Michael Pearce

$20 million dredging of Kansas John Redmond Reservoir set to begin

On Nov. 1, a project to dredge about 3 million cubic yards of silt is scheduled to begin at John Redmond Reservoir. The project is estimated to cost $20 million. Construction of silt disposal sites will be the first step.

The lake is about an hour south of Topeka, just north of Burlington, and a main water source for the Wolf Creek nuclear power facility and several towns in that area. Like all federal reservoirs in Kansas it is also a valued tool for flood control.

Thursday, at a Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting in Burlington, Earl Lewis, of the Kansas Water Office, said the lake has lost about 40 percent of its storage capacity because of silting.

Lewis said actual dredging is set to begin about April 1 next year and finish at the end of December. Watch for upcoming articles in The Wichita Eagle and at kansas.com.

More updates

A requested increase in most hunting and fishing fees passed at Thursday’s commission meeting with little discussion and no opposition from the public. Look for an upcoming blog at kansas.com/outdoors, soon. Other news from the meeting will be covered,too.

Also at the meeting, commissioners agreed to make few changes in the boundaries of the state’s four waterfowl hunting zones. The only significant change is that Cedar Bluff Reservoir, in western Kansas, will now be part of the low plains early zone.

OK, most anglers have no problems holding the fish that they catch. But I wonder how those who are afraid of snakes would be if they caught what one angler hauled out of the Kansas River at Lawrence recently. I’ve never seen an eel anywhere and I’m not afraid of snakes, but these things still look creepy to me.

Fall fishing is pretty good, when the wind isn’t howling. A friend and I did well on smallmouth bass at Melvern Reservoir last weekend, until we got blown off the lake.

The first signs of this year’s deer rut are beginning to show. Some bucks are walking around with broken antlers from fighting. A few bowhunters have seen bucks pushing does, or at least obviously out on the prowl with lust on their minds.

That means it is time for drivers to be extra alert anytime they’re driving, and especially near dawn and dusk. A reminder that just because you’re driving in town doesn’t mean you won’t have a deer cross in front of your car or truck.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page should have a feature on the state’s desire to get more eco-tourists at places like Cheyenne Bottoms without decreasing opportunities for hunters.

Parts of Monday and Tuesday Gov. Sam Brownback was at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center and out on Cheyenne Bottoms to help promote the cause. It was only his second trip to the world-renowned wetland, and the other trip was more than 20 years ago.

The Outdoors page should also have some information on a Wichita Eagle event where I’ll be selling our Taste of the Kansas Outdoors Cook book for about half price, $10.

I’ll be working on a feature about the dredging project at John Redmond. It’s the first project of its kind on a major federal reservoir.

I’m hoping for a big photo page on the Halloween opening of the main duck season on the Nov. 1 Outdoors page. My plans are to cover the opening of pheasant and quail season near Kinsley, though my host has been out of touch lately.

Michael’s world

Last Saturday I went to the Kansas Salutes the Troops event at Flint Oak. I think it’s the fourth time I’ve been to the weekend gathering of about 30 service people and a hosting staff that’s probably even larger.

As well as getting to shoot some pheasants and clay targets, and eat some fine food, the hosted troops get a chance to just hang out and talk with one another and the small army of civilians. Several soldiers I’ve spoken with say the latter, knowing there are non-military people out there who care, means more than the shooting and meals.

I got to give each soldier one of our books, which means I got to meet each and visit with them for at least a few seconds. That was fun.

Busy times coming, for sure.

Saturday morning I’ll have two kids out for the special youth waterfowl season in the low plains late zone. So far the ponds we’ll be hunting have been loaded with ducks sized from teal to mallards. Now, if they just won’t migrate out sometime today.

That afternoon I’ll be taking Jake, my 13-year-old hunting buddy, on his first bow hunt for deer. My first bow hunt was when I was 14, and I doubt anybody could have been more clueless - seriously.

The only chance I had of killing a deer that year would have been if I’d have spooked one and it crashed into a tree as it ran away, laughing at my ineptitude. Wrong equipment, wrong tactics, marginal hunting spot...other than those things, though, I was in fine shape. I doubt I’d seen more than 10 deer in my life up to that point.

Hopefully I’ll start getting out to deer stands and blinds towards the end of next week. I won’t get to go as much this year because I’ll be wanting to work, Cade, our Lab puppy on as many ducks, geese and pheasants as possible.

I’ll need to stay within about an hour of home most of this fall and winter in case a friend needs help. That’s not really too much of a hindrance, though, since that lets me get to most of my regular hunting spots.

Kathy and I are still locked into the meat grinder of shopping for a different pickup. We’ve gone from no prospects to three pretty good ones. It’s amazing what possibilities are opened when you add $2,000 to what you’re willing to pay.

To me, not putting pressure on us gains a lot of points for a salesman. Last week I told a salesman at least five times that pressure would send me the other way as I considered one pickup. I was interested, but said it depended on seeing if the dealer would fix a few problems and help right a concern with the tires.

The guy still brought me a contract and expected me to sign before any of the repairs were made.

That was one of the main reasons the guy didn’t get a sale, too.

Hopefully I’ll be driving something different by the time duck season opens. As of now I’m making all of my trips to the country with gear packed into my CRV. That’s pretty tight, especially with Cade’s crate in the back.

Things could really get interesting if Jake bow-kills a buck Saturday evening, when we’ll already have all of our waterfowl gear aboard. We’ll make it work. We always do.


Michael Pearce