Teal Opening Weekend

What she lives for

What she lives for

Sunday I was suppose to go down to Hutchinson KS to meet a good friend of mine (who will remain nameless) for an afternoon duck hunt and spend some quality time together. I showed around our scheduled time to find out his wife had other plans for the day… so after an little time catching up, we said our good byes and I was off on my own for the afternoon. I had Dakota with me hoping to get her into a good old fashion Hutch smack down but as I was pulling out of town she gave me the big old puppy eyes and I couldn’t head home without letting her run a little, so we headed up to McPherson Valley wetlands so do a Sunday opener hunt.

We pulle dup to the marsh about 2 pm and quickly got ready to go find a spot to hunt. I have not been here in two years so scouting was only going to happen off of memory. My plan of attach was to go out into one of the main pools and wonder aimlessly hoping to jump a large group of teal and then set up where they left with an added bonus of finding a high spot for Dakota sit on. Well, I went one for two. After jumping a large group of resting birds I quickly settled into where they got up but the left Dakota in waist deep water. Not even remotely what I wanted but she was so happy to be hunting she didn’t complain once…

Can you see me?

Can you see me?

 

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Don't worry I got this one.

Don’t worry I got this one.

The hunt was a good one in general for public land. We saw a group of 3 guys we talked to on the way smash a group of pintails that came into their mojo’s and lots of sky busting. Dakota and spend ht next few hours working 3 groups of teal into our decoys and picking out our 6 birds. We may have been done quicker if I would have taken some longer shots but I wasn’t going to do that. We did lose one bird on a shot that I should not have taken but did, cause it was my last bird and I wanted to get done. All in all the birds really started flying around 5 and we where done by 6:30. Brent the manager has done a great job really turning the Valley into a quality hunting area.

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What do you mean where done?!?

What do you mean where done?!?

Now the biggest mistake I made all day long was trying to be a nice guy. I was in the middle of the marsh and everyone was round me so I decided I wouldn’t mess up there last hour of hunting and I would just walk straight north out of the marsh… bad idea, it just got thicker and longer… 2 gallons of sweet and 30 minutes later I made the half mile walk but it sucked, oh well it was a great day in central KS.

~Nick

Forgot about this

I forgot about a nice knot in the decoys… Glad I looked at these before I went out for the opener tomorrow… Tomorrow will be Paige’s first duck hunt ever. We are not seeing a lot but still going to give it an hour. IMG_20140912_141948

Paige Goes Solo

Today founds me taking Paige out for her first hunt as the only dog, the pressure was on. As soon as we pulled up to the pond we had doves flying around and didn’t take long for me to put the first dove down… in need deep smart weed. This being Paige’s first trip out as the only dog I was a little worried she would struggle with as dry as it was and just learning this whole fetching life birds thing. To my surprise she jumped right in and after a few short seconds she found the bird and happily brought it back. She did great tonight finding 8 of the 9 downed birds in heavy cover as well as her first water fetch when one bird went down in the pond, proud poppa today.

Paige with her bounty

Paige with her bounty

As the dove hunt was winding down Benton showed up with his daughter to enjoy a great evening. I took a few pictures as they spend some quality daughter daddy time. No filters here.

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~ Nick

Dove Opener

Well, it’s been a longggg summer for all the outdoorsman. Lots of work and some play, I hope to have a catching up post sooner than later but will see if time permits. The dove opener came and went on Monday. We have had a lot of good rain which we are thankful for but that hurt out dove pond hunting. Benton and I headed out anyway and managed 9 birds with no real fireworks to speak of. The highlight of the trip was Paige retrieving her first live bird! As long as I keep working with her she is going to be a good one.

Paige's first fetch of a downed bird

Paige’s first fetch of a downed bird

Keeping watch

Keeping watch

~ Nick

Brian’s Year in Review – Getting Caught Up!

It has been the better part of a year since I have had the opportunity to sit down and share my angling successes here, and I figured that after talking to fellow KSO contributors Adam & Eric last week at Clinton, I figured now would be as good a time as any.

The summer of 2013 was without a doubt the best season I’ve had fishing since moving from Wisconsin in 2000. I put well over 300 Walleye in my boat between May and August, including my personal best(s), which is something I never thought possible living in Kansas. The Clinton fishery has been good to me and I have learned a lot over the past two years fishing it.

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Since last year, I upgraded my rig in November to a 16′ console Alumacraft, which has allowed me to access larger bodies of water. I have had the opportunity to fish everywhere from Coffee County earlier this year, catching giant Smallmouth, to Pomme de Terre in MO, chasing the elusive Musky last November (but we only caught Largemouth).

