PRATT – Most anglers will keep good fishing spots close to their vests, but unfortunately for them, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism doesn’t. The 2017 Kansas Fishing Forecast is now available online, just in time for anglers to begin planning fishing trips for this spring. At ksoutdoors.com/Fishing/Fishing-Forecast, anglers can discover where the best fishing will be for all sport fish, taking all the mystery out of deciding where to fish.
The forecast is a compilation of data district fisheries biologists gather throughout the year. Biologists sample fish populations using a variety of methods, including electroshocking, trap nets, and gill nets. Fish are measured and weighed before being released, and the data is compared to that from previous years’ sampling. Creel surveys may also be conducted to find out from anglers what they are catching and what they prefer to catch.
Once sampling data is entered, it is assembled into a format that anglers can use to determine where the best fishing will be for the species they enjoy fishing for. For example, if you like to catch big crappie and lot of them, you should visit John Redmond Reservoir this spring. The 9,400-acre reservoir near Burlington is tops in its category for white crappie. And it’s not only No. 1 in the Density Rating for crappie longer than 8 inches, it’s also near the top for numbers of crappie 10 inches long or longer, which is the Preferred Rating. However, John Redmond really stands above all other reservoirs in the Lunker Rating, which refers to crappie longer than 12 inches, considered trophy-class, or lunkers, to most anglers.
Because sampling methods differ, depending on the size of the water body, the forecast is separated into three groups – ponds (less than 10 acres), lakes (less than 10-1,200 acres) and reservoirs (larger than 1,200 acres).
The forecast rankings are based on numbers of fish within length categories caught per sampling effort, which could be “per hour of electroshocking” or per “gill or trap net set.” Each species has a different set of length categories. For largemouth bass, the Density Rating is based on the number of fish per sampling effort that measured longer than 12 inches. The Preferred Rating for largemouths is the number of fish longer than 15 inches, and the Lunker Rating for largemouths is the number of fish longer than 20 inches. Incidentally, the No. 1 reservoir for largemouths this year is Sebelius Reservoir. And while Sebelius ranks first in the Density Rating, it is second behind La Cygne Reservoir for Preferred Rating. And La Cygne is by far the No. 1 in the Lunker Rating.
The forecast also includes Biggest Fish, Biologist’s and Three-year Average ratings. The weight of the biggest fish sampled is included just to give anglers confidence that big fish are present and the Biologist’s Rating of excellent (E), good (G) or poor (P) allows for human input. Occasionally, the Biologist’s Rating may not agree with the numbers and this can happen when environmental conditions impact the sampling results. The Three-year Average Rating lets anglers see trends.
This year, the online forecast will include a new category: The “Whatever’s Biting” ranking will consider waters that provide good fishing for a variety of species. It is the brainchild of biologists who noted that when creel survey clerks ask anglers what they are fishing for, many answer “whatever’s biting.” Most anglers just want to catch fish, and they don’t care whether they are crappie, catfish or “whatever.” For ponds, the “Whatever’s Biting” rating considers numbers for largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish. For Lakes, the rating is based on largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill and crappie. And for Reservoirs, the ratings consider largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye, white bass and wipers. The new category will be available soon on the website, but here’s a sneak preview: the No. 1 “Whatever’s Biting” reservoir is Clinton; No. 1 for Lakes is Pleasanton West Lake; and for Ponds, No. 1 is Severy City Lake.
While you’re online, check out the 2017 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary to see all fishing regulations, as well as special length and creel limits. The 2017 Kansas Fishing Atlas, which includes maps showing all public fishing locations, as well as private waters enrolled in the F.I.S.H. program. And it won’t be long until the Weekly Fishing Reports will receive regular updates. Let www.ksoutdoors.com help you catch fish this spring.