All that I know about the early summer fishing at Lake Katie is what I’ve heard from friends.
But the reports have been more than just encouraging. And for one who has been sidelined for something over three weeks by recovery and rehabilitation from a temporary medical problem, they have provoked a bit of unbecoming envy.
A recent email told of a good friend’s outing there with his sons.
“The boys and I had a tremendous time yesterday,” he wrote. “We fished from about 10:00 to 2:30 and caught 30 to 35 fish (all released).
“For a boat full of novices, we felt like we did OK.”
The ones taken were all largemouth bass and all of modest size, 10 to 12 inches. But action like that can make for a satisfying day.
My goal, from the time of the lake’s construction, has been to grow a population of lunkers — possibly even state record bass of 13 to 14 pounds.
And for a time we were well on our way. A 9-pounder had been taken by one of my daughters, and a 10-pounder by her friend. But then an unforeseen problem arose — a problem with fur.
The Missouri Department of Conservation, whose restoration of wild turkeys and white-tailed deer in the state has been wonderfully successful, traded turkeys to other states for seed stock of river otters, hoping to bring back another vanished species.
But otters are willful critters. They refused to stay where they were put. Making their way up tributaries and overland along small creeks, they found their way to the spillway discharge from my lake.
And the damage was done.
Many people find otters charming. I consider them the enemy. They are voracious hunters, with an insatiable taste for fish.
The proof of their arrival was when we began finding large bass heads on the shore. Clearly the otters were killing the bigger fish, dragging them onto land, eating the soft parts and leaving the heads.
In time, perhaps the trespassers will move on to other waters.
Meantime we’ll find enjoyment with the great numbers of lesser bass that remain.
Regardless of size, an active fish, leaping clear into sunlight at the end of an ultralight rod, can be a joy worth remembering.