Saturday, May 28, 2011


Tecumseh man breaks record less than three weeks old
PRATT — Lake Shawnee has yielded a rainbow trout bonanza this spring. On April 2, Bob Lorson caught an 11.02-pound rainbow that was confirmed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) as a new state record. But it wouldn’t stand long.

On April 20, Ed Ames of Tecumseh was fishing the same lake with a Kastmaster lure when he landed a monster 13.65-pound rainbow, more than 2.5 pounds larger than Lorson’s catch. Realizing he had something special in his creel, Ames took the fish to The Bait Hut in Topeka where it was officially weighed and witnessed. KDWP Region 2 Fisheries Section supervisor Chuck Bever confirmed the species of the fish, which measured 31 7/8 inches with a girth of 17 ¼ inches. All that remained for Ames’ catch to supplant Lorson’s in the record books was a 30-day waiting period, which has passed, and KDWP has officially entered Ames’ rainbow as the new state record.

State record fish are listed in the Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, available wherever licenses are sold, and on the KDWP website, If you think you have caught a state record, take the fish to a grocery store or other business with certified scales as soon as possible. Do not freeze the fish before it is weighed. The weighing must be witnessed, and the species must be confirmed by a KDWP fisheries biologist or a Fisheries Division regional supervisor. (A tissue sample may be required.) A color photograph of the fish must accompany the application. All applications for state records require a 30-day waiting period before certification.

For more information on Kansas state record fish and KDWP's Master Angler Program, pick up a copy of the 2011 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, available wherever licenses are sold, or visit the KDWP website,
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Friday, May 27, 2011


A shell of the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorphaImage via Wikipedia
PRATT — The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in the Jeffery Energy Center Make-Up Lake, 6 miles east of St. Marys. KDWP fisheries biologist Ely Sprenkle was checking his zebra mussel monitoring devices the week of May 23 when he discovered three small zebra mussels attached to the PVC sampler.

“The discovery of a newly infested lake is always a difficult thing,” said Jason Goeckler, aquatic nuisance specialist for KDWP, “but in this case, staff was prepared for the discovery. Upstream infestations at Milford and Wilson reservoirs guaranteed spread because Jeffery Energy Center make-up water comes directly from the Kansas River. This brings the total number of zebra mussel infested lakes in Kansas to 11. We anticipate three more lakes to be added to the list later this summer because they are downstream of known infestations.”

Three simple steps — clean, drain, and dry — can help prevent the spread of mussels. Anglers and boaters must take these precautions to avoid transporting mussels from infested lakes to other waters:
  • never move fish or water from one body of water to another;
  • empty bait buckets on dry land, not into lakes;
  • inspect boats, trailers, skis, anchors, and all other equipment and remove any visible organisms and vegetation; and
  • wash equipment and boat with hot (140-degree) water or dry for at least five days to remove or kill species that are not visible.

Zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian Sea in Europe and were introduced to the Great Lakes from the ballasts of ships in the1980s. They have now been confirmed in seven Kansas waters, beginning with El Dorado in 2003. Others include Cheney, Winfield City Lake, Marion, Perry, and Lake Afton. Zebra mussels are a problem because they filter water, up to a liter a day, to eat plankton. Although this filtering action may clear up the water, clear water does NOT mean clean water and the clear water zebra mussels leave behind will often lead to algal blooms that are harmful to people. The clear water can also let UV rays damage fish eggs laid during the spawn. Larval fish and native mussels rely on this same plankton to survive. Zebra mussels also clog pipes by forming colonies inside of the pipes. Nationwide expenditures to control zebra mussels in electric generating plants are estimated at $145 million/year. In addition, zebra mussels also have sharp shells that cut the unprotected skin of people and pets.

If an individual is caught transporting live zebra mussels in Kansas, they may face up to six months in jail and fines up to $5,000. More information on zebra mussels and strategies to contain their spread, including an instructive video, is available at the KDWP website, Click "Fishing/Aquatic Nuisance Species" and then click on the picture of the zebra mussel.

