Handfishing open only in specific waters
PRATT — The Kansas flathead catfish handfishing season opens June 15, providing thrills and plenty of great table fare for those hearty souls who anticipate this unique adventure. The season runs June 15-Aug. 31, a time when those of strong nerve may catch flathead catfish using nothing but their hands and wits. Although such anglers may be few, the season offers a special challenge at a time when summer heat has slowed many other types of fishing.

In addition to a limited season, there are restrictions during the handfishing season. Only flathead catfish may be taken, and legal handfishing hours are sunrise to sunset. A special $27.50 permit is required in addition to a regular fishing license. Handfishermen may not use hooks, snorkeling or scuba gear, or any other man-made device or possess any fishing gear except a stringer. Stringers may not be used until the fish are caught by hand and are at or above the surface of the water. No man-made object that attracts fish — such as a barrel, box, bathtub, or any other object — may be used. The season is only open in the following waters:

  • the entire length of the Arkansas River;
  • all federal reservoirs from beyond 150 yards of the dam to the upstream end of the federal property; and
  • the Kansas River from its origin downstream to its confluence with the Missouri River.

Everyone who purchases a handfishing permit will be given a questionnaire they must complete and submit no later than 30 days after the close of the handfishing season. Handfishing permits may be purchased online or at select locations around the state. To find vendors or purchase permits online, go online to kdwp.state.ks.us/news/License-Permits.