PRATT – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats Program (F.I.S.H.) pays landowners to allow fishing access to their private ponds and streams. F.I.S.H. is patterned after the hugely popular Walk-In Hunting Access program (WIHA), and both programs were designed to increase access to quality hunting and fishing opportunities across Kansas. Because more than 97 percent of Kansas land is privately owned, providing hunting and fishing access to private land is a KDWPT priority.
The F.I.S.H program leases private waters from landowners and opens them to public fishing. Landowners participating in F.I.S.H. receive payments for the use of their land, and anglers are in turn provided with a place to fish that might not have been available otherwise. The enrollment deadline for 2016 is December 15, 2015.
Special regulations are in place for F.I.S.H. properties, and KDWPT officials periodically patrol the areas. Violators will be ticketed or arrested for vandalism, littering or failing to comply with fishing regulations. Access is limited to foot traffic, except on roads designated by the landowner in the case of very large tracts of land. Additionally, under this program some landowners are eligible for fish stocking, habitat management, fence crossers, cattle guards, rock boat ramps, or rocked parking areas.
Each year, KDWPT publishes a fishing atlas, featuring maps that show each body of water enrolled in the program, boating allowance, and fish species available. Most F.I.S.H. sites are open for public access from March 1 to October 31, but some contracts pay landowners more to allow year-round access.
Privately-owned ponds are leased by the acre with base lease rates ranging from $75 to $125 /acre/year, depending on where the pond is located. Boating allowance bonuses are available, as well. Ponds allowing carry-in boats are eligible for an additional $10/acre/year, and properties allowing all boats access (adequate launching site must be present) are eligible for an additional $25/acre/year.
Annual lease rates for stream fishing access range from $500 to $1,500/mile/year, depending on the quality of the fisheries.
River Access Leasing
The Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri rivers are considered navigable waters and are open to public use between the ordinary high-water marks. However, adjacent land is often privately owned, and public access points are limited. To increase public access to these rivers, the F.I.S.H. program leases access sites from willing landowners. Landowners with adequate launch facilities receive $1,500/site/year. If the site is within 10 river miles of any other public access site, a landowner can receive $2,000/site/year.
For more information on enrolling your water in the F.I.S.H. program, contact your nearest KDWPT office, or the Pratt Operations office at (620) 672-5911. You can also learn more about F.I.S.H. at www.ksoutdoors.com.