Duckworks - Reviews
The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders

Rivers to Run
by Larry Dablemont

Review by Terry W. Gardner

Rivers to Run is written by Larry Dablemont and published by Lightnin’ Ridge Books. Just released this year, this book will appeal to a variety of readers, from the fisherman of small streams and lazy rivers to those that enjoy the history and culture of days gone by. Larry grew up in the Ozarks when the local rivers ran wild and free. Fish and game were plentiful and the people that lived along the rivers such as the Big Piney, the White and the Current used the rivers to provide for their families on a daily basis. From guiding float fishing and hunting trips for sportsmen from the larger cities to harnessing the river’s strength to float hand-hewn railroad ties down to the takeout point at Van Buren, Mo. the rivers provided food and livelihood for all in the area. There are chapters on the local people of the Ozarks as well as the rivers themselves, the fish, the furbearers and the birds of that area. Other chapters include material on the history of float fishing, the old time guides themselves and the origin of the johnboat. Larry discusses the history of the rivers and the local people and agencies involved with them. He also discusses in great length the boats that were used on the rivers and why they were best suited for this use. There is a chapter included in the book on how to build your own wooden johnboat. The boat construction process is illustrated throughout with actual photographs of Larry’s father, Farrel Dablemont, building a old-fashioned 14’ johnboat. There are many interesting stories in the book, such as the natural phenomenon of flying bass or the encounters between the game wardens of the time and the local river families who distrusted outsiders.

Larry Dablemont with a big Walleye

Larry bridges the gap between the old and new generations of the Ozark river people. His grandfather Fred Dablemont built johnboats on the Big Piney River for years. Larry himself holds a B.S. degree in wildlife management from the University of Missouri and still lives today in the rural Ozarks hunting and fishing whenever he gets the chance. He also leads interpretive float trips several times a year. (His website has details.) I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It talks of a slower time when families spent time together doing things they enjoyed. It tells of a time before the current generation with all its hustle and bustle and better way of doing things came along. And it tells of a time that is past and gone forever

Side note: Jim Michalak has two designs that are patterned after the johnboats of the Ozarks’ wild river days. They are the River Runner and the Ozarkian.

Reviewer: Terry W. Gardner, 10/2004