Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fishing From the Back of the Boat

It all started with an email telling my how much he loved my Blog and Web Site, how much he looked forward to every posting I did because I am such an incredible writer and how it would be an honor to fish with me.   At least that’s how I remember it…! 

Jim Hamlin asked me to go fishing with him…of course that was before he had actually met me.  Come to think about it…no one has actually invited me along to fish with them AFTER they met me.  I’m sure that’s just a coincidence!  At any rate when someone tells me that he and a friend routinely catch 20-30 bass every time they go fishing…well…to be honest…I don’t know what to think.  It’s like when people tell me they caught a 5lb. bass…I want to believe them but I also know that a REAL 5lb. bass is HUGE and even I (the Hemmingway of Blogs…and probably the greatest unknown fisherman of all time) catch very, very few legitimate 5lb. bass. 


What if…?

So when Jim asked me to fish with him...well…like I said…you just never know.  So…I said, “Yes”.     

Of course I didn’t know what to expect but I did know one thing.  He wanted to meet at 6:00 a.m.  That’s 6:00 in the MORNING…no seriously…he wanted to meet at 6:00 in the MORNING…!  Clearly we were starting out on opposite pages…I don’t go fishing at 6:00 in the morning.  To me any time before “10:00 in the morning” and “fishing” just don’t go together.  It’s like 5K and “run”.  5K and “run” just don’t go together.  Heck…5K and “walk” don’t go together.  6:00 a.m. and “fishing” just don’t go together either.

So here I am meeting a stranger I don’t know at 6:00 in the morning…while it’s still dark…at a small dark unlit parking lot in a small town along the highway.  Yeah…my mom didn’t raise a fool huh…!  Well…actually she did and that was my sister….but that’s a story for another time.

Well…we fished two different lakes in the same day starting at Howard City Lake (also known as Polk Daniels Lake) located in south east Kansas. 

To set the record straight…Jim is not just your average fisherman…turns out he is a world class fly rod fisherman literally fishing all over the world for both freshwater and saltwater species.   Yes…it’s true because I actually saw the pictures of places and fish he has visited and caught.  So the pressure was on to try to keep up with this world class fisherman. 

The first challenge was when I found myself fishing from the back of the boat…something I rarely do.  The second challenge was that Jim fishes completely different than me…at least in terms of boat control…we are polar opposites.   Actually these weren’t so much “challenges” as they were learning experiences.  That’s why I enjoy fishing with others because it invites learning along with the challenges.

Fishing from the back of the boat required having to make backhanded casts with my baitcasting rod.  His boat is similar to mine only slightly bigger…but not big enough to safely cast sidearm…and because of the overhanging cover along the bank I could not cast overhead and expect to reach inside and under the cover.  So…that left me having to cast backhanded…casting low to the water…with a lot of force.  Why so much force.  Because we fished a long way from the bank…at least compared to how I fish. 

Thus, challenge number #2.

Jim fishes at a distance from the bank that requires extremely long casts.  I routinely fish so close to the bank that if I fell overboard I could just stand up and walk to shore.   So on Howard City Lake I found myself making extremely long (about as long as I am capable of making) backhanded casts in order to reach under overhanging limbs.  Casts that could never be more than 2-3 feet above the surface of the water…and…do so without backlashing the reel. Good thing I am a highly skilled professional angler. 

Did I mention highly skilled?   Whew!

NOTE: I use the term “backlash” because it is a term most amateur fisherman can relate to when describing the “birds nest” that will occur when using a baitcasting reel.  But…to be honest…I don’t “backlash” anything.  I do however (from time to time) have an occasional “professional overrun” while using a baitcasting reel…but never an amateur “backlash”.   

This may be why Jim remarked, “You are without a doubt the best and most accurate person I have ever seen with a baitcasting reel”.   Well…at least that’s my recollection of what he said and since it’s my Blog…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

(Note: I offered Jim an opportunity to write any comments he might like and I would include them in this posting.  He politely refused.  He said something about “no association” and “how sorry he was” and “never again”.   Hummmm…wonder what he meant by that?)

Come along with us as we go fishing on a lake that I had never seen before…until that early cold morning…and see if I keep the “Streak” alive…15 in a row?  Come along with us…pay attention to the “commentary”…because there is a lot to learn from this trip that will help you catch more fish.

By the way…Howard City Lake is a GREAT lake…I strongly recommend you do what I am going to do again someday…go fish it…!   Trust's FULL of fish...!!!

Perhaps what is most amazing about this trip is that Jim decided to go ahead and fish the second lake with me later that afternoon and I will be posting that trip later.   Amazing?  Most people I fish with always seem to have to stop fishing and go home by noon…usually mumbling something about “making a mistake”.    But not Jim…no way…a real trooper.   I’m sure me agreeing to buy him lunch was not a factor in his decision.  Note to golfing buddies…don’t get any ideas...not going to happen!

