On the morning of thursday April 19th my brother sends me a text message with a photo titled "WTF is this???" sure enough he had a blue sucker in the net.
After I explain the signifigance of his catch (and call him several things involving four letter words, and others I just made up) he decides to fish for them the rest of the day and post pics on facebook labeled "na-na na-na boo-boo, stick your head in doo-doo, I caught a blue sucker before you" some if his pics below.
So after taking a couple days off work and schmoozing my wife into letting me go cross country on such short notice, I'm driving to central Kansas later that evening. I drove all through the night stopping once in Brookings, SD to gas up. I arrived in Junction City around 9 am and met up with my brother at a local bait shop to get the feeling back in my legs and buy a non-res KS fishing liscense. we headed a few miles down the road to the spillway of the Republican river below Milford resevoir, which has been at high releases for the last week (2,000 cfs). we walk to the edge of the churning water and instantly my brother yells "look there's some" and sure enough I see 3 dark images beating the rapids slowly moving up stream and fading back out into the river. we rig up with 2oz bottom bouncers and a simple small hook with an inch or two of worm. A few minutes later my brother has one, and I lay eyes on my first real live blue. They feel like rubber sandpaper, their fins are thick and rubbery and there is almost no slime on them. Their nose is like a rubber bumper pad for running into rocks. A quick couple pics, a little more oogling and I get my line in and finally (10 minutes into the trip) hook into my first blue, and then another, and another, and another......They are amazingly stronger than you'd expect and like to jump within the first few seconds of being hooked.
The males averaged around 4 to 5 lbs while the females were much bigger and were smoother and lighter in color. we had a few females on our lines that were easily 20lbs but we just couldn't keep a fish that big and that strong with such a fleshy soft mouth on a tiny hook in current like that. In all I imagine we caught approx 20 blues before we decided to head back to my brothers house and unpack my gear & clothes.
This was one of my favorite rigs that worked very well. I use a planer board in the fast current to pull my bottom bounce and crawler out to the middle of the river and keep it in place until a fish hits. As I reel in, I swing the planer over to my brother to de-board me and I continue to reel the fish in.
After unpacking and a quick bite to eat we decide to see what else we can catch. Upon walking back down to the river I notice a big turquoise male eastern collared lizard bobbing his head at me from the highest rock in his territory. I told my bro to make a noose with fishing line at the end of his pole and snare it....one successfull snaring turned into hours of lizard landfishing.
I enjoy collecting reptiles and field herping as much as I do fishing, and central Kansas is one of the best places to knock species off a lifelist. I didn't find any lifers, but with the small amount of herping we did we found some red sided garters, plains skinks, collared lizards, northern water snakes, and prairie ringneck snakes.
We spent the rest of the afternoon desperately trying for a big longnose gar. I hooked into 3 monsters that were between 4 and 5 feet long and several smaller ones, but their jaws are made of some material that rivals the durability and hardness of space shuttle heat shield tiles and we just couldn't land one. I had to ditch the nightfishing Ideas since I hadn't slept yet and was starting to get delirious.
The next morning we hit a few of the farmers bass ponds that dotted the kansas country side. Plenty of largemouth and bluegill, nothing huge and no lifers but still fun.
We then went back to the river for some more blues, but it seemed I was not a day too late. we fished for 4 more hours and not a single blue, never even saw one cruising the shoreline for the rest of the weekend. The high water flow, the temps, and possible photoperiod brought them up into that spillway for only a few days, maybe a week in concentrated numbers to spawn and then disperse overnight back into the river system.
Later that evening we hit the drainage ponds for the fish hatcher below Milford resevoir. we caught several nice bluebill, tons of dinky channel cats, and a saugeye to my brothers surprise, he didn't know they were in there.
Then after dark this surprise came along
The next morning we went out to do some creek fishing and did fair. I also netted a handfull of micros I'll have to post later for identification. madtoms, shiners, darters and dace etc.
My brothers army buddy came with, and got a surprise while he was checking the liveliness of his minnow at the waters edge, a 3lb bass came out of nowhere and took the bait inches from his feet.
I spent the rest of the day trying for a longnose gar but it seemed like they followed the blue suckers back to whatever parrallel dimension they came from. Later this summer maybe.