Category Archives: Fishing

bass, a boy named

Casts and Blasts from Aug. 1 KDWPT commission meeting

As well as what was listed on SUNDAY’S OUTDOORS PAGE, the following also happened at last week’s Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting in Yates Center.

The following waterfowl seasons were set -

Low Plains Early Zone – Oct. 5-Dec. 1, and Dec. 21-Jan.5.

Low Plains Late Zone – Oct. 26-Dec. 29, and Jan. 18-26.

Low Plains Southeast Zone – Nov. 2-3, and Nov. 16-Jan. 26.

Youth seasons are the weekend before the regular season openers.

(Duck limits are up to six ducks, of which no more than five can be mallards, with no more than two hens. Included within the six daily ducks can be no more than two redheads, three wood ducks, three scaup, two pintails and two canvasbacks. The limit will be six birds daily during the special September teal seasson.)

This year the possession limit on all migratory birds will be three times the daily possession limit.

White-fronted goose season – Oct. 26-Dec. 29, and Feb. 1-Feb. 9, daily limit of two.

Canada goose season – Oct. 26-Nov. 3 and Nov. 6-Feb. 9, daily limit of six.

Light goose season – Oct. 26-Nov. 3, and Nov. 6-Feb. 9, daily limit of 50.

– Jim Pitman, Wildlife and Parks upland program coordinator, expressed a desire to reduce the fall turkey limit from four birds to one in turkey management units 4, 5, and 6 during the fall of 2014 fall season. Pitman said spring success rates aren’t high enough to warrant liberal fall limits, though only a very small percentage of fall turkey hunters annually shoot more than one bird.

– Linda Lanterman, state parks director, introduced the current Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, and said Vail was working with some state park promotions.

Fishing with Riley or Fun fishing with a five-year-old

Five-year-old Riley with one of the white perch she caught. She let her dad reel in one, so she wouldn’t have to put down the “awesome” nightcrawler she’d just found.

CHENEY RESERVOIR – At 7:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings most kids aren’t even up, and if they are they’re watching cartoons. Not five-year-old Riley Everitt, she was watching a fish finder, occasionally yelling, “Daddy, daddy, there’s a fish on the bottom, a big one.” Sure enough, when I looked over there would be the inverted V that was the sign of a large fish on the bottom.

Most little kids, when they turn and see a three-inch-long bug near their face, one with raised wings and long pointy things coming from it’s behind, might scream or at least move away. Riley stared, pointed at it, asked what it was and if it could hurt anybody…then calmly reach over and picked the adult mayfly up by its wings and asked four or five more questions about the insect. She was good enough to trust me with the mayfly, while she went and caught another one, and another one, and…

Riley and her dad, Kacci Everitt, check the fish finder for wipers.

To say fishing was slow was to say that Riley had perfect hair, which she knew, but she managed to stay entertained. A box of nightcrawlers was as good as a box of toys as she dug a finger with the remnants of pink fingernail polish in the bedding until she found the ‘crawler of her dreams. In fact, the worm was sooooo impressive that when a white perch grabbed the bait on her line she refused to reel it in because she didn’t want put put down her ” So awesome, Daddy” nightcrawler.

She did gladly use him for bait the next time the hook was empty…who said five-year-olds are good at commitments?

Riley never met a mayfly she didn’t like, and want to hold, but she did share her insects well.

And though the little blonde did have some tomboy actions, she did have the perfect hair and enough of the fashion gene to say, “Let me see,” faster than the shutter speed, when she heard a camera’s click. (Also, she never met a photo of herself she didn’t seem to like, either.)

This five-year-old, though, was good at patience. Well, she wasn’t really that patient with the fishing but she was patient with her father, Kacci, who was determined to catch a nice wiper. Several times that morning Riley told her dad she was ready to quit, and he’d tell her they’d fish one more spot and be done…and she wouldn’t argue. One more spot turned into three or four, and Kacci never caught the nice wipers he’d been on by the scores for much of the summer.

I certainly didn’t get bored, thanks to Riley.

The boat was stopped for about 3.82 seconds when Riley decided it was time for breakfast. She set the donut on the boat’s dash, and took bites in between catching fish and capturing mayflies and nightcrawlers.

So, we have someone who can get up very early to go fishing, can read a fish finder, isn’t scared of fish, or worms, or bugs, or getting cold, or waves and is happy to share anything she has from donuts and bait to good-bye hugs…and she caught the most fish and didn’t brag about it!

The fishing world needs a lot more Riley’s,…no matter what the age.


Former longtime legislator appointed to wildlife commission

Gary Hayzlett, a retired longtime member of the Kansas legislature, has been appointed to the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission by Gov. Sam Brownback.

