Leonard Jirak, who recently retired as a fisheries biologist
with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism,
prepares to empty a net of walleye fingerlings during Saturday’s
walleye harvest at Melvern Lake.
MELVERN LAKE—Even though he recently retired, folks
who know biologist Leonard Jirak know they won’t find
him sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch anytime
Jirak, of Hartford, has retired at the age of 61 from his
job as the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s
fisheries biologist for the New Strawn district. Although
Jirak officially retired in mid-September, he returned Saturday
for one last walleye harvest at Melvern Lake. For years, he
has been involved in the Melvern Lake walleye harvest that
takes place every fall.
Jim Franz, natural resource manager from the Melvern Project
Office, praised Jirak for his accomplishments and hard work.
“Leonard has had a tremendous impact on the fisheries
program at Melvern Lake since his efforts to help begin a
partnership program in 1990 between the KDWPT, the Corps of
Engineers and the Kansas Walleye Association,” he said.
“Leonard worked diligently to develop a unique fishing
opportunity for visitors to Melvern Lake. They created a stocked
fish pond in the 90-acre lake in the Outlet Park located below
“This was cutting-edge concept designed to draw visitors
to Melvern Lake and Osage County. This group also developed
a walleye nursery in the swim pond at the Outlet Park. The
intent of this effort was to raise young walleye that would
eventually be placed in the main lake for walleye anglers.”
Jirak’s fellow biologists also praised his work ethic,
and what they refer to as an “indescribable knowledge”
about eastern Kansas’ waterways. They also tell stories
of how much Jirak has enjoyed his job and being on the water
and experimenting with different ways of improving his fisheries.
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