NOTE: Actually we had a GREAT time together.  Jim is a lot of fun to fish with and really is a good fisherman.  I didn't do a "What We Learned Today" video on this posting.  However, take note of these two tips:  First, during the colder days the best fishing typically happens after the sun comes up and the water warms up.  Second, do NOT spray line conditioner on your spinning reel spool unless you are EXTREMELY careful to get it only on the line and NOT the spool.  Jim had to fish for 2-3 hours without a drag system because the drag/washers got wet and trust me…this made for some very, very difficult fishing since he could not wind in a fish once he hooked it.   But, being a world class fisherman…he managed to somehow catch fish anyway until eventually the reels dried out and things got back to normal.

Stay tuned for the posting on our afternoon trip.  Things couldn't have been more different and there is a very important rule of fishing that I will be passing on to you.  A rule that Jim broke that made me break out in a cold sweat and had me all but hyperventilating.   Something he did on purpose just to see me "suffer".   One that helps separate the amateurs from the pros...and will help take your fishing to another success level.   

Until next time…go fishing…catch a lot…keep some to eat…and turn back the rest.

PS: As I was going to press with this incredibly entertaining posting I received an email from Jim.  Seems he went fishing Dec. 3 and caught “40+ bass and 10-crappie”.  Bet it wasn’t at 6:00 in the morning…but…you just never know…!

Clay Dixon
Web Site:



Monday, October 22, 2012

Don’t Be Stubborn! When in Rome do as the Romans do!

First things first…you will note that there is no “What We Learned Today” instructional video.  Why?  Because the main fishing lesson to be learned from this trip is self-explanatory.  In short…don’t do what I did…learn from my many mistakes I made during this trip.   

Yes I caught fish…yes I continued “The Streak” (catching fish on 14-consecutive lakes…now extending 18-months long!)…but in reality I made several “rookie” mistakes.  Not something you want to do given the goal to keep “The Streak” alive while trying to create a positive (versus “negative”) learning experience for all the members. 

There are several lessons to be learned from this Blog posting on El Dorado Reservoir…all are important…one is critical if you want to continue growing as a fisherman.

Lesson #1:  I love each and every one of you; otherwise, I wouldn’t make such a great sacrifice to get up so early and sacrifice my body.   No…not even to go fishing.  Watch and see. 

Lesson #2:  When fishing any body of water containing Zebra Mussels…


Zebra Mussels are a VERY SERIOUS problem in many Kansas lakes and across the Midwest.  The KDWP post what waters contain these mussles and I encourage you to check out their web site for updates.  

In Kansas they can be found in Melvern,  Kanapolis, Jeffery Energy Make-Up and Auzillary Lakes, Milford, both Council Grove waters (reservoir and City Lake), John Redmond, Perry, Marion, Cheney, Winfield City Lake, Lake Afton, Wilson and El Dorado.  Plus, all the rivers that flow into and out of these lakes and reservoirs…!

If you fish any of these waters it is critical to take precautions against transporting them to other bodies of water.  You can do several things including draining all live wells and washing your boat at the nearest car wash and then letting it sit for at least 5-days (preferably in the sun) before using it again in a non-zebra mussel lake.

Personally, I always take three extra precautions: 

First, after loading the boat on the trailer (both the bass boat and small boat) I always let my motor all the way down and drain all the water from the lower unit before leaving the launching area. 

Second, in both boats I plug the live wells so no water can even get into the live well areas and get trapped.  (Note: I don’t keep the fish I catch so I don’t need to use the live well.  If you plan to keep your fish don’t transport them to another body of water.  If you plan to eat them…don’t throw the skeleton and/or remains in any local non-zebra mussel lake/pond/creek.) 

Third, on my small boat I plug the live well on the OUTSIDE of the boat…in the back where the water enters the boat…NOT on the inside of the live well.  Why, because that keeps water not only out of the live well…it keeps it out of the 10-foot of tubing running from the back of the boat to the front live well also!  

Zebra Mussels are no joke…once they infest a lake or reservoir it becomes almost impossible to get rid of them.  PLEASE DO YOUR PART…!   (NOTE:  This is a public service announcement… and, “Yes, I approve this message”!)

Lesson #3:  When in Rome do as the Romans do!  Look…this is one time you should NOT do things as I did them.  (I didn’t really just say that, did I?)  Yes, that’s what I said…ignore what I did and do what I’m about to tell you to do.  It will make you a lot better fisherman.

