PRATT – A Kansas angler’s prized catch may actually be worth a prize this spring and summer. The first-ever Great Kansas Fishing Derby will run May 1 to July 31, 2021, with at least 500 specially tagged fish located in up to 37 public waterbodies in Kansas. The Great Kansas Fishing Derby is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), Kansas Wildscape Foundation, the Bass Pro-Cabela’s Outdoor Fund and many local retailers across Kansas.
“The main goal is to get more people fishing. We had a lot of anglers join the party in 2020 and we want them to keep participating,” said David Breth, KDWPT sportfishing education coordinator. “We also want to make sure businesses know about their local fishing waters and just how many people visit these nearby fishing spots.”
How It Works
Pre-registration is not required, and participation is free, though normal fishing license requirements remain in effect. To get your Kansas fishing license, visit kshuntfishcamp.com or download KDWPT’s mobile licensing app, “HuntFish KS,” here https://ksoutdoors.com/License-Permits/HuntFish-KS.
Anglers who catch a tagged fish as part of the Great Kansas Fishing Derby must register the tag number at ksfishderby.com. A follow-up communication will notify the angler of what they’ve won and where to claim the prize. Ksfishderby.com will also allow anglers and non-anglers to register to win additional prizes through weekly drawings.
Businesses across Kansas are supporting the Great Kansas Fishing Derby by providing prizes in the form of gift cards, merchandise and more – including a city zoo that has pledged an annual family pass. KDWPT will also contribute gift cards, which can be credited toward any department-issued license or permit, or magazine subscription. KDWPT gift cards are also honored at all Kansas state parks.
Where To Fish
All participating waterbodies are open to the public and managed in whole or in-part by KDWPT. Also included in the list of participating waters are ponds and lakes currently enrolled in KDWPT’s Community Fisheries Assistance Program (CFAP). By leveraging funding from federal excise taxes on fishing equipment, KDWPT leases public access – at no additional cost to the public – to gorgeous waters that once required special county, community or city permits.
A complete list of waters with fish tagged for the Derby will be posted on ksfishderby.com on April 30.
“We’ll have popular sportfish tagged, like bass, crappie and walleye,” said Breth. “We’ll also have some non-sportfish like carp, gar and drum. We have people who like to fish for them and a lot who also participate in bow fishing. There will probably be some big bluegill tagged because we’d love to see kids win some of these prizes, too.”
Most tagged fish will meet legal length limits and can be legally kept. However, anglers may release their catch if they first remove the tag (see ksfishderby.com for instructions).
Businesses and groups interested in sponsoring tagged fish for this year’s Derby can find sponsorship details at ksfishderby.com. Breth added that more than 500 fish could be tagged as sponsorship grows. He also hopes the Derby becomes an annual event, as it’s become in Washington state.
“They’ve been doing it with trout, which they raise in hatcheries, since 2016,” he said. “It’s really popular with anglers and (sponsoring) vendors. It keeps growing every year for them, so we’re hoping that will be the case here.”
For more information on fishing in Kansas, visit ksoutdoors.com/Fishing.