El Dorado Wildlife Area News

Area News

2018 Dove Hunting Outlook:

Three sunflower fields (6,10, 5 acres) will provide fair to good dove hunting opportunities at El Dorado Wildlife Area.  Portions of these sunflower fields will be mowed (if conditions allow) to enhance dove use and hunter access.  The 6-acre field is 0.1 miles north of the parking area that is north of the junction of NE 10th Street and NE Ellis Road.  The 5-acre and 10-acre fields are south of 85th Street and can be accessed from the first parking area west of Cole Creek.

Dove hunters using these managed fields must use non-toxic shot. 

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 El Dorado Wildlife Area web page (ksoutdoors.com) and click on the brochure tab at the top of the page. For more information please call (620)767-5900 or (316)322-7513.

Dove Field Hunters Required to Use Non-Toxic Shot:

Beginning in 2013 many managed dove fields on KDWPT public wildlife areas required the use of non-toxic shot.  Designated fields at El Dorado Wildlife Area have been included in this requirement and will continue to include all sunflower fields.  Signs designating this requirement will be posted at each field.    

Lead exposure has long been recognized as a significant threat to waterfowl populations.  Concerns arose when large concentrations of lead from spent shotgun shells began to accumulate in traditional waterfowl hunting locations.  It was discovered that waterfowl could ingest the lead shot while feeding, and that the lead was toxic and could lead to illness or death.  It was also found that some animals that scavenged lead poisoned carcasses could also ingest remaining lead and become afflicted, thus impacting an entire food chain.  Losses from lead poisoning were estimated to be significant, and as such a nation-wide ban on the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting was implemented decades ago. 

Concerns of lead exposure to other wildlife species, including doves has become more common.  Managed dove hunting fields can provide fast-paced gunning opportunities leading to the deposition of significant quantities of lead within some fields.  This lead can potentially be ingested by species foraging in these fields such as doves, ducks, geese, prairie chickens, and non-game species such as songbirds.  Concerns may be elevated in fields where no-till planting has been employed (increasingly common) for its soil building and erosion control benefits.  As the name implies, no-till planted fields do not incorporate ground tillage into planting preparations.  Lead deposited in these fields may be more likely to remain available to wildlife at the ground surface as compared to conventionally planted fields were tillage is incorporated into plans and where lead could be mixed beneath the soil surface. 

Non-toxic shot availability and price has improved and its use should help to insure the responsible conservation of our wildlife resources and preservation of our treasured hunting heritage.

Early Teal Season Looks to Have Potential:

Recent changes in habitat conditions may 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 are improving 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.  Recent rains have caused lake levels to rise within the edges of these zones, shallowly flooding many of those plants which now 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 but additional rain will be needed to maintain lake levels within these habitat areas.  If lake levels persist or increasingly rise into these plant zones the lake 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. 

El Dorado Lake – 2018 Fishing Outlook 

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

White crappie - Good.  Crappie numbers are looking very good for 2018 and are at the highest levels since 2011. Very productive spawns during 2015 and 2017 are providing the recent increased numbers of crappie within the reservoir. Size distribution shows improvement over last year with higher numbers of larger fish available to anglers in 2018. Anglers should expect quality crappie fishing in 2018 with larger fish in the 13 to 15+-inch range available. A 20/day crappie creel limit became effective January 1, 2018. 

Walleye - Good. Walleye numbers will be up in 2018 and are at the highest level since 2010. Percentage of 20 to 25-inch walleye is down from last year while percentage of 25 to 30-inch walleye is up. Numbers of walleye in the 10 to 15-inch range are the lowest seen in many years which may cause some problems in walleye availability in coming years. Walleye sampled during test netting in November 2017 had excellent body conditions showing they are getting plenty to eat. Walleye harvest regulations include a 21-inch minimum length limit and a 2/day creel limit.  

White bass - Fair. After several years of depressed numbers, the white bass population has finally seen a slight increase in overall numbers. Fall test netting in 2017 yielded the highest white bass catch rate since 2012. Lack of timely spring inflows during the white bass spawn have negatively impacted production resulting in lower densities. Anglers should be pleased with the sizes of white bass available this year. Eighty percent (80%) of the white bass are longer than 12 inches and 18% are longer than 15 inches. 

Wiper - Good. 2018 may prove to be the best big fish year since wiper were introduced in 2003. Twenty-three percent (23%) of the wiper sampled during fall test netting exceeded the 21-inch minimum length limit and 31% were between 19 and 21 inches. Fish displayed the best body condition since 2010 equating to good, thick wiper. While wiper density is down from the last several years, the greatly increased quality of the available fish should make up for the decreased catch rate. Wiper harvest regulations include a 21-inch minimum length limit and a 2/day creel limit.  

Channel catfish - Fair. Channel catfish numbers obtained through fall test netting continue to be low and relatively stable at El Dorado. Catch rate has deviated only 0.5 fish per net over the last five years. Most (80%) of the sampled channel catfish were less than 17 inches with the remaining 20% being less than 24 inches. Despite the absence of large fish in the sampling nets anglers do report catches of larger channel catfish at El Dorado especially from the creeks during times of inflow. 

