Originally published in The Topeka Capital-Journal
Shawnee County is no stranger to the damage a flock of geese can cause.
In November 2014, the Shawnee County Commission authorized the county's parks and recreation department to ban the feeding of wildlife at Lake Shawnee, including an effort to post signs around the lake saying "Please Do Not Feed The Wildlife." Those who violate the ban would receive a warning on the first offense, with repeat offenders subject to subsequent fines varying from $50 to $500, according to a Topeka Capital-Journal article.
The lake in recent years has had problems with eutrophication -- a process which occurs when a body of water contains too many nutrients, likely as a result of fertilizer runoff and animal waste -- which causes excess algae to grow.
However, feeding bans are just one technique properties can consider to control a goose population.
A Colorado man's bright-orange invention is changing the way some properties are managing unwanted goose populations and the mess they leave behind.
Five years ago, Randy Claussen created The Goosinator -- a retrofitted remote control airplane turned bird-seeking missile -- after his brother-in-law, who worked at a golf course, asked him to build something to help control a wild goose infestation. Two years later, the Denver native's design worked so well that he began selling Goosinators for $3,000 a pop.
"Really, the way The Goosinator works is you teach geese that a predator has moved in on the property and will pursue you any place that you go, including the water," Claussen said. "A lot of times you might look at it and go 'Oh that's kinda cute.' But Cornell and other universities did studies on the characteristics that geese hate the most, and what I did was I embodied all of that in The Goosinator."
Claussen said he wanted the invention to be effective, user-friendly and durable.
"Geese see this as a predator, and it really is effective because of that," Claussen said.
The Goosinator has already made a splash with several parks, golf courses and homeowners associations across the nation. The odd-looking piece of equipment is used for "humane hazing," a nonlethal management strategy to controlling geese. In 2012, Denver Parks and Recreation purchased two to control waterfowl congregated in city parks after receiving numerous complaints from individuals and city council officials regarding an excessive amount of geese and goose feces located on sidewalks and play areas in City Park and Sloan's Lake Park.
A Denver Parks and Recreation document outlining the purchase of the product said, "The Goosinator acts as a combination of both a Border Collie and a remote controlled boat, so up to 90% of geese on a property can be removed. It can also go on ice and snow unlike a remote control boat, and water, unlike a dog. The Goosinator has the colors of a natural predator for geese, so they get scared very quickly and fly off."
The city has purchased four more since its initial transaction.
"The first one I sold was February 2012, and even the ones that I sold to begin with are still operating today," Claussen said. "So, it does last, it does work, it does have a lasting effect. There was a golf course in Denver that had 128 nests. After one season of using this ... they got rid of 90 percent of them. The second year I asked, 'Did you get rid of the remaining 10 percent that was left,' and he said 'Yes, we might have one nest remaining but I don't think so.' "
Claussen also said Alvamar Golf Course, 1800 Crossgate Drive in Lawrence, has shown interest in purchasing Goosinators for their goose population once it had the funding.
Some businesses in the area even specialize in goose removal, such as Catch-It Wildlife and Pest Control, Inc. The company, which has been in business in northeast Kansas for 26 years, uses a variety of techniques to harass the waterfowl into leaving a customer's property, such as using a trained border collie to patrol the area and chase geese away without killing them, oiling goose eggs as a form of birth control, chemical treatment of lawns to deter wildlife and using lasers at night to drive geese out.
"It basically is kind of an on-site estimate, depending on the size of the property and the size of the population," owner Steve Painter said. "Obviously, if somebody's got five birds or 10 birds, it's going to be different than somebody who's got 50 or 60."
The company also offers roundups during the molting period, which typically runs mid- to late-June. During the molt, geese can't fly, so the company corrals the geese and ships them to a wildlife refuge in Colorado.
"A combination (of techniques) always works greatest, but obviously the roundup works out really well because you're getting rid of them," Painter said. "But with that said, it's like a vacuum once you remove those geese ... if the habitat's there and it's attractive, that's why they've got a goose problem to begin with. Usually just one time isn't going to do it, it's going to have to be a management program where we come out every year to do the egg oiling and probably every year to do the roundup, or every two to three years. It really depends on the population."
'It's a gimmick'
Painter, who said he had seen pictures of The Goosinator online, thought the product was creative but ultimately wouldn't be effective.
"These people come up with all kinds of gizmos now. It's really not practical," Painter said. "I mean, it looks good and they'll probably sell a hundred of them or whatever, but it's just a little one-trick pony. It's a gimmick."
Painter used another example of people who put fake alligator heads in their ponds to deter geese.
"It's so stupid," Painter said. "What goose in their right mind is going to fly into the state of Missouri or Kansas and go, 'Oh, it's an alligator!' We don't have alligators here, it's not a predator. It looks like a log. It's just a quick fix."
However, Claussen believes his creation is more than just a flash in the pan, citing statistics the U.S. Department of Wildlife collected regarding goose removal compared to his machine's track record.
"The department of wildlife said that if you want to get rid of your geese, you use a trained dog along with a radio-controlled boat and it takes roughly four to six weeks to get rid of 90 percent of them," Claussen said. "If you use a Goosinator, most people get rid of their geese in four to six days. So it is by far the most effective, and it's humane."
He also said he'd heard the same sort of criticism before from skeptics who preferred using other methods.
