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The Caviar Con

Wiki Commons / Thor via Flickr CC / Illustration by Katie Kosma

David Gauvey Herbert | Longreads | February 2019 | 15 minutes (3,739 words)

Not long ago, Mike Reynolds was working at Cody’s Bait and Tackle when two men entered the shop with a jingle. He identified them right away by their accents as Russians. The two men began rifling through fishing poles that didn’t yet have price tags. Reynolds asked them to stop. They ignored him and continued to lay rods on the floor.

Reynolds, then 57, had seen plenty of Russians come through the shop, which sits on a quiet dam access road in Warsaw, Missouri, deep in the Ozarks. He was tired of them poaching the town’s beloved paddlefish. Sick of their entitled attitude, too.

So when he asked them to leave and they did not comply, there seemed only one option left. He removed a .40-caliber pistol from under the counter, chambered a round, and placed it on the counter.

“I fear for my life,” he said in a slow, deliberate drawl. He wanted to cover his bases, legally, for whatever came next.

The two men looked up, backed out of the store, and never returned.

It was just another dustup in the long-running war between caviar-mad Russians, local fishermen, and the feds that centers on this unlikely town in the Ozarks and a very curious fish. Read more…