Blue catfish - Good.  The blue catfish population continues to improve. The fall test netting effort produced the best catch of blues since the introductory stocking in 2004. Fish are getting bigger each year. The population is currently being managed with a 25 to 35-inch protective slot length limit and a 5/day creel limit with no more than two fish over 35 inches. Blue catfish between 25 and 35 inches must be immediately released. Blues larger than 35 inches are already being caught by anglers in 2018 and harvestable fish under 25 inches are common. 

Black bass - Fair. The lake contains three species of black bass: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. Skilled bass anglers continue to catch nice bass at El Dorado, but the casual angler may be disappointed in bass action at the lake. Smallmouth prefer the rockier areas of the reservoir while the largemouth prefer the vegetated coves, shallow timbered areas, and feeder creeks. The density of all three populations remains fairly stable from year to year.  

For more information about fishery management at El Dorado Lake, contact District Fisheries Biologist, Craig Johnson, at #316/322-7513 or craig.johnson@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 El Dorado 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/ELDR.lakepage.html

Productive Prescribed Burning Season Completed 

The smoke has now cleared from a busy and productive spring prescribed burning season at El Dorado Wildlife Area.  Staff completed burns within 11 tracts this year, totaling approximately 736 acres!  Prescribed burns such as those completed this spring serve to enhance area grassland habitats for numerous wildlife species, including those often sought by area hunters such as quail, turkey, and deer.  Such burns help to control invading trees and brush and can reduce the prevalence of less desirable grass species such as smooth brome.  Burns can also help to stimulate desirable broad-leaved plants (forbs) to enhance food and cover characteristics for many species of wildlife.  Ultimately, fire is used as a tool to refresh habitats and to encourage plant diversity within the habitat landscape.  Diverse plant communities better meet the ever-changing needs of wildlife by providing diverse food and cover options throughout the year.  Improved habitat often equates to an enhanced recreation experience for our visitors!    

Lake Clean-up Day Organized by Outdoor Groups

A Kansas public land clean-up day was held at El Dorado State Park and Wildlife Area earlier this spring.  Two area outdoor groups organized the event and worked with Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (KDWPT), Assistant Wildlife Area Manager, Tyler Burt, to remove litter from public land areas surrounding El Dorado Lake.  The KDWPT wish to extend a big THANK YOU to volunteers from Pass It On Outdoor Mentors and the Kansas Hunting and Fishing Facebook Group for their efforts to help keep OUR public lands clean.  The group picked up enough trash to fill several large dumpsters!  A special THANKS also goes to Blake Rapp for helping to organize this productive and helpful event!  Lake visitors are reminded to please help the KDWPT provide clean, quality outdoor experiences by removing trash from areas where you recreate.  Help us to help you, by doing your part to keep OUR public lands and waters clean! 

Welcome New Assistant Manager

Area staff are pleased to announce the recent hiring of Mr. Tyler Burt as our new Assistant Public Lands Manager.  Tyler will be primarily assisting with management responsibilities at El Dorado Wildlife Area and Butler State Fishing Lake, but will also be available to assist with special projects at Council Grove Wildlife Area and Chase State Fishing Lake. Tyler brings a solid reputation as a passionate and dedicated employee with a diverse skill set and interests including public relation and communication abilities, biological expertise, leadership and supervisory abilities, land management experience, equipment operation and maintenance skills, facility and infrastructure management and maintenance abilities, law enforcement proficiency, community involvement, technological experience, and youth program involvement.  Tyler is stationed at the El Dorado Wildlife Area office which is located just east of Hwy. 177 along NE 20th Street.  He can be contacted at #316/322-7513 or tyler.burt@ks.gov. 

Butler State Fishing Lake Added to Areas of Responsibility

Beginning in late August of 2017, Butler State Fishing Lake (SFL), located in southeast Butler County, became an area of additional management responsibility.  Butler State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area provides scenic outdoor experiences within a nearly 120-acre lake and 200-acre public land complex.  Noted for its quail hunting, largemouth bass fishing, and summer wildflower viewing opportunities, Butler SFL can help to satisfy year-round outdoor recreation interests.  Recently hired Assistant Manager, Tyler Burt (please see above article) will have direct responsibility for the property.  Plans are currently being developed to enhance the visitor experience by improving shoreline angler access, area roadways, restrooms, shelters, signage, and courtesy docks.  Habitat management efforts will continue to incorporate periodic prescribed burns and greater emphasis will be placed on control of noxious and invasive plant species.  Plans are also currently being developed to remove woody vegetation from the lake dam.  With the addition of Butler SFL, staff are now responsible for the management of 4 properties within 3 counties of the Flint Hills region, including Council Grove and El Dorado Wildlife Areas and Chase State Fishing Lake.  Outdoor recreation opportunities abound within these nearly 6,500 acres of public lands!