Data used to compile 2008 Kansas Fishing Forecast, guide fisheries management

Each year, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) raises and stocks millions of fish throughout the state, providing anglers with special opportunities to catch a wide variety of species. To monitor the health of fisheries and help anglers find the best places to fish, KDWP fisheries biologists spend the better part of each fall sampling lakes throughout the state. This is the best time to sample fish because it’s the end of the growing season.

Biologists have completed the 2008 sampling and are in the process of compiling results. This data is used for the following year's stocking requests, recommendations for future length and creel limit regulations, other management recommendations, as well as the annual Fishing Forecast upon which anglers rely.

Across the state, 18 district fisheries biologists annually sample 26 large reservoirs, 40 state fishing lakes, and more than 220 community lakes. Because of times constraints or other circumstances, not every lake is sampled each year.

In September, fisheries biologists may use electroshocking for bass, and in October and November, gill-nets and traps are used to sample all sportfish. The massive nets are pulled onto a boat and the fish removed. Biologists then count, weigh, and measure each fish and record this information, taking care to get the fish back in the water quickly. Netting results are recorded on waterproof paper or a laptop computer.

With a laptop, biologists can enter data on the water, then enter it directly into the department's Aquatic Data Analysis System (ADAS) when they get back to the office, eliminating paperwork. ADAS also allows biologists to enter paper-recorded testing data into the system through a desktop computer. They can then compare results with past years' data, which lets them know the population dynamics of the lake tested and make management decisions, from stocking plans to length and creel limits.

Another innovative tool fisheries biologists use is the Fisheries Analysis and Simulation Tools (FAST) software program, developed in conjunction with 20 other states. This computer application allows the field biologist to use data from the ADAS system and separate age and growth testing to predict what would happen if certain length or creel limits were imposed on a given lake. Tools such as this not only take much of the guesswork out of managing a lake, they allow biologists to spend more time on other projects, such as habitat development.

Now that sampling is complete, anglers across Kansas can look forward to the 2008 Kansas Fishing Forecast, which will be available on the KDWP website in early January.