Monthly Archives: August 2010

Kayaker injured by silver carp

It has to be frustrating for athletes to train all year for an event and then have a bodily injury take them out of a long-awaited event.

Imagine this poor Texan having to drop-out because he got clobbered by a jumping silver carp.

Click here to read about it.

Imagine what would have happened had he been traveling 30 m.p.h. in a boat or on water skis and the same fish would have hit him.

If there is a plus side is that the event again brought attention to the building problems of invasive Asian carp in midwestern waters.

Few articles, unfortunately, mention the threat the fish pose to native fish populations by out-competing them for food.

Still, in the name of accuracy some things need to be cleared-up.

#1 – No true expertI  interviewed thought adult Asian carp eat 40-percent of their body weight in plankton a day. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service puts it at 5 to 20-percent. That’s still an amazing number when you consider one-half acre of water can hold up to 1,000 pounds of the fish.

#2 -Several places it’s been reported that Asian carp make-up 90-percent of the bio-mass in the Missouri River. That’s from tests run in some high-density areas. Biologists I talked to didn’t know the over-all average for the Mightly Mo’. They did, though, feel it was possible Asian carp could make up the greatest amount of bio-mass in a river.

Bad news and good news at Cheney Lake

I’m normally pretty happy when I catch something while fishing.

Thursday morning, though, I caught about 60-somethings at once and was pretty dejected.

About 60 zebral mussels were attached to this rock about the size of a golf ball. It was about 10 feet below the lake's surface and a half-mile or more from shore.

About 60 zebral mussels were attached to this rock about the size of a golf ball. It was about 10 feet below the lake's surface and a half-mile or more from shore.

Mark Fowler and I were trolling for wipers and walleye when the crankbait I was watching started pulling a little heavy.

One of the lure’s hooks was tucked into a rock the size of a golf ball. On that rock were about 60 zebra mussels ranging from the size of a fingernail to mere specks.

And as I looked I realized half of the rock had been settled down into the mud and that half  held none.

Also that each of those mussels daily sucked about a quart’s worth of plankton from Cheney’s productivity…and that was one small rock with maybe four inches of surface amid a lake that held dozens of miles of rocks, logs, boats and other hard surfaces that could hold zebes.

I’m telling ya, this invasive species problem isn’t far from getting way out of hand. I fear for the wild Kansas my descendents will be able to enjoy.

On a brighter side we caught our combined  limits of four 21-22-inch wipers Thursday morning. Friday morning Eagle editor Sherry Chisenhall joined us and the fishing was even better.

At one time I had a nice wiper on one line while Sherry had two – one on both lures on her line – at the same time.

We had our combined limit of six wipers in less than two hours, thanks to Mark’s skills.

Unfortunately we had zebra mussels snagged on our hooks for much of the morning.

Quivira getting set for fall

Biologist Barry Jones just posted some great news about habitat conditions at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

Conditions could be good when masses of geese and sandhill cranes come to Quivira in about two months. Shorebirds and teal are already migrating to the area.

Conditions could be good when masses of geese and sandhill cranes come to Quivira in about two months. Shorebirds and teal are already migrating to the area.

After some dry times mid-summer, water and land conditions are coming around on the refuge about 90 minutes northwest of Wichita.

Below is what Jones posted online a few minutes ago.

"Roads at Quivira are sloppy from more than 2 inches of rain overnight.
Some areas may have standing water for awhile - others just muddy.
Conditions should improve quickly, as they often do in summer.  

Prescribed burning was completed around the interior of the Wildlife Drive
on Monday, August 23.  This area had not been burned in 3 years.  Drying
conditions and other burn conditions were just right, making this a highly
successful burn for reducing cattail stands, turning over nutrients to the
soil, and reducing saltgrass thatch.  Green-up of the burn should occur
just in time for fall migration.  Viewing conditions, as well as usage by
birds, should improve greatly in these areas this fall.

Waterfowl migration has already begun:  upwards of 300 or more teal have
been seen over the past week or two in the Big Salt Marsh area."

Barry Jones
Quivira NWR

Don’t sweat miserable hunting conditions

I’ve hunted doves on days when it was much hotter and waterfowl and pheasants on days when it was much, much colder.

But Sunday morning was surely the most humid hunt of my life.

The woods looked gorgeous at dawn, with lots of fog hanging heavy. Dew was so thick it dripped from leaves and any movement in the treetops by birds brought small showers of water.

But goodness it was miserable.

To stop for a few seconds meant fogged shooting glasses. Even stashing my cap in a pocket of my camo pants didn’t keep my face from heating up. Within a few minutes my shirt was so soaked it felt like I’d been swimming in it. The scope of my .22 rifle fogged when I held it too close to my face while looking into the tree tops.

Miserable conditions? Yes.

Worth it? YES!

I watched a hen wild turkey and four pheasant-sized poults in one of our food plots. They’re the first young birds I’ve seen on our farm. A lot of activity in the woods, too. Songbirds seemed particularly active.

The hunting was great, too. You can probably read more about that on Sunday’s outdoors page.

Enjoy the cooler weather that’s coming this week.

Sharing a great fishing spot

Wednesday morning was one of my best of the year for fishing. We caught nothing really large but the five species of fish were numerous and hungry.

Rob Manes casts a line into a pool along Fox Creek. About four miles of the classic Flint Hills stream are open to public angling.

Rob Manes casts a line into a pool along Fox Creek. About four miles of the classic Flint Hills stream are open to public angling.

The scenery was gorgeous.

It was on private property and I’m going to tell you how you can enjoy it, too.

Rob Manes and I were fishing a tiny portion of the four miles of Fox Creek on the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City.

The stream and several nice preserve ponds are open to the public under Wildlife and Parks’ FISH program that leases waters from private landowners so they’re open to the public.

You can get a FISH atlas as most license vendors, the Wildlife and Parks office at 29th and Woodlawn or by going to

Fishing the property requires being in good enough shape to do some walking, anywhere from one-quarter mile to four miles. If you fish the stream you’re going to get some tangled lines because of the natural state of the trees and brush along the banks.

Fishing is lures-only and strictly catch-and-release.

We started at two pools a mile or so from the parking area/access point and both caught bass on our first cast. Rob fished small jigs on a ultra-light spinning outfit. I used beadhead woolly buggers and Clousers on a fly-rod.

This is considered a nice-sized bass for a Flint Hills stream but we caught channel catfish that were quite a bit larger.

This is considered a nice-sized bass for a Flint Hills stream but we caught channel catfish that were quite a bit larger.

We each fished two or three pools and the stretches in between. I had a couple of green sunfish and gorgeous longear sunfish, about 10 largemouth bass and a pair of channel catfish. The best bass was about 14-inches long. The catfish stretched 18-20 inches.

If you go, be sure to wear old shoes so you can wade from shore to shore and take a fanny pack with bug spray, sunscreen, water and a box of small lures or flies.

Those who walk the farthest will enjoy the most privacy and best fishing.

Remember the stream can rise to very high levels after a rain. Water levels can drop fast during periods of drought.

This is a great trip for those who like to mix birding with fishing but you must be fishing to enjoy the FISH properties.

Like the preserve’s ponds, the stream’s a delicate fishery that will need care from those who use it. Keep fishing groups small and don’t tell many people.

Trust me, there was a part of me that didn’t even want to write this blog but it is a unique fishery open to the public.

Treat it nicely, please, I intend to return.

Nugent fined for illegal hunting

A reader sent along this link to an article about rocker/outdoor television host Ted Nugent getting fined for hunting over bait in California.

Some background information -

The C’mere Deer product Nugent was using on the hunt is a high-priced attractant that deer do seem to really enjoy. Advertisements show deer gnawing old stumps that were previously coated with the stuff.

It would be legal to take a deer with C’mere Deer in Kansas and other states where baiting is legal. Baiting for deer is not legal in many states.

Also, the deer shot was a spike. Some places have restrictions that say a buck must have a certain size of antlers or larger before it can be shot. Sounds like the illegal buck may have been in such an area.

In Nugent’s defense, it’s tough to stay up on all state laws when doing a hunting show in so many areas. But in the court’s defense hunters are responsible for knowing laws wherever they’re hunting- no matter who they are.

Interesting that it was an episode of Nugent’s TV show that led to the charges. Many of us have seen Kansas hunting laws broken on shows filmed here.

I can think of at least three cases where I’ve seen celebrity hunters afield without the proper amount of orange for firearms deer hunting. I’m not sure how often Wildlife and Parks has used such footage to press charges.

The joys of a fine morning

Paws pranced all over Kansas this morning.