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The 2014 fishing season has been nothing short of exceptional, and I will try to summarize the best I can up to this point. Clinton is my home water, a short ten minute drive from my house, so naturally I have the opportunity to fish it anywhere from 4-5 times a week while my fiancé is at work in the evening. In April, I was able to find some really nice Smallies casting to the dam. I kept up with that short bite window and was able to get a few buddies in on that action also. The Crappie spawn was a blast, as always, and enjoyed keeping my finger on the pulse of the bite (mostly thanks to Nick, Eric, and Adam). During the duration of the spawn, I caught my personal best Crappie (14.75”), several really nice Largemouth and Smallmouth, and even a huge Carp that I was able to land on my ultralight tackle that took a jig in the mouth, and (almost) my rod over the side. Not to mention a freezer full of Crappie. It was definitely a killer way to kick off the summer.

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After the spawn had dwindled towards the end of May, I started fishing the flats and the humps nearby. This ended up being where I found my PB Crappie that hit a 5″ Walleye plastic in 14 FOW. There was a stretch of about a week where the water was calm everyday, so I opted to keep casting plastics in open water. I had an absolute blast tussling with big Wipers on light tackle. When they seemed to disperse as they always do, I would break out the trolling gear and cover water. On 5/21, I was able to land my personal best Wiper from Clinton, just shy of 8# (caught on my GoPro).

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My first notable Walleye trip came on the evening of 6/2, where I boated a 17″, 25″, and a 22″ within an hour of each other. The 25″ would mark the biggest this season. The program: longline trolling crankbaits on the flats. #6 Flicker Shads, Glass Raps, and Shad Raps are always the ticket. At this time the water was pushing 81 degrees, and these fish came between 4-6 FOW. I had to believe this was the start of another 300+ fish summer. But in true Kansas form, the weather had different ideas for us. Over the next few weeks of June, I “guided” more than I ever have and was able to put a lot of people on some really nice Wipers, which are always fun for people who don’t get to fish much (coworkers, in-laws, etc). The temperatures were unseasonably cooler than they have been, which also affected the water temps, dipping below 80 degrees. Walleye came few and far between on trips, with Wiper a lot more accessible. I nursed the worst head cold I’ve had in about 10 years for about a week and a half, getting back out on 6/20. That evening I boated my second 25″ Walleye of the season, which was MUCH needed! That one was skinnier, only weighing 4.65#. On 6/28 I had a coworker out with me trolling shallow, hoping for another big Walter. His rod was the first to go off, and shortly after I was netting a GIANT 27″ Walleye that tipped the scale right at 6#. This marks the biggest Walleye I’ve had in my boat-my biggest being 26″ 6.5# last summer. Not going to lie, I do wish that was my fish, but glad I was able to put him on that one. There’s a 30″ in there waiting for me anyway.

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Now I’m finally somewhat caught up. Last week was the craziest I’ve seen as far as Wiper blow-ups, as Nick’s previous article describes. Always a blast, especially when you have friends on the boat. It makes it hard to focus on trolling around for Walleye when the Wiper show up! The day after that evening I brought out a few more buddies with hopes of boating a few nice ‘eyes. We motored up to the flats and already saw several schools of Wiper busting all over the place. They were able to hook into a few, but definitely more White Bass than Wiper. The big ones just didn’t seem like they were around. So we switched gears and started trolling. First Walleye went to Conor (Adam’s co-worker at Garmin), going 19″. Shortly after, the second went to Aaron, going 20″. After that brought several doubles of Wiper and Walleye. Fun evening for the Bass fisherman.

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Brought my dad out Saturday 7/19 with hopes of a livewell full of Walleye for him to bring home. I love having him out with me, as him and I fully restored my Alumacraft together as well as my previous boat, so it makes it a little more special. I made the call to focus our efforts trolling cranks, covering water from 4-10 feet. Had the usual suspects out; Flicker Shad and Glass Raps. Several passes yielded only a few small whites (which I don’t even bring in the boat anymore). 6pm hit and so did the Walleye. First rod that went off I pulled out of the rod holder and knew right away that it was going to Dad. Perfect 21″ Walter in the net. Not long after that we were doubled up, studly 20″ Sauger and a short Walleye. Sundown brought one last gorgeous ‘eye going 21″ again. Three solid fish to end the night and send home with Dad. There’s no one else I’d rather have in my boat than that guy right there. Carrying his legacy with fishing & boating is something I’ll always be most proud of in my life.

