Thursday, January 20, 2011
Neosho River 1/18/11 "Kansas Tailwater"
One last day left in my weekend and snow scheduled to start arriving on Wednesday had me itching to get out of the house for a few hours yesterday. I knew most of the smaller reservoir outlets would be frozen solid just like the lakes they held back, but there was one place where I thought I might find some open water.
John Redmond reservoir is within an hour of home and has one of the larger sluice-gate dams in Kansas , I hadn't been there in years and never with a flyrod. When I was a kid my father would take me over below the dam in the spring to fish for white bass when they were running upstream. I really didn't have much hope in catching anything , but I'd been wanting to get over and check it out as a possible option for white bass and sauger when this damn winter rolls out of here anyway.
After throwing some gear in the truck and loading up my fishing buddy I was headed South down I-35 towards what I hoped would be some open water.
I had two different locations in mind to look at and decided to start below the dam on John Redmond. Upon arriving I could see that my hopes of open water were maybe a little optimistic for January in Kansas. My first glimpse of the river was nothing but ice packs downstream for as far as I could see. On second glance I noticed that the area of water directly below the sluice gates was open for about 100 yards , not exactly what I was hoping for but at least it was in a liquid state.
I rigged up a shad pattern that I've had success with previously and walked down to the only spot that would allow me fishing access. I must have spent close to an hour casting away and wishfully thinking that I might actually catch something before my cold fingers drove me back to the truck. The fishing left a little to be desired but it was still good to be out.
There were several open pools in the middle of the river that held large numbers of ducks, geese and pelicans which made for an entertaining time watching small groups coming in to land on the ice. I also got a few pics of a bald eagle that I was able to walk up on as he watched over the waterfowl down on the ice.
Beat the hell out of sitting home on the couch and staring at the idiot box all day. I'd had enough of my first spot so I decided to head a few miles downriver to a low water dam that I could remember fishing years ago. It took a little driving around to locate the spot I was looking for but I eventually arrived at my destination.
To my surprise the river was open for a stretch of about 400 yards below the spillway and actually looked pretty good. The dog and I worked our way downstream until we hit the ice pack and then fished our way back upstream to the truck.
Various flies were tied on and subsequently lost among the rocky crag bottom.
At one point I was swinging a heavily weighted pattern through a deep hole and felt a slight tick , setting the hook I felt a tug on the other end , I might just knock that skunk off yet I thought. No sooner did the thought cross my mind than the line went slack , damn... I spoke too soon. When I retrieved my fly there was a large scale attached , presumably from a carp or buffalo. Hell at this point I would've thoroughly enjoyed fighting a foul hooked rough-fish , at least it would've been a little action.
At the end of the day the fish tally remained at zero but it was still a worthwhile trip just to scout out some new areas. I'll be back this spring to chase some white bass and sauger when mother nature is a little more hospitable.
Posted by HighPlainsFlyFisher