After five dry years, river flow returns to levels that support stocking

STOCKTON -- In 2000, above average river flows allowed the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) to experiment with seasonal rainbow trout stocking in the South Fork of the Solomon River above Webster Reservoir. Habitat was enhanced in three zones between the upper end of the reservoir and the Damar Blacktop (2 Road) to help hold trout in place, and fish were released in these locations in February and March of that year. Fort Hays State University Biology Department staff and students assisted with an environmental assessment of this pilot project. Results were favorable, and trout were again stocked in the river in the winter and spring of 2001 and 2002.

Dry conditions returned after the third year of the program, and river flows were considered too low to support a trout fishery in 2003. (A rate of flow exceeding 30 cubic feet per second is considered adequate for supporting a seasonal trout fishery in this stretch of river.) Drought was prevalent from 2003 through 2007. Then wet conditions throughout most of 2008 within much of the Solomon River Basin rejuvenated river flows. As a result, KDWP biologists are planning to stock rainbow trout in the river this year with the first release tentatively scheduled for Jan. 26.

This year’s program, in response to budget and manpower limitations, will be a reduced version of the previous efforts. For 2009, habitat will be enhanced in a single zone that can be accessed at the N Road low-water crossing just west of 5 Road. This will be the only site stocked this year. Anglers should be able to find the best concentrations of trout within a zone ranging approximately ½ mile upstream and ½ mile downstream of the crossing. This site will likely be stocked again in March, and possibly in February, depending upon flow and the amount of angler use and harvest.

The stretch of the South Fork of the Solomon River lying between the Damar Blacktop and Webster Reservoir is a Type 2 designated trout water, meaning that during trout season -- which runs Oct. 15-April 15 -- a trout permit is required for anglers fishing for or possessing trout except that youth under 16 years of age may fish without a permit with a reduced daily limit of two trout, or they can keep five per day if they possess a permit. In addition, all residents 16 through 64 years old and nonresidents 16 and older must have a valid fishing license. Anglers fishing for or possessing only species other than trout in this stretch of river during trout season are not required to have a trout permit. All anglers may fish for and possess trout without a permit once the season ends April 15.

The following map describes the stocking locations or view an enlarged map HERE: