Michael Pearce

Watch Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting live, online

A reminder that Thursday’s Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting, in Fort Scott, can be followed online. The agency provides audio and video of the meetings, and most times the quality is certainly good enough keep viewers informed.

The probable banning of guiding on state owned, and/or managed lands and waters will probably be the most important topic. Last Sunday’s Outdoors page had a more complete roundup.

As of this time the viewing public is not allowed to participate in the meeting. Those at the meeting will be allotted time to speak, or question, all items on the agenda and those that are now.

More updates

For those interested, much of Kansas is now experiencing one of the best wheat harvests in history. I’ve gotten solid reports of sizable fields, without irrigation, in western Kansas averaging more than 85 bushels to the acre. Some harvesters said they’ve hit big areas within fields that average more than 100 bushels to the acre. Most western Kansas farmers in central and western Kansas are pretty happy with a crop of 50 to 60 bushels to the acre. The price, unfortunately, is falling.

Reports of young pheasant chicks are very scattered, and range from next to none to some areas with great numbers of birds. Several harvesters have seemed surprised at the size of many of the chicks, saying they’re already larger than quail and more than able to get out of the way of harvest equipment. The larger the chick, the higher the chance it will survive until spring.

A lot of people are seeing fawns. Young turkey clutches are spotty, as many hens may be re-nesting after having their initial attempts destroyed by high water or hail. Wednesday I got my first report of young quail. That’s a little earlier than normal, but not too out of the ordinary.

Hopefully the recent stretch of 100 degree-plus temperatures will back off a bit, which will help more chicks survive. Recent rains should help propel weed growth, which should offer birds more cover and the insects they need to survive.

Fishing reports are still pretty good, though may species are starting to hit deep summertime patterns. Of course a main reason most fish are being caught at dawn and dusk is because that’s when most anglers are on the water.

Upcoming coverage.

Sunday’s Outdoors page will have a book review on Kansas Trail Guide, a relatively new book that covers some of the best hiking, biking and riding trails in Kansas. It’s a pretty impressive book, probably the best on the market, but I did find a few issues. The Outdoors page should also have coverage of Thursday’s commission meeting in Fort Scott.

As always, you can look for both articles to appear on our online outdoors page before they go into print.

Next week I’ll be doing a lengthy float on the Arkansas River, as part of a feature on the river being named a National Water Trail. The distinction has helped improve access to the Kansas River. We’ll see if it does the same for the Arkansas.

Down the road I’m planning on a column of what goes through my mind when I stumble across some long abandoned, dilapidated old homesite out on the prairie. Such places have fascinated me since I was a child. It’s hard for me not to stop, look, wander around and wonder about the stories the only places could tell.

Michael’s world

Life’s rolling right along just fine, extreme heat or not.

We’ve had a few handfuls of small tomatoes from our garden, and our zucchini and squash plants are producing plenty. Wednesday evening I had a great dinner of fresh crappie and small bass, with some grilled zucchini planks topped with some spices and shredded cheese. Some of my favorite meals are when I just walk out into the garden, do some picking,and pair the veggies up with some fresh fish or venison, elk or waterfowl from last fall and winter.

Much to my surprise, and delight, a very simple, and organic, spray I put on our backyard has really helped reduce the number of mosquitoes dramatically. If that pattern holds, I’ll be doing a blog or column on it.

Father’s Day weekend was great, from beginning to end. Saturday afternoon Kathy and I headed up towards Kansas City to spend some time with Jerrod, and his wife, Carilyn. Jerrod met us in Ottawa and Kathy continued on northward while Jerrod and I fished a friend’s lake in Anderson County. Yes, it’s the same one that’s been producing some great angling for me since early May.

We weren’t disappointed.

By the time we arrived the lake’s far, steep and heavily wooded shore was casting shadows on the water, and where the surface was dark, we caught fish, sometimes a lot of fish. My goal was to take a good number of small, 12-14” bass from the water, plus some crappie and bluegill.

I fished mostly with spinning gear, with white Ned Rigs or a white swim bait. Jerrod split his time with spinning and fly-fishing gear. (I enjoy watching his mastery at casting flies as much as catching a fish on a fly rod, myself.) The lower the sun, the higher the action.

At one time I tied two jigs to one line and caught two big crappie at the same time. At dusk I positing our canoe at the mouth of a big, shallow cove at the south end of the lake. Jerrod was throwing a top-water diving popper on his fly rod and was getting strikes, often several, strikes on every cast.

Rather than cast, I vertically fished about four feet below the surface, just above some aquatic vegetation growing from the lake’s bottom. I can’t say for sure, but I probably hooked 20 bass in 10 or 15 minutes that way. All were about the size I wanted to keep to help the lake’s balance, but by then I had more than I wanted to clean the next morning.

Better than the action was getting to spend a few hours angling with Jerrod. Twenty years ago we fished so much together I might not have cherished it as much as I should have. Not now, especially when he’ll be the kind of father who won’t leave home much when their baby boy is born this fall.

Father’s Day afternoon we had a huge meal of ribs Jerrod smoked, and they were great.

I Father’s Day with Lindsey, and her boyfriend, Lance, when we were out there on a visit in late April at restaurant near Los Angeles that specialized in wild game-style meats. (Of course all of the elk, venison and bison had been raised domestically.)

Like I said, life’s been pretty good for me for quite some time.


Michael Pearce