Bourbon State Fishing Lake

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Bourbon ADA Compliant

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks manage 380 acres. Two hundred – seventy acres of land surrounds the 103 acre lake. The property is located on rolling upland terrain. The lake is situated in the valley of Wolfpen Creek, a small tributary of the Marmaton River which flows approximately one-half mile below the dam. The stream is fed by surface runoff and springs. It flows year-round except for mid-summer, during very dry periods. The east and southwest shoreline of the lake is bordered by steep bluffs with limestone outcrops carved by Wolfpen Creek. The west side of the lake is more intensively managed for shoreline angler access and other day use activities. Several earthen fishing piers, two floating docks and three automatic fish feeders are present to improve angling opportunity.

Lake News - Updated: 08/21/2006

Lake News

Annual Fall Drawdown at Bourbon State Lake

Over the next several weeks visitors to the Bourbon State Fishing Lake will likely notice a significant drop in the water level of the lake. Although this may be alarming to some, this is a planned event done by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to improve the outdoor experience for anglers utilizing the lake. The annual fall drawdown is scheduled to begin this week (9/19-9/23) and plans are to drop the lake level approximately ten vertical feet. The lake will be maintained at this level until at least January 1st, after which, it will be allowed to fill.

The annual drawdown is a management tool that is used to improve the growth of sportfish such as largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye, and crappie. By reducing the volume of water in the lake, prey fish (gizzard shad, panfish) become concentrated and are forced out of the shoreline vegetation thus becoming more available to the larger sportfish. The drawdown also helps to prevent stunting of panfish by preventing overpopulation so that those panfish that remain have more food available to them and will have improved growth.

The infrastructure of the lake also benefits from the drawdown. Erosion on the earthen piers is reduced due to decreased wave action. This helps to extend the life of the piers and decreases maintenance costs. The decreased water level also allows KDWP staff to perform any necessary maintenance to the piers to improve angler access.

Fishing during the period while the lake is drawn down can be excellent. Many anglers regard the fall and winter months while the lake level is low as the best time to catch fish. Sportfish are highly concentrated during this time and thus easier to locate and catch. Extensions to the boat ramps in recent years make it possible to get boats onto the lake during the drawdown.

Lake visitors that have any questions may contact KDWP at (913)-795-2218 or (620)-449-2539.

General Information

Bourbon SFL & WA (PDF 228.85 kB)

Manager: Monte Manbeck (620)-449-2539

10 miles south of Moran on Highway 59 to Elsmore then east 4 miles.

Special Regulations
  • Channel Catfish 15” length limit. Two fish creel limit.
  • Hunting is restricted to areas east and south of the lake.

Special Features: A water level management program helps maintain the lake’s quality fishery. The lake is lowered 5 – 8 feet after Labor Day and kept at this level through the winter. Lowering the water level crowds fish, increasing feeding efficiency of predatory fish. The predators feed heavily on small crappie, bluegill and shad improving growth and preventing overpopulation. Angler success will improve during the drawdown because fish are concentrated. An extension was added to the boat ramp so that boats can be launched during low water periods.

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


The Bourbon State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area property was purchased in 1957 by the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission. Two years later, Wolfpen creek was dammed and impounded approximately 103 acres. The property was opened to fishing in 1959

Bourbon Facilities
  • Type of Facility: Vault Toilet
  • This facility is ADA accessible
  • Location of Facility: N37 47.574 W95 04.150
  • Click for more information

Boat Ramp
  • Type of Facility: Boat Ramp
  • This facility is ADA accessible
  • Location of Facility: N37 47.574 W95 04.150
  • Click for more information

    Boat ramp with floating pier for handicap access.