This next week’s temps are back up into the high 90s and have several trips planned, so we will see what the increase in water temp brings!

~ Brian

Mixed Wednesday

Eric, Adam and I head out after work today looking to just hit the lake. Work has been keeping most of us busy the last few weeks and off the water for the most part, so an afternoon we all had free was all we need to make a quick trip over to our local lake Clinton Res. The plan today was to work over the crappie for a few hours until the evening wiper bite started.

We started the day driving around using our electronics to find brush piles that held fish. This time of year the best bite for crappie seems to come on a minnow hanging in or around a brush pile in 12 to 22 ft of water. Today was no different! We spent 3 hours using one rod each pulling crappie out of brush at  various stops along the lake.

Last Crappie Before Wiper Time

Last Crappie Before Wiper Time

Nice double

Nice double

 

After some solid wiper action we headed over to one of our favorite wiper spots to see if they where awake. With the overall lack of wind we where a little worried the wipers would be scatter and not on their usual spots chasing chad. After only being in our spot about 10 minutes a huge exposing of fish happened about 200 yards a way. We quickly motored over to surfacing fish and started casting to them. The next hour produced some the crazies top water action for wipers I have seen. Casting sassy shad to surfacing fish produced hard fighting strikes over and over for the next 45 minutes. After the surfacing action died, the fish where still chasing shad but it was at the bottom now, so as we saw the fish on our depth finder we would just let our baits drop to the bottom and bounce it along producing another 15 minutes of hard fighting fish.

Nice Average Wiper

Nice Average Wiper

The Floating Kiburz Blue Cat rig….

Sunset on Lake of the Ozarks

Sunset on Lake of the Ozarks

Over the last few weeks we have been trying to learn as much as we can about fishing for blue cat fishing with rod and reel in both KS and MO. Eric and I have made a few trips to Truman and Adam has made a few trips to Lake of the Ozarks. Catching a blue cat on rod and reel is not hard but it really doesn’t seem as productive as some of days the float line fisherman have had. Normally when we blue cat fish we float the flats and breaks using either a three-way swivel with a drop weight and hook or an in-line egg sinker with a 3 to 4 ft leader to a bobber with a #4 hook. These two methods have produced some solid results of 10 to 15 fish on a good afternoon of fishing.

Eric with a 27" Blue

Eric with a 27″ Blue

I ever was able to get my dad out for father’s day a few weeks ago. We didn’t have stellar results that day but dad did catch the most fish and biggest best.

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As the weekend approached we all realized we where free so a weekend trip was put into place. Earlier this week one of the guys on a local cat fishing forum pointed out that they have been doing really good on catch fish on their jug lines but couldn’t get any good results on rod and reel. Then at our recent DU shoot Adam and I got to talking this exact thing and Adam pointed out why don’t we just use some bobber and suspend them off the bottom behind the boat just like a jug… wow, could it really be that easy. So this weekend we had a guys weekend where Adam, Jeff, Thomas (Jeff’s son), Eric, Kale (Eric’s son) and I headed down to Adams At LOZ to put our new founds brain fart/trust into affect. I have to say, the over all results where solid.

And Puppies too...

And Puppies too…

We started out bye taking a regular bobber stop and moving it up our line to about 20 ft. Then we added the needed bead to keep our foot long bobber from getting stuck on the bobber stop. (Now quick side note, I can’t lie. I have spent my entire life walking past these over sized bobber looking at them in the fishing isle going who in the world would waist their money on those… Yep, I am now that guy) Below the bobber we would add sliding egg sinkers of different weight. The actual amount of weight over the weekend was always changing depending on the wind, sometimes one ounce was needed if the wind was blowing and less once it stopped. The weight was tied off above a normal barrel swivel with a regular dropper to 2 -4 ft of mono to a number 4 or 5 circle hook.

the weapon of choice

the weapon of choice

So the plan was to have as many shad as we could float through the water column as we drifted. By adding the bopper’s where able to stagger depths and distance behind the boat just by letting line out. So on top of our usual array of bottom bouncing rigs we where able to add as many floating rigs as we wanted, which in MO are a lot.

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The truth is it really didn’t take long to get results. As would happen over and over this weekend the bobber what the first to produce fish. I had three nice blue cats in the boat and short order all on a bobber floating in the current about 25 ft down.

