Melvern Wildlife Area

Melvern Lake/Wildlife Area Waterfowl Report
Melvern Reservoir Fishing Information

Melvern Wildlife Area is located in the physiographic area known as Osage Cuestas. Much of the upland area is dominated by native tall grass prairie with small wooded draws interspersed. The lowlands located along the Marais des Cygnes river flood plain is primarily crop land. The area habitats include approximately 4,000 acres of native tall grass prairie, 2,000 acres of woodland habitat, and 3,000 acres of crop land. Management tools include prescribed fire and crop rotations. 

Moist-soil management is conducted on all marshes which uses water level fluctuations to manage for desirable wetland vegetation beneficial to migratory birds. Periodically, some marshes will be drained in order to conduct dike repairs and control invading woody vegetation and cattails. Management of upland habitats over the years has consisted of converting croplands and cool season grasses to native warm season grasses and forbs, planting of shrub plots, selective cutting of invading woody vegetation, and prescribed burning to stimulate native warm season grasses and forbs.

White-tailed deer and wild turkey are plentiful on the area. Waterfowl numbers vary depending on available habitat, but the area has supported large numbers during both the fall and spring migrations. Mourning dove numbers vary yearly depending on nesting conditions. Ring-necked pheasant may possibly be found in very small numbers on the area. Bobwhite quail populations are excellent on the area, but a good dog is needed due to the dense vegetation. Squirrel and cottontail rabbit numbers are generally healthy and provide some of the most underutilized hunting opportunities on the area.

Non-game species are very plentiful on the area and provide some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities. A wide array of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians can be found on the area.

Fishing for catfish, white bass, and crappie in the Marais des Cygnes River are also popular activities. Trapping which is allowed on the area, can be a very successful venture due to the wide array of furbearer habitats.

2272 Road 250
Reading,KS    66868
Office Hours:
8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Manager: Vacant

Assistant Manager: Luke Berning

Phone: 620-699-3372

- Updated: 12/31/1969

General Information
2272 Road 250
Reading, KS    66868
Office Hours:
8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Manager: Vacant

Assistant Manager: Luke Berning

Phone: 620-699-3372

Special Regulations
  • All hunters on Melvern WA are REQUIRED to obtain a free daily hunt permit.  PERMITS CAN NOW BE OBTAINED ELECTRONICALLY, TO REGISTER AND BEGIN USING THE ELECTRONIC PERMIT SYSTEM, CLICK HERE.   Permits are required only on the portion of the property open to hunting that is managed by KDWPT as a wildlife area. On the north side of the lake, this includes the portion of the wildlife area west of Eisenhower State Park (Wanamaker Rd.); on the south side of the lake this includes the portion of the property west of Indian Hills Rd. The remaining property around the lake is managed by the Melvern Lake Corps of Engineers or Eisenhower State Park and no permit is required to hunt.
  • Off Road Vehicle and Horse use is prohibited.
  • Camping is not allowed on the wildlife area
  • The waterfowl refuge located on the upper end of the lake is closed to all activity from October 1st to January 15th.

Here is a complete list of Public Land Regulations or you can download the regulation summary.


Land Acquisition: The 10,100 acre Melvern Wildlife Area was licensed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Kansas Fish and Game Commission in March of 1977.

Melvern Facilities
Arvonia Cemetery Boat Ramp
  • Type of Facility: Boat Ramp
  • Location of Facility: N38 29.590 W95 53.728
  • Click for more information

    This boat ramp is located on the river for river access below the log jam

Melvern Lake/Wildlife Area Waterfowl Report - 01/19/2022
Waterfowl numbers

Waterfowl counts given on this report are based on what was observed on the day the report is updated. Waterfowl numbers vary greatly from day to day and weather conditions and hunting pressure will affect the number of waterfowl on the area.   

84 Mallards

27 Common Goldeneye

64 Common Merganser

4 Canada Geese

400 Snow Geese

Mallard Migration Rank = 5 (0 = no mallards and 10 = peak migration)

Water level Lake level = 1034.92; Conservation pool = 1036.00; Target goal for the lake is 1034.00.         30% Ice cover on Melvern Lake.
Hunting conditions

Melvern Lake and the Wildlife Area fall within the Low Plains Late Zone. Duck Season is CLOSED until the second split: January 22nd-30th. 

3 Duck Marsh- The wetland is a mix of corn and moist-soil production. Both units are full.

Willow Marsh- This wetland is full of moist soil vegetation and will provide excellent habitat. This wetland is full.

Sundance Marsh- This wetland remained underwater until early August due to high lake levels. There was some response by moist soil vegetation and the wetland is 100% full. 

Lowman's Cove- Due to high rainfall totals this wetland remained full and produced little food within the marsh. There will be plenty of cover around the edges but lots of open water within the wetland.

Shoveler Slough- This wetland is a mix of corn and moist-soil production. Habitat conditions are looking excellent. This wetland is full. The parking lot for this wetland is located at the intersection of 317th and S. Davis Rd. 

Refuge-The refuge is on the west end of the lake and directly east of Willow Marsh. It produced good moist soil vegetation but due to dropping lake levels there is very little habitat available. The Refuge Area is CLOSED October 1st through January 15th.

Expected hunting success Moderate

All hunters utilizing Melvern Wildlife Area are required to obtain a free daily hunt permit through the new electronic permit system. Hunters can register now to begin using the electronic system at  For more information (click here). Waterfowl hunters utilizing the main lake are only required to obtain a permit when hunting west of Hoch Road.


The Refuge Area is CLOSED October 1st through January 15th.

Wildlife Viewing

It cuts through gently rolling hills of tallgrass, and its marshes teemed with waterfowl and other wildlife. It is the river the French trappers named the Marais des Cygnes (Marsh of the Swans). Melvern Lake, in the valley of that river, is still a haven for many of the wildlife species seen by the early trappers.

A good way to become familiar with the area is to walk on the Marais des Cygnes Nature Trail below the dam and on the Eisenhower Interpretive Trail in Eisenhower State Park. There are riparian woodlands of ash, American elm, cottonwood, and honey locust, and thickets of rough-leaved dogwood, smooth sumac, and wild plum. Hundreds of acres of big and little bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass, black sampson, black-eyed Susan, Illinois bundleflower, and dozens of other prairie plants are found here.

The river, lake, and cattail marshes provide habitat for many migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. In winter bald eagles perch in trees along the lake. Also watch for sharp-shinned, Cooper's, and rough-legged hawks. The waters attract snow geese, gadwalls, American wigeons, and common mergansers. Look in the woodlands and thickets for black-capped chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, and brown creepers. In spring, grasslands contain booming grounds, or leks, of greater prairie chickens. Summer birds include wood ducks, scissor-tailed flycatchers, eastern kingbirds, common nighthawks, and great blue herons. Year-round residents include red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, eastern screech-owls, Canada geese, belted kingfishers, and red-headed woodpeckers. Mammals such as white-tailed deer, squirrels, bobcats, coyotes, muskrats, and beaver can best be viewed just before sunup and just after sundown.

2021 Dove Fields

Seven managed sunflower fields are located on the Melvern Wildlife Area totaling about 166 acres. 

-All sunflower fields are Non-toxic shot only

-Check-in and check-out are required daily (

-Always know what lies beyond your target 

-It is highly recommended that hunters wear safety glasses within the dove fields to prevent potential injury due to falling pellets.