The outdoors has special meaning to me. I caught my first fish at age 4 and shot my first duck at age 9. Nearly four decades later I still get excited when I get to spend any time outdoors. A lot has changed during that time but the anticipation and experiences are still similar and just as exciting. It’s a great place to be....Read More

Friday, February 27, 2015


With the recent, on-again, off-again bouts of good and bad weather, I've had numerous people I've met say, "I can't wait for fishing season."  I'm always amazed at that particular take on angling, but not real surprised.  After all, winter months are typically reserved for many hunting seasons and I love those, too. 

You have to be a little dedicated, or a little crazy, or some of both, to fish year-round, in Kansas.  But that's all I know and some of the best fishing trips of the year, especially for crappie, take place in December, January and February.

Granted, I'm not as die-hard as I once was as I used to fish in snow and sleet, provided the wind didn't howl.  Wind is the biggest limiting factor and too much is exactly that in the winter.  Now that I'm older and wiser (maybe tired and lazy), I don't fish in those conditions any more.  But in Kansas, even in the middle of winter, we have enough nice days to pick and choose and find at least a couple a month to hook up the boat and head to the lake.  Granted, we're often bundled up in full winter gear of coveralls, coats, stocking hats and gloves, but you have to when the temp's are still in the 20's and 30's.  I prefer 40's and 50's, but you have to work with what Mother Nature deals you.     

Ice is also a limiting factor.  While some anglers love ice fishing, I'm not a fan.  Actually, I'm not a fan of BAD ice fishing.  I love GOOD ice fishing, but when it's not it's far-fetched for me to believe something good is going to happen in that 8-inch column of water I'm covering.  That's why I'd rather be sitting on the front of my boat.  It's comfortable and way more mobile. 

That's exactly what a few friends and I decided to do recently just prior to this round of winter weather.  We loaded up a couple boats and headed out to a nearby reservoir shortly after lunch.  My buddies had been catching plenty of crappie and this would be my first trip out in a month or so.  I would soon be glad I made the trip.

We had to break rotten ice much of the way to our intended destination in the upper end.  Our plan was to fish river channel breaks and finding a brush pile on said location would be a bonus.  We hit a couple spots where they'd caught them previously and caught only a handful of smaller crappie with one decent-sized 11 incher.

It wasn't long and my buddies in the other boat managed to find some hungry fish.  They didn't mind sharing and we eased up and started catching crappie, too.  We were fishing 13-17 feet of water as we dropped 1/8-ounce jigs to the bottom and reeled up one crank.  The color of plastics didn't seem to matter as black and pink, blue and chartreuse and several other combinations produced fish.
The action for both boats was steady and success would come and go.  Moving a little up and down the break, and up and down the channel, we'd pick up more fish and then cycle back to previous locations when one spot slowed.  The wind was predicted to switch to the north and howl and we were hoping to boat just a few more before that happened.  At about 4:30 it switched and we tried one more spot before calling it a day just ahead of the next front that would effectively shut down fishing this way for at least a week.  The single digit nightly lows will likely lock the lake up to the point the ice will be too thick to break.

Each boat had dozens of crappie to clean and a mess for everyone to take plenty home.  None of the fish were huge and my boat had nothing over 12 1/2 inches.  Most crappie were 10-11 1/2 inches and in my book those are perfect eaters.  One small fillet, dipped in Andy's Yellow or Shore Lunch batter and deep-fried, is a bite-sized morsel fit for a King.  I'll have to savor the flavor of these last few fillets until I get another chance to go as it's always fishing season! 


Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Canada geese are plentiful in the Sunflower State right now and it's a great time to be a goose hunter.  The season lasts until February 15th so there's still time if you haven't got out or want to take it right up to the end and hunt every last minute.  I had a hunt last week that was a little of both and it reminded me of why I liked it so much. 

I used to hunt Canada geese fairly frequently back in the day and did fairly well on many trips.  In a season's time I'd shoot 50-70 honkers and that's when the limit was two, and later three birds per day.  But a gradual shift to mostly duck hunting saw the numbers of honkers I'd kill each season shrink to the fingers on one hand, or two if I was lucky when they dropped in for a visit to mostly duck decoys on the reservoirs or rivers.

So after a buddy invited me on a field honker hunt last week I was excited. He'd been doing well and it had been a long time since I'd laid in a field and waited on the big black and white birds resembling B52's.  Despite years of experience I admit I had a little trouble going to sleep the night prior anxiously thinking about the next morning's hunt.

My buddy and his son killed several geese the night prior and just left the decoys in the field.  However, the wind shifted 180 degrees in direction and we had to move the decoys.  Worse yet, the velocity increased 10-fold and it was gusting 30-40 mph. 

A little wind isn't bad and a lot is workable.  However, there was one point where we had most of our roughly 2 dozen full-body goose decoys on their side or tumbling.  Too much! 

We were persistent putting them back up and the first flock of the morning paid a quick visit and we each dumped a big honker from that flock.  But like they sometimes do, subsequent flocks started dumping on an adjacent field.  No worries.  My buddy took off to get them up.  It was interesting to watch as I saw a group fly over him and he shot once and killed two birds. 

I ended up going out and laying in the decoys under a big shell decoy.  The birds would come in almost perfect and then veer at the last minute.  However, enough of them ventured too close that I killed four more nice big birds when my buddy returned about an hour later and he, too, had added four more so we were both one bird shy of a limit.

Birds were still flying and we hunkered into the waterway adjacent to our decoys.  The wind had dropped considerably and a flock of big Canadas circled and two peeled out for a final approach.  Perfect.  My buddy shot the lead bird and I cleaned up the back bird and we were done with a nice two-man limit of 12 honkers. 

It was a great morning.  I commented this was my first 6-bird Canada goose limit ever and I was real glad I didn't have to carry them all out of the field as I'm guessing I had roughly 60 pounds of geese.  It was nice to drive right up, load up the decoys and be on our way.  Here's hoping I can get out again at least one more time before the season closes.