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Archive for Sunday, May 30, 1999

KEHDE COLUMN

May 30, 1999

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Four times a year the fishermen in the Kehde clan gather for a day to pursue our favorite quarry -- white bass.

Sometimes these outings occur at an eastern Kansas waterway, but most of the time they take place at the site of our fishing baptisms -- the Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake in Missouri.

On the day after Easter, we ventured to the upper reaches of Clinton Lake upon the Wakarusa River. This is where some of the reservoir's white bass go to procreate once the water temperature surpasses 58 degrees.

We were disappointed, however.

For the whole month of March, mild weather propelled the white bass to spew their eggs and milt earlier than normal. Thus by the time of the Kehde adventure, much of the pre-spawn rituals had petered out.

During the white bass pre-spawn rollickings, which usually commence when the water reaches 50 degrees, they are normally easy to catch. For instance, on the best of our early spring outings, three of us can catch and release more than 200 of them.

And just a week before the clan's arrival at Wakarusa, a talented angler could tangle with at least 50 of these silver demons in a three-hour excursion.

Unfortunately, the weather turned on that day after Easter. On our outing, we were pelted with lightning, thunder, rain, horrendous wind and a cold front. The foul weather shortened our time afloat and turned the post-spawn white bass sullen. We struggled to catch and release 33 white bass.

As we dishearteningly left the Wakarusa, we vowed to give the white bass another whirl once the weather moderated.

But the onslaught didn't stop until mid-May. For more than a month, eastern Kansas and western Missouri were bashed with more than 10 inches of cold rain. Consequently, eastern Kansas reservoirs turned turbid and high, and Truman in Missouri rose to 21 feet above normal level.

Fishing, of course, became difficult. Dozens of anglers have contended this spring has been the bleakest and rainiest in memory.

It wasn't until the first days of the new moon in May that the Kehde clan could reassemble and complete our spring rendezvous with white bass.

This trip took place in the upper reaches of the Lake of the Ozarks, near Warsaw, Mo., and several miles east of Truman Dam, which was regurgitating the rainy excesses of April and early May at a rate of 48,000 cubic feet per second.

The current coursing down the last five miles of the Lake of the Ozarks was a frothy torrent, making the fishing problematic.

But the weather was delightful. Thermometers reached 82 degrees by late afternoon and a mild wind angled from the southeast. The water temperature hovered just above 60 degrees, signaling the spawn rites had ebbed.

Throughout the day, we probed eddies and slack-water areas, trying to entice the white bass with a variety of lures.

Eventually, we discovered they preferred an eighth-ounce marabou and wool jig in a blue-and-white hue that was bounced slowly across the bottom.

This outing, however, didn't equal the grand catches of springs past. Only 99 white bass were caught and released, as well as a potpourri of crappie, drum, wipers and Kentucky bass. Nonetheless, it was finally spring again and some fish could be caught.

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