“I got out of the legislature after 22 years, and had 16 years on the county commission, and now I’m a (Wildlife and Parks) commissioner,” Hayzlett said in a Friday morning interview. “I’ve always had an interest in wildlife, and Wildlife and Parks…I’m thrilled, make that very thrilled about it. I think it’ll be a really neat thing.”

He will be replacing Debra Bolton, of Garden City, who recently ended eight years on the commission.

The 71-year-old from Lakin was born and raised in the community where he previously owned a grocery store and Dairy Queen. A lifelong upland bird hunter, Hayzlett said he drew a permit during Kansas’ first deer season in the mid-1960s, and shot a trophy whitetail in Wallace County. He’s since traveled to a number of states hunting assorted gamebirds, wild hogs, deer, elk and antelope. He’s also an avid prairie dog shooter and has hosted fund-raising hunts in western Kansas.

Robin Jennison, Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary, lauded Gov. Brownback’s choice and hopes Hayzlett’s close connections to the legislature will help the department and commission work better with those in Topeka.

“I’m not really going  with an agenda, I’m really interested in going to watch the process and see what it is,” Hayzlett said of being a commissioner. “I can see there can be a need for a connection between the commission, the secretary and the legislature.”

During his legislative tenure, Hayzlett largely supported the agency but was sometimes at odds with Wildlife and Parks, and sportsmen, on the topics of deer populations and landowner’s rights.

His first meeting will be in Yates Center, on Thursday.

Mastery of the art of fishing, rod building, writing and photography

Do me a favor, and yourself as well, and read what I’ve attached to the link a few lines down.

It’s fairly long, but whatever you think you have to get done can wait. The story is moving, the writing masterful and the photography better than artistic paintings.

Dang, I wish I could do anything as well.

It’s an ESPN story about one of the finest custom fly rod makers in the world, despite the little fact that he’s largely paralyzed about from the neck down.

Those of you who fly fish will admire the man for his craft, and how well he understands our way of life.

Those of  you who don’t, may get a hint of why some otherwise sane people become so insane about things like taper, weight, tips, tippets and finding the perfect fly.

So, pour a fresh cup of coffee, grab another can of Coke or pop the top of a a favored beer and enjoy.


4th of July Celebration, Canadian style

I celebrated the 4th of July closer to the Arctic Circle than the U.S./Canadian border, spending about an hour fly-casting for Arctic grayling in shallow rapids.

I’m a patriotic sort of person. The Star-Spangled Banner means something to be at sporting events. I get a bit defensive when I hear others running down our country.

But last week I spent the 4th of July not with family at our home or family farm or even a nearby lake. I was in northern Canada, closer to the Arctic Circle than the U.S./Canadian border. I was actually up there most of last week, and on the 4th I spent the hot and very windy day casting flies for big northern pike and grayling.

Arnold Stene with a big northern pike I caught on a fly-rod on a 4th of July trip to northern Canada. Other 4ths have been spent fishing in the Yukon, Alaska and Panama.

Somewhere during the trip  I took a few seconds to count up the number of July 4s I’d been out of the U.S., usually fishing and visiting old friends I’d made during my feral days as a full-time freelance outdoor writer.

There was a trip to Alaska to fly fish for rainbow trout the size of salmon, and Jerrod was with me once in the Yukon as we fly-fished for lake trout, grayling, pike and a few other species. He was also along about five or six years ago when we headed to Panama to fly fish for 100 pound sailfish and mahi-mahi and use big, conventional tackle for tuna and marlin.

Three or four times I’ve been in northern Canada, fishing with guide/friend Arnold Stene from a lodge where we first met 25 years ago.

It’s not like I make one of these trips every year, let alone several per summer. I don’t request the 4th of July, though it is nice because it saves me a day of vacation. Dunno, it’s just when the airlines, and my friends, usually have some space and time.  When I can pair an invitation, with some funds to buy airline tickets,…I just go.

This year I celebrated the 4th of July flying to an outpost lake with Arnold, and making about a 20 minute boat ride to one of his favored spots, a line of aquatic weeds near a steep drop-off at a mid-lake reef.  Fish #2 of the morning was a northern pike of 40-inches that came up from within the weeds to take a quail-sized streamer.

Heavy winds, and 90-degree temperatures, made fly-casting difficult and tiring, especially after three days of the same. We took our lunch break at the base of some swift, shallow rapids where I got out of the boat and cast dry flies for very gullible grayling. More pike followed in the afternoon, including a 38 or 40-incher I worked on for 15 minutes, drawing three for four short-strikes, before it finally committed, inhaled the streamer, then took off for Alaska.

The famed over-sized dorsal fin of an Arctic grayling. Some are three times as big. The fish are suckers for about any dry fly floated down the rapids.

