Michael Pearce

Group to host Arkansas River Float on Saturday

Kayakers travel the Arkansas River on a twilight float hosted by the Arkansas River Coalition. (2012)
Kayakers travel the Arkansas River on a twilight float hosted by the Arkansas River Coalition. (2012) File photo

On Saturday, the Arkansas River Coalition will host a float of about 7 1/2 miles, from Garvey Park to the canoe access area at 71st South and the Arkansas River. A news release said this is not a float for beginners because “moderate paddling skills” could be required in some areas with shoals, bridge pilings and fast water with water hazards.

Paddlers are asked to meet at Garvey Park at 8:30 a.m. and be ready to float by 9:15 a.m. The club will loan kayaks and safety gear with prior notice. For more information call 316-680-9669.

More updates

The Flatland Fly Fishers club has canceled Saturday’s fly-casting clinic because of lack of interest. The clinic was originally scheduled to accommodate women who had taken a beginner’s clinic about a month ago. With only one person registered, the club canceled the event.

Registrations are still being accepted for The Wichita Eagle’s Kids Fishing Clinic.The link will provide registration details. No phone registrations will be accepted though e-mail enrollment is allowed.

This week’s cool, often cloudy and wet weather. could bode well for this spring’s pheasant hatch, as noted in an article on Sunday’s Outdoors page.

Fishing has been pretty good at most lakes and reservoirs, though the crappie spawn has been one of the most inconsistent in many years. It seems to have been the same all over Kansas, mostly because of the frequent cold fronts and sometimes heavy rains. El Dorado Reservoir is probably producing some of the biggest walleye in Kansas this year. I’ve seen several photos of walleye 25 inches-plus.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page will have an article on an Emporia angler who started finding antique fishing gear at garage sales and estate auctions. Now, Joel Lyons has a significant collection ranging from lures made in the 1800s to some pretty unique items. He has reels made by a bomb-making company and rods made from old tank parts after World War II.

The page may also have an article on a program that’s designed to help wounded veterans more easily go hunting and/or fishing. State funding for the project, though, isn’t nearly enough to cover the need.

Down the road I’ll be touring a unique, and sizable, zipline course in Kansas that is drawing a wide variety of visitors including families, groups of college students and companies wanting to give employees a day together outdoors. Another trip is in the works for Kansas’ only private resort, with direct lake access, on a federal reservoir.

Hopefully I’ll get to tag along with a local angler who targets big flathead catfish, while fishing from a float tube with big artificial lures. He also catches nice bass, and even big gar, and nearly always from public.

Michael’s world

Last Sunday morning, a friend and I taught a beginning fly-fishing class at the spring Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Program at Camp Wood, in the Flint Hills. We had four women in the class and all went from having never used a fly rod to catching bass, bluegill, green sunfish and crappie three hours later. It’s always easier to teach people who with no experience, because they have no bad habits. The facility, and lake, were perfect and the weather was cool, calm and gorgeous outside.

Saturday I got my garden planted. Well, most of it. So far I think I have 16 tomato plants, three egg plants and eight or 10 squash plants. Yes, I know that’s too many squash plants, and if the weather holds we could have a backyard full of zucchini and yellow squash. I always go overboard when it comes to garden plants because they’re so inexpensive and every plant holds so much potential. I’ll probably add a few more tomato plants, start some squash plants in anticipation of losing some to squash bugs, and some green beans.

I’ve probably caught more fish so far this year than the past two years combined. A few good to great days of fly-fishing for bass, crappie and big bluegill have helped. The best day, possibly ever for me, went into a blog recently. Since I was within an hour on Wednesday, I did a return trip.

The action was really fast, though no bass were caught of more than 3 pounds. In fact, most of the largemouths were 13-16 inches but the numbers were amazing.

It was the first time I’ve ever seen schools of 10 to 12 bass chasing the fish that had the fly in its mouth. Several times I’d unhook one fish, do a roll cast back to the same spot and get another when the fly was still in sight as it sank. The water clarity was amazing, which surely helped in being able to see the fish.

At one point I basically caught three bass on one cast. One hit about 20 feet from the boat. Just before adding it to my creel bag I tossed the fly back out over the water with my hand, and another fish was on quickly. The same thing happened when I got it unhooked, and was measuring the second fish.

It’s interesting that I about didn’t make the drive from Emporia because the wind had been blowing from the east, and most anglers have heard the ol’ “When the wind’s from the east, the fish bite the least,” saying. Well, when I got there it was from the south even though the local weather information said from the northeast. I caught nice crappie on my first three casts. all with different rods as I got them ready on shore, before heading out in my canoe.

Saturday is my 40th high school reunion in Tonganoxie. I figure I’ll go look at all of the old people, that are my age. Some of the people coming I haven’t seen in at least 30 years, and they were once some of my best of friends. Some of us were literally in diapers at the same time in old photos because our parents were good friends.

For some reason I’m the speaker at the reunion. Maybe it’s because I was usually the one who got in trouble for talking in class.

I wasn’t too impressed with my 20th reunion, as it was mostly a contest to see who had the smartest kids and best career. I’m guessing things will be much more mellow this time.

I have several people I really just want to sit with and talk for a while. No doubt with a few, we’ll be able to just pick up where we left off all those years ago.


Michael Pearce