Archive for Sunday, September 23, 2001

Despite neglect, white bass OK

Species could still use state-imposed creel limit as enhancement

September 23, 2001


A decade ago scads of northeast Kansas anglers spent many of their summer days plying Perry Lake's offshore hideaways and rocky shorelines.

They tangled with untold numbers of spunky and hefty white bass. It was the most exciting and alluring fishing this area had to offer. Often there were more anglers seeking white bass than crappie and channel cat.

Consequently, many members of the Olathe Sportsman Club became keen white bass anglers. Some those Olathe anglers, such as Deen Ruppelius, Larry Blivins and Charles Compton, became especially adroit at employing spoons and jigs on humps and drop-offs.

Other members caught astronomical numbers of white bass by working a Rat-L-Trap, Rooster Tail or 1/8-ounce jig along wind-blown, rocky banks and points.

For some unknown reason all these fishermen and their bountiful catches failed to catch the attention of the folks at Wildlife and Parks.

Perhaps that is why KWP is so unenlightened about the ways of the white bass and has erroneously maintained for years the white bass is seldom pursued by Kansas fishermen and doesn't need to be protected by a creel limit.

Beginning with the great flood of 1993, the white bass fishing at Perry slowly began to deteriorate. The first fish to disappear were the ones that gamboled about the shorelines. Then the 13 best offshore coverts were gradually reduced to six.

Before l993, Perry could accommodate about 30 white bass fishermen a day.

In fact, there were enough fish that offshore anglers could move from lair to lair as if they were playing a round of golf and not intrude on other anglers. And the shoreline anglers could fish several miles of water, catching oodles of white bass, without bumping into another fisherman.

But nowadays Perry can barely accommodate three boats of white bass fishermen.

For instance on a recent Thursday afternoon, Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence and I shared Perry's white bass hideaways with two other boats of fishermen. Lau and I probed three offshore coverts, where the white bass milled about in a 50-square-foot area at each lair. The other anglers mined three similar spots.

At these three lairs, Lau and I found the white bass to be extremely vulnerable. By using a chartreuse 3/4-ounce Fishtech Double W Shad Flutter Spoon, we caught and released a white bass every 45 seconds.

Lau noted that several ruthless and unthinking anglers could have annihilated these schools of white bass. For example, back in the 1990s a trio of unscrupulous anglers obliterated a massive school by filleting 400 white bass in one outing. That area of the lake has never recovered from the massacre.

Yet the white bass is a hearty species, and it hasn't totally floundered. Despite being neglected by KWP, the white bass has outlasted the coddled walleye, sauger and largemouth bass at Perry.

As Perry continues to age, white bass, crappie and channel cat might be the only species that can persevere without being continuously stocked and pampered.

Lau believes white bass is a better and sportier fish than the crappie, channel cat, sauger, largemouth bass and walleye.

And if KWP would establish the same creel limit for white bass that it has for channel cats, Lau and other white bass aficionados contend fishermen could catch white bass at Perry throughout the year at a lot of spots rather than for just a few weeks a year at a few places.

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