August 28, 2014

No sweat: Bass fishermen find hot summer action at Smithville

Against all odds, Roger Frazee of Olathe and Wayne Pace of Shawnee had a dream fishing trip Sunday at Smithville Lake.

Catch of the week

The dog days of summer are supposed to be one of a bass fisherman’s worst nightmares.

Pick your poison. Soaring water temperatures, hot, sunny days, a surface that is smooth as glass — those conditions aren’t conducive to catching big bass.

Tell that to Roger Frazee of Olathe and Wayne Pace of Shawnee.

Against all odds, they had a dream fishing trip Sunday at Smithville Lake.

Competing in a Burton’s Bait and Tackle buddy tournament, they brought in a winning weight of five bass weighing 21.52 pounds. Included was a largemouth caught by Frazee that weighed 8.42 pounds, the big bass of the tournament and the fisherman’s biggest bass ever.

And get this: He caught that fish at 1 p.m., not exactly a prime fishing hour in the heat of summer.

“I don’t think we’re going to have another day like this for a while, maybe ever,” said Frazee, who is no relation to The Star’s outdoors editor. “We knew the bass were in the main-lake grass and that they were hitting.

“We had been catching them in practice. But to have a day like this…that came as a total surprise.”

Frazee and Pace, who have fished together for 30 years, cast 10 1/2-inch plastic worms to six feet of water along weedlines to lure the bass. They caught 10 keepers during the day, with their smallest weighing three pounds.

They brought their five biggest to the scale and created a stir at the Kansas City-area lake.

“Smithville has always had big bass,” Frazee said. “My biggest bass before this one weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces, and I caught that one at Smithville.

“That was in 1993, but I knew there were still some big ones in here.”

Let the hunting begin

OK, where’s the big cold front?

It always arrives the last week of August, just in time to send the thin-skinned doves migrating south and blurring what had been an outstanding outlook fo the Sept. 1 hunting opener.

It hasn’t come yet, and conditions look good in both Missouri and Kansas. There should be plenty of birds flocking to managed public hunting areas — and plenty of hunters, too.

Because the opener falls on a holiday this year, wildlife officials anticipate big crowds. That’s why they are emphasizing safety, advising hunters to know where other parties are hunting and to pay attention to their line of fire, nevere taking low-angle shots that could send pellets toward others.

In Missouri, surveys showed that dove numbers are up in northern Missouri, and down in the southwest part of the state and the Ozarks. In Kansas, dove numbers appear to be good throughout the eastern part of the state.

The season will open Monday in most of Missouri and Kansas. It will continue through Nov. 9 in Missouri . In Kansas, the first segment will run through Oct. 31, and the second portion will be Nov. 1-9.

The season will start Tuesday at the James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area near Lee’s Summit. Considered one of the best public hunting spots in the state, it doesn’t have hunting on holidays and weekends. The season there will get under way at 1 p.m.

Where to hunt

Hunters in Missouri and Kansas will have plenty of options when the dove season gets under way.

Wildlife workers manage for doves in an abundance of conservation and wildlife areas, planting sunflowers and other crops that attract the gamebirds. And officials say many of those fields should be in good to excellent condition by the time the hunt gets under way.

In Missouri, the Department of Conserbvation manages for doves on more than 700 fields on 93 conservation areas. For a list of those fields, go to mdc.mo.gov/node/8905.

In Kansas, the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism manages for doves at 39 wildlife areas. For a list of those areas, go to ksoutdoors.com and click on the heading marked “hunting/migratory birds/doves.”

Good options in the Kansas City area include James A. Reed, Platte Falls and Pony Express conservation areas in Missouri, and Clinton, Hillsdale and Perry wildlife areas in Kansas.

More openers

Though it is not as widely recognized as the dove opener, the first day of the season for snipe and rails also will take place Tuesday in Missouri and Kansas.

In both states, the snipe season will run through Dec. 16, and the rail season will run through Nov. 9.

To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to bfrazee@kcstar.com.

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