A five pound largemouth bass caught by Scott Stormann. Photo by Josh Rouse.
On April 22, 2012, I headed up to the State Lake north of Topeka with my buddy Scott Stormann, who is also the bassist of Echo Lake, to catch some fish.
I've been friends with Scott since junior high and we've been fishing together for several years. It seems like every time we go up to the State Lake, Scott lands a huge bass. A lot of people complain about the State Lake, but the truth is that it's got some nice-sized fish in it, which is exactly what we found out on this trip.
Scott had been fishing at another spot right before I got there. It was around 7 p.m. and we were hoping to do a little bass fishing while the sun was still up and then switch to catfish once it got dark. No sooner had I gotten all my tackle and rods out and started baiting my hook than I hear a huge splash and Scott's fight begins with this MONSTER fish. I dropped the hook I was baiting (my right hand still covered in blood from the chicken liver) and picked up my video camera with my clean hand. As I ran over and began filming, we could tell right away that this fish was huge. Scott battled the brute and finally managed to reel it in and get a hand in its mouth. We took a few photos and weighed and measured it. The largemouth came in at just over 5 pounds and was a little over 20 inches long. Scott said it was the biggest bass he'd ever caught and I couldn't help from laughing... so much for this lake having no big fish! What happened next though floored me.
My grandma, Bonnie Rouse, recently showed me a letter she sent in to Ducks Unlimited Magazine in 1986 talking about raising a family of hunters. I found it to be pretty funny and so I figured I would share the letter with the class. This is the full letter, but the printed version was edited down a little to save space.
Do you want to hear another version about the hunting season at a Kansas household for "Closing Time?"
I'm a forty-five year old housewife, an ex-city girl, who never knew the difference between a mallard, a pintail, a woodduck, a dove, let alone a Pointer, a Black Lab, or a 12-gauge or a .22, until I married my hunter twenty-eight years ago. Now the mother of three sons, also avid hunters, I feel I've been through it all.
First, I had to learn to look at a cottontail, that reminded me of the storybook rabbit, with blood-stained fur and limp as a dishrag. I had to do this without throwing up while proud little hunters beamed about their great shots. Then came that cute little brown squirrel that stole most of our walnuts and wound up at our house for dinner one night (not as a guest). But when they brought home the doves, I was heartbroken. I couldn't believe they could eat the dove, a symbol of love. Oh yes, the rule at our house is: you shoot it, you eat it.
Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Josh Rouse.
With election season right around the corner and the GOP candidates debating issues ranging from health care to warfare, I have noticed that one topic in particular seems to strike a chord with members of the Republican party: the environment.
Whether it be in the form of disapproving with the Environmental Protection Agency, refuting the claims of global warming or arguing about the need for alternative forms of energy to oil, it seems to me as though many in the Republican party consider anyone who cares about the environment to be a tree-hugging hippy. However, many of their key constituents care deeply about the environment, and the wildlife in it.
Conservation groups such as Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and others work to help provide natural grounds for animals to habitate and help their numbers grow and flourish. Without a strong conservation effort for game animals, many prized species that are hunted across the country may very well be extinct today. Despite their efforts, we still can see that there are man-made problems in our environment.
Too much attention is paid to the topic of Global Warming. Research is heavily conducted on both sides to either prove or disprove its existence, so much so that we overlook many of the obvious problems that are right in front of our nose. Whether or not it causes global warming, there can be no doubt that pollution has adverse effects on the environment and its inhabitants. Smog is a great example of this, as is the Gulf Oil Spill. While people debate on whether or not the Earth will get a degree hotter in the next hundred years, real life natural disasters occur all around us.
This story was published in the Washburn Review. Be sure to check them out!
Echo Lake drummer Matt Mirsch. Photo by Josh Rouse.
For a band named Echo Lake, it's only natural that the founding fathers of the group love to fish.
Drummer Matt Mirsch, senior music education major, and bassist Scott Stormann, who is coming back to Washburn after taking a few years off to work, created the popular Topeka-based funk band while earning their diplomas at Seaman High School in 2006. Several years and a few new band mates later, the band has become a local favorite thanks to various gigs they've done in the area, including the Jayhawk Theatre Revival in 2009.
However, when the pair of North Topekan rockers aren't practicing for an upcoming gig or studying, they spend a good chunk of time at various fishing spots, mainly the Shawnee State Lake just north of Topeka.
"Scott has an addiction," said Mirsch. "I fish because I like to eat, Scott fishes because he's addicted to the adrenaline rush of the catch and he should probably see someone about that. That's all I have to say about that."
The two began fishing together in high school, but said they just recently started fishing frequently again this summer.
"We used to fish every now and again, because Matt's dad was a big fisherman and my dad was," said Stormann. "We've been fishing since we were little, but this summer we really started fishing a lot, like hardcore. I've been going out every weekend and Matt comes along probably once every other weekend with me and we've been going catfishing and bass fishing."
The other members of the band—lead singer Dave Hess, guitarist Michael Spangler and saxophonist T.C. Gomez—are all from Washburn. Hess recently graduated with a degree in vocal performance, while Spangler is working toward a business degree and Gomez is working toward a music education degree. Stormann said they've never managed to get the whole band together for a fishing trip, joking that it was mostly because Gomez never had enough money for a fishing license.
"Dave came out once... he's a better singer than a fisherman," said Mirsch.
This post was published in the Washburn Review. Be sure to check them out.
One of the lesser-known game fish available to anglers is the hybrid bluegill.
These fish are a hybrid between a male bluegill and a female green sunfish. As a result of the cross-breeding, a large majority (90-95 percent) of the hybrids are male. However, reproduction is still possible. The second generation offspring is typically weaker and killed off by predators.
