I said goodbye to 2016 by spending the last day of the year with Frank Haidusek, who is Active Duty Airforce and a fellow Combat Vet. He is also an avid Tournament Angler for Crappie and is sponsored by some great companies and businesses. He fishes both Local and National Tournament Trails, and has been ranked in the Top 20 in the Country before. Seeing as how we spend most of our fishing time competing against each other, we had a pretty good time fishing with each other for a change on a lake that isn't really known for numbers, but is known to have some really big fish swimming around in it.
Tuttle Creek is a 10,900 Acre body of water located right in the heart of the Flint Hills Region of Kansas, it offers both, great fishing and picture perfect scenery. We found our fish sitting in a brush pile along a ledge in 16 to 20 ft of water, sitting just off the old creek channel. I was using a 1/8th Oz Black & Chartruese feather jig I tied myself tied to 15# Power Pro on a 10 ft Jig Pole.
Frank was fishing with plastics, using a 10 ft pole as well. We let the Motorguide XI 5 hold us over the fish as we worked the area over pretty good, finishing the cold and windy day off with 16, very nice fish. As the sun got low we packed it up, saying so long to a great year of fishing, and thinking about the possibilities that may come with 2017.
Sitting alongside Hwy 77 just South of Junction City, is one of the best Crappie holes around. It isn't a very big Lake at all, but don't let it fool you. I use it as a backup spot for days I want to fish Milford but the wind gets to be too much. Rumor has it that it holds a healthy stock of Bass, Catfish, and Walleye too.
It holds both Black and White Crappie, has no minimum size and a daily creel limit of 50. I catch the occasional whale of a slab there, but most fish will run from 9 to 13 inches with a super fast bite. It's one of the places I like to take kids or people just getting into Crappie fishing. If you take the time to do some scanning and find the brush, It can really make for a great day out with the Kids and family, as well as put a nice meal on the table.
Tucked away along a quiet Country backroad about 20 minutes South of Topeka off of HWY 75 is a 245 Acre gem of a fishing hole known as Strowbridge Reservoir or Carbondale East.
It has a well kept Launch Ramp and Dock. It also offers plenty of oppurtunity for Bank Anglers as well with easy access to both, Deep and Shallow fishing spots depending on if you stick close to the parking lot or don’t mind a short walk across the Dam.
Known to be home to some nice fish by any standard, I myself have hauled out some really nice Bass, Walleye, and countless Crappie dinners, and regularly hear stories from other Anglers I run into on the water about big fish coming out of there including a 74 pound Flathead Catfish.
With myself almost strictly targeting Crappie, I have had some really great days hiding from the wind that would almost shut down any hopes of fishing on the bigger Lakes. With the way the terrain is laid out at Carbondale, you can fish some of the best spots that the Lake has to offer hiding from the wind behind a stand of Cedar trees that sheilds you from any wind with a Westerly kick to it.
Even on the Slower days, with the backdrop of a dusty dirt road running through Pastures and Fields, with the random tree line running along the draws and Lake Shore, the Scenery and Wildlife that surrounds you offers plenty of sights and sounds to distract your thoughts from a slow bite on the rare occasion that should be the case at that Lake.
Council Grove, Kansas is a city in Morris County, Kansas. This city is fifty-five miles southwest of Topeka. It was named after an agreement between European Americans and the Osage Nation about allowing settlers' wagon trains to pass through the area and proceed to the West. Pioneers gathered at a grove of trees so that wagons could band together for their trip west. The first European-American settler was Seth Millington Hays, who came to the area in 1847 to trade with the Kaw Tribe, which had a reservation established in the area in 1846. Hays was a great grandson of Daniel Boone.
A post office was established in Council Grove on February 26, 1855 and
in 1858, the town was officially incorporated by the legislature.
The birthplace of the Santa Fe Trail and a National Historic District, Council Grove is located in the heart of the Flint Hills, one of the last vestiges of Tallgrass Prairie in the Country.
Being home to two different bodies of water, the area is a magnet for fisherman of all types and offers some fantastic days on the water.
I was invited to spend a day with Phil Taughton, host of What's in Outdoors on KVOE in Emporia, Kansas at his Cabin that was located right on the water. The plan was to chase some Slab Crappie with a couple of guys that are graduating from the Outdoor Programs at Kansas State University this year and will be pursuing careers with KDWPT, Scott Patton and Jared Ireland.
It didn't take long at all to find them, they were holding in a submerged weedline in 7 to 9 ft. of water. I was using a White/ Chartreuse feather jig I whipped up myself and topped off with a few drops of Brushpile Fish Attractants, and plastics from Bonehead Tackle. The fish were not being shy about coming up and clobbering our baits, and by the time it was over, we had come up with a really nice stringer of Slab Crappie, consisting of both Black, and White Crappie, and even caught some nice Walleye to boot.
After the day I had with Phil, I decided to hit a Crappie Tournament on Council Grove Lake that was presented by Quail & Upland Wildlife Federation. The Chapter that it was supporting also happens to be the only Youth chapter of Q&UWF in the U.S.
It turned out to be a great time, although the water was a bit stained from some recent rains, My Tournament Partner David Sidel and I made a day of hitting the steep rocky banks and dipping standing timber.
Since it was my first time to this Lake, I was pretty happy when I started pulling fish 10 mins into it. On the 2nd tree I dipped my jig next to, I set the hook on a nice Slab that measured 14 and some change, and weighed 1.71. Although I didn't realize it at the time, it turned out to be the Biggest Fish of the Tournament and helped put David and I within 0.11 of taking First Place.
Everyone was super friendly, and there is no mistaking you are in a small town if you visit there. It was like stepping back in time almost, it's not every day I have High School kids that answer me with Yes Sir or No Sir. Feeling very content with finishing 2nd and winning Big Fish, I finished off my day by checking out a few Historical spots on my way back to the house, a spot where Gen. George Custer camped, the Old Train Station and so on. I am already looking forward to my next trip to Council Grove, and can't wait until I get to go back and help Chris Grant raise some money for the Kids to do what they love and help them help Quail& Upland Wildlife Federation again next year. Not only did I have a great time, I also discovered that wives and girlfriends are much more tolerant of Tournament Fishing when, instead of coming home sunburned and smelling like fish, you come home sunburned, smelling like fish, have more cash in your wallet than you left home with and they get Steak Dinners out of the deal.