TOPEKA – Kansas anglers are likely to experience fantastic fishing this fall and winter after what could only be described as a rough spring and summer. The heavy rains and high water levels that kept anglers away provided ideal conditions for many game fish.
“A lot of fish that would have been harvested earlier in the year weren’t, so they’re still out there,” said Doug Nygren, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Fisheries Division director. “The high water and flooded vegetation also helped produce some tremendous year-classes of fish, and we can usually expect great things after high water.”
The same high water that foiled anglers for months with closed boat ramps and covered shorelines also flooded thousands of acres of vegetation, creating ideal spawning and nursery habitat. The inundated cover provided freshly-hatched fish a place to escape predators and grow and those young-of-year sport fish that thrived should result in legendary year-classes of fish down the road. In addition, the conditions helped produce big numbers of gizzard shad, the preferred food for most Kansas sport fish. Already, anglers report catching heavier-than-usual wipers, catfish and white bass.
Some anglers worry that releases after high water may flush open-water sport fish species — like walleye, saugeye, white bass and wipers — through the outlet tubes. Still, Nygren said there are positives. Catfish anglers have had a fantastic year catching channel, blue and flathead catfish from outlets and rivers. And while water was being released, shore-bound anglers, who might not normally have a chance to catch walleye, saugeye and wipers, have enjoyed great success.
If you haven’t fished this year, make sure you take advantage of the great fall fishing to come. And if you buy your fishing license now, it’s valid for 365 days from the date of purchase.
This would also be a great time to buy a five-year fishing license at the discounted price that saves residents $35. That one purchase will keep you fishing through what should be fantastic angling years in Kansas.
“We’re in a pretty great situation,” said Nygren. “There are going to be some big year classes from this year of high water. Our future looks pretty bright.”