Archive for Sunday, August 1, 1999


August 1, 1999


Around eastern Kansas, there are walleye fishermen and there are largemouth bass fishermen.

About the only time they fraternize is in the winter when some of the walleye and bass aficionados chase crappie, but even then there is a noticeable schism.

Of the two fraternities, the walleye anglers are the dominant ones.

Proof is all the time and money Wildlife and Parks puts into stocking and managing walleyes at Clinton Lake and other Corps of Engineers reservoirs.

Moreover, a massive flotilla of anglers probes the walleye's lairs at Clinton and Melvern lakes from the spawn in late March to the autumn equinox, outnumbering the bass fisherman by a wide margin.

The Kansas Walleye Association has become an impassioned booster of Kansas fishing. Its many members work diligently to improve the state's walleye population and to recruit new anglers. One manifestation of the KWA's efforts occurs every September when KWA members assist Corps of Engineers and Leonard Jirak of the Wildlife and Parks in stocking about 6,000 seven-inch walleye at Melvern.

In the bass world, there is nothing comparable to the KWA's influence. The Kansas BASS Federation is only a paltry imitation. It doesn't even stage all of its bass tournaments in Kansas. Too, Federation folks have been heard uttering disparaging words about Kansas fishing.

The gap between walleye and bass anglers even exists in some Kansas families.

For instance, Kevin Davis of Lawrence is a superb bass fisherman. He won the Sunflower Bassmasters tournament on June 19 at Hillsdale Lake, and he finds walleye fishing one the most boring endeavors known to mankind.

However, Kevin's father, Mike Davis of Salina, is a dedicated walleye angler, who exhibited his prowess on May 17 by placing second at the KWA tournament at El Dorado Lake. Mike Davis, of course, finds bass fishing to be devoid of subtly and glutted with hyperactivity as anglers make thousands of heavy-handed casts a day at objects strewn along the shorelines.

But despite his disdain for walleye angling, Kevin Davis agreed to pursue the walleye of Melvern Lake for nine hours with his father on June 29. Kevin assuaged his misery a bit by arriving at the lake several hours before his father and catching six smallmouth bass.

For Mike Davis, it was his maiden voyage upon Melvern. It was also a reconnaissance trip in preparation for the KWA tournament on July 10-11. In addition, Mike carried hopes of learning how Terry Bivins of Lebo waylays Melvern's big walleye by wielding a Walleye Assassin on a 3/8-ounce jighead.

It wasn't the best of days to test Melvern's walleye. The day before, strong winds ripped across Melvern and heavy rains fell, dropping as much as six inches at some spots in eastern Kansas.

Consequently, the water level at Melvern jumped two feet, and the water, which had been murky from a series of algae blooms and the constant rains since the fall of 1998, turned murkier.

On top of all that, eastern Kansas was in the grip of a hard cold front and isolated thunderstorms erupted periodically.

The wind on June 29, however, was mild and angled from the east, which allowed the Davises to explore 23 of Melvern's best midsummer walleye haunts easily. They worked water as shallow as eight feet and as deep as 25 feet, probing with Blakemore Road Runners tipped with nightcrawlers and Walleye Assassins.

Unfortunately, Melvern's denizens were rather uncharitable, but the Walleye Assassin did entice a few walleye and some big crappie and white bass. And thanks to his dutiful son, Mike Davis learned the lay of Melvern's topography.

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