Here in Kansas, temperatures reached up into the 60s on Saturday, and that got me thinking about the upcoming fishing season and a fresh mess of fish taken in the early spring. In my experience, early spring fish taste much better than later in the year – something that I attribute to water temperature. It stands to reason, given how much the quality of other meats improves, that colder temperatures affect fish meat in a favorable way. I can’t wait to get out on the water and reel in that first mess of fish.
Normally, I’m a crappie fisherman. I do love to trout fish – fly fishing is one of my favorite outdoor practices. But growing up fishing Kansas farm ponds and lakes, crappie was the fish I learned to regard as a delicacy on our family dinner table, and likewise on the end of my line (most times using a cheap rod and the classic Zebco 33 reel … those things would never backlash).
Within the last couple of years, I’ve come across some pretty fishy Walleye guys. One of them used to bring Walleye for lunch in the middle of the summer – and it was unbelievable to taste – when I was painting houses in summer to get through college.
Walleye fishing takes a slightly different rig and boat setup, but maybe one day I’ll get into it. In the meantime, it’s all about crappie, though I’m certainly not above eating a fresh mess of bass.
And, since my brother Josh and his wife will be pregnant during the summer, I think I may have primary control of our little 15-foot bass boat this season; no substitute for having him alongside on the water, but acceptable nonetheless. In the coming weeks, before spring officially hits, I’ll be keeping an eye on local fishing holes and scouring fishing reports, anxiously waiting for that first mess of fish.
Hillsdale Lake, just south of Gardner, Kansas, is my absolute favorite crappie hole. With 75 percent of the standing timber still in the lake, fish populations have ideal habitat to thrive. All we’ve ever had to do is tie the boat off to the standing timber and drop a minnow straight down, about 5 to 6 feet. Although it’s about a 40-mile drive, I’ve never had a bad day there.
What about you? What are your favorite fish to fish for, catch and eat? What about your favorite fishing holes?
Caleb Regan and his wife, Gwen, live in rural Douglas County, Kansas, where they enjoy hunting, fishing, and raising and growing as much of their own food as they can. Caleb can’t imagine a better scenario than getting to work on a rural lifestyle magazine as a profession, and then living that same lifestyle right in the heartland of America. Connect with him on Google+.