Council Grove Wildlife Area News

Area News

2018 Dove Hunting Outlook:

Three sunflower tracts (13, 9, 13 acres) should provide fair to good dove hunting opportunities at Council Grove Wildlife Area.  Portions of these fields will be mowed (if conditions allow) to enhance dove use and hunter access.  One 13-acre field is 0.25 miles east of the parking area at the end of 850 Road or 0.2 miles north of the eastern most parking area along the north side of Munkers Creek.  The 9-acre field is 0.1 miles southeast of the bridge over the Neosho River.  This field is east of the trees that can be viewed from the bridge.  One 13-acre field is just east of the parking area and kiosk along M Avenue and west of Slough Creek. 

Dove hunters may be asked to obtain a permit prior to hunting and report harvest at the end of their hunt.  Please assist area staff with evaluating these opportunities by following instructions located at permit stations posted at each field.  Hunters are also reminded to please be courteous and aware of other hunting parties while using these fields.

For a brochure and map of the entire wildlife area please visit the Council Grove Wildlife Area web page (ksoutdoors.com) and click on the brochure tab at the top of the page. For more information, please call the area manager at (620) 767-5900.

Early Teal Season Looks Promising:

Recent changes in habitat conditions should enhance opportunities for waterfowl hunters early this year with the beginning of the teal season on September 8.  Above average populations, liberal limits, and improved habitat conditions following recent rains, leave room for hunters to be optimistic about the upcoming season.  The early teal season in the Low Plains Zone has been set from September 8 through September 23. 

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has reported that blue-winged and green-winged teal populations remain strong and are significantly above long-term averages.  Although teal populations are estimated to be below those seen throughout the flyway in 2017, fall teal flights are still predicted to be good. 

Perhaps most importantly, habitat conditions have improved with recent rains.  During most years, lake habitats lack significant food resources.  This year however may be different as many plants became established within dewatered zones at the upper ends of the lake following drought conditions that persisted until mid-August.  Now that rains have returned, and lake levels have risen within these zones, many of those plants will provide food and cover for wetland wildlife species including waterfowl.  In most years, lake habitats provide water only, but this year the lake has the potential to provide water, food, and cover and therefore should be more attractive to migrating waterfowl and have greater ability to hold waterfowl once they arrive.  Weather will undoubtedly play a part (as it always does) in determining the extent of waterfowl use this year as well. Hunters are encouraged to visit the area website to view weekly waterfowl population and habitat condition updates. 

Council Grove Lake – 2018 Fishing Outlook

District Fisheries Biologist, John Reinke, has provided the following information to assist anglers when planning upcoming fishing trips.  Information is provided based upon his annual population sampling. 

Crappie - Good. Fish sampling efforts during October 2017 produced the second most crappie since 2002!  Density is 58% higher than the 5-year average, but lower than last year’s. Crappie production was good, which bodes well for the future. 2017 young of the year had fair growth, and should provide a good year class to come. While the numbers of crappie decreased in 2017, the fish that are available will be small, with a few over 10”. 

Saugeye - Good. Saugeye density increased to the most available since 2012. There was a 3-fold increase in the number of saugeye over 15”, so 81% now exceed the 15” minimum length limit. Walleye are also present in similar density and sizes as saugeye. When lumped together, these species will provide good angling opportunities in 2018, and provide for some excellent table fare. 

White Bass – Fair/Good.  The 2017 fall test netting sample resulted in a 100% increase in catch rate for white bass. The existing population, however, is still below the 5-year average. Size of fish did decrease overall, and none were sampled over 12”. The 2017-year class of white bass looks excellent, the most in the last 8 years. Anglers should expect to catch many more white bass in 2018, but overall sizes will be smaller than last year. 

Wiper - Fair. Wiper were first stocked into Council Grove Reservoir in 2008.  Fish exceeded the 18-inch minimum length limit by the fall of 2010.  The last stocking of wiper occurred in 2012. Wiper catch rate obtained during fall test netting was low, well below the 5-year average.  Sampled wipers were big though, up to 24 inches. 100% of the gill net sampled wipers exceeded the 18-inch minimum length limit.  Anglers should expect fair wiper fishing during 2018 with the chance at fish of trophy proportions.

Channel Catfish - Good. Channel catfish density increased to its highest level since 2010.  It is now 52% above the 5-year average for the lake. Roughly 87% of the channel catfish sampled during October 2017 were in the 16 to 28-inch size range.  Anglers should expect good fishing for channel catfish during 2018.  Very Good to Excellent catfish action can develop during times of inflow as the fish concentrate to feed in the creeks and other areas near current. 

For more information about fishery management at Council Grove Reservoir, contact District Fisheries Biologist, John Reinke, at #785-461-5095 or John.Reinke@KS.GOV.  

Want Current Lake Condition Information?  It’s Just a Click Away!

It can be argued that technology is not always a good thing.  But for outdoor recreationists wanting to know current information about Council Grove Lake, technology can be good because the information is available and can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by visiting the internet on your computer or smart phone.

For those interested in learning more about current or historic lake levels, precipitation amounts, lake inflow, or lake releases, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates a convenient web site providing this information.  Whether you are an angler interested in lake conditions to determine if it might be right for pursuing your favorite species of fish, or are a boater or camper wondering how lake conditions have been impacted by recent drought or rains, the website can be a valuable trip planning tool.  To access this information simply visit:

http://www.swt-wc.usace.army.mil/COUN.lakepage.html

Woodland Habitat Enhancement Work Reaches Milestone 

In early January of this year, area staff completed our 8th year of woodland habitat enhancement projects at Council Grove Wildlife Area.  This years’ work was directed to enhance woodland characteristics within existing stands near Gilmore Creek and the southwest corner of the lake.  Approximately 65 acres were treated this year.  With this latest project complete, staff have evaluated all area woodlands encompassing approximately 1,100 acres, and completed treatments within nearly 750 acres!  This project marked the end of an initial plan to work with forestry professionals from the Kansas Forest Service and National Wild Turkey Federation to conduct annual efforts to encourage desirable tree species such as burr oak (primarily), hickory, and walnut. 

To enhance tree stature and nut production of these species, more common and less desirable tree species such as locust, hackberry, elm, maple, ash, and boxelder were removed from the stand when they were found to be competing for sunlight.  By reducing competition, those trees that remain are more likely to flourish and enhance food and cover characteristics for many woodland wildlife species including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, squirrel, and raccoon.  Since 2010, nearly 650 hours of work has been completed to enhance habitat characteristics and the recreation experience of our visitors!  With this initial project complete, similar efforts are now being planned at El Dorado Wildlife Area where significant opportunities for enhancement also exist.  At Council Grove Wildlife Area, staff will continue to work with forestry professionals to evaluate woodland habitats and consider enhancement options.  

Welcome New Natural Resource Officer:

Area staff are pleased to announce that a new Natural Resource Officer (NRO) has begun work in the area.  Officer Jacob Spear has recently accepted natural resource law enforcement responsibilities within Chase and Morris Counties.  Spear replaces long-time area NRO Randy Benteman following his transfer to another county.  Officer Spear looks forward to working with area outdoor enthusiasts to protect and conserve our natural resources and preserve our hunting and angling heritage. Persons with law enforcement related questions or concerns can contact their Kansas NRO by utilizing a county listing of Natural Resource Officers found within each annual hunting or fishing regulation summary.  Spear may be contacted directly by calling #620/340-5968.  Welcome Officer Spear!