Trout Fishing

No need to leave your fishing gear stowed until spring. Trout are probably biting at a Kansas State Park near you.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism release an estimated 150,000 trout into impoundments and streams for the state’s Nov. 1-April 15 trout season. That’s when Kansas waters are cold enough to support rainbow trout as easily as they live in some waters of the Ozarks and Rocky Mountains.

Kansas waters are stocked with trout up to nine times through the season to keep a good supply of hungry and delicious fish for anglers. The program is funded largely by the sale of $14.50 special trout stamps. All resident and non-resident anglers must have a trout stamp to keep up to five trout per day, with 15 in their possession.

Youth 15 and younger can keep up to two trout if they do not have a trout stamp. Some waters require a trout permit of all anglers during trout season. Others only for those fishing for, and keeping, trout. Residents 16-74 and all non-residents also must have a regular statewide fishing license to catch trout or any species from public water.

Here’s a list of the Kansas’ state parks with trout waiting to be caught.

Waters where a trout permit is needed for all kinds of fishing during trout season.

Waters were a trout permit is needed only for trout anglers.

Tips to help you catch Kansas state park trout.

  1. Baits like salmon eggs, tiny marshmallows and corn can catch lots of trout. Prepared dough bait, like Berkley Powerbait, is a popular bait in Kansas. Most anglers buy several colors to see what’s working best. Use just enough weight to take the bait to the bottom. Light line, like four-pound-test, and small hooks can help. Remember many of the trout aren’t far from shore.
  2. Think small when selecting lures. Try size 0 Mepps or the tiniest Panther Martin spinners you can find. Bright colors, like chartreuse, are often best. Tiny Kastmaster spoons can also work. Many anglers use 1/64th to 1/100th oz. jigs fished a few feet below a small float. Brown is a good color, as is hot pink. Fish all lures very slowly.
  3. Fly-fishing can be productive. Some use small streamers, like size 10 or 12 Wooly Buggers in black or olive. A variety of small nymphs can work below a small striker indicator. Lately some have done well casting San Juan worms and other light flies and just letting them slowly settle. The same micro-jigs some use on ultra-light spinning gear can also work for fly-fishermen. As with lures, fish flies slowly.

Remember that trout fishing is just one of many things available at Kansas state parks in the fall and winter. Kansas state parks offer access to over 1,000 miles of hiking, equestrian and cycling trails. Some are ranked as some of the best in the nation. Parks on the shores of large reservoirs are great places to watch wildlife, including some of the highest bald eagle densities in the Midwest.

There are hundreds of great camping sites for those who want to spend the night in near solitude, possibly cooking a meal of fried rainbow trout over a crackling campfire. So, grab your fishing pole, maybe your hiking boots, a birding book and camping gear and try a few days at a Kansas state park.

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