If you wanted to catch a crappie would you fish in the Gulf of Mexico?  If you wanted to catch a trout would you fish in your local pond?  If you wanted to catch a walleye would you fish in Florida?  If you wanted to catch a largemouth bass would you fish in El Dorado?

The short answer to each of these questions is, “NO”…!   Yes, anything is “possible” but trying to catch a fish in a body of water where that fish is not dominant is like trying to find that needle in a haystack someone is still looking for.  That’s not to say El Dorado doesn’t have a largemouth population…but clearly there is not a large population of them.    In fact, I learned from one of the members I recently fished with that the nickname for El Dorado is “The Dead Sea”…!  Well, that’s not true regarding some species of fish…but largemouth bass…probably!

It’s known for its walleye, smallmouth bass and white/striper/wiper bass fishing…not its largemouth bass fishing.  In fact, it has a pretty healthy population of smallmouth bass.  The picture on the Blog was the first strike and first fish I caught out of my new bass boat.  That smallmouth weighed 4-lbs!  No…I’m not guessing…I weighed it on a digital scale.  That’s a big smallmouth no matter what part of the country you live in. 

(Note: The picture was taken in a format that would not load onto this I made a short video from it in a different format so I could load it.  NO...I don't want any emails from my "friends" making fun of my shirt...real men wear purple...okay!  Besides, it shows my "sensitive" side...just one more example (of so many) that my golfing buddies could learn from me...!)

(Note: We have a member who catches a lot of catfish on El Dorado too…in fact; she is supposed to be inviting me along…but…?  You guessed it.  Still waiting…! don't think she changed her mind after meeting me do you?    Okay...keep your opinions to yourself please!

So pay attention (Stop laughing…no I’m not kidding…I mean actually pay attention this one time) here is the lesson that is critical if you want to continue to progress as a fisherman…

Either fish waters that have a healthy population of the fish you want to catch…or…learn to fish for whatever is the dominant fish in that particular water.  Period…No Exception…!  Why beat your head against the wall?  Why spend hours fishing for something that is not very well populated in that lake?  Why try to catch largemouth bass in El Dorado Reservoir?   Why try to find that needle in a haystack?  

In short…why be stubborn like me…! (There I said it…I can be stubborn.  Note to self…I think I’m supposed to feel better about myself right about now.  Still waiting to feel better.  Still waiting.  Nope…didn’t work.  Sure wasted $200 on that therapy session!)

(Note:  Just in case my lovely wife of 41-years should ever read this Blog posting...(or my friends or family tell her what I said) for the record...being "stubborn" is not necessarily the same thing as being "wrong"...something my wife says I refuse to ever admit.  But I would agree that "stubborn" and "wrong" are "kissing cousins".  As one famous person said, "It depends on what 'is' means".     

Yes, I caught fish in spite of myself.  I even caught fish not on the video…once even broke my line on a very large fish…also not on the video.  But…here I was surrounded by a ton of baitfish and schools of white bass…and what do I do…continue to look for that needle in a haystack (largemouth bass).  All I can say is, “Duh”!

It is true that I didn’t have exactly the right equipment with me to catch the whites…or the crappies that were there too…but “Hello, whose fault was that”!  It was totally mine!  (Now I feel better about myself.  No I don’t….just made that up.  Reminder to self…find another therapist!) 

Stop right now…I already know someone is going to email me telling me they catch a few largemouth bass on El Dorado.  Please do.  I seriously would like to hear from you.  For the record…so have I…and I will again.  But that doesn’t really change a thing.

Mistake #1 was fishing exclusively for largemouth bass on a lake not known for large populations of bass.  Mistake #2 was fishing way up in the river when this time of year most largemouth bass (such as they are) are out in the main lake areas.  Mistake #3 was not being prepared to take the best advantage I could of the best resource available on that lake…white bass, walleye and crappie. 

So…I made several mistakes on many different levels on this trip.  (Now I feel better about myself. No…not kidding this time…I really do feel better.  Not sure if it’s the confessional release of so much deeply personal information, feelings and inter-honesty about me to you my fans…or whether it’s the release of my therapist saving me $200 a week which I can apply to more fishing equipment…?  Okay…that’s an easy one to answer…!)

So to “up your game”…fish where you have the best chance to catch whatever species of fish you are after and forget about finding that needle because the only way to find it is you have to first get stuck by it…!

Until next time…go fishing…catch a lot…keep some to eat…return back the rest.

Clay Dixon
Web Site:


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Good...The Bad...and...The Ugly

I found myself in a dry creek bed surrounded by steep dirt banks reaching at least 15ft. high on both sides of me.  On top of the dirt banks were tall trees with their limbs reaching out across the creek bed creating a dark canopy beneath them.  As I stood frozen in the shadows the scream I heard coming from around the next bend made my hair stand up…and suddenly I realized…
...There was no way out…!

