Summer weekends at the big lakes in these parts can be an agonizing endeavor for the serious bass angler.
Not only is the sun blinding and as hot as a butane flame, but around 11 a.m. a flotilla of jet skis and a cavalcade of recreational boaters begin to launch their lunacy.
Quickly the quiet ease of the day's beginning becomes a cacophonous quagmire, fraying the disposition of even the most unflappable fishermen.
But Clyde Holscher, a fishing guide from Topeka, and several friends have discovered a way to contend with the chaos created by the skiers and boaters. And while avoiding the racket, these anglers can often catch four varieties of bass and a potpourri of other species.
To accomplish this feat, they venture to Melvern Lake, starting well before the sun begins to cut ribbons of prismatic glamour across the eastern horizon. These anglers arrive at the water's edge before the first breeze stirs and braids of waves commence.
At first light Holscher and his friends, using bait-casting outfits, often wield a topwater lure, like a Heddon Zara Spook or Rebel Pop R, across boulder-strewn points with hopes of enticing several smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass.
About the time the sun rises over the face of the dam, the anglers begin utilizing spinning tackle, making long casts and retrieving small Rapala Shad Raps or similar crankbaits on rocky points and shallow humps, where they tangle with smallmouth bass, sauger and walleye.
In addition to the small crankbaits, a root beer-colored Berkley Inshore Pompano Tube on a Gopher Tackle 1/16-ounce mushroom jighead is often used to allure a variety of bass from rock piles in water as shallow as three feet.
As the sun climbs higher, the anglers probe deeper alcoves on the rocky points and humps, casting and slowly retrieving either an Inshore Pompano Tube on a 3/16-ounce mushroom jighead or a 1/4-ounce Strike King Bitsy Bug Jig in eight to 15 feet of water. From these deep areas, crappie, drum, white bass, channel cats and smallmouth bass are hooked and released.
About 10:30 a.m., just before the din of the skiers and boaters commences, Holscher and colleagues make a rapid exodus and go below the dam to Melvern Pond, where jet skis and gasoline-powered boats are prohibited.
Here they launch their boat and use a heavy-duty electric trolling motor to propel it around the pond and up and down the old Marais des Cygnes River. At this small tranquil waterway, they often spend four hours, catching and releasing a score of largemouth bass, as well as enjoying some incidental encounters with a wiper, crappie, walleye, channel cat and white bass.
On the vast mud flats of the pond, these anglers regularly employ medium-action casting tackle that sports a tandem-bladed 3/8-ounce spinnerbait, 1/4-ounce Rat-L-Trap or 3/8-ounce Mann's 1-Minus.
Upon entering the brushy confines of the old river channel, the anglers primarily employ a flipping-and-pitching rod festooned with a 3/8-ounce jig and three-inch Berkley Power Frog.
Then into every piece of brush and flooded timber, they pitch and slowly manipulate this jig, periodically enticing a largemouth bass to engulf it.
Although it is not the peace Henry David Thoreau found at Walden Pond, a visit to Melvern is as close as Holscher and his mates can get to a blissful bounty of bass at the public waterways of eastern Kansas during the heat of summer.