General Questions

Look here first for answers to common questions about where and how to fish.  This section also answers questions about state record fish, eating the fish you catch, and information on the fish that live in Kansas waters 

I want to go fishing. Where do I start?

If you already know the basics of fishing and are looking for a place to go, click here: Where to fish in Kansas. 

If you are interested in learning more about fishing techniques, equipment, and bait, click here:

Are my fish safe to eat?

It is safe to eat fish caught from the vast majority of Kansas waters.

If you've caught fish from one of the dozens of Kansas reservoirs, hundreds of state fishing and community lakes, tens of thousands of farm ponds or miles of rivers, you can rest assured they are safe to eat.  There are some advisories on fish consumption, but they are limited.  For a list of water with consumption advisories and additional information, click here: Are my fish safe to eat?

Where can I find a list of state record fish?

How do I certify my state record fish?

A potential state record fish must remain intact until officially certified as a state record. 

If you wish to release the fish, place it in an aerated container for transport.  If you plan to keep the fish, place it in an ice chest and cover it with ice.  DO NOT FREEZE THE FISH.  Get the fish to a business (U.S. Post Office, butcher shop or grocery store) with certified scales as soon as possible.  The weighing must be witnessed.    The fish must be identified by a Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist or a Wildlife and Fisheries Division regional supervisor.  Click here to locate the office nearest you.  A color photograph must be taken of the fish and this photograph must accompany the application.  Frozen fish and species that are threatened or endangered will not be accepted.  All applications for state records require a 30-day waiting period before certification.  Click here for an online application.

Where can I find current fishing conditions and fishing reports?

Current fishing conditions for a particular public lake are listed on the individual lake pages.  Click here for a listing of public waters.

What should I do if I catch a tagged fish?

Report forms for any tagged fish studies that KDWP are currently conducting are available by clicking here.

Where can I find more information and pictures of Kansas fish species?

Are there any free fishing days in Kansas?

The first full weekend in June is traditionally the free fishing weekend. 

Anglers do not need a fishing license on those days but must abide by all other regulations such as length and creel limits, equipment requirements, etc.

I caught a fish but don't want to keep it. Can I release it into another lake or river?

No, it is illegal to release any fish into public waters unless caught from that water.

My fish is too big for its aquarium. Can I release it into a lake or river?

No, it is illegal to release any fish into public waters unless caught from that water.  For more information on this issue, go to

I caught a strange-looking fish. Should I report it?

If you catch an unusual fish, such as an aquarium fish or exotic species:

Take a close-up picture of the fish showing identifying characteristics, measure its length, write a description of the color, behavior or other unusual characteristics, and report the location and date to the Regional office nearest you or report the fish on a form by clicking here.

Can one species of fish cross with another?

Probably not in the wild, but since some species have spawning periods that overlap, it is possible ? but only between very similar species such as bluegill and green sunfish.  In hatchery situations in Kansas, hybrid crosses have been made between bluegill and green sunfish (hybrid sunfish), striped bass and white bass (wipers), walleye and sauger (saugeye), and other species.

Is "catch and release" always the best tool for fisheries population management, or will it harm the fish?

When handled properly, fish may be released successfully with minimum impact

KDWP does promote good catch and release techniques for fish protected by length limits, but catch and release fishing is not just a fisheries management tool.  Anglers are also encouraged to use catch and release if they do not plan to consume the fish they catch, even though legal to keep.  For information on releasing a fish or preparing it for the table, click here:


Most sportfish populations in Kansas can withstand some harvest, and in fact, most fisheries management plans in Kansas are designed for that.  If there is evidence that the harvest is negatively affecting the size, growth rate or age distribution of that species, fisheries regulations are adjusted to protect the population through creel limits, length limits, slot limits or limits on fishing gear. 


For a good overall explanation of fish population management strategies in Kansas, see our pond management program.

Why doesn't KDWP stock certian fish in my favorite lake?

KDWP raises and stocks certain species of fish in water bodies around the state according to a stocking plan based on annual fish sampling data and availability of suitable habitat.  Stocking is a fisheries management tool that must be used correctly, be cost effective, and should not disrupt other favorable aquatic species to be beneficial.

Would fishing improve if lakes and rivers were stocked with more fish?

In most cases, stocking of common fish like bass, bluegill, or crappie will not improve fisheries in natural waters.  The limiting factors of water quality and habitat influence the number of fish that can live in a particular body of water. Exceptions are lakes which receive high fishing pressure, such as state reservoirs and lakes in urban areas, and these are managed accordingly.

What is an aquatic nuisance species (ANS)?

ANS are non-native species that threaten the diversity and abundance of native species or the ecological stability of infested waters, or commercial, agricultural, or recreational activities dependent on such waters.

Examples of ANS are white perch, zebra mussels, or Asian carp.  For more information about ANS in Kansas, click here.

What is the state doing about exotic species?

Click here to view information on our aquatic nuisance species plan.

What can I do to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS)?

For information on what you can do to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species, click here.

What should I do with unused bait?

Unused bait should be properly disposed of.

 It is illegal to release any fish into public waters unless caught from that water.  If you catch your own bait, it may only be used in the water from where it was taken.

What caused fish kills? How do I report a fish kill?

Information on the different types and causes of fish kills can be found in our pond management program pages. To report a fish kill contact the KDWP Regional office nearest you or call (620) 672-5911.


If fish taste bad, are they contaminated?

The taste of fish depends upon the species, what they have eaten, how they have been cared for after being caught and how they have been prepared.

Taste is an individual preference and is in no way an indicator of contamination. Off flavor can be caused by algae in the water, but is rarely toxic. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) monitors water quality throughout the State and along with KDWP makes fish consumption recommendations. For more information about consumption advisories, click on the following link: Are my fish safe to eat?  or contact the Kansas Department of Health and Environment at (785) 296-5571.

Is it safe to eat fish with small black, yellow, or white bumps or worms in them?

Black spot and yellow grub are the fish parasites people most commonly encounter.

While sunfish and minnow species are most commonly affected; most other fish, such as channel catfish, will have at least a few parasites.  Most fish diseases and parasites are specifically found in fishes and are not harmful to man, especially if the fish is properly cooked before being eaten.  For additional information, click here.