit spinners, curly-tail and footed grubs, marabou jigs, tube jigs and small crankbaits.

Contact: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (405-521-3851). -P.B.

South Dakota Chasing a Merriam's gobbler in the scenic Black Hills is one of the Midwest's must-do spring rituals, and there's no one who knows more about that rite than John Hauer. Hauer, who founded the Turkey Track Club, one of the nation's oldest commercial turkey camps, says weather plays a big role in hunting Black Hills gobblers. "A lot of folks have Opening Day Syndrome; they want first crack at the birds. But in many years the best hunting comes later."

Hauer notes that early in the season birds may be flocked up at low elevations. "It's not unusual to have snow, and that puts turkeys in the timber, working on pine nuts, seeds and acorns. I tend to like it later, when the flocks have broken up. Plus the weather is warmer and the birds are in the open, working on greens and insects."

Hauer warns that late-season toms may be tough customers, however. "There are fewer toms, and the remaining ones are educated. There are two keys to tagging one: locating roost sites with elk whistles or predator calls, and being adaptable. You need to find the tactic and the call that works on that gobbler that day."

Contact: John Hauer (435-259-8015). -Scott Bestul

ILLINOIS

Carlyle Lake Bass: Surveys of Carlyle Lake south of Vandalia show plenty of largemouths in the 12- to 18-inch range as well asome six- and seven-pounders. Try flipping a jig-and-pig onto the rocks and working it slowly. Firetiger crankbaits that run four to six feet deep also produce well during the pre-spawn. Contact: Illinois DNR (217-782-7454).

Rend Lake Crappies: Mid-April usually sees the peak of the crappie spawn on Rend Lake. Look for fish in flooded brush along the shore, or, if they're in deeper water, get a map from the Corps of Engineers showing the location of the evergreen fish attractors in the lake. Locals swear by tiny white or yellow Twister Tails. Contact: Illinois DNR (217-782-7454).

Illinois River Sauger: Troll double jigs on three-way swivels and tie a small floating crankbait like a Rapala on about six feet of line as a trailer. Troll the current or drift, concentrating on changes in the river bottom topography. The stretch between river miles 211 and 230 attracts the most attention, but there's good fishing all the way to La Grange. Contact: Illinois DNR (217-782-7454).

Rules Restrict Nonresident Hunters: Alarmed by a 20 to 30 percent increase in nonresident deer hunters in each of the last five years, the state of Illinois adopted new rules in 2001 to limit numbers of nonresident archery deer hunters. No more than 12,843 archery tags will be sold to nonresidents and the price has risen from $121 to $226. Residents hope the restrictions will improve their own access to hunting land. Contact: For remaining nonresident tags (888-673-7648).

Second Youth Turkey Season: Illinois's second statewide Youth Turkey Season is April 6 and 7 in the north zone, and March 30 and 31 in the south. This is only the second year all 70 counties open to spring turkey hunting have held a youth hunt. Last year participation was low, although success rates were high. Contact: Illinois DNR (217-782-7454).

Key Dates
April 1-30: Firearm/muzzleloader deer permit applications accepted.
April 6: Catchable trout season opens.
Turkey Season Dates:
South Zone: April 8-12; April 13-18; April 19-24; April 25-May 1.
North Zone: April 15-19; April 20-25; April 26-May 1.
** INDIANA**

Patoka Lake Largemouths: April to mid-May is the best time to work Carolina rigs or buzzbaits in and around Patoka Lake's numerous tree stumps. If you see panicked shad breaking the surface of the water, motor over and throw a shad-colored topwater or crankbait into the thick of the frenzy.

Contact: Indiana DFW (317-232-4080).

Michigan City Cohos: Hungry cohos follow alewives south as Lake Michigan warms in the spring, putting themselves within casting range of anglers on shore in Michigan City, Hammond and East Chicago. Access points include the Michigan City pier and basin and the DNR building. Cast Rapalas, ThunderSticks and spoons, or fish night crawlers, spawn sacks, wax worms or squid strips on the bottom or four to six feet below the surface. Contact: DNR fish hotline (219-874-0009).

St. Joe's Steelhead: Throw small lures like Vibrax and Rooster Tail spinners or salmon fly patterns such as yarn flies, Egg-Sucking Leeches, Suckerspawn and Bleeding Shiners. Some of the best fishing takes place in downtown South Bend and Mishawaka. Leaper Park in South Bend and Kams Island in Mishawaka are two prime spots. Concentrate on islands and gravel bars. The fishing peaks when the water hits 46 degrees. Contact: Indiana DFW (317-232-4080).

Cagle's Mill Crappies: Use a fish finder on Cagle's Mill Reservoir (aka Cataract Lake) to locate jumbled boulders on the bottom and tempt crappies with chartreuse Twister Tails. Don't waste time targeting stickups and brush piles; there aren't any. Contact: Indiana DFW (317-232-4080).

Judge Dismisses HSUS Case: An Indiana judge has dismissed a case brought by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which was trying to implement a controversial deer birth control program in a northern Indiana community. Several pro-hunting groups and the Indiana DNR asked the judge to dismiss the case, contending that it is the responsibility of the DNR to protect public safety and the state's deer herds.

