One of the Sunflower State’s best-kept secrets is its amazing bounty of prime fishing water. You can cast in 24 large reservoirs, 40 fishing lakes, more than 200 community lakes, 10,000 miles of streams and more than 150,000 farm ponds. Through hard work and persistence in its stocking and public access programs, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has made it possible to take home full stringers and fond fishing memories from lakes across the state.
Kansas boasts a surprising variety of fish. Catfish, largemouth bass, walleye, crappie and other panfish are the state’s best-known fish. However, several of the larger reservoirs harbor sizable walleye, smallmouth bass, saugers, saugeye and striped bass as well as hard-fighting wipers (a striped bass/white bass hybrid).
Milford Lake earns its distinction as the “Fishing Capital of Kansas” (five miles north of Junction City). In addition to lunker smallmouths, the 16,000-acre prairie lake, with 160 miles of shoreline, is a hot spot for walleye, largemouth and white bass, crappie and catfish. On the far side of the dam, the tranquil and frequently stocked Gathering Pond features easy access for youth and novice anglers via jetties and piers.
In northwestern Kansas, 2,300-acre Keith Sebelius Lake (five miles west of Norton) is renowned for wipers. Wiper and white bass also thrive at Cedar Bluff Lake (20 miles southeast of WaKeeney). Anglers can cast for walleye and bass at Webster Lake (eight miles west of Stockton).
A curvy shoreline at Clark State Fishing Lake in southwestern Kansas provides plenty of coves and shady cover (39 miles southeast of Dodge City). The protected waters harbor healthy populations of white and largemouth bass, walleye, channel catfish and panfish.
El Dorado Lake offers great largemouth bass fishing in standing timber (20 miles northeast of Wichita). Along the dam, cast for walleye in late spring at Cheney Lake (20 miles west of Wichita). The 9,500-acre reservoir is also known for channel catfish, white bass, crappie, wipers and walleye. The panfish are always biting at Big Hill Lake in a heavily wooded southeastern Kansas valley (16 miles northeast of Independence).
Lesser-known fishing gems scatter the state, such as the Mined Land Wildlife Area in Pittsburg. The area features more than 200 long-abandoned, water-filled coal mining strip pits that carve thousands of acres of once-productive farmland into a corduroy of trenches. With shores now deeply shaded by often-dense woodlands, the pits provide abundant bass, catfish and crappie fishing. They’re even stocked with trout in winter.
Urban Fishing Program
The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has made it possible for city anglers to fill stringers. In all, the department frequently stocks 77 lakes and ponds in or near Wichita, Kansas City, Topeka and other larger communities. You can count on plenty of fish in those waters from April through September.
Access to thousands of private fishing hot spots is available through the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Park’s Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats (F.I.S.H.) program. F.I.S.H. works by leasing fishing rights to ponds and streams on farms and ranches. The ponds reliably produce heavy stringers of sunfish, catfish and other keepers for the frying pan. And, Kansas anglers continue to net record fish from the state’s more than 150,000 farm ponds. Anglers don’t even need to contact participating landowners before making their first cast. However, anglers are required to respect the land and follow all Kansas fishing regulations.
For information: Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (620) 672-5911; kdwp.state.ks.us