My story begins with an email I received shortly after posting the Blog “Catching Spots in Kansas”. A member wrote that he had a place where he caught Kentucky bass while stream fishing and that I should try it.   A little research showed that Michael Pearce (outdoor editor for the Wichita Eagle and long time acquaintance of mine) had written an article back in April 2010 about his positive experiences fishing the same stream. 

The stream is Fox Creek located just outside Strong City, Kansas at the junction of 177 and Hwy 50 and is on the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve.   Easy to find since it’s located just off 177 a couple of hundred yards north of Hwy 50.  Turn in at the Anthony Cemetery and follow the road east 1/3 of a mile and you can’t miss it.  It’s County Road 227 although it isn’t actually marked.   Clearly the State of Kansas has done an incredible job with this land.  The restrooms were extremely clean…maybe better than any I have ever seen at a public State fishing lake.  There is a crushed gravel trail starting at the parking area that is ¾ miles long with an occasional signage telling of various interesting things about the area.  All in all…it was very impressive.

At the halfway point of the trail another trail cut through the tall grass continuing north taking you on private property that is part of the F.I.S.H. Program (Fishing Impoundment and Stream Habitats)… property leased by the State for fishing only….essentially an extension of their “Walk-in Program” for hunting.

I took the “road less traveled” and found myself about 1 mile from my truck and decided it was time to go fishing.  Okay…yes I know we are in a drought situation…but truly…I didn’t realize that the stream would be THAT dry…!  How dry?  At times I would walk 200-300 yards between “pools”.   “Pools”?  Most of them were simply to shallow to hold fish…they were more like puddles.   The stream was REALLY low which not only made fishing extremely difficult it made just getting from place to place very difficult.  Having to constantly fight my way up embankments, climb over large fallen trees and walking through tall grass with the snakes made it an “interesting” experience. 

To be brutally frank it really was an extremely physical experience and one that, without being the athlete that I am, would have surely been met with an ill fated end.   Fortunately my athletic prowess, though often tested, never wavered.  In the end I made it back to civilization…alive but not unscathed.

As for fishing here is the truth (that’s why you belong to this Blog right…you want the truth).    While most “pools” were shallow and stagnate I did find a couple that held fish.  (They had to be somewhere right?)  I had a LOT of strikes but for reasons I can’t explain had an extremely difficult time hooking and landing them.  Did I keep my streak alive under these most trying of conditions?  

If you have followed this blog for any length of time you know that I have caught fish on every trip I have made…that’s 12 different bodies of water in a row…and many done under extreme weather conditions from 40-mph winds to 102-degree temperatures.  Most from land, a couple from a boat…one from my belly boat.   That said (given these almost impossible conditions) would the streak end at “unlucky 13”  or would I keep it alive?

I will tell you this…there was nothing easy about traipsing through this creek bed…including the fishing.

My recommendation?  Wait until next spring to go.  Plan your trip starting about 2-weeks after the major spring rains (hopefully!) have stopped…probably from the first of May through the middle of June.  Will you catch fish?  No question about it…!!!  Most of the creek bed is rock (It’s in the Flint Hills) and I would expect it to be semi-clear.  (It would have to be to contain Kentucky bass.)  I can guarantee that if you time it right you will have the time of your life.  I just picked the wrong time to go.

And now for “The rest of the story”. 

Once the screaming sound stopped I stood still…not moving even a small muscle…for more than 10-minutes.  Carefully scanning both down the creek bed as well as up on top of the creek banks…watching for any movement.  As a hunter I can tell you that rarely have all my senses been so “in tune” with nature.  If there is such a thing as being “in the zone”…I was in it.  With no way out the only thing I could do was continue forward.  With all senses on full alert I carefully took the first steps.

Hearing no further sound I rounded the next bend…stopping every few feet to survey what was in front of me.  I came to a place that I could not continue forward without crossing the creek bed.  As I carefully walked across a log left long ago by a fallen tree something caught my eye.  Not because it moved but because it looked out of place.  There laying in the stream bed…neck and head laying in the shallow water….was a dead doe.  Fresh blood covered the hind end of the doe as well as the surrounding creek bed.  The water was stained red from its blood.   Suddenly a turkey buzzard perched high on a limb on the opposite side of the creek flew from its perch literally scaring me beyond belief. 

Something wasn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I had already decided that if it was a mountain lion/cougar (don’t laugh…they are in Kansas…my kids and I saw one years ago when we owned a meat locker plant in Stilwell, Ks…check it out for yourself…!) I was going to turn on my camera so when they found my stuff the camera would tell the whole story of my gruesome end.  It was also going to show how I had fought to the bitter end.  I was carrying a walking stick I had broken off from a larger limb.  I had been using it to help make noise as I walked through tall grass that could contain snakes. 

