Welcome to Warmwater Fishing!

Odd Place For A Snag

By Tim Lunceford, (MoturkE)

I've recently plunged into a Perception America, 11 foot kayak after following much discussion about "fly-yaking" on the boards. Mine is a SIK, or sit-in kayak, constructed of polyethylene plastic with a molded in, cushioned seat and adjustable foot braces. I've added a paddle keeper using bungee cord, two electrical wiring loop-clips, and a fender hook purchased from a local marine supply store. After a lot of thought, I added an anchor system following Joe Hyde's design, however I used a couple of ankle weights bought from a sporting goods store instead of making shot bags.

Well, that's my new "favorite fishing spot," in all her glory. God bless my America! This little beauty has given me the ability to get to water I would never know otherwise. And that reality is only just beginning to sink in. There are many fine bodies of water in our neck of the woods near Kansas City, Missouri. Some of which are the county operated lakes and parks.

The first one I've had the pleasure of fishing from my kayak is part of a two-lake park called Fleming Park. Located just east of Kansas City near the town of Blue Springs, Fleming Park surrounds Lake Jacomo (JAckson COunty, MissOuri) and Blue Springs Lake. Lake Jacomo was built in the 1950's and Blue Springs Lake was added in the mid 1980's. Both are very large lakes where powerboats and sailboats are most prevalent. Canoes and kayaks are becoming a more common sight on these lakes and recently the county designated a boat ramp, converted from a flooded road on Blue Springs Lake, for "non-motorized craft launching only."

I rarely fished these lakes before I got my kayak. Because, even though the lakes are large, there isn't much room to throw a decent fly. The banks tend to be steep or overgrown with brush and small timber, mostly poison ivy and stick-tites. More than that is the size of these lakes. There's just so much water it takes a patient man to stand around and wait for a fish to happen by the often over-used accessible locations. I'm not that patient and even less fond of highly fished bank sites.

My earliest excursions haven't boasted very many fish. The first trip out was more of a "try-it-since-you've-bought-it" trip with my kayak, not much time with the fly in the water, most of the time I spent casting and paddling just to get a feel for things. What an absolute blast! And, I found the kayak comfortable enough that I could fish for at least three hours without my backside getting tired. My future trips pointed more to rigging needs than to good fishing spots, thus the paddle-keeper and anchors. But, when the rigging was no longer an issue, it was time to do some serious fishing.

I spent nearly five hours in the kayak Friday morning. I put in at Sailboat Cove, on the south end of Lake Jacomo and paddled north along the near bank. The area is a large cove with small inlets off each side that extend about 10-40 yards into the woods. Not easy to reach through the timber, but more than open to anyone in the water. I was not entirely alone as there was a blue heron on one side of the cove, a green heron on the other, and a few ducks sitting along the banks, here and there. There were also a couple of small motorboats with bait fishermen in them casting along the shorelines trying to summon up some bass or gills. They didn't stay long.

My first choice was the longest of the inlets, which I thought would afford a good shoreline for the gills to hold along. It also had a couple stumps and some surface cover, overhanging tree limbs and such. I tied on a weighted, size 12 'improved' black gnat that I copied from an article I read a couple days earlier. My hope was to eventually get deep enough to find a school of crappie and invite a few of them home for dinner. The water seemed to be very clear, even though the wind was blowing stiff at times. I fished around the area snags and flooded stumps with only two or three small, green sunfish to my credit. And I only played with a single green sunfish in the deeper part of this inlet. Not my idea of great fishing, but these days it's more about fishing new water. So, it was time to move on.

I paddled through the sailboats moored to buoys, across the width of the cove. I settled into another inlet that didn't reach into the timber very far and was wider than the previous one. About a foot under the surface I could see quite a bit of moss that tended to wrap around my anchor ropes each time I moved along. It didn't seem to hang on the fly that was allowed to drop for several seconds, though. The wind would pick up occasionally but my anchors did a great job of holding me in position, as long as I tended to keeping the bow into the wind. I cast around the bank without much activity. Then casting toward a flooded stump in 1-2 feet of water, I caught a couple of medium sized gills about 5-6 inches in length.

