Fishing FAQ

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 

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:

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?

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.

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

To report a tag during the Great Kansas Fishing Derby go to the website,

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.


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.

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.

License requirements, catch and length limits, and legal equipment answers.

For answers to further questions, view and download a copy of our fishing regulations summary here.  These pages and this publication are not intended to be a complete listing of all Kansas fishing regulations.

If you purchased your license online:  Contact us at (620) 672-5911

If you purchased your license from a local vendor:  return to the store where the license was purchased, or contact the county clerk in the county where the license was purchased.

Yes.  To purchase a license by phone, call 1-833-587-2164.

Free copies of our regulations summary are available from most license vendors.  To download a PDF version of the regulations, click here.

If you are going to take a child fishing, buy a license for yourself.  Invariably, you will end up with the pole in your hand.

Anyone with a permanent physical disability that prevents them from fishing may apply for a Disability Assistance Permit. 

The permit allows a licensed designated person to actually harvest fish while accompanying the permit holder.  For more information or applications, contact KDWP Law Enforcement at (620) 672-5911.

Yes.  However, anyone needing assistance - due to a permanent physical disability that prevents them from fishing - may apply for a Disability Assistance Permit.

The permit allows a licensed designated person to actually harvest fish while accompanying the permit holder.  For more information or applications, contact KDWP Law Enforcement at (620) 672-5911.

Night fishing is allowed at most public waters.  Check local rules before fishing at night.

No, it is illegal to assist another person in catching his or her limit of fish.

Yes, the possession limit on all fish species is three times the daily creel limit for that species.

Yes, lighted lures may be used in Kansas.

No license is required to catch crawdads for non-commercial use.

Persons on active duty in the armed forces, who entered the service while residents of Kansas, may purchase a resident fishing license. 

Non residents on active military duty stationed in Kansas are entitled to purchase a resident fishing license, which they must have with them while fishing, along with evidence of active duty.

Non-resident children age 15 and younger are not required to purchase a fishing license. 

All non-residents 16 and older must have a valid nonresident license to fish in Kansas, unless fishing on a private pond.  Guests of landowners fishing on streams and rivers must have a fishing license

Landowners, tenets and members of their immediate family living with them are exempt from fishing license requirements for waters on land they own or lease for agricultural purposes. However, a license IS REQUIRED for all others fishing on private land if:

  1. The private impoundment has a stream or river going into and/or out of it – whether the stream is continually flowing or not.
  2. The private impoundment is owned or operated by more than one person or group. In this case, the owner(s) or operator(s) would be exempt from the fishing license requirement only while fishing on the portion of the impoundment that they own.
  3. You are a guest of landowner or operator and fishing on streams or rivers on their land.
  4. The impoundment is leased by the department from the pond owner, through the F.I.S.H. program.
  5. The impoundment has been stocked by the state within the past 10 years.

The above rules apply to watershed ponds, any man-made impoundment, or any stream or river.

Each angler is limited to two lines with not more than two baited hooks (single or treble) or artificial lures per line.

However, you may purchase an additional three pole permit, which allows you to fish with one additional pole by clicking here.

Slot limits are used by biologists to improve fish growth rates within a population. 

For instance, if the slot length limit for bass is 13-18 inches, bass from 13-18 inches long must be returned to the water.  Bass shorter than 13 inches and longer than 18 inches, however, may be kept.

Any legally taken sport fish, of legal length and having been taken by hook and line only, may be used for bait. 

No, any type of net is illegal for taking sport fish.

Sport fish species include: 

Northern Pike, walleye, sauger, saugeye, yellow perch, striped bass, white bass, wiper (white bass/striped bass hybrid), black bass (largemouth, spotted and smallmouth), trout, channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, paddlefish, and panfish (bullhead, black and white crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish, green sunfish, warmouth and rock bass).

Bait fish species include: 

Minnow or carp family (Cyprinidae), sucker family (Catostomidae), top minnows or killifish family (Cyprinodontidae), shad family (Clupeidae), sunfish family (Centrarchidae), excluding black basses and crappie.  Bait fish exclude any of those fishes specifically named by regulation as Kansas threatened or endangered species.

It is legal to bait, or ?chum? water to attract fish. 

Check city and county laws for waters managed by these localities.  Some may have local ordinances against chumming.

Yes, carp may be taken with a bow. 

All public waters are open to bow fishing, unless posted otherwise, so consult local rules before bow fishing.  Bow fishermen must have in possession a valid Kansas fishing license, unless exempt by law.  Arrows must have barbed heads, and each arrow must be attached by a line to the bow and must be shot from the bow.  Waters within 50 yards of an occupied boat dock or ramp, occupied swimming area, occupied picnic site or camping area, and other public use areas are closed to bow fishing.  Firearms may not be used to take fish.

Call Operation Game Thief toll free at 1-877-426-3843. 

This phone number is for the reporting of violations only.  Contact phone numbers for the Conservation Officer in each county are also available in the regulations handbook.

Answers to common questions about managing your own pond or lake.

Since 1990, the primary focus of KDWPT has been to provide technical assistance on managing fish populations in ponds and information on where pond owners can purchase fish.

It is illegal for KDWPT to stock a private pond not open to the public for fishing. The department may stock privately owned ponds leased to the department through the F.I.S.H. program. Click here for more information.

The state does not sell fish. 

A list of Kansas fish growers is available at: for recommendations on stocking fish in your pond, click the following link:

All vegetation is not bad.

A certain amount is needed for good fish growth and protection. In fact fish will benefit from more vegetation than anglers will typically tolerate.  With that said, aquatic plants can become so abundant that they interfere with fishing, swimming, and boating. To control aquatic plants, it is important to know what type is causing problems.  For Information on plant identification, click here.

