It seems that colors are brighter, people are happier, and joy of the season puts a quickness to our step and color in our cheeks. It is fun to greet our friends and neighbors in the stores and at church and school events. I like the feeling of being close to all our friends and neighbors. Even the cold weather isn’t so cold.
There is a small group of guys that make the most out of the warm afternoons we enjoy fairly often now. They catch trout. Not just little trout — most are at the upper limits of pan size. You can find us sitting around Veterans Lake with a couple of poles and some corn or shrimp or power bait. Some hang the bait on those number ten hooks under a bobber. Some use a split shot and then use floating power bait to get it off the bottom. Trout are stocked periodically and are really nice fish. It is a true blessing to have access to fish this nice at Veterans. I clean them and pan fry them with a little bit of seasoned flour and olive oil in a wok. Other times I soak them in a brine and smoke them on the grill. A trout stamp is required. It is well worth the cost ($14.50) to take home a stringer of five trout. You can have 15 in possession. The season goes from Nov. 1 to April 15. The department manages and stocks these fish very carefully and I have always considered them to be precious. I started fishing at Veterans back in the early ’90s with Mike Ehlebracht and his daughters. Lots of water has passed under the bridge since that humble beginning. You can teach kids a lot about fishing, cleaning fish and cooking fish with these beautiful fish. Thank you Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism for this program.
Have you driven from Hoisington to Great Bend on highway 281 lately? The brick plant turkeys are there almost every day. There are about a hundred or so, and they always do something that will entertain you if you have time to watch. I now have time, so I watch a lot. Be sure and listen to them talk to each other in their feeding processes. You can waste quite a bit of time with those birds.
There is a Kingfisher hanging out on the creek just east of Kaisers station. Tim has seen him several times and I haven’t located the bird yet. I have made three attempts but will have to wait a while to get you a picture of that striking bird. It will happen.
My friend Duane is here from Saskatchewan. He broke his thermostat many years ago and is now infamous for hunting in shorts in the snow. If you see a big pickup with a black lab (Duke) riding shotgun and a scantily clad guy — don’t be alarmed — he is friendly and harmless. We have had many great times over the years of his visits.
As you can tell, I really didn’t have much to talk about in this Musing. I feel very humble and grateful that you take time to read these thoughts about our beautiful marsh and I hope some of it has been entertaining. I think Mr. Hogg is a generous good guy who gives me space to discuss our gifts. I am grateful to him for that kindness. I am also grateful to the game wardens and the real birders that give me facts when I don’t get it exactly right. The friends that call and tell me about wildlife or events that are worthy of a picture are invaluable. Let’s make a vow to see more birds and critters this year. Join me in loving our land and its critters and let’s try to make it better for us and them every day.
Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.