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

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