by Alan Luecke
(Kansas City, MO)
Catfish on the flats
Over the last week and a half I made three trips to the dam face of Hillsdale Reservoir southwest of Kansas City. I've posted about this area before and it continues to be one of the most interesting and productive places in the area. The large earthen dam slopes gently into the water. The rock bottom provides cover and the shallow water lets in lots of sunshine, creating an incredibly productive ecosystem. The bigger fish come up from deep water and cruise the "flats".
I've caught eight species of fish here, mostly in the 12-20 inch range. Carp are always around but not always biting, but when they do they will take a fly in the water column and do not have to be sight fished. Actual carp on the my carp rod was my goal. Alas, it didn't happen. The carp where in spawning mode and very active but not hungry.
However, I averaged over twenty fish per trip and got to do a close comparison between the Kyogi 18 and several Kiyose rods that have been my "go to" at Hillsdale.
The Kyogi is incredibly capable, obviously it's a carp rod, but still light and responsive enough to be fished all day and the big bluegill are still fun. A down side is it's four foot collapsed length. Unless you make a gear stash onshore you will only be fishing one rod.
I fished the Kyogi on days one and three. Day one the White Bass were running and a White Killer Bugger seemed to work on everything. The fish were split evenly between Bluegill, White Bass and Freshwater Drum.
Day two was Kiyose comparison day. I brought the 53M and 33SF. The shorter rod was an experiment to prove that close in fishing would work, even while standing in a large lake.
The 53M was my big fish rod prior to the Kyogi and would provide a direct comparison. In addition, I bought a box of nightcrawlers and went keiryu for the day. I started with a Killer Bugger for a baseline and things were slow. I went to the worms and the action picked up nicely. The White Bass were not around, but some Channel Catfish showed up and provided real excitement.
What did I learn? Fish like worms. The fish were indeed close and the shorter rod caught a lot of them. I love my 33SF and I've caught everything from micros to a Barracuda with it, but I ran up against it's limitations. On bigger fish it lacked the flex of a longer rod and couldn't always protect the tippet. I broke off several good fish that the 53M or Kyogi would have handled. I used an even mix of standard hooks and circle hooks with the worms. I caught 24 fish on worms with no gut hooks. The circle hooks usually ended up in the cheek like they are supposed to. A tight line is more important than the style of hook.
I talked to Paul T., my Hillsdale guru, at the fly club meeting -- he had caught two carp the day before, plus lots of drum. I went back a third time loaded with the Kyogi for Carp. NO CARP. But seven catfish showed up. I fished Black Killer Bugger variations and caught 28 fish.
The two most memorable fish were a big drum and a channel cat, both in the 16-18 inch range. I was using the Kyogi and I'm glad I had it. The cat pulled like a truck. I was in full big fish, power curve, rod flat on the water mode. The question remains, do you chose your rod for the fish you know you will catch or for that one you might. Worms will up your odds, but a Killer Bugger is never wrong.
I'll check in at Hillsdale from time to time and I will catch a carp. In September the Walleye come up to spawn!
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