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Casts and Blasts from the Cottonwood River

Central Kansas’ Cottonwood River is long and beauty and fishing tradition.A few more details from last weekend’s time along the Cottonwood River, in Marion County.  YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY THAT RAN ON SUNDAY’S OUTDOORS PAGE.

– The section of the river being fished by Alex Case and his collection of about 20 college chums, local friends and family members is between Marion and Florence, and flows through private properties so it’s not legally accessible to the public. Case has had permission to fish the land which has been in his family for decades.

– Though there are plenty of stories of flatheads to 65 pounds from that section of river decades ago, in 25 springs of setting lines on the Cottonwood, Case and his crew have probably never topped about 35 pounds. Probably the largest flatheads on the Cottonwood come from the section of river just north of Marion Reservoir. Growing fat on gizzard shad and other fish in the lake, catfish pushing 60 pounds aren’t too uncommon upstream. Many believe most major lakes in Kansas are supporting numerous flatheads of more than 75 pounds.

– The Cottonwood River flows into the Neosho, which for the state’s first 100 or more years was known as the best catfish river in Kansas.

– Case and his friends have spent the past two weekends camping in a small meadow yards from the Cottonwood. For most years they camped at a campground at Marion Reservoir, but decided to move their camp when Corps of Engineers regulations changed and put more restrictions on where they used to camp.Griffin King, left, helps Jarrett Johnson and Mark Johnson carry a load of catfish to a wire fish box in the Cottonwood River. All the fish were cleaned after the annual– Normal procedure is to bait lines just before dark, then run them at about midnight, and again early the next morning. Case likes to run them after about 8 a.m. because some catfish feed during the first hour or so of daylight.

– The morning I was in camp, Lucas King and Mark Johnson checked the lines at about 7 a.m., with their son’s, Griffin and Jarrett. That’s the reason I didn’t get any photography of the lines being checked, and fish landed. Case and others who had furnished the equipment, baits and set the lines were also excluded.

– All of the sets were in one pool a few hundred yards long, and included about 15 bank or limblines and one trotline with about a dozen hooks. Anglers waded the pool while setting the lines, and seldom found water that was too deep to wade easily.

– Memorial Day weekend has long been known as a great time for running lines on Kansas rivers, as the big flatheads are on the move for their annual spawn.

– Yesterday, May 25, Case and friends baited the same lines, but didn’t check them until the next morning when they found five channel cat from about eight to 12 pounds.Ben Riedel, right, and John Aldrich add to the mass breakfast on the first morning of the annual campout/fishing trip.– As well as the lines set on the river, some campers spent some time fishing on Marion Reservoir. The camp also regularly enjoys nighttime horseshoe games played by the light of lanterns and headlights.. Meals are usually cooked over the campfire, and served in huge portions.