Council Grove Wildlife Area News

Area News

2016 Dove Hunting Outlook:

Lake flooding has again impacted dove hunting potential at Council Grove Wildlife Area for the 2016 season.  An 8’ flood in late May impacted 2 planted sunflower fields.  High water removed portions of a 7 acre field planted to sunflowers near Munkers Creek, but approximately 5 acres of sunflowers remain.  Sunflowers are mixed within annual weeds which have become abundant. One 15 acre sunflower field planted near the Neosho River was entirely lost to flooding.  A third field of sunflowers (7 acres) was planned near Slough Creek but could not be planted when the producer became ill.  

The 7 acre field near Munkers Creek should provide fair dove hunting opportunity at Council Grove Wildlife Area.  Portions of this field will be mowed (if conditions allow) to enhance dove use and hunter access.  This field can be found about 0.2 miles west of the eastern most parking area along the north side of Munkers Creek.  Dove hunters may be asked to obtain a permit prior to hunting and to report harvest at the conclusion of their hunt.  Please assist area staff with evaluating these opportunities by following instructions located at permit stations posted at each field.  Hunters are also reminded to please be courteous and aware of other hunting parties while using this field!  

For a brochure and map of the entire wildlife area please visit the Council Grove Wildlife Area web page ( and click on the general information tab at the top of the page.  For more information please call area manager, Brent Konen, at #620/767-5900. 

Council Grove Lake – 2016 Fishing Outlook:

District Fisheries Biologist, John Reinke, has provided the following information to assist anglers when planning upcoming fishing trips.  Information is provided based upon his annual population sampling.   

White crappie - Fair/Good. Fish sampling efforts during October 2015 produced more crappie than 2014.  Density is still lower than historic averages, however.  Crappie production did increase dramatically with the high water of 2015, which bodes well for the future.  Young of the year hatched late, however, so the success of this year class is yet to be determined.  While the numbers of crappie increased in 2015, the fish that are available are primarily 8”-10”, with a few over 12”.

Saugeye - Fair.  Anglers should expect only fair saugeye fishing during 2016.  The 2015 fall sample showed a decrease in overall density and in numbers of larger fish. 60% of the sampled saugeye exceeded the 15-inch minimum length limit so anglers will have to sort through a few fish to find keepers. 

White bass - Good. The 2015 fall test netting sample resulted in an increased catch rate for white bass. Size of fish also increased.  Nearly 40% of the white bass sampled were between 12 and 15-inches, and 10% were over 15”. Anglers should expect more and bigger white bass than last year.

Wiper - Good. Wiper were first stocked in to Council Grove Reservoir in 2008.  Fish exceeded the 18 inch minimum length limit by the fall of 2010.  The last stocking of wiper occurred in 2012 and no wiper were requested for stocking in 2013, 2014 or 2015.  Wiper catch rates obtained during fall test netting samples therefore decreased slightly in 2015.  Sampled wipers ranged in length from 16 inches to 24 inches.  100% of the gill net sampled wipers exceeded the 18-inch minimum length limit.  Anglers should expect good wiper fishing during 2016 with the chance at fish over 24 inches.

Channel catfish - Fair/Good.   Channel catfish density decreased slightly during the 2015 sampling, and remains below the historic average for the lake. Roughly 80% of the channel catfish sampled during October 2015 were in the 16.4 to 24 inch size range.  Anglers should expect fair fishing for channel catfish during 2016.  Very Good to Excellent catfish action can develop during times of inflow as the fish concentrate to feed in the creeks and other areas with current.

What’s Being Done to Improve Fishing in Kansas? 

Ever wonder how the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism works to develop or improve fishing in the sunflower state?  Craig Johnson, District Fisheries Biologist for the El Dorado District continues to develop a number of short videos highlighting the work done by fisheries biologists to improve fishing throughout Kansas.  His most recent video entitled “Kansas Walleye Production Program” provides a unique summary of the work fisheries biologists do each year to enhance walleye production and improve fishing opportunities in Kansas.  In addition, catfish anglers will be interested in another recent video developed by Johnson which provides a unique underwater perspective of feeding catfish below fish feeders in Kansas State Fishing Lakes.  Can’t get away to try your luck?  Take a look at the library of videos on Kansas fishing that Johnson has produced.  They are sure to entice any angler to begin planning their next fishing trip.  They are a must see for anyone with an interest in fishing in Kansas.  Check out all of the videos at

What’s Wrong With That Fish? 

On occasion I receive a phone call or an email from a concerned angler.  They’ve caught a fish that doesn’t look quite right.  Generally, they try to describe the ailment and ask for a diagnosis and then ask if the fish is safe to eat or release.  Admittedly, I usually don’t have an immediate answer, preferring to consult with those agency staff that work with fishes day in and day out…our District Fisheries Biologists.  The last call that I received was pretty typical.  The angler described some peculiar white spots on a channel catfish that he had caught.  Equipped with a smart-phone the caller was able to email some pictures of the fish to me.  I then of course forwarded those to the area fisheries biologist requesting more information.  Through the process he provided a good reference that would be of value to help anyone answer the question of what’s wrong with that fish and ultimately is that fish safe to eat? 

