I moved up and down the west side of the lake looking for a good spot. Eventually, I settled again on the heated dock. I fished a deep worm below a big school of shad hoping to get a bite from a crappie or catfish, while I drifted a Mouse Tail about a foot and a half under a crappie float on a small jighead. A lot of people have questions about how to rig a Mouse Tail, and the general consensus I find is that you just hook it through the PowerBait ball connected to the long rubbery tail and use it however you want to fish — floating, drop shot, under a bobber, etc.
The shad were all over the place, and I could sit there and watch them pop up at the surface inside the dock. I had a couple hits on my worm early, but when I went to set the hook I got snagged up on the structure below the dock.
My light crappie bobber then started to bounce as another angler, Richard Cooley, came in. It turns out that Richard, who was fishing for crappie, knows my dad and my uncle Dan. Dad says he used to race street stocks and hobby stocks against him at Topeka Raceway, Junction City Raceway and a couple other spots, and they bowled together in a league years ago.
As the float with the Mouse Tail kept bobbing, I figured it was a shad or small bluegill that was grabbing the tail. However, it eventually went all the way under for several seconds. I set the hook and was shocked when my rod bent in double, and soon I saw the giant side slab of a big, beautiful female rainbow trout.
It wasn’t quite as long as the one that got away earlier in the year at the heated dock — though it was just under the 20-inch Kansas Master Angler Award size at 19.5 inches — but it had incredible girth. The side of the trout was about the size of my hand.
As I got down on my belly with a grabber claw that I had purchased after the last trout got away, it took me several minutes just to get the trout corralled. Every time it got close to the side of the dock, it would slam its powerful tail and take off on a run again. Richard offered me a net, but I let the trout wear herself out and finally grabbed it by the mouth.
I took her to my Grandma Rouse’s house to clean outside with my electric fillet knife and was shocked by all the eggs she had inside her when I cut off the first fillet.
I thought she might be pregnant because of her girth and a protrusion near her anal fin, but this confirmed it. There were literally hundreds of eggs, if not more. I got a Ziplock baggie and put them in there to use as bait later — they’re very similar to salmon eggs, which are sold in small jars as trout bait.
I got two giant fillets out of her, each about the size of a side of salmon like you’d see at a nice restaurant.
As a side note, spoonbill (also known as paddlefish) snagging season began Thursday and will continue until May 15, and trout anglers have until April 15 to catch their haul of rainbow trout, though the state has been known to allow all anglers to keep trout after the season since they die out anyway.
The youth spring turkey season begins April 1 and runs through April 17. Adult hunters can take turkeys with bow and arrow beginning April 9, and the regular spring turkey season (firearm/archery) runs April 18 through May 31.
I look forward to seeing a bunch of turkey photos from my readers this spring, as well as fishing photos. Speaking of which, Patricia Mellard sent a couple of photos she snapped of a nice bass she caught in a pond near Wakarusa on March 3.
She said she was using a 3-inch smelt Berkley grub — her go-to bait.
Congrats on the nice fish, and I look forward to seeing more fishing photos from readers as the season progresses.