Michael Pearce

15th Annual Wichita Eagle Kids Fishing clinic to be June 11

Registrations are being accepted for this year’s 15th Annual Wichita Eagle Kids Fishing Clinic, to be held June 11. Kids 12 and under are eligible.

The clinic is in conjunction with the Great Plains Nature Center’s Walk With Wildlife at Chisholm Creek Park, at 29th Street North and Woodlawn. The clinic is again sponsored by The Eagle, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, with assistance from the Flatland Fly Fishers Club.

There are two ways to register by the June 1 deadline:

Registration forms can be found in The Eagle and also at The Eagle’s front counter, 825 E. Douglas.

E-mail registrations can be sent to psmith@wichitaeagle.com, and must have the child’s name, age, phone number, mailing address and preference for morning or afternoon fishing. Incomplete registrations will not be accepted. No phone-in registrations allowed.

The clinic is limited to 350 kids, and fishing is done in 30-minute time slots between 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Slots are first-come, first-served. Assigned times will be mailed around June 1.

All fishing is catch-and-release and all equipment is provided. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Experienced volunteers will help the children, if needed.

The clinic is free, though there is a $2 admission charge to enter the Walk With Wildlife. Do not send money with registrations.

For more information call 316-268-6240 or contact psmith@wichitaeagle.com

More updates

Wednesday afternoon I added a new installment of Where in the state of Kansas is Michael Pearce. For those who haven’t seen them, they’re basically a video with photos for clues about a special place in Kansas. This one is probably my fourth or fifth. I’m hoping to have one every month. In the past I’ve given only clues and let people answer on the comments section on Facebook. From now on, I eventually give the location at the end of the video.

If you like the concept, please share the link with others.

Fishing is pretty good when the weather holds for a while, though some lakes are pretty high. Some nice walleye have been caught at Marion and El Dorado, with some good catches of wipers, too.

Turkey hunting is still rolling along pretty well, though things like tall wheat and pastures seem to be changing bird patterns. A friend called Wednesday evening to say she’d got in the middle of some gobbling toms a few hours early and had taken a nice, mature bird near Council Grove.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page will feature the few days I spent at Timber Hills Lake Ranch, near Fort Scott. It’s primarily a high-fenced big game preserve, with things like elk, buffalo and specially-raised whitetails. They also own a lot of ground around the fenced area, too. Since the area is so rugged and rocky, there are a plethora of ponds and lakes on the properties. The biggest is about 40 acres and sits right in front of the ranch’s nice lodge.

The purpose of the story is that for the price of a cabin, people get free access to all of the lakes and ponds. They can also go hiking and mountain biking, and do nature tours day or night. The quality is pretty good, and the price is surprisingly low. That’s especially true when you consider some are paying $10,000 or more to shoot a huge-antlered whitetail or bull elk within the fenced area. As well as the standard bass, catfish, and bluegill, some of the waters have nice populations of crappie, wipers and rainbow trout.

On a recent writer’s conference at the ranch, cartoonist Bruce Cochran fly-caught a nice bass, crappie and trout from the same spot. Nadia Marji, of Wildlife and Parks, caught a 24-inch largemouth.

I didn’t do too well with the fishing, but I’m pretty sure I came away with some of the best photography of the stay. Hopefully you’ll see on Sunday. Please go online to look at the photo gallery, too.

Michael’s world.

Last Saturday my friend Jake and I again hosted a group from Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Sedgwick County. Last year we hosted a pair of kids and their matched bigs. This year, we took three kids who have yet to be matched.

For some reason, every time I host kids from these groups everything just seems to go so very well.

I took a 13-year-old boy, Kyron, and Jake took a boy of the same age, Devon. Mike Christensen, of Pass It On- Outdoor Mentors tagged along with them for adult supervision. Friends Shane and Dara Bitler were there and took a girl, Ka’nya, to a blind. I was really excited for that because Dara may be the most enthusiastic outdoors person, of any gender, or age, I’ve met and Shane’s a great hunter.

All three kids had hunted turkeys, but none had taken a bird...until Saturday morning.

We had the furthest trip to get to a blind, and just as Kyron and I got to the pop up, birds started gobbling about 100 yards closer to the blind than from where they’d previously roosted. I was afraid they’d seen or heard us come in, but things worked out well anyway. Eventually.

OK, Jake’s hunter, Montez, wasted not time. They were working a flock with some nice toms but when the birds got a bit flighty Jake wisely had the boy shoot a jake. It was good shot.

In their blind, Ka’nya, first missed a jake then a little later failed a slam-dunk shot at a longbeard. When Shane started working with the girl he noticed that she was shooting right handed, but very left eye dominant. A little later a bearded hen came in and she shot it with the gun on her left shoulder.

In our blind, Kyron missed a shot at about 17 yards early, then didn’t take a shot at a nice tom even though I was telling him to take the bird. (We call it TFIP....turkey fever induced paralysis.)

After that I dueled with some unseen toms for about 30 minutes when, for some reason, they finally decided it was time to come on in. It wasn’t exactly a one-shot kill, but Kyron did get to put his permit on a dandy tom with 1 1/4” spurs.

Later, after breakfast, I asked him if he’d had a good day. “No!,” he said with a straight face, then breaking into a smile he said, “Man, I had a great day!”

Us, too. Thanks again to Darla and Shane for making the trip up, and giving Ka’nya a day she’ll always remember.

Oh, my problem with knives continues. About two years ago I stuck a blade in my abdomen while skinning a wild hog, and put two different deep cuts on two fingers last fall through carelessness and again when a pocket knife malfunctioned and opened in my pocket.

Tuesday, I was actually being careful, and had the misfortune of using a borrowed electric knife that went bad and zapped a shot of electricity to my belt buckle. It could have been very bad, as in potentially deadly, because the area all around me was wet. Fortunately I was wearing my rubber muck boots so I wasn’t grounded.

I’m hoping to get some more fly-fishing in over the next few days.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who qualify.


Michael Pearce