Key Dates
April 24: Spring turkey season opens.

April 27: Inland trout season opens.

IOWA

Loess Hills Turkeys: Loess Hills State Forest in Harrison and Monona counties covers nearly 10,000 acres of steep hills created at the end of the last Ice Age. The Loess Hills boast some of Iowa's highest turkey numbers, but you'd better be prepared for a long, steep hike early in the morning to get above birds which will be roosted in the burr oaks on the hillsides. Contact: Iowa DNR (515-281-5918).

Eastern Iowa River Walleyes: Walleyes stack up below the dams of eastern Iowa's rivers this month. The Iowa, Cedar, Wapsipinicon, Skunk and Des Moines all see fish making their way upriver in good numbers. Work live minnows and yellow or chartreuse Twister Tails slow and deep below the dams and around rocks, bridge abutments and logjams. Crankbaits draw strikes, too, but they're an expensive choice because if you're not losing lures you're not fishing deep enough. Contact: Iowa DNR (515-281-5918).

Spirit Lake Smallmouths: Spirit Lake has excellent numbers of smallmouths going into spring. Early on, try to pick calm, sunny days to fish jigs-and-minnows or plain jigs slowly near rock piles in fairly shallow water. Contact: Iowa DNR (515-281-5918).

DNR Wants to Raise Fees: The state is looking to raise resident hunting fees for 2003. The DNR also wants to trim back fee increases imposed on nonresident hunters this year and to double the number of nonresident deer licenses issued. All of these steps will take legislative approval.

Key Dates
Turkey Seasons: First season: April 15-18; second season: April 19-23; third season: April 24-30.

MINNESOTA

Rainy River Walleyes: Vertical jig 1/2- to 3/4-ounce leadheads tipped with minnows. Clear water provides the best action, and fishing is difficult when spring runoff muddies the river. Special regulations designed to protect spawning fish include a two-fish-per-day limit and only one of them may be longer than 191/2 inches. Contact: Lake of the Woods Area Tourism Bureau (800-382-3474).

Advanced Hunter Education: Hunters wanting to take their skills to a higher level are urged to consider taking an Advanced Hunter Education (AHE) course sponsored by the Minnesota DNR. In AHE programs, students go beyond the basics of firearms safety and are introduced to issues of hunter responsibility, hunt planning, outdoor survival, game laws, animal rights and wildlife management. The programs are offered year-round at a vasial deer birth control program in a northern Indiana community. Several pro-hunting groups and the Indiana DNR asked the judge to dismiss the case, contending that it is the responsibility of the DNR to protect public safety and the state's deer herds.

Key Dates
April 24: Spring turkey season opens.

April 27: Inland trout season opens.

IOWA

Loess Hills Turkeys: Loess Hills State Forest in Harrison and Monona counties covers nearly 10,000 acres of steep hills created at the end of the last Ice Age. The Loess Hills boast some of Iowa's highest turkey numbers, but you'd better be prepared for a long, steep hike early in the morning to get above birds which will be roosted in the burr oaks on the hillsides. Contact: Iowa DNR (515-281-5918).

Eastern Iowa River Walleyes: Walleyes stack up below the dams of eastern Iowa's rivers this month. The Iowa, Cedar, Wapsipinicon, Skunk and Des Moines all see fish making their way upriver in good numbers. Work live minnows and yellow or chartreuse Twister Tails slow and deep below the dams and around rocks, bridge abutments and logjams. Crankbaits draw strikes, too, but they're an expensive choice because if you're not losing lures you're not fishing deep enough. Contact: Iowa DNR (515-281-5918).

Spirit Lake Smallmouths: Spirit Lake has excellent numbers of smallmouths going into spring. Early on, try to pick calm, sunny days to fish jigs-and-minnows or plain jigs slowly near rock piles in fairly shallow water. Contact: Iowa DNR (515-281-5918).

DNR Wants to Raise Fees: The state is looking to raise resident hunting fees for 2003. The DNR also wants to trim back fee increases imposed on nonresident hunters this year and to double the number of nonresident deer licenses issued. All of these steps will take legislative approval.

Key Dates
Turkey Seasons: First season: April 15-18; second season: April 19-23; third season: April 24-30.

MINNESOTA

Rainy River Walleyes: Vertical jig 1/2- to 3/4-ounce leadheads tipped with minnows. Clear water provides the best action, and fishing is difficult when spring runoff muddies the river. Special regulations designed to protect spawning fish include a two-fish-per-day limit and only one of them may be longer than 191/2 inches. Contact: Lake of the Woods Area Tourism Bureau (800-382-3474).

Advanced Hunter Education: Hunters wanting to take their skills to a higher level are urged to consider taking an Advanced Hunter Education (AHE) course sponsored by the Minnesota DNR. In AHE programs, students go beyond the basics of firearms safety and are introduced to issues of hunter responsibility, hunt planning, outdoor survival, game laws, animal rights and wildlife management. The programs are offered year-round at a va