For a growing circle of Kansas anglers, the days stretching between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 are potpourri time. During this spell, fishermen try to see how many different species they can hook and release.
Depending on the reservoir, a fisherman can tangle with channel catfish, crappie, drum, largemouth bass, sauger, smallmouth bass, striped bass, sunfish, walleye, wipers, white bass and white perch.
For instance, at La Cygne Lake fishermen can catch all those species except white perch and sauger while at Melvern Lake all species but the wiper and white perch are catchable.
It's potpourri time because many species gambol along the shorelines in coves and across main-lake points in one to eight feet of water, feeding upon gizzard shad.
Anglers suspect fish begin to invade the relatively shallow water of the shorelines and points when the water temperature drops from the mid-80s during the heat of August into the mid-70s during the last days of summer.
Of course, not all of the fish in a lake inhabit these shallow environs, but when all is right in the angling world, enough fish do occupy these areas so that two or three anglers can hook and release more than a 100 of them during a four-hour adventure.
This year, several of the big reservoirs in eastern Kansas are rife with three-inch and smaller shad. Many of those shad schools started invading the shallows around Labor Day. Thus several of the species that regularly prey upon shad gradually followed suit and, as the water temperature slowly cooled, more and more species especially white bass and wipers began foraging along the shorelines.
To catch all these species, Lawrence's Mike Smith, Ryan Anderson and Allan Geiss employ a lot of lures because seldom do the fish prefer just one lure and one retrieve. Therefore each uses different lures and a variety of retrieves throughout the day.
Here are some of the best lures to entice a variety of species: Rattlin' ThinFin, Excalibur Pop-R; buzzbait, marabou jig, jighead and three-inch twister-tail grub, Sassy Shad on a jighead, Zoom Fluke affixed to a No. 4 offset hook, tandem spinnerbait, Worden's Rooster Tail, No. 5 Rapala Shad Rap and medium-sized Rat-L-Trap.
In addition to the challenge of catching an array of species, potpourri anglers also attempt to catch fish on all 11 lures.
Although it's a rare occurrence, there are some productive autumn outings when all nine lures are equally effective.
Another secret to alluring all of these species is to probe as many points and miles of shorelines as possible. To do that, Geiss says it is best to have three anglers in a boat, making many quick and accurate casts, and the boat's electric-trolling motor running at a quick pace, slowing down only when a pod of fish are located.
On days when a lake's water level is rising, Geiss begins fishing in the back of a cove and quickly works towards the main-lake point. If the lake level is dropping or at its normal level, he starts at the main-lake point and move towards the back of the cove.
According to Geiss, if excessive autumn rains don't fall and rile the big reservoirs and October is graced with a string of Indian Summer days, this fall's piscatorial potpourri might last past Halloween.