There’s something about being outside that soothes the soul. It doesn’t matter if you’re working, taking a casual stroll or just sitting on the porch watching the world go by. One of my favorite excuses to be out of doors is fishing.
My father, an avid hunter, didn’t have the patience for fishing, but he also never discouraged me from casting a line. Most of my adolescent angling adventures were the result of a neighbor who was kind enough to take me along almost whenever I would ask to hit the water.
Though sometimes, like when he would take me limb-line fishing, some advanced planning was necessary. I still remember the first time we took an aluminum Jon boat down Pottawatomie Creek setting lines off tree branches hanging over the water.
Checking the lines a couple days later turned up a 35-pound blue catfish, which is still the biggest I’ve ever seen in person. The fish was only slightly smaller than I was at the time, but it also was only a baby in the world of blue cats, which can top 100 pounds.
Like my father, I too lack the patience to go after trophy fish. Instead, I’m happy to reel in anything that swims. While I enjoy the occasional challenge posed by fishing reservoirs, lakes and rivers, there’s nothing quite like fishing a well-stocked farm pond.
I’m never going to catch a record-setting bass or catfish from a pond, but I’m also not going to go home empty handed either. My favorite pond is at the ranch back home. It’s stuffed full of bass less than a pound, but I did snag a four-pounder a couple years ago.
Ponds always hold the promise of hooking something just big enough to put a big bend in the rod and put up a decent fight. The best fishing hole offers plenty of action in between catching those lunkers.
I recently found a new pond close to Manhattan that fits the bill. Thanks to my brother who scored an invite from the landowner, I got to tag along with him and my nephew one Saturday morning.
My nephew is my usual fishing buddy, and we’ve had some tough luck this year with weather, high water and schedules that haven’t always aligned. We got skunked at a public fishery in late April but managed to find a few catfish at another open access lake in June.
This private pond, however, was nestled in a Flint Hills valley, and it was stocked with bluegill, channel and bullhead catfish and largemouth bass. The water was clear enough to see the bass’ white bellies flash as they hit our lures. Though none were really big enough to bend our rods.
We spent the morning pulling in bass and bullhead with the occasional bluegill. It looked like we were going to go home without anyone hooking into a channel cat. Though my nephew could see a decent sized one in the water on the face of the dam.
Just as we were getting ready to pack up and head home, I heard him shout. I looked over to see his rod doubled over while he cranked the reel shouting, “I got you! I finally got you!”
He flung a channel cat up onto the bank, still shouting, as his dad and I rushed over to eye the beast. By my eyes, the fish checked in at a little over four pounds. It was, by far, the day’s biggest catch from the water. The best part for me, though, was seeing the equally large smile on my nephew’s face.