As I was moving toward the point of land that marked the mouth of the inlet, I noticed some large slabs of limestone reaching into the water at a steep angle. I thought I might get into some crappie here, if I let a fly go deep enough. So, I cast out into the deeper water about fifteen feet from the bank, let the fly drop for a good twenty seconds and then began to strip it in about 2-4 inches at a time, stopping for several seconds to let the fly drop back down. The first taker of this fly was a very feisty bluegill that measured about 10 inches. This was very encouraging to see. There are bigger fish in here.

I decided to try this same tactic in the same general location as before. So, I cast, waited, and then began to strip in the line. When the line was close enough I started to recast the fly, but when I was preparing my back cast the line felt very heavy. I pulled to feel for a fish, but nothing pulled back. "Odd place for a snag." I murmured. This didn't seem the likely spot to snag a flooded tree. The terrain wasn't right for a tree and the line depth seemed strangely shallow for a snag. After all, I could see half of my 7-foot leader was out of the water. I paddled toward the place where the line entered the water so I could reach in and get the snag loose, but when I assumed I was close enough, I wasn't close at all. I thought, "Maybe I didn't realize how far away the snag actually was." And then, decided the wind was blowing harder than I thought. When I finally got to the point the line was directly beneath me I tried to reach down with the paddle to un-snag the fly, but I couldn't get it loose, it was too deep. It didn't make sense to me, everything about that snag seemed strange as I broke off my fly and retied another improved gnat. Wait, wasn't my line shallow when I started to paddle over here? Hmm...

I repositioned myself where I had been moments earlier and cast in about the same spot as before. I wanted to see if there were more big gills and was also curious about that weird snag, fly-be-danged! I heard some water move to my right side and observed a large carp roll over at the surface of the water, like an old dog, to sun his white belly in the full sun. I laughed out loud as he floated there looking dead, and every once in a while his fin would wave about. He floated there for what I imagine was nearly half an hour as I continued to cast to my spot. I've seen a lot of humorous behavior from carp, but nothing like this. I'd look over at him and laugh again each time. How silly! Eventually, he rolled back over, stretched himself out and finned away slowly, flagging his tail on the surface as if he were too buoyant to sink again.

In what seemed like only a minute, the old fellow came nearer where I was and rolled over close to my fly line. Not where my fly was, but near the point where the line entered the water. After a bit I was ready to prepare for my back cast and the line felt heavy again. Was this the same snag? Surely not, I'd been casting to this area too long without incident to get snagged on structure now. Then, as if a light had gone on, it hit me; this was an old lazy carp. It had to be the only explanation. But, why would a carp be bothered with this particular fly? Another light went on, "A leech! He thought it was a leech!" I said it out loud, like someone would hear me and agree.

I decided to try to get my fly back and play this old lazy carp. Why not, a lot of discussion about how much fun they are has passed through the bulletin board here on FAOL. Let's see what he's got! So, I pulled… And, I puuullled...This waaaaaayyy...and Thaaaat waaaaayyyy... I felt hardly any noticeable movement at all. But, he was still on there, still deep and lazy and useless, and stupid, and..."Come on you old stump! Give me back my fly!" And still nothing. Now I see what he's got. He's got my fly!

I had to break off; there just wasn't any way to bring life into that old carp using a 5 wt. graphite rod and a 3X tippet. And, it was the last of my improved gnats. I did say, fly be danged, didn't I? I decided to wrap it up and go on home. I'd had enough time in the kayak that my backside was aching and the wind was getting worse. Then my wife called and asked me to pick up some things from the store for dinner. It was back to real life, now. As I finished loading the kayak on the Wrangler, I looked across the cove toward that slab of rock and thought, laughingly, "Odd place for a snag." ~ Tim aka MoturkE

About Tim Lunceford:

Tim spent nine years in the U.S. Air Force, with three years working on the F-117 A Stealth Fighter, and is a veteran of Desert Storm. He lives and fishes near Kansas City, Missouri. He's been fly-fishing and fly tying two years now. He's been married 23 years and is the father of four kids - three of whom have Fragile-X syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes mental retardation and autism. He now works as a Heat and Frost Insulator for Local Union #27 in K.C. Tim also enjoys web design, graphics and digital image manipulation, watercolor painting, playing guitar, and writes contemporary Christian songs - none of which have been recorded, ...yet.

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