Your tackle box is ready and your casting is good enough to hit the water ten out of ten times. The next step, obviously, is to get a can or carton of bait and find a place to go fishing. That’s never a problem in Kansas.
Where to fish
Kansas has over 200,000 fishable impoundments, plus hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. Much of that is privately owned and requires permission to access. Some fantastic places where angling is open to the public are federal reservoirs that are annually stocked by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT). Most basic anglers will do better at the hundreds of smaller state, county and community lakes managed by KDWPT. Access is usually easier and there are plenty of bluegill, sunfish, bass and catfish. You can go online and find the fishing spots nearest you. If you live in one of Kansas’ larger cities check some of the waters enrolled in the Urban Fisheries Program.
When to fish
Anytime you can go is a great time to go fishing, but some seasons are better than others. In the spring and fall they’ll bite about anytime of the day. In the summer, dusk and dawn will be best and even better in shaded water. Middle of the day, sun-soaked shorelines can be the ticket in the winter.
An old fishing axiom states 90 percent of a lake’s fish live in 10 percent of its water. Much of that golden 10 percent is near the shore, especially areas with big rocks, overhanging trees or aquatic vegetation where fish find shelter and food.
Special knots are needed to tie hooks to monofilament fishing line. Palomar or improved-clinch knots are strong, easy knots. After you get the hook attached, squeeze a split shot or two a few inches up on the line.
Most floats have spring clips to hold the float on the line. You may need to do a few wraps around each clip. Don’t tie knots because you may need to make adjustments. Start with the float attached about two feet above the hook.
Baiting the hook
Use enough bait to at least cover the bend of the hook. It’s even better if the entire hook is covered. If using worms, loop a 2-inch piece of worm on the hook tightly with the end of the worm at the sharp end of the hook. Don’t leave a lot of the bait hanging free. The fish will pick off the bait and escape the hook.
Make the cast
Cast slowly and smoothly towards a spot where fish might be hiding. If the float is on its side, the weight and hook are on the bottom. Shorten the distance between the float a little and try again until the float sits upright. Ideally, you’ll want your bait within a few inches of the bottom. Reel slack out of the line if the float is moving towards you. That will make it easier to set the hook when a fish takes the float underwater.
Resist the temptation to just set the fishing rod down unattended. Mostly you’ll be catching panfish, but in Kansas the next bounce of the float could be 20-pound catfish or a 10-pound wiper. Anytime you cast a line into Kansas waters, something great could happen at any second.