Hybrid bluegills grow quite a bit larger than either of their parent species, with a growth rate of three to five times as much as a pure bluegill, and put up a terrific fight when hooked. They grow at a rate of .5 to .75 pounds per years and can reach as much as three pounds, according to Dunn's Fish Farm. They battle similar to a largemouth bass and have beautiful coloring.
Hybrid bluegills are often stocked in ponds because of their aggressive nature and willingness to bite on lures, and they are a great alternative to regular bluegill that can overrun a pond.
Hybrid bluegills can easily be caught using grasshoppers or worms. However, they also are willing to attack a majority of lures, including topwater poppers, jigs, plastic worms, spinner baits and crankbaits.
Photo by Josh Rouse
With turkey hunting season right around the corner, many hunters are already thinking about how they want to cook their bird.
One unique way to cook a turkey is to have it ground up into turkey burger. If you're not quite sure you'll like it, buy a package of turkey burger from the store beforehand and test it out. It's not only a healthier alternative to beef burgers, it can also be a delicious meal.
There are many ways to grill a turkey burger, and this one is fairly new to me. I tested it out today and found that it is so far one of the best turkey burgers I've had. Start by making patties from your ground turkey, then put on your favorite steak seasoning. You can sprinkle cheese into your patties if you want to, but I didn't. After you pat the seasoning into the burgers, cover both sides of the burger in your favorite barbeque sauce. I used honey barbeque, but any flavor works. Spread the sauce around the burger and make sure it is thoroughly covered. This will add some flavor to your meat while it grills.
I try not to get too political on this website. Everyone should enjoy the outdoors regardless of political affiliation, so I don't want to scare people away. However, when I read that Republicans in Congress are taking a stance that they will not hand out federal disaster relief money anymore to states who desperately need it, I became furious.
How can you NOT provide relief to Americans who have lost everything in natural disasters? I do not understand it. Places who have been completely devastated by tornadoes, such as Reading, KS, or Joplin, MO, or that have been hammered by hurricanes such as Irene, are dependant on federal relief to not only rebuild their cities, they need it to survive. How much worse would the Hurricane Katrina disaster have been without federal relief in the form of food and water? But what makes matters even worse for them is that FEMA is now demanding that Katrina victims pay back more than $600 million.
The most infuriating part of this GOP position is the hypocrisy. Look at GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the "front runner" according to most media outlets even though they largely ignore candidates such as Ron Paul. This clip was taken from a June 2011 debate, directly following the horrible tornadoes in Kansas, Missouri and Mississippi.
His staunch stance on federal disaster relief is even more ridiculous considering he himself asked for federal disaster relief in 2005... because of algae. That's right, as Governor of Massachusetts he wrote a letter requesting federal monetary assistance for the shellfish industry after a strain of red tide algae hit New England's coastal area. He declares a state of emergency over something as small as algae, yet six years later when people are losing entire cities to natural disasters, he says federal aid is "immoral." Excuse me?
Congress needs to get its act together, and we as Americans should not tolerate this type of disregard of our fellow American. Regardless of your political affiliation or views, make your opinions known to those who represent you in the House and Senate. Don't let them forget those who are in need. They could be your brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, parents... or even yourself. You never know when and where the next natural disaster will hit.
If you don't speak your mind, somebody else will.
Scott Stormann holds a 3 lb. bass he caught at Shawnee State Lake. Photo by Josh Rouse.
The largemouth bass is one of the most commonly sought-after game fish in the United States.
It is a symbollic fish for freshwater anglers, with everyone from Bass Pro Shops to the Bassmasters using its name and image to promote themselves. It is a member of the black bass family and is cousins with the smallmouth bass, which is native to the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes and the Hudson Bay area. The largemouth bass is the state fish of five states: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee.
While bass fishing is indeed a science and an art, it also is caught on a larger variety of lures than most other fish, including topwater poppers, spinners, plastic worms, crankbaits, jigs, flys... basically most lures you will find at a store. You can also catch them using live baits such as worms, leeches, grubs, grasshoppers, crawdads, minnows, shad, frogs, etc. Heck, I've even caught a bass or two on chicken liver while fishing for catfish. The point is that largemouth bass are not particularly picky eaters, and they rely heavily on their eyesight to decide what forage is safe to consume. They are very aggressive, and if anything swims into its area it will probably attack it. They do also rely on keen senses of smell, taste, hearing, touch and a sixth sense, their lateral line, which is a series of nerve endings that stretches from gill to tail.
John Abbott holds a 3.5 lb. wiper he caught at Lake Shawnee. Photo by Josh Rouse.
It's no secret that the intense heat we've seen this summer has taken its toll on Kansas farms and livestock, but one area of concern for many anglers has been its affect underwater.
With temperatures reaching as high as 115 degrees Farhenheit in some areas of the state this summer, many ponds and lakes have suffered with the combination stagnant water, low oxygen and deadly algae. The result has been reports of fish kills in several areas, including Cheney, where one angler reported seeing 22 dead fish floating in the lake, mostly wipers and walleye.
While this is certainly a concern for anglers, the good news is he reported that the fish that survived were biting and he caught several mid-sized wipers during the morning hours, before the sun blasted him out. This fall could bring a nice haul for wipers in certain areas, but more than likely in areas that have some shade over them in the form of trees, bridges, buildings, docks or other areas.
On July 24, 2011, I decided to go storm chasing after I heard from my friend Mike Goehring of OriginalPro Films that the lightning coming our way was supposed to be awesome. I headed out with my camera and camcorder and started driving out to North Topeka because the radar showed the storm to be more intense in the northern part of the storm. The result was some great video clips of lightning and some decent photos, although the majority of the lightning I caught on my camera was hidden behind the clouds and didn't show up as well as I would have liked.