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Safe Kids Kansas campaigns to prevent childhood drowning
TOPEKA — It’s a warm summer day, and you’re at the beach with your kids. Your cell phone rings, and you answer it, shifting your focus from your kids to the conversation. Good idea? Not at all, according to Safe Kids Kansas, a coalition of more than 70 statewide and regional organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing unintentional injuries to Kansas children. In fact, taking your eyes off a child near water, however briefly, could be deadly. Children can get into trouble in a matter of seconds around water, so Safe Kids Kansas recommends that parents keep their eyes on their kids at all times when they are in or near the water.
Drowning is the second highest cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four and 10 to 14 in the U.S. And when it comes to water, “the safety of home” is an axiom that does not apply. In fact, most pool submersion deaths and injuries occur at a home pool.

In the U.S., approximately 830 children ages 14 and younger die each year due to unintentional drowning, and there are an estimated 3,600 injuries to children after near-drowning incidents each year. From 2000-2008 there were 129 unintentional injuries from near-drowning related incidents among Kansas kids age 14 and younger. From 2000-2009, there were 73 unintentional drowning-related deaths in Kansans age 14 years and younger. Three-quarters of these deaths were children age three and younger.

“Kids drown quickly and quietly,” says Cherie Sage, state director for Safe Kids Kansas. “A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help. The most important precaution for parents is active supervision. Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising.”

To help keep kids safe near water, Safe Kids Kansas recommends the following precautions:

  • actively supervise children in and around water. Don’t leave, even for a moment. Stay where you can see, hear, and reach kids in water. Avoid talking on the phone, preparing a meal, reading, and other distractions;
  • enroll kids in swimming lessons about age four, but don’t assume swimming lessons make your child immune to drowning. There is no substitute for active supervision;
  • don’t rely on inflatable swimming toys such as “water wings” and noodles. If a child can’t swim, keep him within arm’s reach;
  • learn infant and child CPR. In less than two hours, parents can learn effective interventions that can give a fighting chance to a child whose breathing and heartbeat have stopped. Contact a local hospital, fire department, recreation department, or Red Cross office for information about local CPR classes; and
  • keep rescue equipment, a phone, and emergency numbers by the pool.
Some people bring inflatable and portable pools to state parks, and these guidelines apply to water away from the beach, as well. Even 5-gallon buckets of water can be deadly to a toddler. Such water sources should be emptied and stored out of reach when not in use.

Even a near-drowning incident can have lifelong consequences. Kids who survive a near-drowning may have brain damage, and after four to six minutes under water, the damage is usually irreversible. Although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many acknowledge that they engage in other distracting activities at the same time — talking, eating, reading, or taking care of another child.

For more information about drowning and water safety, call Safe Kids Kansas at 785-296-0351 or visit

And don’t forget boating safety. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks reminds boaters that all youngsters 12 and younger must wear personal flotation devices when onboard. For more information on boating safety, visit the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks website,, and click “Boating.”
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Thursday, May 26, 2011


In the KDWP news story dated 5/26/11 and entitled STATE PARK TREASURE HUNTERS ON THE LOOSE, there were a few errors that are worth noting. First, the contest does not begin until noon, May 27. Therefore, coordinates won't be posted until then. Cachers will then be able to download the entry form and won't have to go to the state park office to get one. They can still get the pens at the park office, but they won't have to have anything validated there. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. The release has been corrected on the KDWP website and now reads as follows:

Geocache contest in fourth year; prizes include annual camping permit, 14-day camping permit, and annual vehicle permits; contest runs through Nov. 1
PRATT — Now in its fourth year, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) geocaching contest will begin May 27 in Kansas state parks. From then until Nov. 1, the game is to find two hidden caches at each Kansas state park, as well as a few other locations. The coordinates of the one cache at each site and the official statewide KDWP Geocaching Entry Form will be posted on the KDWP website, (Click “Other Services/Outdoor Activities/Geocaching.”) at noon, May 27.
Participants use hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) to locate and open the first cache, where they will find the coordinates of the second. Upon finding the second cache, the participant signs a log sheet and takes a certificate. If they show the certificate to that park office, they receive a park-specific location ink pen. Cachers must retain each certificate to turn in with the downloadable entry form for point verification toward prizes.
Prizes will be awarded based first on how many points are earned. Every second geocache found at each participating location will be worth one point. Prizes will be awarded on a point and time system after the contest ends Nov. 1, though cachers may turn in their entry form whenever it is completed. One first place prize of an annual camping permit for 2012 will be awarded to the first participant to turn in all 31 second-cache certificates. The next two geocachers to earn all 31 points and submit their forms win 14-day camping permits for 2012. Other geocachers who earn all of the 31 points and who turn in their forms, including each second cache certificate, to the Pratt Operations Office by Nov. 1 will receive a 2012 annual vehicle permit.
This activity is a great way to introduce new patrons to state parks and other KDWP areas, as well as provide new activities for regular customers. Youngsters are usually adept at using electronic hand-held devices and find this activity doubly interesting when it gets them outdoors.