Entitled “An Anglers Guide to Fish Diseases and Parasites”, it provides the reader with a brief overview of the different types of organisms that parasitize fish and cause diseases in fish.  It describes signs that an angler might see on the outside of the fish or internally while cleaning.  Lastly it indicates to the reader whether a fish is edible and what precautions should be taken to insure food safety.  Of value to any angler, the reference can be found at:

Anglers and Boaters Reminded to Take Precautions to Control Aquatic Nuisance Species!

Last summer, more Kansas waters were added to the growing list of those threatened by aquatic nuisance species (ANS).  ANS waters are defined as those containing Asian carp, white perch, or zebra mussels. 

Regulations have been enacted to prevent the spread of ANS.  Boaters and anglers are reminded to follow these regulations while visiting Kansas waters.

  1. Livewells and bilges must be drained and drain plugs removed from all vessels being removed from waters of the state before transport on a public highway. 
  2. No person may possess ANY live fish upon departure from any designated ANS body of water. 
  3. Live baitfish may be caught and used as live bait only within the common drainage where caught.  However, bluegill and green sunfish collected from non-designated ANS waters may be possessed or used as live bait anywhere in the state.  Live baitfish shall not be transported and used above any upstream dam or barrier that prohibits the normal passage of fish. 

Always remember to CLEAN, DRAIN, & DRY boats and equipment.  Visit for more information. 

Annual Youth Spring Turkey Hunt a Success (AGAIN)!

The Council Grove 16th Annual Spring Turkey Hunt was conducted on Saturday, April 2.  This years’ hunt sought to accommodate area youth ages 11-16.  A cool spring morning did not hamper 12 eager area youngsters the morning of the hunt.  By days’ end, all of the participants were fortunate to see or hear wild turkeys.  Two of the participants harvested a turkey while others enjoyed encounters with their quarry but were unable to harvest.  For those fortunate to harvest, the event was memorable, because both of them harvested their first wild turkey.  Although not as many participants harvested turkeys this year during the hunt, successful reports continue to come in this spring from the parents of proud young hunters that took what they learned from the experience and kept trying, ultimately ending in success.     

The primary goal of this hunt was to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities for area youngsters, and to bring together individuals with an interest in spring turkey hunting.  This event was designed to pair young hunters with knowledgeable and experienced adult volunteers, in an effort to initiate or further entrench participants into the enjoyable spring pastime of wild turkey hunting.

All participants enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to receive hands-on hunting instruction, turkey hunting gear, and meals.  The hunters truly appreciated the efforts of all involved and volunteers were rewarded with many thanks. 

Since 2007, this event has hosted nearly 130 Kansas kids and their families.  Nearly 50% of hunt participants have harvested a turkey, while all have enjoyed a memorable outdoor Kansas experience!

Area Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism staff would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their assistance with another successful event:  

Organizations:  The National Wild Turkey Federation, The Flint Hills Chapter of Quail & Upland Wildlife Federation, The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, The U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers, and J&J Backhoe.    

Individuals:  Spencer Tomb, Allan Cashman, Mike Wells, Jim Evans, Tyson Powell, Brad Richardson, Josh Patry, Dean McDaniel, Kris Hall, Steve Skerce, Shane Hesting, Manny Medina, Matt Spencer, Dan Biehler, and Don True.   

Special thanks must also be extended to numerous landowners for their generosity in allowing youth to hunt turkeys on their property.  

Volunteers interested in helping with next years’ hunts can contact:  Brent Konen – Council Grove Wildlife Area Manager, #620/767-5900.

Cooperative Project Completed to Enhance Access to the Neosho River:

Are you anxious to get outside and explore outdoor Kansas?  The completion of a recent cooperative project should make that a little easier along the Neosho River within the Council Grove Wildlife Area.  The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism and the Morris County Road Department have recently completed a cooperative project to enhance access to the largest tributary of Council Grove Lake.  The two government entities have worked together to complete a plan to develop a graveled road leading south of the tiny community of Kelso, along the west right-of-way of Kelso Road, just north of the Neosho River bridge.  At the end of the road, beneath the bridge, is a graveled parking area that provides easy access to the river for fishing or enhances access for hunting, and canoeing or kayaking. 

For those interested in paddling (currently low lake levels may restrict some access), the project enhances access to nearly 2 miles of river above an existing boat ramp near Gilmore Creek.  Those seeking even a longer trip could travel another 1 mile past the ramp to the lake, then travel north a quarter mile to a recently enhanced landing near the dead-end of M Avenue.  For the more adventuresome, an additional option would be to paddle 1.5 miles further along the south edge of the lake to the Corps of Engineers boat ramp in Canning Creek Cove Park.

The Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism would like to sincerely thank the Morris County Road Department for their significant contributions toward completion of this project!