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Over the rest of the weekend it was solid mix of bottom and suspended fish over and over again. We would go a while and the bottom bouncers would produce most of the fish, then if would flip and bobbers where the hot action. When the wind died and we just sat there we could cast around and get closer to the breaks or cast out into the channel. You also had to change depths on the floats as fish changed or that bobber would go cold. In addition, one thing we noticed where the bites themselves where a little harder to connect on with the bobber then a bottom bouncer. At time the fish where short striking it and you had to let them run a little longer with it, other times you had to be on them quick or they would spit the hook. My best producing rod was always the one I kept 15 to 20 ft down from the boat. I think the short line distance and quick hook set really helped hook the fish on a more consistent basis.

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Again, this was our first time trying to use big bobber for Blue’s so we have a lot to learn and a lot to refine but the production was there and consistence all weekend. We even had a few channel cats’ fall to the bait.

Results you can Taste!

Results you can Taste!

We also came up with a great way to net shad. Have you ever driven around standing on the front of your boat with you buddy looking at the depth finder at the back of the boat going “there they are!!!” Well, why not drive around in reverse and then net them as the front of the boat goes buy… Ya, we just figured that one out as well.

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So… to answer our original question yes… Bobber fishing for Blue/Channel Cat was that easy.

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The Truman Blues

With a little more time than recent Saturdays have provided, Nick and I decided to try something new and headed down to Truman in search of some of its renowned blue catfish.  Step one of course is finding shad for bait.  After a good 40-minute upper body workout throwing the cast net around we finally had enough bait to give it a go.

 

Nick's nice 29" Blue Cat

Nick’s nice 29″ Blue Cat

Five minutes into our second drift we quickly had two rods double over and landed the above 29” blue along with a nice 25 incher.  About an hour later we got our next action with another double; a 27” blue (below) and a 22 incher.

 

Eric with a 27" Blue

Eric with a 27″ Blue

After that, it the fishing slowed down a bit and we picked up a single here and there over the rest of the afternoon.  With the new slot limits in place, the two larger cats (over 26”) had to go back to keep up the breeding stock, but we still ended up with 9 nice ‘eater’ size fish for the table.

 

A Tasty Treat!

A Tasty Treat!

~ Eric

The Force is Strong in this one

As I am sitting here this morning drink my coffee trying to wake up, notice our 7 month old pup Paige hasn’t left the window for a over 10 minutes. We all know the story when it comes to puppies, if their not making noise be suspicious, very suspicious. I look over and I see her sitting there staring out the the window.

Ah dad, come check this out!

I walked over to the window and it took me a second to see what she was so intent on. Ah, I see you…

Can you see the Green?

Good Dog Paige.

Nick

The Spot on the Spot

I believe it was the Linder brothers (Angling Edge) who talk about finding the spot on the spot, meaning that fish may be using a particular area of the lake, points, flats, rocky banks, etc. but typically within that larger area there are usually a few smaller spots that hold the largest concentrations of fish.  This scenario played out exactly as the Linders described last night.  During a recent outing to Clinton, we stumbled (and I can admit when dumb luck comes into play) onto a completely new area of the lake that we’ve never fished before and found a good number of crappie still actively spawning.  The general area included a bunch of scattered rocks out on a large flat.  Last night Nick and friend Gary joined me on a quick evening outing to see if we could find these fish again.  Due to the 20 mph winds, we headed out armed with a couple of heavy anchors, ¼ oz. jig heads, and some good casting rods.  We cruised the flats and would mark the rocks when we saw them on the sonar and then do our best to anchor up within casting distance.  Every rock pile held fish, but eventually we honed in on the ‘Spot’ that produced the best and just blistered them for a couple hours until sunset.  At least one of us seemed to have a fish on at any given time if not doubles or even triples coming into the boat.  Red/Chartreuse and Black/Chartreuse jigs dragged or hopped along the bottom seemed to be the ticket.

Gary with a big 14" crappie

Gary with a big 14″ crappie

Nick's 14" Slab

Nick’s 14″ Slab

Eric with a big 13" darkly colored male

Eric with a big 13″ darkly colored male

Most notably was the size of many of the fish as Nick and Gary both landed a 14” crappie.  As we approached our 60 fish, 3-man limit we got to start being picky, throwing back about another 30+ 10” fish holding out for the ‘bigger’ ones.  All in all, I would estimate that we caught over 400 last night with about 50% coming from the Spot on the Spot.

And we got treated to this beautiful sunset on our way back to the ramp.

And we got treated to this beautiful sunset on our way back to the ramp.

~ Eric