Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Mined Land Fishing

Mined Land Fishing


The sun was setting as Deb and Dusty Jones
of rural Pittsburg rounded the corner and quietly fished the last pool of the strip-mine
lake at the Mined Land Wildlife Area headquarters. The light and the calm were magic, portraying
the beauty of a Norman Rockwell scene as mom and son fished with scarcely a ripple. On
a hot summer day, no one else was there. It was the kind of moment you wished you were
in, rather than simply watching. The past few hours, these two had explored
the nooks and crannies of this easily accessible strip-mine lake, catching bass and sunfish,
throwing them back. Nothing fancy – mom rowing for her 8th grade son in the lightweight
boat they used to fish almost exclusively in Mined Land waters. Often, they fished lakes
near Weir and West Mineral among the sprawling Mined Land units. I sat and waited, not wanting
to break the spell until they landed and made preparations to leave. For Dusty, it was his first time to catch
a channel catfish on a lure, and he brought it to the ramp for a picture before releasing
it. He caught this fish on a Berkeley gulp minnow trailing an in-line spinner. But he
normally fishes a slower pace using a 7-1/2 inch salted worm. Here’s how he does it: “I just basically throw it out and let it
sink to the bottom and just bring it along. And I let it fall. And once I feel a fish,
I just yank the hook and try to set the hook in him.” Mom likes to take her son, even though she
usually gets to do most of the work: “We go all around and go fishing everywhere.
He likes it more, but I don’t mind going so much, and doing all the work, the oars,
the rowing and all that, but it’s been fun. It’s something to do in the summer time,
and having fun. He loves to fish though.” I couldn’t help but think. That was me long
ago. Maybe it was you. Fishing with dad, or mom, or grandpa. I wouldn’t trade my memories,
and the one day, the Jones’s won’t either. A quiet evening on a Kansas public land, catching
fish and making memories. And for this day at least, the sun pulls the curtain on something
truly special. I’m Mike Blair for Kansas Wildlife and Parks.

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