Now it had become a weapon! 

As I took another step a movement occurred immediately to my left in some tall grass.   It was a “rustling” sound and it was obviously made by something with size.   Instantly I made a decision to move immediately to my right and angle up the hill away from this freshly killed deer.   Once on top of the creek bed I faced one other problem…I was now on the wrong side of the creek to access the trails and my truck.  I needed to cross back over.   I came to another pool…a small one that connected to the largest one I saw all day.   Where they came together the water was only about 10” deep and 6ft. across.  Laying a stick across the pool and using my “weapon” for balance I managed to cross the stream. 

Now how was I to get up the other side?  Not knowing for sure what was just behind me in the bend with the dead deer…I had made up my mind it was time to get to the truck.  However, I was faced with a steep dirt bank with no apparent way to get to the top.  There was a deer trail that, if you deer hunt you will understand, only a deer could climb.  Not being a deer…but fortunately being a great athlete…I made the decision to climb this deer trail anyway.   

I had two fishing rods with me and given the difficulty (and danger!) of climbing such an embankment I knew I might change my mind…so…I took each rod and threw them like a javelin to the top of the embankment.

Now I was committed!

I had to climb this steep embankment or lose my rods.  With my “weapon” in hand I started to climb.  The steepness combined with the loose dry dirt made it all but impossible.  Time after time I would get half way only to slide back down to the bottom.   I didn’t like how much noise I was making and the attention it might be drawing from whatever was just down the creek from me. 
The reality began to sink in…at my age…regardless of my great athletic abilities…I may have bit off more than I could chew.  Then I noticed something…a small root the size of a pencil…growing out of the bank from the top of the deer trail and hanging down about 1/3 of the way from the top.    I climbed to where I could grab the root…climbed 2/3 up of the hill…and the end of the root broke sending me tumbling  back to the bottom of the rocky creek bed with a loud crash. 
It didn’t so much hurt as it made me mad.  (Actually it did hurt...just don't want my wife to get upset in the unlikely event she should ever read this...or more likely some of my so-called "friends" (or my daughters) might just happen to tell her just to get me in trouble.  She thinks I'm to old to be climbing steep creek banks and fighting off mountain lions.  No...seriously...she really does...!)  

It was now or never…once again I climbed to where I could reach the root and using it for both strength and balance climbed to where I could just barely see over the top ledge.   In a last ditch effort…using my elbows for leverage…I managed to pull myself up to the top.  Uncertain exactly where I was I now began the long walk back to the truck but not without first having to walk 300-yards through head high grass, weeds and thickets to get back to the trail. 

NOTE: When you watch the fishing video please take note of some of the creek banks in the video to fully appreciate the gravity of the situation, my dilemma and the highly trained athletic ability honed over many, many years that was required to scale such an obstacle.  Thank you.  Did I mention "highly trained"? 

On a serious note (hey..."highly trained" was serious!) what was it in the creek bed?  Fortunately I didn’t find out.  Would I do it all over again?  Yes, if it meant continuing to bring you the most exciting, entertaining and educational fishing Blog in Kansas…heck…probably any where in the world…!  Maybe even the universe!  
If you enjoy this Blog please let me's the only "pay" I get for doing it you 

Until next time…go fishing…just don’t do it on Fox Creek right now…!

PS: I left my “weapon” lying along side the trail…just in case you decide to ignore my advice....!   




Friday, July 27, 2012

Keeping Cool

August 4, 2011…a day that will live in infamy!  Okay, it may not be that big of a deal but I can tell you it was an interesting day for me.

My plan was to drop my small 2-man Basshunter boat into the river area of El Dorado Lake. Problem was the weatherman called for 40% chance of severe thunderstorms.   Now, call me crazy (all my friends do) but being on a very large and dangerous reservoir in a small 9.5ft. boat with a 4-horsepower motor in a severe thunderstorm seemed a bit nuts…even for me. 

What to do…what to do?

I know, I will go fish McPherson State Fishing Lake.  Sounds good except I didn’t make that decision until almost noon and just as I arrived all the cloud cover “mysteriously” disappeared and I was left with clear blue skies, very bright sun, temperatures exceeding 100*…and did I mention it was HOT…!  Yes, I guess I did…just wanted to be sure you were paying attention to this riveting story.

So here I am at a lake I’ve never fished before (and had some difficulty locating!)…with the worse possible fishing conditions possible…a bright sunny and hot day following a frontal system (it rained the night before)…and me trying to keep my “streak” alive! Welcome to my world.

