Michael Pearce

Walk-ups allowed at kids clinic; pheasant hatch has begun

Walk-ups will be accepted from 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Wichita Eagle’s Kids Fishing Clinic on June 11. The clinic is open to kids 12 and younger, and is part of the annual Great Plains Nature Center’s annual Walk With Wildlife, at Chisholm Creek Park. Kids must be accompanied by an adult, though all equipment and assistance will be provided. The fishing clinic is free but there is a $2 admission to the Walk With Wildlife.

More updates

At about noon on Thursday I got my first report of a pheasant brood on the ground in western Kansas. A friend spooked up a hen and eight little fuzzballs. He figures they were no more than two days old.

Also from pheasant country some say the recent stretch of warm and dry weather is getting the wheat to ripen quickly. In some places they’re thinking the harvest will be anywhere from a few days to a week ahead of average. That could get a lot of pheasant nests destroyed. The dense nature of the wheat, and high yields, could slow the harvest down and get farmers to run the heads of their combines higher than normal, which could save a lot of nests and some entire broods.

I’ve heard of one turkey brood being seen lately, and quite a few new fawns. The high water along riparian areas may have done a number on turkey nests, since that’s were hens often like to lay and hatch their eggs. We’ll see. I’ve heard of some hen pheasants being seen running around the past few days, without chicks. That’s probably a pretty good indication their nests got destroyed. Hopefully they’ll do better on their second nesting attempt.

Fishing is still pretty impressive across most of Kansas, even with the recent high water and rains. Locally anglers are catching walleye at Cheney, El Dorado and Marion reservoirs. The latter of those three has such a high wiper and white bass population anglers are doing well on those, too.

Lately the outlets have been opened at several lakes, like Marion and El Dorado, which should produce some good fishing for about every species of fish in the reservoir. It also draws things like flatheads and channels cats from down river, too. If you’re just into catching anything, the drum fishing below Marion can be pretty hectic at times after a good release. Though the fillets are thin, drum actually have a pretty nice flavor once you trim away the dark strip of meat down the middle of each fillet.

For those who didn’t see it, Sunday’s Outdoors page had a column recommending five hiking trails within two hours of Wichita. Well, one was actually well within Wichita. Some who’ve since tried some of the trails have been pretty impressed.

Last weekend’s rains in north-central and northwest Kansas sent quite a bit of water down some stream beds that hadn’t run in several years. Wilson Reservoir came up about three feet but is still about seven feet below normal. The increase did allow two more boat ramps to open.

Upcoming coverage

I have several articles running this weekend, though I can’t be sure of the order or where they’ll run in The Eagle. One is on Keller Feed & Wine, a new eatery in Cottonwood Falls that is really embracing the “farm to table” concept, and getting a lot of their produce, eggs and meats from Flint Hills ranchers, farmers and gardeners.

Sunday’s Outdoors page will mostly be a feature on Bob Gress, the former director of the Great Plains Nature Center. Since retiring in 2012, Bob has really expanded his wildlife photography horizons. He currently has a great shot on display in the Smithsonian. Several times a year he’ also leads guided birding/eco-tourism trips to places like central and South America.

Saturday I’m slated to do a story on the Storm the Dam trail run, mostly held at El Dorado State Park. It’s basically a marathon, run in its entirety or in pieces, that takes runners over a variety of topography from a little bit of pavement to a lot of dirt trails across sections of prairie and through some pretty thick woodlands.

Down the road I’m hoping to do a story about a combined effort of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on removing some carp from Milford Reservoir. Some studies say that common carp can add to blue-green algae problems at lakes because their rooting behavior keeps the water murky. I’m also hoping to do an article on a resort at Milford, which is probably the only full-service resort on the shores of a federal reservoir in Kansas.

Michael’s world

Once again the priorities of our modern society leave me both confused and disappointed. I’m referring to the gorilla having to be shot last weekend at the zoo in Cincinatti, to insure the safety of a four-year-old boy. I’m not a zoo expert, nor have I studied apes, but I’ve seen what grizzly and black bears can do, like rip a locked car door off a Toyota, and adult gorillas are said to be as strong or stronger. My point is, the gorilla so very easily could have killed the child unintentionally,.

There’s no question it was a tough call for the people at the zoo. They had a lot of time and money invested in the gorilla. It seems to me if they thought trying a tranquilizer wouldn’t insure the child’s safety, it probably wouldn’t have. Silly me, valuing human life over that of an animal.

You know, if people wanted to make a difference they could put that money and energy towards conservation in Africa, assisting in the protection of gorillas by preserving wildlifehabitat and combating poaching. I wonder how many gorillas have been killed by poachers since the one at the zoo?

When you think of it, I find it pretty impressive that such things only seem to happen a very few times a year in America, when you consider how many millions of visits occur annually from coast to coast. Actually I’m not a huge fan of zoos, since I prefer seeing wildlife in wild areas, but I think they have their places.

On a happier note our garden is looking pretty good, I get to see Cade, our young Lab, at the trainer soon and I’m still having my best-ever year for fly-fishing in Kansas. So far I’ve caught my biggest smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and channel catfish on flies within about the past two months. It probably helps that I’m fishing quite a bit more, too.


Michael Pearce