Pratt – “Statewide, I think we’re looking at a very good year
for anglers in 2012,” says Doug Nygren, Fisheries Section chief for
the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT). What
leads Nygren to this conclusion? The results of fish biologists’
2011 fall fish sampling.
To monitor the health of fisheries and help anglers find the
best places to fish, KDWPT’s 16 district fisheries biologists spend
the fall sampling Kansas lakes. In addition, the agency raises and
stocks millions of fish throughout the state annually, providing
anglers abundant opportunities to catch a wide variety of species.
Sampling lakes is the best way to determine population health and
stocking needs, and fall is the best time to sample fish because
it’s the end of the growing season.
Although biologists can’t sample every lake in the state every
year, periodic sampling results are assembled to show trends and
multi-year averages for some lakes. This information is compiled
into the KDWPT Fishing Forecast, available on the agency’s website in January and published
in the March/April issue of Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine.
The forecast is a valuable tool that can help anglers decide where
to fish. Biologists also use sample and creel survey data to help
them make stocking requests and length and creel limit
recommendations for the 26 reservoirs, 40 state fishing lakes, and
230 community lakes the monitor and manage.
In the meantime, Nygren gives a brief preview of what anglers
“Our crappie populations look really good,” he says, “some of
the best in years because of a resurgence of water levels in
several reservoirs that flooded woody vegetation and created
excellent fish habitat.” According to Nygren, fall fish sampling
data indicates that a number of reservoirs will provide fine
crappie fishing in 2012, including Lovewell, Hillsdale, Melvern,
Big Hill, Perry, Elk City, Tuttle Creek, Milford, and Clinton.
“Next year should be one of our better years for largemouth
bass, too,” Nygren adds. “Wilson, Sebelius, LaCygne, Webster,
Perry, Hillsdale, and Big Hill reservoirs should all provide plenty
of largemouth action.”
For those who prefer bigger fish, Nygren says this outlook is
good, as well. “It’s going to be an outstanding year for wipers.
Sebelius, Marion, Cheney, and Clinton will likely be our best
“But it’s not just these three species. Walleye fishing should
better than most years, especially in Webster, Kirwin, Glen Elder,
Milford, and Cedar Bluff reservoirs.”
Nygren adds that outstanding fishing can also be found in the
smaller state fishing lakes and community lakes. Two relatively new
lakes – Critzer Reservoir, near Mound City, and Horsethief
Reservoir, near Jetmore – are just beginning to mature and will
offer some great fishing.
In May, fisheries biologists may use electroshocking for bass,
which temporarily stuns the fish, so they can be counted and then
released. In October and November, gill-nets and trap nets are used
to sample all sportfish. The nets are pulled onto a boat and the
fish removed. Biologists then count, weigh, and measure each fish
and record this information, taking care to get the fish back in
the water quickly. Netting results are recorded on waterproof paper
or a laptop computer.
With a laptop, biologists can enter data on the water, then
enter it directly into the department’s Aquatic Data Analysis
System (ADAS) when they get back to the office, eliminating
paperwork. ADAS also allows biologists to enter paper-recorded
testing data into the system through a desktop computer. They can
then compare results with past years’ data, which lets them know
the population dynamics of the lake tested and make management
decisions, from stocking plans to length and creel limits.
Biologists also use Fisheries Analysis and Simulation Tools
(FAST) software program, developed in conjunction with 20 other
states. This computer application allows the field biologist to use
data from the ADAS system and separate age and growth testing to
predict what would happen if certain length or creel limits were
imposed on a given lake. Tools such as this allow biologists to
better manage fish populations and enhance angling
Now that sampling is complete, anglers across Kansas can look
forward to the 2012 Kansas Fishing Forecast, which will be
available on the KDWPT website early in the new year.