(Biggest fish of the trip was a 43-incher that pulled hard but put up no speed. Most memorable fish was a 38-incher that was using the boat’s shadow for cover and rushed out to take the fly as I was lifting it from the water, showering me at the strike. That fish had power and speed, taking me around the boat several times, and three times pulling “I don’t think so, see you later!” runs as I was pulling it to the net. Another good memory was fly-catching a dozen 18″-22″ walleye in about an hour.)

Sure I’d liked to have been home, with my All-American family in our All-American city for the cook-outs and the fireworks. But I guess being able to make such a trip was, in a way, celebrating our great nation.

There aren’t many places in the world where someone can take a career dream that started when they were six-years-old and turn it into a living, and then work hard enough to have the finances and personal freedoms to so enjoy the rest of the world.

God Bless America.


Casts and Blasts from June 27 KDWPT Commission meeting

More details from Thursday’s Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting in Garden City.


– Most commissioners really seemed to feel they were in a “no-win” situation when they voted on the game warden’s request to make it illegal to use vehicles and/or two-way communications for hunting coyotes during the firearms deer season.

The request was made because game wardens regularly come across people illegally hunting deer with those two methods, and saying they’re hunting coyotes.

“The toughest thing for me is to not give our law enforcement guys the teeth they need,” said Commissioner Don Budd, of Kansas City.

“We need some baseline data….we’re not going to know if anything we do is really effective,” Commissioner Randy Doll, of Leon, said of wanting to now exactly how many complaints game wardens get annually about such illegal deer hunting.

B.J. Thurman, supervisor for about half of Kansas’ game wardens, estimated all of his officers get about two such complaints each firearms deer season, but indicated the problem could be more wide spread.

Every commissioner verbally expressed a fear that passing such a regulation would unfairly punish coyote hunters who are using vehicles and two-way communications legally.

Commissioners asked for more exact numbers of such complaints, and wish to discuss the issue further next year.

–Tom Bidrowski, Wildlife and Parks waterfowl biologist, said duck limits, and seasons and limits on geese, should closely resemble last year’s. Commissioners will vote on seasons at an Aug. 1 commission meeting in Yates Center. See the above link for possible conflict between staff and commissioner recommendations.

– Debate for setting the season for Kansas’ southeast duck zone was less “spirited” than last year. Budd said he didn’t want things to be as heated, and said his recommendation gives Kansas hunters three opening weekends.

– Keith Sexson, Wildlife and Parks assistant secretary, told commissioners the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced they’ll delay deciding if lesser prairie chickens should be placed on the threatened or endangered species list until around March 31. That means Kansas can have a season for the birds this fall and winter.

– Linda Craghead, tourism and state parks director, said the state’s new Park Passport program, which allows people to purchase annual state park passes at reduced rates when they register their vehicles, is doing fairly well.

She said the department’s goal is to get at least 5 percent of all vehicles to carry such tags. Currently, the rate is about 3.5 percent. About a dozen counties currently are getting more than 10 percent of their vehicles in the program. Butler County is one  of those counties.

Craghead said they need at least 4.5 percent to off-set losses in funding from the Kansas a legislature.

– Jim Pitman, Wildlife and Parks upland bird biologist, said about 73,500 turkey permits or tags were sold for the 2013 spring season. That’s an increase of about 10,000 from 2012. He said increased turkey numbers across eastern Kansas were probably responsible for the increase. Pitman predicted the 2013 spring harvest was probably also better than 2012.

– Mike Miller, information chief and Pass It On coordinator, said the department would like to decrease the costs youths pay for hunting permits in Kansas. Miller quoted figures from Missouri and Nebraska that showed youth participation can grow quickly when prices are lowered.

For instance, when Nebraska dropped non-resident youth deer hunting permits from $177 to $5  sales eventually went from 128 to 921 permits sold. Early discussion is that no youth permits would be cut by more than half in Kansas, like non-resident deer permits going from $300 to $150.

Miller hopes the decrease in Kansas prices will be made up for with the sale of more youth deer permits.

– All seven commissioners were in attendance. It was the last meeting for Commissioner Debra Bolton, of Garden City, who had served two terms.   Gov. Sam Brownback has yet to appoint her replacement


Casts and Blasts on Theresa Vail -Avid Bowhunter/Miss Kansas

A few details that didn’t make the Sunday Outdoors page feature on Theresa Vail, the current Miss Kansas that’s loved the outdoors for most of her life.


–Theresa actually got her start squirrel hunting in Germany, where she claims they have “huge fox squirrels.”

– The family squirrel recipe is a stew that includes sauerkraut and beef broth. (Yes, I will be getting that recipe.)

