Archive for Sunday, June 1, 1997

NED KEHDE COLUMN

June 1, 1997

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What is the matter with Pomona Lake? For the past several years, it has become a cauldron of mud and algae wrought from the unhealthy brew of silt and agricultural chemicals.

So thick is this brew that in September of 1995 sonar devices used by fishermen were cluttered with indecipherable gobbledy-gook.

Some folks worry about the merging of the two herbicides farmers use on corn and soybeans and its affect on fish. When these chemicals mix in a waterway, like Pomona, it becomes an extremely powerful compound.

Some biologists suspect this compound reduces the potency of reproductive juices of male fish. The floods of 1993, 1995 and 1996 are said to have given Pomona a super dose of this concoction.

So it could be that Pomona's crappie and white bass spawns have been fouled by this affluence of agricultural chemicals. Or is it something else?

One group of anglers theorizes it is merely a normal cycle in which a lake will have scads of crappie and white bass for awhile, then the populations will drop and the fishing will be awful.

The life span of a crappie and white bass in Kansas seldom surpasses four years. Thus two poor spawns, which can be the result of foul weather, within that four-year life span can quickly shrink the crappie and white bass populations. And the weather during the past three out of four spawning seasons has been poor, and the lake roily.

Overharvesting of crappie and white bass can be another part of Pomona's woes. For instance, in the winter of 1994-95, thousands of Pomona's crappie were killed by scores of fishermen. Then in 1995, untold numbers of white bass were caught and killed before they spawned.

Wellsville fisherman Terry Bivins called the '94-95 overharvest "a senseless massacre." Bivins believes Pomona would be in better shape today if those anglers hadn't been so plunderous. In fact, some believe the only was to resurrect Pomona's white bass fishery is to impose a stringent creel limit, especially around spawning time.

Still another possible factor: Pomona is too old to be a fruitful fishery. That's the opinion of Overbrook's Blair Flynn, who has fished there since 1963. Age has caused the habitat to shrink, Flynn says, adding that much of the lake's 4,000 acres are no longer a suitable nursery for young fish.

In addition, Flynn notes that Pomona's long turbid spells are not conducive to producing a bountiful amount of white bass. All of the floods of the '90s exacerbated those turbidity woes.

Crappie and white bass fishing has been declining for more than a decade, Flynn added, and it has been pitiful since 1994-95.

In the spring of '96, some of the best white bass fishermen in northeast Kansas worked long hours and come off the water with paltry catches and tales of concern.

During the past 12 months, white bass fishing at Pomona has become worse and worse.

From May 14 to May 17, Dean Ruppelius and 26 members of the Olathe Sportsmen Club thoroughly probed Pomona for white bass. During that four-day blitz, they caught just six white bass and only one was longer than 10 inches.

Crappie fishing wasn't much better. The Olathe group caught only 115 pounds of crappie, prompting one member of the group to say: "This lake is sick, and it about time for the Wildlife and Parks folks to try to fix it."

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