To cure the muddy water problem, the source of the turbidity should be identified. 

Often, the problem is a combination of factors.  Muddiness is usually caused by soil type, wind and erosion, or animal activity.  Many treatment methods are only temporary measures, and will probably have to be repeated each year.  Additional information on muddy water is available here.

Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams.

They usually are present in low numbers. Blue-green algae can become very abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that receives a lot of sunlight. When this occurs, they can form blooms that discolor the water or produce floating rafts or scum on the surface of the water.

The best way to avoid the problems associated with cyanobacterial blooms is to prevent blooms from forming. This can be done by reducing the input of nutrients, such as phosphates, into the water source or by aerating the water.

All ponds produce some natural food for fish.

The amount of food produced is a function of the pond's productivity.  Fish populations in most Kansas ponds are not harvested heavily enough to overtax natural food production. Supplemental feeding is thus not usually required, although in special cases feeding can be beneficial.  For more information, click here.

On some occasions in some ponds, noticeable mass mortalities of fish do occur.

Once dead fish are seen, it is usually too late to do anything, but knowing the possible causes can sometimes help the pond owner prevent fish kills from recurring or at least reduce their severity. For additional information on fish kill causes and solutions click here.

The pattern of mortality is usually the best indicator of a fish kill caused by pesticides or other chemicals.

In a chemical poisoning, small fish die sooner than large fish and all species of vertebrates including turtles and frogs are affected.  It is difficult to establish with certainty that fish mortality was related to chemical use. Analysis of water samples is expensive and time consuming, and chemicals will often break down by the time analysis is possible. For additional information on fish kill causes and solutions click here.

Muskrat and Beaver Control in Ponds

Sustained population control is the best damage prevention method available for both muskrat and beaver. Small, stable populations of muskrats and beaver will do little damage. Pond owners should not wait until furbearers become overabundant before initiating control, because by then the damage has been done.

Crayfish in Ponds

When a pond owner discovers that his pond has crayfish, an image of a leaky pond comes to mind, followed by thoughts of how to eradicate them without harming the fish. Without much effort, crayfish can be managed to provide benefits for the pond owner.  Having crayfish in a pond can be beneficial.   Crayfish burrows rarely cause ponds to leak. Controlling crayfish in established ponds is best done by stabilizing the water level.

Turtles in Ponds

Most pond owners and anglers view turtles as a threat to fish communities in ponds. Such is not the case. Turtles are primarily scavengers, feeding on dead or dying fish and other aquatic organisms. They thus serve to clean the pond more than cause harm, and should not be indiscriminately destroyed.

Frogs in Ponds

Frogs seldom are a problem because bass and other predators usually keep populations low. Bullfrog tadpoles can become a problem in channel catfish-only ponds or minnow ponds because they can become abundant. Excessive numbers of tadpoles can be reduced by seining, and the adults can be eliminated by capturing them during the legal frogging season.

First, make sure that the pond is actually leaking. 

In Kansas, evaporation can be expected to range from about 4 feet per year in the eastern part of the state to about 6 feet per year in the west. Almost all ponds will leak to some degree, especially new ponds.  The pond owner can determine his pond?s leakage rate by measuring the water level drop with a marked stick during a period of cold or very humid, calm weather.  Techniques are available to seal the leaky and potentially leaky areas. Most sealing techniques are expensive and require considerable work.  Materials and methods for sealing a leaking pond can be found here.

Find answers to questions about the CFAP, Trout, Urban and F.I.S.H. Programs.

Additional information about all KDWP fisheries programs is available by clicking here.

The Community Fisheries Assistance Program (CFAP) was designed to remove barriers to fishing access and to provide family friendly fishing areas close to where people live.

The F.I.S.H. program,  which stands for Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats was patterned after the very successful Walk-In Hunting Access Program with a goal of increasing public fishing opportunities in Kansas.

KDWP created the Urban Fish Stocking Program to improve fishing opportunities in urban areas where the demand for fish exceeds the supply.   All metropolitan areas that have a human population over 40,000, with available public fishing waters, are served by this program. 

KDWP stocks rainbow trout seasonally in select waters throughout the state.

Anyone fishing for trout in these waters during the periods listed below must purchase a trout permit.  THE PERMIT IS VALID FOR THE CURRENT CALENDAR YEAR. 

Click here to purchase a trout permit online.  

Additional information and stocking locations are available by clicking here.

Oct 15- April 15 Stocking.
The Kansas trout season runs Oct. 15 - April 15. 

Year-Round Stocking
Trout fishing at Mined Land Wildlife Area Unit #30 (CherokeeCounty) and Tuttle Creek Reservoir Seep Stream requires a trout permit year-round.

Each program is designed to enhance fishing in Kansas in some specific way - and occasionally, a particular body of water will not fit the parameters of the program. 

In addition, all of these programs are made possible in conjunction with ponds, lakes and streams not owned by the state - meaning the owner of a water body may choose not to participate in the program.



The Department's fisheries management programs do not receive any state tax appropriations, but operate entirely on revenues generated directly from anglers in the following ways:

1) Hunting and fishing license fees

2) Sport Fish Restoration Program - a federal program that levies an excise tax on fishing equipment and boat fuel. The Sport Fish Restoration Program apportions money to state wildlife agencies based on a formula that factors in the size of the state and the number of licensed anglers. Kansas receives in excess of $3 million a year. This money is used for fisheries management projects, stocking, capital improvements, research, aquatic education, and boating/fishing access projects such as new and improved boat ramps.