– Like many women, she’s left eye-dominant and shoots a left-handed bow. Theresa said her success shooting military weapons improved greatly when she started shooting left-handed several years ago.

– Her right forearm holds a slight scar from where the bowstring often slaps her skin after the shot.

– She’s successfully hunted wild turkeys with a shotgun, but wants to hunt them with a bow.

– Though her schedule is very busy with Miss Kansas duties, she hopes to try bowhunting for mule deer this fall near Pratt.

– One of her dreams is to hunt bears with her bow and arrow.

– She has no photos of herself  and the 150-class eight-pointer she shot last fall in Ohio. She said the shot was made late in the evening, and she had to catch a flight early the next morning. That’s when her friends recovered the deer. She does have a video clip of the hunt and her voice can be heard after the shot.

– Though she likes to hunt deer with a bow, and squirrels with a 20 gauge, Theresa said she has a 12 gauge with a red dot scope for her home defense weapon of choice.

– Theresa is at least the fourth Miss Kansas, including both the Miss America and Miss USA pageants, to enjoy shooting and/or hunting in about the past 15 years.

Yet another problem from ticks

Just this week my family learned that a friend hunting turkeys on our wooded lands north of Lawrence picked up a few ticks on his April hunt. At the Dr. for another matter, they ran a blood test and found he’d tested positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Fortunately, they got treatment started  before symptoms arose and all should be well.

About the same time I started hearing about a disease spread by the Lone Star tick, or at least that’s what the disease is named. We had an article about the disease in today’s Wichita Eagle. YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT IT. I’ve also heard several reports lately of the disease being found in Missouri.

And, unfortunately, Lyme Disease is still too prevalent in many areas, including Kansas. Some groups are also claiming America’s health industry isn’t giving tick-borne diseases enough attention, or treating them properly when diagnosed.

Personally, I’ve had a lot less ticks since I started treating some of my garments with Permethrin, a spray you put on your clothing and let it dry before wearing. It lasts up to six weeks, even through a few washings.  YOU CAN CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO THE PRODUCT.  Several brands of spray contain the chemical. As per the directions, do not get it on your skin while the spray is still wet!

Legislature leaves park fees, approves new public area

The Kansas legislature ended up not taking $500,000 from state park earnings, according to Chris Tymeson, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism attorney.

In March the House Appropriations Committee recommended taking that much from fees gathered from renting state park cabins. Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, the committee chairman, said they looked into many department funds as a way of coming up with the about $400 million lost to the state budget because of Jan. 1 tax cuts.

The proposal drew the ire of many Kansans, many of whom noted that the state parks had been working hard to become self-sufficient for many years.

The proposal would have taken the $500,000 from money earned from state park cabin rentals.

Also during the recently ended legislative session, according to Tymeson –

– The legislature OKed a Wildlife and Parks purchase of about 800 acres in Jefferson County. It will be used largely as a public hunting area. Federal funds gathered from excise taxes on hunting and shooting equipment will pay for most of the about $1.2 million paid for the land.

– Boating under the influence laws have been changed to more closely mirror similar laws for driving automobiles.

– Wildlife and Parks game wardens have been granted to power to help the state agriculture officials when it comes to laws pertaining to domesticated deer.

– Tax rates on boats will gradually be reduced until they are about 1/6th of what Kansans are currently paying.

– Wildlife and Parks can legally issue up to 10 deer permits to “Wounded Warrior” hunters who have had at least 30 percent disability from military-related injuries. The permits will be sold at regular costs, and are for soldiers who sign up for such a hunt after the general state non-resident deer permits have been sold.


Casts and Blasts, June 3

A few things of outdoors interest.

- A month or so ago Tuttle Creek Reservoir was about 10 feet below normal pool. Over the weekend it was about 10 feet above normal pool. Even my limited math skills knows that’s a 20 foot change in water levels. That can happen at Tuttle Creek, which probably has the largest drainage area of any reservoir. (Fishing was very good at both extremes.)

- Meanwhile, Cheney Reservoir only gained about 1 1/2 feet with last week’s rains, and is still about 5 feet below normal. That’s a lot at a lake built as shallow as Cheney. It’s surprising such a short raise came after much of the drainage got three to four inches of rain one night last week.

- Thomas Warner, K-State’s Wildlife Outdoor Enterprise Management director, returned a call from last week. I’d hoped to ask Warner about Pratt Community College’s new Wildlife Enterprise Management program. Monday Warner said he supported junior colleges, and the service they provide for students across America, and wished the best for the Pratt program.

Warner’s program is in about its fourth year, and admission to the program is highly competitive. Those who graduate from the two year Pratt program will have to go through the regular application process if they hope to be accepted into the K-State program.