NOTE: For those who haven’t been following my blog (shame on you.) the “streak” is that by utilizing great skill, masterful technique and incredible natural instincts I have managed to catch multiple fish on every lake I have fished during this project in spite of some major (and I mean MAJOR!) weather conditions.  That’s 8-different lakes!  WOW…!  Did I mention great skill?

Special note for my regular “followers”…Please keep your opinions to yourself…thanks! 

I am excited to fish today except I have a new “belly boat” that has never been put together much less actually used in the water.  “Clay why would anyone drive 76-miles (one way) to test a new belly boat when you could do that in your own backyard since you live on a lake…DUH”!  

Okay, did you actually think of that all by yourself or have you been talking to my wife?  Listen, if you are a guy reading this…and you thought of it yourself…okay, never mind! 

An hour and half later (No...I'm not really was an hour and half later...!) the boat is finally put together and I’m ready to fish.  The fact that it’s now 2:00pm and the hottest part of the day is a minor point.  I’m going fishing and since I will actually be “in the water” and not “on the water” I will stay cool no matter how hot it is.  Thus the name of this blog…“Staying Cool”.  Pretty clever huh!  Sometimes I even amaze myself…not often…but sometimes.

Join me as I attempt to keep the “streak” alive and try to stay cool doing it.  There are some great lessons on these videos about fishing in hot summer conditions.  Hope they help you catch more fish on your favorite body of water…I hope you enjoy it. 

If so…please let me know! If not, (okay that’s not really possible is it.)…but just in case…don’t tell anyone…not even me.

Until next time…go fishing…keep some to eat…turn back the rest…check back in soon.



Thursday, June 21, 2012

“Never Give Up”

A long, long time ago in a far away place…(or as my grand-daughter insists I start every story I tell her with, "Once upon a time"....

Okay, it was actually just outside Topeka, Kansas on Perry Reservoir.  I was fishing the BASS Federation State Championship trying to qualify for my second time on the Kansas state team.   To qualify you had to finish in the top 6 with the tournament having well over 125 other competitors…all the top bass fishermen in the state.   As a member of the 6-man team you  got to represent Kansas in the World BASS Federation Team Championship competing against 36 other state teams and 3 foreign countries...! 
After the first day of the two day tournament I was not in the top six.  The first day I had lost enough fish at the boat to easily be in the top 6…if not leading.  Although, as I recall, Cecil Kinsley (a great guy and incredible fisherman from Manhattan, KS.) was leading weighing is close to 25lbs!  To make matters worse, if that was even possible, a tornado went through Topeka that night.  In fact, we had just finished the first day weigh-in and it started to rain and hail.  Fortunately, I had a boat  slip at the marina (I always hated to get up early so by having a boat slip I could sleep a little longer!).  It paid off that day because just as it started to rain and hail I pulled into my slip and ran to my hotel room.   
When I awoke the next morning I found the lake had risen by 10-12 feet overnight…and…it looked like chocolate milk!  It was a fisherman’s nightmare…particularly if you were not already in the top 6 qualifiers because catching fish on day two was clearly going to be impossible.  That tornado destroyed a lot of property in Topeka that night and it appeared to have also destroyed my bid to become a two-time qualifier for the state team.

Digress: To me the big deal about qualifying again was that arguably anyone (well…maybe not “anyone”…take my buddy Jack for example!) could get lucky and qualify once either by just lucking into finding some fish or being lucky in who you drew that day as a boat partner.  However, to qualify more than once you had to be good…no one was going to be that lucky twice.  This was my third attempt in three years having qualified on my first attempt but coming up short by just a few ounces on my second attempt the year before.  I was going for "2 out 3". 

The next day found the storm gone and a bright blue sky with temperatures close to 100 degrees!  It was going to be a long day.
It was tough.  How tough you ask? 
More than 50% of the best fishermen in Kansas called it quits, loaded their boats on their trailers and headed for home by 12:00 noon! 

As for me…I never gave up. 

My desire to make the team for a second time was so great that I just kept fishing…HARD…in fact, harder than I had ever fished before in my life.  If you have never fished at a competitive level you won’t understand…if you have…you will.  It was tough…it was hot, no breeze, high muddy water and (understandably) no one was catching fish.
Even today, after fishing tournaments 35-weekends a year for 7-years, I can honestly say it was my finest effort.  Not because I won…I didn’t.  But because it took all I had…all my deepest mental concentration, all my physical strength, all my focus and all my will power to keep at it…cast after cast after cast for hours and hours without a single bite.  I watched people pull their boats out, I talked to many other competitors and they had no fish and I watch many others simply give up and take their shirts off to focus on enjoying the weather and getting a tan instead of fishing.

