Across the water, a deer pokes its head through the trees and gingerly steps onto the cool, damp shore. Three Canada geese stand in tall grass, taking in the warm sunshine of a September morning. A beaver paddles through the water almost as if showing the way to two fishermen who follow in a boat.
At Yllier Lake, 14 miles north of Tonganoxie, life is good.
Fishing is even better.
Rick Edgell and his brother Dave Edgell troll the shore of the 75-acre private fishing lake near Springdale. It's mid-morning and they've been at it since 6 a.m. It was a cooler than usual start, they say, with temperatures in the 40s and gloves on their hands.
But now with nimble fingers they cast their spinning rods, and reel them in again, the rubber worms dangling from the lines like yesterday's spaghetti.
Dave Edgell reaches into the livewell and pulls out a 3-pounder. He poses for a camera before releasing the large-mouth bass.
"If we have six keepers we'll generally keep the fish," Rick Edgell said. "If not we let them go."
Fishing has been a little slow, but it hasn't been too bad," Rick Edgell said. The best fishing is at sunset, and the best luck, at least this year, was in August, when he reeled in a seven and one-half pound bass and Dave Edgell caught a six and one-half pounder. Not a bad catch for a lake that most people don't even know exists.
Mike Reilly, Leavenworth, said the lake was built in 1968 by his grandfather Edward Reilly Sr., his uncle Edward Reilly Jr. and his father, Mike Reilly. The name Yllier is Reilly spelled backward.
"They didn't know what to call it, so they flipped the name," Mike Reilly said.
Originally, a creek ran through the property. A dam was built, and the lake was dug to a depth of 75 feet in the center.
The lake is well-stocked, Reilly said, and is restocked each year with bass, catfish, crappie and sunfish. A total of 630 acres of land surround the lake. Currently, about 75 families and 20 corporations hold memberships. The annual fee is $300.
Watching the boat edge along the shore, Joe Bauer, caretaker, notes that there are lots of fish turning where the boat has just been.
Rick Edgell laughs and quips, "It's always where we've just been."
But fishing's only half of it, the men say.
"I've seen some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen in my life out here," Dave Edgell said.
The men talk about the wildlife they've seen at the lake: raccoons, wild turkeys, herons, deer. Rick Edgell carries apples to toss to the animals. On occasion, Bauer said, a bald eagle will swoop by.
Rick Edgell lives in Basehor and works at the federal penitentiary. Dave Edgell has lived a more universal life. He talks about his 45-page resume, citing numerous degrees.
He served as the undersecretary of commerce during the Reagan and Bush administrations and served as acting undersecretary of commerce under President Clinton. After that, he was the first commissioner for tourism in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Now, Dave Edgell lives in Blue Springs, Mo., and is senior vice president of strategic marketing at MMG Worldwide, a marketing firm that concentrates on hospitality travel and tourism. A week from now he will be in Santa Domingo working at a Caribbean tourism organization meeting. He has written five books about tourism, focusing on international tourism.
Although he seems to be a national expert on an international level, he is just a Kansas boy at a country lake where he fishes with his brother as often as he can.
Rick Edgell said he comes to the lake at least once a week. "Twice if I'm lucky." He laughs and then adds, "Three times if I'm in trouble at home."
Although Dave Edgell doesn't get to fish at Yllier as often as his brother does, he says he'll do about anything to fit it into his schedule.
He glances at his wristwatch. It's about time to pull ashore, time for the country boy to head back to the city. He cranks in his line, smiles and says, "In an hour and a half, I'll be at my office in Kansas City."