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Along with Detroit and Austin, Kansas City ranks as one of my favorite cities that I have visited as part of my state quest. I have traveled through there on several occasions, as its cheap flights and close proximity to five other states made it ideal for multiple-state trips. The mixed plate at Gates Bar-B-Q (ribs, a pile of beef, a pile of pork, a side of onion rings, a side of baked beans, several slices of bread, a pitcher of root beer, and one massive coronary) is arguably the best barbeque I have ever had. Kelly’s Westport Inn is a great place to watch a baseball game, especially if that game involves the St. Louis Cardinals losing, because Kansas City natives’ Midwestern friendliness is seemingly forgotten when speaking of their in-state rival.

For my first Missouri fishing trip, I fished for paddlefish, known locally as spoonbill, on the Osage River near Warsaw with Anthony Ford ( Though paddlefish exist in southwestern Virginia, I had never seen one before catching three with Anthony, two of which were around 35 inches and 25 pounds. The paddlefish season is short and people converge on the Osage from all over the Midwest for it, but I had a great time, despite the crowds. Paddlefish fight very hard and Anthony knew several good spots away from all of the boat traffic.

My second fishing trip in Missouri was on the Missouri River outside of Kansas City with Branden Stombaugh, a catfish guide with many trophy fish under his belt. The temperature reached 83 degrees, a very pleasant surprise given that it was the end of October, but the constant double-digit winds with gusts up to 31 MPH made it hard for us to stay on our spots. The catfish bite was slow, and I caught several unremarkable blue and channel catfish. However, this trip was a big success for a completely unexpected reason: I caught a 27-inch shovelnose sturgeon, good enough for a Missouri Master Angler Award in a species that I had never caught before. I also caught a pallid sturgeon, an endangered species and one that I had never caught before either. So Branden did live up to his goal of putting me on a trophy, just of a species that neither of us imagined we would catch.

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