With less than 30-minutes to go in the tournament, frustration and anxiety had set in.  I had actually caught some fish while most others had given up.  But would it be enough?  That’s always the question every tournament angler has.  There are no scoreboards so you never know until the last man weighs in.  I desperately needed one more fish.

I turned to the guy sharing my boat with me that day and made a simple statement…and I will never forget it.  I said, “Seems like every guy in this tournament has caught a 5lb bass but me. It should be my turn”.  Of course that wasn’t true…in fact, there are not many actual 5lb bass weighed in tournaments period.  It was just a moment of high intensity pressure and frustration.  The clock had about "ticked" out of time for me and my bid to become a two-time state qualifier. 

At the exact moment I made that comment I flipped a large black 10” plastic worm into a flooded tree…got a bite (you couldn’t feel it, but I saw the line ‘jump’ just a small fraction)…I set the hook.  

As I set the hook I knew I had to immediately force him out of the tree…I had less than 5ft line out and my flippin’ stick was 7ft long.  You do the math!

The line instantly wrapped around a tree limb at eye level.  Since I had 17lb line I just kept pulling…no reeling…just pulling.  A split second later that fish was dangling four feet in the air at eye level and 3-feet from the side of the boat…with my line still wrapped around the limb…! 

My boat partner had grabbed the net and, while the fish was still suspended in mid-air, slipped the net under him.  I gave some slack to the line and the fish literally dropped into the net.

That 5lb.4oz bass was the largest bass caught in the BASS Federation Kansas state championship that year!! 

Less than 30-minutes later I had qualified for the Kansas team a second time.  While many have tried…not many can say they qualified once…much less twice.  I was (am) blessed.
My motto…and today’s lesson…NEVER GIVE UP even when those around you do!!

Footnote: Our Kansas team went on to compete in the World Championship that summer and finished in the top 10...!  However, a much more important thing was occurring at the same time.  An African country called Rhodesia had just experienced a military takeover.  As a result Rhodesia no longer exists as a country.  Today it's called Zimbabwe.  A military uprising between waring factions led to thousands of deaths and eventually a complete overthrowing of the governement. 

Those events occured at the same time of the World Championship and one of the teams was from the African nation of Rhodesia.  These 6-men were given permission to come to the United States to fish the World Championship. What the governement didn't know was that these brave men smuggled a few items with the name "Rhodesia" still on them to the great personal risk. 

Why was it such a risk?  Because had they been caught...they would have been killed...!  These men from Rhodesia disobeyed the new government mandate to destroy anything (including money) that had the name "Rhodesia" on it.  Anyone found with articles containing the name "Rhodesia" instead of "Zimbabwe" were immediately executed...!!!

I was extremely blessed to get to share a boat for three days with one of these brave men from Africa during the World Championship.  Afterwords, he presented me with three articles from their now destroyed nation...a BASS Federation Label Annual Fishing License label pin, and a One-day Fishing License label pin... ALL WITH THE NAME "RHODESIA" ON THEM...A COUNTRY THAT NO LONGER EXISTS TODAY...!!!

So by never giving up not only did I get my wish to qualify and fish my second World Championship...but more importantly I was blessed with one of the great experiences of my life...and I still have the three historical Rhodesia label pins to help bring back those great memories...!

Never Give Up on Your Dreams...NEVER...even when others do...even when things seem the darkest...even when others tell you to...even when you think you should...even when your current reality says you can't make it...NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS...EVER...!

Until next time…go fishing…keep some to eat…turn back the rest…check back in soon.

Clay Dixon
Web Site:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sometimes It’s Better to Be Lucky Than Good

First things first.

One of the benefits of traveling around to fish the various lakes is that you get to see places that you otherwise might not get to see.  Such was the case when I traveled to the Southlakes Park at Seneca and 55th street.  On the SW corner of I-235 and Seneca is a restaurant called “Just Catfish”.  Doesn’t look like much…doesn’t even look like a restaurant.  Don’t let looks deceive you.
My wife and I went to dinner there a couple of nights ago and it was GREAT!  The people and service was great, the food was great, the view out back to a lake was great and the price was great.  I STRONGLY recommend you go enjoy this place and tell them Clay (the Kansas Fisherman) sent you.  Okay, they won’t know me…but tell them the guy doing the fishing videos sent you and they will know.  P.S.:  The German chocolate cake is to die for!  I even brought a piece home.  They have other things except catfish including chicken, etc.  Just go there and try it…you won’t be disappointed.  It’s the blue (yes blue!) building that looks like a house.
Now to fishing. 
This was another tough day of fishing.  I failed to read about the lake before leaving the house so I arrived not knowing I could have put my small boat on the lake.  That would have been a huge help since the water is extremely clear.  Of course I arrive the day after a storm front goes through and the sky is clear with a lot of sun making fishing even more difficult when combined with the clear water.  In short, I need to pay more attention.  Had I brought my boat it still would have been tough but at least I would have had some options.  However, I did manage to catch three fish (2 bass and 1 catfish).  Not another person on the lake had a fish except me.  Two guys couldn’t even get bluegill to bite.
You will note that I did not post my usual instructional (and extremely entertaining) “What We Learned Today” video.  No need to.  What you are about to see on this video will both amuse you and shock you and it will teach you all you need to know without doing another video.  The “lesson” will be self-evident.

