On Wednesday I was presented the opportunity to fish with co-worker Eric Mattson who resides in Minnesota but travels frequently here to Overland Park. He was aware of my passion for fishing and he mentioned similar interest and if the opportunity presented itself he would like to find out what Kansas fishing is all about. After swapping fishing pictures and stories over the past few months we decided we would need to go out and fish one night while he was in town. I received an email Monday evening from Eric that he would be in town Wednesday and would have the evening free to go fishing. No family plans were scheduled so I quickly cleared the trip with the wife and confirmed the engagement with Eric. With a trip planned all the possible options began churning in my head. After talking up fishing I would now have to decide what we should fish for and where should we go? Sunday night fellow Outdoorsman Eric Sher and I had good success fishing for wipers at La Cygne so I thought that would be our best bet to possibly catch some of the hardest fighting fish Kansas has to offer. Next, the concern becomes will I be able to find and net bait? Depending on the wind conditions shad can be challenging to locate at times. If I can catch bait will the wiper bite still be on? The wiper bite is finicky at best so this was a gamble and I hoped this gamble would pay off in big fish. We met at work Wednesday morning and finalized our plans to be on the lake by early evening time.
Building anticipation caused the day to drag on until finally it was time to head home and load up the boat. I met Eric at the gas station in Louisburg where we quickly packed up and started our drive south. Arriving at the lake everything seemed to be playing out nicely. The wind was blowing out of the south around 10mph which was perfect for what we had planned. Launched the boat and off we went. We started off at the hot water outlet and crossed the first hurdle when after 30 minutes throwing the cast net we kept enough large shad needed for the evening trip. With shad in the bait well we sped off to the southern part of the lake. Based on my experience a couple days earlier the plan was to drift flats and hopefully pick up wiper and catfish. Funny how fast things change.
The drifting started off sloooww. No takers and several hang ups resulting in reties. This is not the way I envisioned this trip starting but one never knows. More time passed when one of the rods in the holder suddenly had a bend to it. Not a snag but it did not feel like a fish either. I handed the rod to Eric and he began reeling in the mystery. As it got closer the drama increased until out of the water came this moss covered fishing pole. It must have been a bad day for the fella that lost it. An abandoned fishing pole is not exactly what we were after but entertaining none the less. We spent another 20 minutes drifting without success so we decided we would try another tactic. We elected to use the virtual anchor feature on the trolling motor and hang our baits directly around suspended fish holding close to the bottom. It didn’t take long to determine the marks on the fish finder were mostly catfish. The action was steady with the poles bouncing in the rod holders as they would get bit. Picking up catfish and a few white bass I was still anticipating that big bang hit the wipers bring when they grab the bait. The wipers hit hard and put up a great fight and this was the real reason we came to this lake.
I was just getting ready to move the boat to flee the catfish when one of the rod tips bent down to the water and line was peeling off. Woo Hoo, big catfish or wiper? Hopefully this was the big guy we were after. Eric freed the rod from the holder and the fight was on. When the battle concluded he landed a huge 26” wiper. After a few high fives and some picture taking we got back after it. We did not wait long before another slam of the pole came and we boated a nice 24” fish. At this point I could not be happier as we were fishing a method I had never tried before and to say the least we were having success. We returned our baits to the water and studied the poles waiting for what we hoped would be that next big hit. Once again it did not take long before a huge wiper violently pulled one of the rod tips down into the water, peeling line and reel singing. Eric wrestled the pole from the rod holder and held on. With a big smile I watched Eric fight this fish and we both knew this one was going to be bigger. The fish made several good line stripping runs until finally succumbing. I think we both let out a yell when we caught glimpse of the fish as I struggled to lift the full net. This silver beast would measure 28” and for sure a trophy fish one could be proud of. We picked up one smaller 21” wiper to fill our limit before the bite died off.
With nightfall closing in on us we headed back to the ramp putting an end to a memorable evening of fishing. Something tells me it won’t be too difficult to coax Eric into another trip in the future. I have a feeling there may be a few others from the office that might want to join in as well. On our drive home Eric mentioned keeping the fishing pole we snagged and he planned to hang it in his office. When times get tuff we may need to bring the pole back out with us for good luck. Thanks Eric for another great fishing memory.