It always seems like when you travel to hunt or fish a long distances from home something happens. My three days of crappie fishing this weekend where no different.
First the Good – The Fishing, I left home Wednesday afternoon headed out to Glen Elder Reservoir (Lake Waconda) to do some crappie fishing during the spawn. The plan was for a close family friend Lew Worford and his close friend Gregg Bell to join me on the lake Thursday and Friday. I was hoping to get out of town Wednesday afternoon in time to find some good spots on the south side of the lake in hopes of avoiding the strong south wind that was predicted to blow the next two days. As luck would have it my work schedule fell just right so that I was able to make it out to Glen and be on the water about 5 pm. Just enough to time to find some fish so we wouldn’t have to be searching for them on Wednesday.
Chatt Martin had told me I need to stop and get my minnows from Marty at The Little Bait Shop in Cawker City. All I can say is she has the nicest place and the best stories. She even gave me a few minnows on credit for a few days, now that’s trusting and thanks Marty and you will see me back there.
The search was on, I started off with two minnows out in front of me using the spider rigging rods in 10 ft of water slowing working my way up the rock bluffs on the south side looking for fish. While I had those two rods out prospecting the deeper water I was also casting a rod pitched a jig up into the shallows looking for males up close. (in Kansas you can buy a 3rd pole license) When you’re searching for fish I find the method to help you zone in on where they are. You can cover a lot of water in a short period of time and most of the time your goal is to rule out water more than it is to smash the fish. What you’re doing is searching for a pattern that will show what part of the lake the fish are in and then you work the pattern to narrow it down from there.
As I worked down the bluffs all that I seemed to find were a few nice smallmouth bass, lots of fun but not what I was after today. After about 45 minutes of searching I found a nice brush pile in 12 ft of water, then another pile then another… Thinking back to Melvern two weeks ago I figures I shouldn’t pass these up so I quickly dropped my spider rigs down and bam, 13 inches of slab crappie on. I didn’t stay on the pile for long thinking I can come back later and fish them; today’s goal was to find as many spots as possible out of the wind for tomorrow. That meant I kept on moving and searching. As the evening wore on I caught 15 to 20 fish mostly in 12 ft of water relating mostly to brush. Once I had 5 different places I could find fish out of the wind tomorrow it was my time to go catching not just fishing.
I went back to the brush piles I found earlier and proceed to “park” over them and let the beating commence. For the next hour I caught fish after fish almost as fast as I could get a minnow down to the top of the brush. The wind had laid down to almost nothing and as with many times you could just see the fish move in. All the fish I caught were 12 to 14 inches. No real monsters over 14 but just good solid fish. So for the next hour I caught big fat female after big fat female, not a bad way to end the day but I just could leave yet. Where are those darn males? I headed up to the bank, made 5 casts and caught 3 big boys. I think I have my plan for tomorrow hoping to duplicate my 70+ keeper in 3 hours. Off to Aunt Donnas’ for the night of rest, did I forget to mention that means fried chicken!
The Bad – A Bad Kansas Wind
The next morning Lew and Gregg planned on meeting me in Cawker City around 9 am at Marty’s Little Bait Shop. They showed just as I had secured the proper amount of minnows, about a pound. As a little back story to this, as I was growing up Lew was kind of like a second dad to me (and when you have as good of parents as I do your one lucky guy) , so when he called to ask me if I would take him fishing of course I jumped at spending the weekend with him.
As the weather man had predicted the wind was blowing 25+ out of the south. My plan from the day before was to cross the causeway to the south ramps and put in on the south bluffs ramp. We put in around 9:30 right as a little line of showers came through. This gave us a few minutes to get tied up and get organized. Lew and Gregg both wanted to try spider rigging so I put them both up front and gave them each one rod to start with. We pulled the boat up over the piles I had done so well on the night before and hit spot lock. With the wind blowing so hard out of the south it’s was very hard to stay over the piles with the wind pushing the boat all over but Lew and Gregg got the hand of it real quick each pulling in a couple of real nice females. We were catching nice fish 8 to 10 ft down in 12 to 14 ft of water just over the top of the brush piles. We could see the fish on the depth finder but they bit was just not great.
After a couple of hours of grinding on the fish I decided we need a change and headed up a cove to see what we could find. Lew threw on a road runner and thump, a big slab on the first cast… maybe we found something. Lew’s second cast, thump, third cast thump, ok we got it. We spent the rest of the day casting jigs to crappie up the bank spawning. The females were bloody and the males were milking, love was in the air and we took advantage of it. When the smoke cleared we had 65 keepers in the boat with a few throw backs, that’s a good day anywhere.
As a side note two very interesting thing happened today. First side note: I forgot all of my tackle in my two tackle bags at my aunts. That’s right, NO tackle at all when I pulled up to the ramp. Even worse I had told Lew and Gregg to leave their’s at home since I would take care of it. So, we scraped together all the jigs we could find and pushed through to the tune of 65 keepers in a 25+ mph wind. The bite we had was limited to two things; Lew happen to bring 6 road runner jig heads , those tipped with a minnow the males we were casting to couldn’t resist. Now for one of the more interesting things I have seen in a while: Lew had read in a magazine that if you don’t have any bait you can cut off a strip of your white tee-shirt and put Garlic Oil on it and catch fish. Well… it worked. Not as fast as my one and only black and chartreuse slab slayer that I used till it couldn’t catch another fish (20+). But I can’t tell a lie, it worked and Lew caught several nice crappies on although it did have two down falls. One, the cloth would sometime cover the hook and keep it from setting in the crappies mouth and second you can’t get the cloth off your hook without cutting it with a knife but cool none the less.
Oh what a day, we stopped and cleaned our 65 keeper at the cleaning station and then headed back to our lodging for the night. Don from Don’s Guiding Service was nice enough to allow to use one of his lodges. He had turkey hunters in town from Arkansas so we didn’t get to talk to him much but what little we did Don was more than will to help out. Give him a look up if you’re ever out at Glen Elder.
Friday morning found the clouds had parted and the wind was out of the west, our spirits where high and we had a great plan of attack. After stopping in to settle up with Marty for our minnow usage we headed off to the ramp. After quickly getting the boat ready for the water I had Gregg start to back the boat down the ramp and all I could hear was this grinding, I looked down and this what I saw… That my friends is a blown out Hub and bearings. Crap!!! Thanks to Gregg’s help and a couple of trips into both Glen Elder and Cawker City Gregg was able to patch my hub up enough to get us into Glen Elder Lake Side Service. I am not going to lie, those guys did me right. After stopping and trying to get help at two other places that will remain nameless they fixed me up and got me back on the road in an hour. Thanks GUYS!!!
Since I had one hour of extra time I snuck back out to Glen and fished the marina cove. Why not, I had driven that far. I finished the hour off with 3 really nice fish. Not a bad way to end a very bad day!!!
Thanks to Lew and Gregg for all their help with the tire and sorry for wasting one of your two days fishing, we’ll get them next time.