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Biologists will help improve pheasant, quail, and lesser prairie chicken habitat
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Pheasants Forever (PF) and Quail Forever (QF) have announced the addition of two new Farm Bill wildlife biologist positions in Kansas. Kirby Calhoun will cover Dickinson, Clay, Ottawa, and nearby counties, while Mark Witecha will cover Ness, Lane, Hodgeman, and nearby counties. The positions were created in partnership with the Kansas division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

PF's Farm Bill biologists provide-on-the ground technical assistance to farmers who implement federal Farm Bill conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Reserve Program. They also assist farmers with various programs and practices recommended by PF and partner organizations.

"I am really excited about the additions to the growing Kansas Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever team," said Steve Riley, PF and QU Farm Bill wildlife biologist manager. "They come with some great experience, and both are just finishing up their master’s degrees. They will definitely help us achieve our habitat goals."
Calhoun will complete his master’s degree in wildlife management from Texas A&M University this year. Previous to this, Calhoun spent 2010 working for the U.S. Forest Service as a wildlife biologist. He has four years of military experience and is a decorated Army veteran. Calhoun will work out of the NRCS Center in Abilene and can be reached at 785-263-1351.

Witecha previously interned at the Aldo Leopold Foundation near his home in southcentral Wisconsin. He will join Pheasants Forever in early June after finishing his master's of science degree at Texas A&M, Kingsville, where he has been studying the effects of wildfire and drought on the abundance, movement, and species richness of small mammals. Witecha will be based out of the Ness City Service Center and can be reached at 785-263-1351.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Check with parks before planning Memorial Day outings
PRATT — Memorial Day is just a few days away, and Kansas state park staff are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the year. State parks are great places to camp, boat, fish, swim, and just enjoy the outdoors, but if that isn't enough, you'll find a special event you won't want to miss. In addition to these events offered throughout the summer months, many parks plan special events over Memorial Day weekend. Events are diverse and may include anything from a marathon race to boating courses and equestrian rides. Many are educational, and all make visiting Kansas state parks more enjoyable.
Spring storms can impact conditions, so it’s a good idea to check with parks before travelling. As of May 25, all parks were fully operational, but storms, such as the one that recently caused minor damage at Eisenhower State Park, can pop up at any time and cause damage or limit services. Park goers should be aware of this and watch the weather. But Eisenhower, like all other parks in the state, will be open for business Memorial Day weekend.
For more information on state park events, phone individual parks or click the "Event Calendar" on the State Parks page of the KDWP website, Telephone numbers of all state parks offices may also be found on the KDWP website. Click "State Parks" at the top of the page, then "Locations" in the left-hand column. A short conversation with local park staff will provide information on campsite availability, park conditions, current visitation rates, and answers to other questions.
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Geocache contest in fourth year; prizes include annual camping permit, 14-day camping permit, and annual vehicle permits; contest runs through Nov. 1
PRATT — Now in its fourth year, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) geocaching contest began May 17 in Kansas state parks. From then until Nov. 1, the game is to find two hidden caches at each Kansas state park, as well as a few other locations. The coordinates of the one cache at each site are posted on the KDWP website, (Click “Other Services/Outdoor Activities/Geocaching.”)
Participants use hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) to locate and open the first cache, where they will find the coordinates of the second. Upon finding the second cache, the participant signs a log sheet and takes a certificate to that park office. Then they receive a park-specific location ink pen and the official statewide KDWP Geocaching Entry Form. Cachers must retain each certificate to turn in with the downloadable entry form for point verification toward prizes.
Prizes will be awarded based first on how many points are earned. Every second geocache found at each participating location will be worth one point. Prizes will be awarded on a point and time system after the contest ends Nov. 1. One first place prize of an annual camping permit for 2012 will be awarded to the first participant to turn in all 31 second-cache certificates. The next two geocachers to earn all 31 points and submit their forms win 14-day camping permits for 2012. Other geocachers who earn all of the 31 points and who turn in their forms, including each second cache certificate, to the Pratt Operations Office by Nov. 1 will receive a 2012 annual vehicle permit. This activity is a great way to introduce new patrons to state parks and other KDWP areas, as well as provide new activities for regular customers. Youngsters are usually adept at using electronic hand-held devices and find this activity doubly interesting when it gets them outdoors.
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Sunday, May 22, 2011


