MILFORD LAKE — You might think Mads Kragelund would be suffering from culture shock after recently moving from Denmark to Kansas.
Listen to him, and you get the idea that he has just moved to paradise.
"I didn't know anything about Kansas before I got here. I had never even seen the Wizard of Oz," said Kragelund, 27, who came to Junction City to manage a new site for an international company that manufactures parts for wind turbines.
"I did a lot of fishing and hunting back in Denmark, and I thought I was going to miss that. But I don't think here I'll get too homesick with everything I have here — the good fishing, the pheasants, the deer.
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"It's all new to me, but it's exciting."
"Exciting" is the word that best described the fishing trip he took on a recent weeknight at Milford Lake.
Sharing a boat with Rick Dykstra, he watched as a flock of gulls in the distance suddenly began diving toward the water.
"There they are," Dykstra said as he cranked up the motor.
By the time Dykstra cut the engine, surfacing shad were getting hit from two directions — from the big wipers below that were pushing the baitfish to the surface and from the gulls that were swooping down for an easy meal.
Dykstra and Kragelund quickly launched long casts to the surfacing activity and worked big topwater baits through the swirls. Their lures didn't get far before they both attracted violent strikes.
The fishermen fought the wipers for a few minutes, then Kragelund kneeled down to net both fish.
"That was the first time I've used that type of lure," Kragelund said. "To see them come up and hit that hard, that's something.
"I did most of my fishing over in Denmark out in the sea. We would use waders and go out into the bays and catch sea trout. That was fun.
"But they didn't fight like these wipers."
Kragelund got to experience that fight more than once. As the sun got lower, the wipers became more active, constantly swirling the surface as they chased baitfish.
Casting into those swirls with big Chug Bugs, Zara Spooks and plastic swim boats, Kragelund, Dykstra and I caught 27 wipers from 3 to 6 pounds. Kragelund kept a couple of those fish for dinner, and we released the rest.
For Kragelund, it was just one more exciting moment in his "Welcome to America" tour.
He had fished with Dykstra, of Junction City, one other time and experienced similar action. And after hearing about the excellent pheasant, quail, waterfowl and deer hunting the area has to offer, he went out and bought a rifle and a shotgun.
"There are much more wide-open spaces here," Kragelund said. "It's much more crowded in Denmark.
"There's no public hunting back there. It's all on private land. And it's expensive.
"The hunting and fishing can be quite good, but it's harder to do. Here, everything is right there for you — the lakes and land that are open to the public."
Kragelund met Dykstra when he inquired about places to fish and hunt in the area. Dykstra, of the local convention and visitor's bureau, offered to give him a firsthand look at the fishing.
The timing couldn't have been better.
Milford, a 16,000-acre reservoir, is famous for its fall wiper fishing. As the water cools, the baitfish move shallow and the big gamefish follow them.
At dusk particularly, the wipers herd the shad to the surface and begin ripping into them. That's when the topwater action can be memorable.
A couple times on this trip, the wipers swiped at the baits so hard that they sent them flying into the air. Once the baits landed, the predators pounced again, this time getting the hooks.
"To have fishing like this just a short distance from your home is great," Kragelund said. "I think I'm going to like it here."