When you get to the part with me trying to catch the catfish remember one thing…it took over 6-minutes to do it…but I had to cut the video down for two reasons.  First, you would have gone to sleep and second, so it wouldn't be so long that it wouldn't upload on the blog.  So I saved you the “boredom” of watching me trying to catch this fish and cut out most of the “casting” action. 
However, you won’t be bored with what happens nor how it happens.  I also learned an interesting trick.  When I put my polarized fishing sunglasses in front of the video camera lens…you can actually see down into the water as if you are wearing the glasses!  So…you can actually see this catfish on a bed in a couple of feet of water.  How cool is that!  So watch for it.  It’s in the middle of the screen…see if you can find the fish.  .
The streak is alive but, as in this case, sometimes you just have to be lucky.  Then again, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Until next time…go fishing…keep some to eat…turn back the rest…check back in soon.
Clay Dixon

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Take a Kid Fishing Today

Well, it’s vacation time.  No…not for me…for my grandchildren.  When grandkids come to visit for a week it may be their vacation time but it’s not ours.  Ask any grandparent.

But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  But…I do need to remember to thank God (assuming I travel in that direction!) for allowing us to become parents while we were still young.  WHEW!

I am truly blessed with four incredible grandkids...and one on the way this summer.  I know…you have incredible grandkids too, good for you…but, just not quite as incredible as mine.  Hey…it’s my blog! 

One of my grandsons loves to play golf and the other loves to fish.  Go figure!  Wonder how that happened?  How great can life get?   While visiting us my grandson from North Carolina played golf with me from 10:00am to 5:30pm on two different days! 

That may not seem like a big deal until you realize he just turned 7…and it was 100-degrees…! 

He shot a legitimate 117 from the red tees.  The next time I allowed him to skip the tees and go directly to the fairway and tee off.  (Most holes are too long for him to get over the rough between the tee box and the start of the fairway.)   Since he didn’t have to take several strokes getting out of the rough to the fairway…he shot a legitimate 94…that’s a 23 shot improvement! 

I have taken him golfing since he was 2-years old.

Move over Tiger!

My other grandson lives here.  He loves to fish…no I don’t mean he “likes” to fish…he LOVES to fish!  Most mornings the first question he asks his parents is, “Can I go fishing”?  He is fortunate to live in the country and have his own pond to fish and that pond is loaded with bass. 

I first introduced him to fishing when he was only 2-years old.  I have a picture of him “hugging” a large crappie I had caught.  By the time he was 3-years old he would reel in my lure after I had made a cast or hooked a fish.  He learned to cast a closed faced spinning reel by the time he was 3 ½ and soon after caught a fish all by himself…that means he cast, reeled, hooked and landed it without help!  He owns 3-fishing outfits, a tackle box and fishes exclusively with treble hook lures (crankbaits and topwaters). 

Yes, we have rules…like he is not allowed to touch the lures…only his “poppy” can touch them.   He has learned not to pull and jerk while trying to free a lure from being caught…only his “poppy” is allowed to get a lure free.  No fishing without an adult…etc.  Yes, he obeys those rules…most of the time!

Move over KVD!

Since the grandkids are here I can’t go fishing on the public lakes which means I will not be posting my usual enlightening and often brilliant blog postings…not to mention my award winning (okay…they should be award winning!) videos. 

However, taking a kid fishing ANYWHERE ANYTIME is critical to that child growing up appreciating the great outdoors.  So that qualifies for this week’s posting topic…


One more thing…NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE ABILITY OF A CHILD!  Yes, both of my grandsons are exceptional…one at golf the other at fishing…

…yes, (no doubt) because of my amazing abilities…which clearly skipped generations!

However, that doesn’t mean your child or grandchild can’t learn as well.  Take them fishing (or golfing)…or something in the outdoors today!!

Note: My grandson hooked this fish after casting the lure by himself.  He dropped the rod because it pulled to hard for him to hold on to it.  Once I picked the rod up…he grabbed it and reeled it in by himself. 

This video shows why you should take a kid fishing today!  You will note that I am more excited than him.

Until next time…go fishing…keep some to eat…turn back the rest…check back in soon.
Clay Dixon
Web Site: