Monday, July 18, 2011

Fishing in Jeopardy in South Central Kansas, North Central Oklahoma

A dust devil crosses the road in front of me.

This area may not have a lot of large lakes but it does have some good smaller bodies of water.  With the lack of rain and the overwhelming 27 days above 100 degrees already this year, these water sources are evaporating. 

Several rivers in the area have already stopped flowing and several have nothing but sand where water used to be.  Locals tell me they have never seen it like this.  The Medicine River is dry and you can't even see a pool of water as you drive across it near Kiowa, KS.

Lake levels are apparently low as well.  Over the 4th of July I heard that a couple of local lakes were closed to visitors due to low water levels.

This weekend we took a trip down to Enid, OK to check out the town.  On the way back to Kiowa, we stopped to look at Great Salt Plains Lake in Oklahoma.  What we saw there was beyond comprehension.  I had heard that the lake was shallow.  Now that the water levels are down the lake is not much more than a gigantic 8700 acre mud puddle. 

There were birds standing out in the water 200 feet from shoreline in 6 inches of water.  With the amount of lake there is there has to be some deeper areas that the fish can go.  Unfortunately, a lot of fish were unlucky enough to find that deep water.  The shores were lined with dead fish that likely may have died from getting stuck in too shallow of water or running out of oxygen from the combination of heat and low water.
One of the Larger catfish that couldn't even float to bank as the water was too shallow
There was one catfish swimming through the water where we stopped.  It was a decent sized fish between 10 to 20 pounds.  Its fins were out of the water when it swam while it's lower side dragged against the muddy bottom.  It finally found its way from the dangerous grips of the shallows to a deeper channel that was still only a foot to a foot and a half deep.

The Great Salt Plains Lake is a beautiful lake.  It is large with lots of mature trees surrounding the Eastern end of the lake.  The Western end of the lake is just as spectacular with its salt flats.  Unfortunately the lake is unusable to any decent sized watercraft.  We did see a canoe coming onto shore.  The canoe had to be drug through the mud and shallow water about 50 feet from shore.

You can see the normal lake level

This area near the dam was only about a foot deep.

There is a auto tour trail North of the lake that is quite a spectacular drive.  It has some nice signs showing several different sized marshes.  The marshes were all dry as were most of the streams and rivers that flow into the lake.

The lake does look promising.  If it would come up around 4 - 5 feet it could be a very fun and usable lake.  That is if any of the fish survive these horrid conditions.

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