I recently overheard someone at an area coffee shop say, “The worst day of fishing is better than the best day at work.” I’m not sure I agree 100 percent, but any day with a baited hook tossed out, waiting for a nibble is a good day. You’re near water, catching sunrays, listening to birds twitter, and smelling that nose teasing scent of mud, water plants, and fish. If you happen to reel something in to put on the dinner table, it’s a bonus.
With the recent abundant rains, western Kansans are seeing water in long dry ponds and in city lakes like the one in Ellis. Anyone who’s lived in the area for a while remembers catching or seeing someone land a good size bass or catfish out of these pools. It was a blessing to spend an hour before or after dinner enjoying quiet time on the creek bank and maybe hooking a big one.
With the extended drought, hopes of snagging a trophy or even minnows turned into dusty dreams. Deep holes that once housed massive channel cat and huge carp made fine homes for ant lions as the water evaporated. Thoughts of netting those lunkers that survived in ever shrinking deep spots were for naught. There was nowhere to transfer the monsters. Any wannabe Tom Sawyers and Huck Finns who loved to fish had to wander the crick bottom examining big and little skeletons of creatures that were once the object of anglers’ tall tales.
Since big rains recently filled some of these water holes, you can see a sparkle in your favorite fisherman’s eyes. Some of these ponds in Ellis, Graham, and Rooks Counties are full to the brim and look like an angler’s paradise. Despite appearances, those of us who live around here know there hasn’t been time enough to re-establish aquatic populations. Even if the Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism races to stock these, it’ll take a while to re-establish the numbers necessary for serious success.
So what does a guy or gal say to a visitor that tosses a line in a creek that was dry only few short weeks before? This seems like a trivial question, but it’s warranted some philosophical thought. How do you know for sure no one has caught some big fish somewhere else and transferred them into this body of water? If folks enjoy spending time relaxing outdoors with a pole in hand, do you take their excuse away from them? Is it morally right to dash dreams?
The individuals involved cussed and discussed the topic a considerable time before agreeing that a bad day of fishing was still better than a great day at work. So while we wait on restocking and regeneration of vibrant fish populations in these freshly filled water holes, it’s not a bad thing to claim a spot under a big old cottonwood and cast out a worm. The worst thing you can reel in is hope.