WEBSTER RESERVOIR -- Mark Shaw was up before daylight, ready to do what it took to drop hundreds of trout into the icy waters surrounding Webster Reservoir.
What he didn't anticipate, however, was venturing out on treacherous ice to retrieve dozens of trout that had been unintentionally strewn about when the delivery tube slipped up out of the water.
And it's not likely that he was looking forward to a morning of hauling buckets of trout from the waiting tanks on a Colorado delivery truck down the bank of the South Fork of the Solomon River.
But all that faced Shaw, Webster's fisheries biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, when a truck from southwest Colorado showed up last week, ready to deliver nearly 2,500 trout for Kansas anglers.
About 2,100 trout were released in the stilling basin below Webster, while another 250 or so were turned loose in the free-flowing water of the river that feeds the lake.
The river continues its abundant flow of water, matching that of a year ago, when Webster turned into something of Phoenix, rising from the ashes as heavy rains pushed abundant supplies of water into the lake.
Water from the lake was released last summer, for the irrigation district miles downstream, but also because water levels were simply too high.
Water releases are still being made from the lake.
While trout releases in the stilling basin are relatively common during winter months, the releases in the river upstream aren't so common.
Started about 10 years ago, the river trout fishing program was all but abandoned when water levels dropped.
Last year, the program was revived -- with the aid of abundant water flows -- and KDWP personnel made artificial structures to hold the fish, allowing anglers the chance to wade the waters in search of trout.
Shaw said the decision was made to release trout a bit further upstream than last year, and KDWP won't be replacing any of the dead timber that had been staked down.
"They got blown out," Shaw said of the artificial habitat. "We had enough flows in there they washed out."
But, he's hoping that enough habitat exists naturally.
"That's why we're going upstream, is there's good natural habitat," he said. "Due to time constraints, we're not going to put any structures in."
* Because trout are stocked, special regulations apply. Anyone fishing in the stilling basin must have a trout permit, regardless of what they are fishing for. On the river, anyone fishing for or possessing trout must have a permit.