Tagged fish could net anglers big bucks; great Free Fishing Days opportunity

PRATT — The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) is participating in the “Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?” contest, which began May 14 and runs to July 14. The contest, sponsored by Cabela’s and Wanna Go Fishing TV, involves hundreds of fish that were tagged in 19 states in roughly 60 lakes, including the Sunflower State’s Milford, Glen Elder, Cheney, Cedar Bluff, Hillsdale, Clinton, Kanopolis, and El Dorado reservoirs. Anglers must register, which is free.

Registered anglers who catch a tagged fish will be directed to the contest website where they will find instructions on redeeming the tags for prizes. Among the winning fish are grand prize winners that may qualify for additional bonuses based on the winning angler using or wearing sponsors’ products when they catch a tagged fish. The largest payout could be as much as $2.2 million.

Colorado is the only neighboring state participating in the contest, so Kansas could draw quite a few anglers from its neighbors, as well as boost the numbers of residents who fish our waters. As of May 13, nearly 57,000 anglers had pre-registered from around the nation. KDWP staff expect an increase in the number of people visiting the contest lakes and associated parks, especially on Free Fishing Days, June 4-5, and the various Free Park Entrance Days (contact individual parks for detailed information).

For more information and to register, visit the contest website online or click on the contest ad on the KDWP home page, KDWP staff and members of their immediate household family are not eligible to participate in the contest.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011


Kids 7 through 14 get to spend day on lake with a seasoned angler and his boat

GLEN ELDER — The 7th annual Glen Elder Youth Fishing Tournament will be held June 4, the first day of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ Free Fishing Days. All youth ages 7 through 14 are encouraged to call the Glen Elder State Park office, 785-545-3345, to register before the limited number of spots are filled.
During the event, youngsters will ride with volunteer anglers in their boats for a day of fishing on Glen Elder Reservoir. Lunch will be provided, and all youth will receive a fishing pole, tackle, and prizes, with special awards going to the youngsters with the most fish and biggest fish of each species.

Anyone with a boat who would be willing to assist that day should call the office to sign up. This should be a great time for the entire family to visit the reservoir and have a fun weekend in the great outdoors.
In addition to the above phone number, more information is available by emailing

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Friday, May 20, 2011


Konza Prairie, in the Flint HillsImage via Wikipedia
Fundraiser supports spring youth turkey hunt

EMPORIA — While the Kansas spring turkey hunting season runs through May 31, the Flint Hills Gobblers Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is looking ahead. The group will host its 16th Annual Hunting Heritage Banquet on Saturday, June 19, at the Guest House Inn & Convention Center, 2700 W. 18th Ave. in Emporia. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with a turkey dinner at 7 p.m.

The event will host games for adults and kids, door prizes, and raffles. Many limited-edition items depicting the wild turkey and other wildlife species, as well as other items, will be sold by live and silent auction. All proceeds will help fund the Flint Hills Gobblers 11th Annual Spring Turkey Hunting Clinic, March 24, 2012.
Tickets for singles are $40, $50 for couples, and $20 for youth. A Chapter Sponsor Raffle Package ($150) includes two dinner tickets, one membership, a one-year subscription to Turkey Country magazine, $200 worth of raffle tickets to be used at the banquet, buyer's name on clinic T-shirt, and a chance to win a shotgun. The Chapter Sponsor Raffle Package must be purchased before the banquet.

A NWTF Sponsor ticket package ($250) includes two dinner tickets, one NTWF membership, a one-year subscription to Turkey Country magazine, a membership card, membership decal, camera/spotting scope bag with NWTF logo embroidered on both sides, NWTF sponsors pin, buyer's name on a clinic T-shirt, and $400 worth of raffle tickets for the banquet.

For more information, phone Gib Rhodes at 620-437-2012.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

2010 Hunting Incidents Reported

Total an increase of five over 2009; one fatal, all avoidable
PRATT — The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) reports that there were 17 hunting incidents in Kansas in 2010, five more than the record low of 12 in 2009. One of the accidents was fatal.

The one fatal accident occurred in Dickinson County when two turkey hunters had finished hunting for the day and were walking across a plowed field to their vehicle. The shooter stated that he was carrying his 20-gauge shotgun in the high ready position when he heard a turkey gobble behind him. He turned to his left, toward the victim, and the shotgun discharged, striking the victim in the side of the neck. The victim died at the scene.
In an average year, about 50 percent of Kansas hunting accidents involve swinging on game while hunting upland birds. That figure held true last year, when eight of the 17 cases involved swinging on game. Although the single fatality involved careless gun handling, 2010 showed a drop in the number of careless handling incidents, a point stressed in KDWP’s hunter education courses.

“We place great emphasis on gun handling skills in our courses — always controlling the muzzle, keeping the finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger, as well as the other rules of safe gun handling,” says Kent Barrett, statewide Hunter Education Program coordinator for KDWP. “We can only hope to prevent these unfortunate incidents from occurring in the future. In fact, they were all preventable. All of our instruction and all of our hunter education course activities included in our field days emphasize this point and constantly promote safe gun handling practices.”

Although there was an increase in 2010, the number of accidents is still very small compared to the number of hunters and hours spent afield. According to the latest available statistics in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 271,000 hunters spent more than 3 million man-days hunting in Kansas.

In addition to the official hunting incidents reported, three bowhunters fell from treestands, one fatally. In none of these incidents was the hunter wearing a restraint harness, as is taught in hunter education and bowhunter education courses.

“The simple use of a fall restraint system would have prevented these incidents from occurring,” Barrett notes. “Bowhunters need to remind themselves to use these safety devices.

“But the take away message from 2010 is that hunting is still incredibly safe,” he continues. “Studies consistently show that hunting is one of the safest outdoor activities, with only five injuries per 100,000 participants. With more 19 million hunters in the U.S., our volunteer hunter education instructors should rightfully feel pride in their efforts to educate students. They must be listening.”

As in past years, young hunters were involved in fewer incidents than more seasoned hunters; the average age of shooters involved in these incidents was 37.

Hunting is indeed safe. According to the National Safety Council, Injury Facts 2008 Edition, hunting is by far the safest sport. Figures show that while football players suffer 2,585 injuries per 100,000 participants, baseball players suffer 1,122 injuries per 100,000, and even billiards players suffer 15 injuries per 100,000 participants.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Walleye Fishing Strategies in Kansas Waters

Shallow points, flats, and underwater roadways lure anglers to big fish

PRATT — The state record walleye is more than 13 pounds, but who knows? Someone may break it this spring as weather warms and walleye move into shallow water to feed. Because of their size and reputation as great table fare, walleye are among the most popular sportfish in Kansas. And as May and early June weather warms both water and air, walleye fishing heats up because the fish move over shallow points, flats, and underwater roadbeds to feed. While fishing from a boat is the preferred method, walleye can be caught at this time by wading. Look for fish in water 3 to 15 feet deep.

These post-spawn walleye are often aggressive and can be caught trolling with crank baits or drifting a jig and nightcrawler combination. Jig size varies depending on the amount of wind and water depth, but usually an eighth- or quarter-ounce jighead works well. Popular lure colors include chartreuse, red, orange, pink, and white.
According to the Kansas Fishing Forecast, the best walleye fishing reservoirs this year are Wilson, Cheney, El Dorado, Glen Elder, and Milford. And anglers shouldn't overlook smaller community lakes. The best smaller lakes are rated as Banner Creek Lake in Holton, Alma City Lake, Critzer Lake in Mound City, Scott State Fishing Lake, and South Owl Lake in Yates Center.

Much credit for successful walleye fishing in Kansas can be attributed to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks' (KDWP) aggressive walleye stocking program. This year, KDWP fisheries biologists harvested approximately 80 million walleye eggs and produced almost 55 million fry. In addition, length limits allow walleye to grow to reproductive age, and in some reservoirs, prime habitat produces excellent walleye populations year after year.

Conditions for walleye fishing can change daily, so visit the KDWP Fishing Reports and the Public Fishing Reports,, for the latest information.