After a mother of a heat wave hunting dogs got a solid hint that fall’s not far away.

The temperatures in the low to mid-60s felt like teal season. Heavy dew added to the coolness and fall-feel.

Hank bounced around like a puppy on this morning’s walk-retrieve-pee trip along Sand Creek. Heat had kept us from the early morning treks for about three weeks in favor of a a few simple swims every few days.

But his morning we took a mile-long walk where the male side of Hank sniffed and autographed most trees along the way.I tossed about 20 retrieves.

They ranged from a 30 yard toss on mowed grass to 80 yard blind retrieves using hand signals across the wide creek

No matter, the nine-year-old dog romped like a puppy going and coming.

I probably had a little added bounce in the my step, too.

Mornings like this are also my favorites of the summer.

Back from Mankato

Things I learned after attending a most-excellent Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting in Mankato.

When it comes to anything related to deer hunting, commissioners have an “if it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it” attitude.

Kansas duck hunters are getting a really good deal this fall and winter. Goose hunters may get an even better deal during the 201o-2011 seasons.

Lovewell State Park is gorgeous. Too bad the lake’s  been closed to all human use because of a blue-green algae problem for several weeks.

Nobody can remember such a heat wave when the countryside looked so green.

Some state park fees are going up, but not the basic daily entrance fee.

Technology may make it easier for the public to “attend” commission meetings in the future.

Commission meeting locations will begin to take on a predictable pattern rather than be shotgunned all around the state. The Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita will be one of the regulars.

Wildlife and Parks officially announced they have no plans to list the lesser prairie chicken on the state’s threatened and endangered species list.

Sunday’s outdoors page should have more details on some of the above.

It also may have a photo and stories of yet another pending state record fish. Hint – this one rhymes with diaper.

Mankato – another day at the office

I’ll soon be leaving for a work-day that could be 15 hours long, but it won’t involve dawn to dark fishing for crappie at Kirwin Lake or walking up roosters at Hugoton.

It’ll be an up and back trip to scenic Mankato covering a Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting. If we’re lucky we’ll get a dozen members of the general public in attendance. There are usually more Wildlife and Parks field people in the audience, mandated to be there in case a question related to their duties arises at the meeting.

The Eagle’s been regularly covering commission meetings for at least 24 years.

We’ve been there when commissioners tried to conduct an illegal meeting many years ago and when a member of the public questioned if a Wildlife and Parks secretary had a conflict of interest.

And it’s been great to be there when something neat is announced. There was quite a bit of excitement when the agency came out with a plan to fund state parks, and up state park attendance, with a slight tax on vehicle registrations. (I was really hoping that one would make it through the legislature.)

Something the public needs to know about could pop-up at any minute.

This meeting promises to provide plenty to hold everyone’s attention. Liberal duck limits may be set. The possibility of increasing fees for deer permits and some state park permits will get serious discussion.

We’ll get an update about the petition several groups made to have lesser prairie chickens put on the state’s threatened and endangered species list.

It also gives me a chance to get a face-to-face conversation with biologists and conservation officials I often interview over the telephone.

It’ll be a long day but it’s only about a 5-hour round-trip drive. That’s what it is to our farm and I’ve done that as many as three times in the same week. Lately, after long days of working.

And it could be worse. The next meeting is in October – in Goodland.

Me + fishing = Long John Silvers for dinner

They again call me the Fishin’ Magician – because it seems I can sure make them disappear.

For several years friends teased me about my abilities to just show up and stop a hot bite. Some teased I deserved  an award from an animal rights group. Others joked that when I showed up the great blue herons all headed to another lake.

Fisheries biologists fishes for white bass with no luck Monday evening. Was it just tough fishing or was their a jinx in the boat?

Fisheries biologist Craig Johnson fishes for white bass with no luck Monday evening. Was it just tough fishing or was their a jinx in the boat?

For awhile it looked like the curse was over. I had some great crappie fishing last winter and spring. Some local bass trips were memorable. I was mean to the northern pike on a fly-fishing trip to Canada.

But two recent trips to El Dorado Lake with two of the areas top anglers and we totalled four fish on what was thought to be a “can’t-miss” pattern.

You can read more about it on Sunday’s outdoors page. Who knows, maybe I wasn’t the problem? Maybe it’s just been an unusually tough year at the lake.