Thanks to Kansas’ Urban Fishing Program even those living in our biggest cities have access to good angling only a few minutes away.
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks biologists regularly stock the program’s 80 bodies of water with over 100,000 great-tasting channel catfish through the spring and summer. In the fall and winter some of the waters are stocked with hard-fighting trout.
The waters, which range from one to over 100 acres in size, also support good populations of bluegill, largemouth bass and sometimes crappie.
Here’s a look at ten of the best urban fishing spots, with advice from the biologists that manage them.
1. Dodge City – Demon Lake
This pond of about an acre sits at the west edge of Dodge City High School. It’s not haunted, it’s named after the school’s sports mascot.
It’s catch-and-release only at Demon Lake and it is closed to the general public anytime school is in session. That still leaves plenty of evenings, weekends and weeks through the summer break for angling.
The pond is regularly stocked with channel cat in the warmer months. There’s a nice bass population and enough bluegill to keep kids entertained fishing worms below tiny bobbers near shore.
2. Lawrence – Lake Henry
Located in Clinton State Park, close to the western edge of Lawrence, the three-acre lake sits in a gorgeous, wooded valley.
The lake produces a lot of channel cats and bass up to around 8 pounds have been caught there. Lake Henry has good numbers of 12-13-inch bass, which makes it a perfect place for beginners to learn the fun of fishing spinnerbaits or top-water lures around abundant vegetation. The lake is regularly stocked with trout in the fall and winter.
3. Lawrence - Pat Dawson Billings North
This gorgeous, four-acre fishery has clear water and great fish habitat, with good bluegill numbers and plenty of bass up to around 15 inches. It gets stocked regularly with pan-sized channel catfish.
Cars are restricted to the parking lot at one end of the lake so some walking is required, especially for those wanting to try places away from the crowds.
4. Lenexa – Lake Lenexa
This 30-acre lake is family-friendly, both in terms of things like mowed shorelines, picnic tables and restrooms, and good fish populations.
Bass are fairly abundant and average around 12 inches. Look for them around lily pads and other flooded vegetation. Kids can have fun fishing bobbers and worms near shore for bluegill.
Note the limit is five per day on bass, but all between 13-18 inches must be released.
5. Olathe – Cedar Lake
The quality of bass in this 56-acre lake will surprise a lot of people since more than half are between 15 and 20 inches. It has good bluegill fishing and way too many small crappie. Two feeders help concentrate catfish May to October.
Boats are allowed but only using electric propulsion. The lake is associated with a nice park.
6. Olathe – Lake Olathe
This 172-acre lake offers fishing for largemouth bass and plenty of panfish for kids. Wipers up to around 8 pounds and a few flathead catfish as big as your leg mean you better hang on to your fishing rod at all times.
It’s one of the prettier lakes in the region, with a large park area if kids get bored.
7. Wichita – Cruiser/K-96 Lake
For the middle of the state’s largest city, this 35-acre lake can produce some nice bass and crappie fishing. There are ample numbers of bluegill and sunfish for kids and the lake is regularly stocked with channel cat, too.
8. Wichita – Sedgwick County Park
Within the park anglers have access to seven lakes that total 63 acres, plus one mile of Slough Creek. All of the lakes contain bass, crappie and bluegill. Bass fishing is often best in Tom Scott Lake, and it has a few wipers, too.
Channel cats to three pounds are regularly stocked. Slough Creek and Vic’s Lake are part of the state’s trout program.
9. Wichita – South Lake
Thanks to clear water and aquatic vegetation, this 17-acre lake is one of the better public bass fisheries in the area. Not a lot of huge fish, but some of the bass are big enough to put a serious bend in a fishing pole.
Catfish are regularly stocked and it has good numbers of bluegill and some crappie.
10. Wichita – Watson Park
This lake of 42 meandering acres offers easy access to the water’s edge. Stocked channel cat are the most common species sought and caught. There is decent bluegill and green sunfish angling around brush and rocks and some bass.
About every year some angler hooks a giant flathead of “we’re going to need a bigger net!” proportions at Watson Park.
As good as they can be, remember these 10 ponds and lakes are just a small percentage of the waters within Kansas’ Urban Fishing Program. Do some looking. We’re pretty sure you’ll find some that are perfect for you.