"The pest control industry doesn't like it," Claussen said. "They love their dogs, dogs are everything to them, and I've tried to let them know this exists and they're very slow to come around. Like I tell them, use your dogs in the grass. You can primarily use this as a watercraft, so that you don't have to put your dogs in cold water and use this almost as insurance."
For more information on The Goosinator, visit www.goosinator.com. For more information on Catch-It Wildlife and Pest Control, call (785) 331-6511 in the Topeka/Lawrence area or go to catchitwildlife.com.
Originally published in The Topeka Capital-Journal
Originally published in The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Fall is officially here, and what better way to celebrate than going out to your favorite pond or lake and doing a little bit of bass fishing?
One series of lures worth giving a try is the Arashi series of crankbaits from Rapala. They have great action, are perfect for fishing over rocky terrains without getting snagged and can be reeled at slower speeds while still maintaining diving depth.
The series includes the Silent Square 3 and 5, the Rattling Flat 7 and the Rattling Deep 10, with each allowing for great fishing at various depths. For shore fishing, I would suggest the Silent Square 5, which should be able to hit the bottom in most situations and is slightly bulkier and more durable than the Silent Square 3.
The one issue I’ve had with this lure series is — as with most crankbaits — it is prone to collecting moss. One of the benefits of fall fishing, however, is that the moss and algae that covers ponds and lakes during the hot, late summer months have usually died out by this time and allow previously unfishable areas to be navigated with ease.
Published in the May 18 edition of The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Chicken livers, worms, soy beans, shad guts — avid catfish anglers try a variety of different (and often stinky) methods to try to lure in one of nature’s tastiest treats from the murky depths below.
However, a simple bag of dry cat food is all it takes to turn your run-of-the-mill fishing hole into a catfish paradise.
This unusual method of chumming for catfish was first shown to me by my grandpa, Sonny Swader, who took me fishing at a friend’s pond a few years back. He had told me stories about this fishing hotspot and how it was packed to the brim with big cats, so naturally I was eager to try it out.
As we were leaving, I saw him grab a bag of Meow Mix dry cat food from the table. When I asked him what it was for, he just said “You’ll see.”
When we got to the pond and set up on the dock, he opened up the sack, took a red Solo cup full of Meow Mix and threw it in the water. As I sat waiting for a couple of minutes, I wondered if this would actually work.
Published in the April 13 edition of The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Rapala recently gained some great publicity for their Rapala DT-6 (dives to 6 feet) crankbait, thanks to a historic final round rally by Randy Howell in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
Howell jumped from 11th place to claim the title while using the signature “dive-to” series lure. But is the lure really that great for catching bass?
During a recent afternoon fishing expedition with my buddy, Brendan, I set out with a trio of the lures to see just how much bass would target it.
The day started out with three quick catches on the lure, as I pulled in two bass and a nice-sized bluegill right off the bat. We then hit an afternoon lull for a couple hours where the fish just refused to bite on anything, followed by a flurry of action. At around sunset, the bass literally began swarming this lure. Brendan, who also was using the lure, caught a bass on one cast, then caught another on his very next cast.
THIS STORY WAS PUBLISHED IN THE AUGUST 25, 2013 EDITION OF THE TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL ON THE OUTDOORS PAGE. READ IT ON THE C-J'S WEBSITE HERE.
At 70 years old, Robert Roudybush has probably forgotten more about fishing than many anglers will ever know. Fortunately, he wrote it all down.
Roudybush, who retired in 1994 from the Department of the Navy Printing Service at Fort Leavenworth, put his knowledge of both fishing and the printing industry to use. After decades of journaling his fishing exploits, he compiled his expertise into his newly released book, “Fishing Secrets: Where & How to Catch ’Em.” He said his book contains information that can benefit anglers of any age and experience level.
“I think it’ll improve their fishing success,” said Roudybush, a Manhattan native who has lived in Topeka with his wife, Sherry, for the past 22 years. “You know, it’s not a magical thing, but the way I tried to write it was almost like we were sitting there having a conversation. What I did was, I have a lot of little stories about my fishing trips and there’s a lesson in each one, whether it be on a catfishing trip or a crappie trip or walleye trip.”
In the first few pages, he published photos of every lure he mentions throughout the book. He said this was to give inexperienced anglers a visual cue of what to look for when shopping for gear.
“Anybody that’s been to Cabela’s or Bass Pro lately, there’s a mountain of lures there if you don’t really know what you’re looking for,” said Roudybush. “You can buy a lot of stuff that you probably won’t be too successful with.”
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.
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.
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.
John Abbott holds a largemouth he caught at Lake Perry. Photo by Josh Rouse.
When fishing with John Abbott and David Moon, anything can and probably will happen.
I was reminded of this on July 9, 2011, as Brendan Handy and I went on a night fishing trip with them at Lake Perry, just east of Topeka, KS. We first stopped by Walmart to get a few supplies and then headed out to a spot on the lake by a marina. The spot is a notorious crappie hole, but we only had one crappie on this adventure as they were much deeper than we were fishing.
However, we still had a lot of success fishing in this spot, albeit from a variety of different fish than we were expecting to catch. One species of fish that we caught that was particularly interesting was a gar, which is a long, boney fish with a long beak filled with razor sharp teeth. Definitely not your typical fish, and this was in particular was special because of its size.