According to Lau, four dead skunks littering a short stretch of a highway was an irrefutable sign spring was finally in the offing and a spell of bountiful shallow-water fishing was ready to unfold.
After Lau joined Holscher, they headed south to Coffey County Lake.
As they drove through Shawnee and Osage counties, they noticed a thin coating of morning ice covered most ponds and lakes. Despite that ice and the early morning chill, the limbs of the willow and hedge trees exhibited the yellowing tint of the emerging spring, and more dead skunks littered the highway.
Primary impetus of this late winter venture was to christen Holscher's new Ranger 217 guide boat.
It was also Holscher's first outing of the year. The bizarre and bitterly cold winter had kept him off the water for three months so he was eager to spend a balmy day afloat, catching a lot of fish.
What a splendid day it turned out to be. Even though the thermometer hovered at 28 degrees at 9 a.m., it eventually climbed to 46 degrees. Around noon, the sun penetrated the morning haze, and its rays mottled cheeks with the first sunburns of the year.
Throughout the day, a 5- to 9-mph wind from the northeast provided a perfect breeze for fishing Coffey in March.
The fishing was grand, and Holscher properly christened his boat by catching two fish on his first two casts.
The most effective lure was a 1/4-ounce Worden's Rooster Tail with gold blade and chartreuse body employed on a medium-action spinning outfit and light line.
However, a three-inch Bass Assassin on a 3/8-ounce jighead, 1/4-ounce chartreuse Super Spot, a chartreuse plastic shad on a 1/4-ounce jighead, and a clown-colored Smithwick Rogue allured a good number of fish, too.
More than 40 of the fish came off one wind-blown point, where the water temperature registered 56 degrees. Lau and Holscher also caught fish on four other points and in two coves, where the water was as warm as 58 degrees and as cool as 49.
Throughout the day, Holscher attempted to ascertain why the fish were gamboling in certain coverts and not others, but he had a difficult time detecting a rhyme or reason for their behavior. For example, the biggest wiper, a five-pounder, came out of 58-degree water in a cove, and the second biggest, a four-pounder, came out of 49-degree water on a point.
Eventually, Holscher surmised the fish were simply following schools of gizzard shad and occasionally foraging on them.
By day's end, the two fishermen had scuffled with 81 fish -- 69 white bass, five wipers, four walleye and three smallmouth bass.
After catching those fish and working out the kinks in his new boat, Holscher was ready to inaugurate his guiding season at Coffey and at other lakes in northeast Kansas.