The temperature was “you gotta to be kidding.”
The heat index was pegged at “you better check your sanity.”
But during the hottest part of the hottest week of the summer, Kacci Everitt crossed a griddle of a black parking lot, jumped in his boat and went fishing.
“Not only the hotter the better, but the fish usually bite better in the middle of the day this time of the year,” Everitt said.
At 4:40 p.m. on a mid-July day — he would’ve started earlier if not for his day job as a carpenter — sweat was already cascading down his face and neck when he slowed his boat. After flipping a marker buoy overboard, he motored upwind about 60 yards, put down an anchor and arched a cast toward the spot he’d marked.
His lure wasn’t even to the bottom when the line jerked and he was fighting a 15-inch white bass. Everitt missed two strikes on his next cast, but caught a fish on his third. He wasn’t surprised by the action.
He fished the same pattern two days earlier in similar heat, and caught fish on his first 10 casts. By the time darkness came a few hours later, he had been into several dozen fish, including 10 wipers that would have passed the lake’s 21-inch length limit for the fish. He found out other anglers had been doing even better earlier in the day, including mid to late morning.
The peak heat of summer has long been a time when knowledgeable Kansas anglers have done well on such silvery fish as white bass, stripers, and their hybrid, wipers. For years, some have used an anchor or electric motor to keep a boat directly over a school of fish and caught them with heavy spoons. Others have caught their fish trolling deep-diving lures so they can cover more water.
Everitt does both.
His goal by anchoring upwind is to cast and work his lure through an entire school of fish, cast after cast. The marker buoy floats as a reference to where he should direct his casts.
The heavy spoon lets him heave the bait a great distance. He fishes it so it replicates a wounded baitfish, the kind most big fish love to eat.
Once the boat was anchored, Everitt, 30, stood atop the boat’s live well to get as high as he could, and whipped casts downwind. Once there was a little slack in his line, which indicated his spoon was on the bottom, he slowly raised the rod until it was straight above his head. He’d then watch his line as the lure took a few seconds to flutter down again.
Most strikes come as the rod was completely over his head, and the spoon fluttering down. That made it difficult to set the hook, though often the fish hit hard enough to do it themselves. He and a guest connected on less than half of their strikes, though some may have been from small fish.
It would be easier to list what Cheney fish Everitt hasn’t caught fishing with spoons in the heat of summer, rather than what he has.
As well as wipers and white bass, he catches a lot of white perch. Channel cat and drum are pretty dependable, and a nice walleye wouldn’t be too big of a surprise. Crappie, two kinds of buffalo, and both blue and flathead catfish can happen.
That evening white perch were the most abundant catch. State law requires anglers to kill any of the problematic, invasive species they catch. Everitt added them to his live well, and said he’d remove the fillets later. Of the 15 fish he took home, there were also some fatally hooked white bass.
He didn’t have a wiper anywhere near the 21-inch length limit, which surprised him.
Everitt left the lake disappointed, but not discouraged. The month of August awaits.
He’s one of the few in Kansas who hopes it’s brutal.
“The hotter the better,” he said. “Most times the harder the wind’s blowing, the better we do, too.”