Fisheries Research

Fisheries Research

Below are Current research projects. For copies of past research reports click HERE

Population Characteristics of Bluegill and Redear Sunfish in Kansas Impoundments (August 2018) (PDF - 4.32 MB)

Bluegill are an important component of many aquatic ecosystems in Kansas and contribute to recreational fisheries both as a sport fish and as a baitfish (Steffen 2015). Although Bluegill are an abundant and ubiquitous resource throughout Kansas, anglers only ranked them as the 10th favorite species to catch in the 2013 Kansas Licensed Angler Survey. Additionally, they represent the 7th most fished for species in the same survey (Steffen 2015). Redear Sunfish are likely not differentiated from Bluegill by many Kansas anglers and probably represent a key component of catch and harvest by “sunfish” anglers. Reasons for the relative indifference toward sunfish by Kansas anglers are unknown, but a survey indicated that in general, Kansas Bluegill populations are not producing “trophy” Bluegill (i.e., 257 mm; Steffen, unpublished information) that are sought by anglers. Similarly, standardized sampling results suggest that relative abundance of Bluegill exceeding minimum size for sport harvest (174 mm; Steffen, unpublished information) has decreased since the mid-2000s. Although Kansas reservoir Bluegill and Redear Sunfish populations are routinely monitored with annual standard sampling via fall trap netting (Marteney 2010), a comprehensive evaluation of age and growth of Bluegill and Redear Sunfish was lacking. Additionally, there is interest in using restrictive regulations to improve Bluegill and Redear Sunfish populations. As such, the objective of this study was to estimate Bluegill and Redear Sunfish population parameters (e.g., growth and mortality) from 34 impoundments throughout Kansas. These data are summarized herein and will be used to further Bluegill and Redear Sunfish management in Kansas.

Forage Fish Management Plan (April 2016) (PDF - 538.11 kB)

The goal of the forage fish management plan is to consolidate best available information to promote proper management of forage fishes and increase sport fish angling opportunities and participation in Kansas.  To meet this goal, the forage fish committee developed three objectives.

1.  Identify current forage fishes in Kansas and their role in fisheries management

2.  Identify challenges that face fisheries managers in Kansas as they relate to forage fishes

2.  Determine what direction KDWPT should move as it pertains to forage fish management

To address these objectives, the committee developed an eight-question survey that was disseminated to KDWPT district fisheries biologists in January, 2016.  Responses were collected through February, 2016, consolidated, and summarized (Appendix A).

2013 Kansas Licensed Angler Survey Report (PDF - 3.18 MB)

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) conducts periodic surveys of its licensed anglers to maintain current information about the fishing characteristics, preferences, and attitudes of its anglers.  One goal of the 2013 Kansas Licensed Angler Survey was to get information about special topics including: socialization into fishing, walleye and crappie management, and harmful algal-blooms.  Also, KDWPT wanted to know angler demographics and their fishing participation and characteristics; these questions were similar to previous surveys to identify trends.  Regularly obtaining human dimensions data from our angling constituents is as important as spring electrofishing, fall test netting, and creel surveys.

Evaluation of genetic purity of Kansas walleye populations (PDF - 68.72 kB)

There are several important considerations regarding walleye Sander vitreus management in Kansas. One such consideration is genetic purity of stocks, including potential hybridization with congeners, and back-crossing with saugeye Sander vitreus × Sander canadensis that are stocked by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT). Introgression of sauger Sander canadensis alleles into walleye populations could have implications for broodstock collection and resulting stocking of progeny, unintended downstream genetic contamination of stocks, and genetic fitness of compromised populations. As such, the genetic purity of Kansas walleye populations is periodically assessed.
In 2000, KDWPT obtained tissue samples from walleye in 10 Kansas reservoirs to determine the genetic purity of walleye populations. In that study, malate dehydrogenase (MDH) and phosphoglucomutase (PGM) activities were examined, which were used to discriminate between walleye and sauger alleles. Data indicated sauger alleles were present in what were thought to be pure Kansas walleye populations. Backcrossing was also detected, but the exact nature of the hybridization was undetermined. Since it has been 15 years since this one and only genetic examination of Kansas walleye populations, further investigation of the purity of Kansas walleye populations was warranted. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the genetic purity of ten priority percid waters in Kansas.