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Second in a series of economic summits will focus on the Flint Hills
TOPEKA — Kansans interested in the economic vitality of the Flint Hills are invited to attend the 2011 Governor’s Economic Summit on Flint Hills Visioning to be hosted by Governor Sam Brownback on Tuesday, May 17, at Camp Wood YMCA southwest of Elmdale in Chase County. The event will be held in Ritchie Lodge from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided for those who register in advance, and there is a $20 registration fee. Because of space constraints at the meeting facility, the event will be limited to 200 registered participants.
This is the second in a series of Governor’s summits concerned with growing the Kansas economy and creating jobs. Brownback’s administration will use the results of the summit to help develop a strategy to create thriving and sustainable communities throughout the Flint Hills region.
Regional stakeholders and policy makers will make presentations during the day. All participants will be involved in morning breakout sessions to discuss the future of the Flint Hills. In the afternoon, there will be more presentations and Governor Brownback will facilitate a roundtable discussion. In addition to Brownback, a number of speakers will address various issues related to Flint Hills economic viability.
Kansans unable to attend can watch the summit online. Links to the live stream will be broadcast on the summit’s website,; the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) website,; and the Kansas tourism industry website,
To register or learn more about the meeting, visit the Governor’s Economic Summit on Flint Hills Visioning website at For additional questions, phone KDWP at 785-296-2281.

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Free Fishing Days on June 4 and 5

Fly fishing in a riverImage via Wikipedia
Everyone may fish without a license; scout hotspots online

PRATT — The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) will offer 2011 Free Fishing Days on June 4-5, in coordination with National Fishing Week. On these days, anglers of all ages may fish without a fishing license. Ordinarily, nonresidents 16 or older and residents age 16 through 64 must have a fishing license to fish in Kansas, but on June 4-5, everyone gets to fish for free, making this the ideal time to introduce a curious would-be angler of any age to this healthy, challenging pastime that offers a lifetime of pleasure. Kansas has hundreds of lakes and streams, including numerous conveniently-located community lakes. Finding the ideal fishing location is simple: go to the KDWP website,, click "Fishing" at the top of the page, then “Where to Fish” in the left-hand column.

Public fishing waters also are listed in the Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, available on the website or in printed form at KDWP offices and license vendors around the state. The summary also provides a fish identification guide, length and creel limits, and a variety of additional information for anglers.
Visitors to Milford, Glen Elder, Cheney, Cedar Bluff, Hillsdale, Clinton, Kanopolis, and El Dorado reservoirs will have a chance to participate in the “Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?” contest, which began May 14 and runs to July 14. Registered anglers who catch a tagged fish in one of these lakes will be directed to the contest website where they will find instructions on redeeming tags for prizes ranging from new fishing gear to as much as $2.2 million. But you have to register. Registration is free online at .

For information on fishing prospects, lake ratings for all sportfish may be found on the KDWP’s online Fishing Forecast. In addition, the most currently-recorded biologists' fishing reports may be found on the Fishing Reportspage, and anglers can report their own experiences and read those of others on the department's Public Fishing Reports page. In the Public Fishing Reports blog is a section called "Dock Squawk." In this section, blogs have been created for anglers to discuss fishing-related issues in each region of the state. In addition, KDWP Blogsoffers “The Kansas Fisherman,” written by Clay Dixon, a professional angler who has been fishing Kansas waters for more than 30 years. Dixon tells stories of his experiences, includes videos of recent trips, and gives tips and lessons that will help everyone become a better angler.

Late May and early June are some of the best times to take advantage of Kansas angling opportunities. If you haven't already bought a license or are curious about fishing, take advantage of this opportunity on June 4-5.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011


Lesser scaup pair from USFWS Source: WV9145-00...Image via Wikipedia

State Wildlife Grant Private Land Program provides technical and financial assistance to enhance wildlife habitat on private land; deadline June 30

PRATT — The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has announced that applications for participation in the State Wildlife Grant (SWG) Private Land Program are now being accepted. SWG grants are funded in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior (program CFDA # 15.634), and administered in Kansas by KDWP.
This is the fourth signup for this project, and KDWP may distribute $98,615 (from an original $400,000 of SWG funds), plus an additional $49,307 in non-federal funds to private landowners interested in implementing habitat projects. With the addition of private funding for the project, it is anticipated that nearly $200,000 will be available for funding during this application period. Those landowners receiving funding will be required to match a minimum of 25 percent of total project costs. This match can either be a cash contribution from a non-federal source or contributions of labor, materials, and equipment use. Applications will be accepted until June 30.
Previously, the program has awarded $301,385 of SWG funds to 33 private landowners. Projects funded include removing invasive woody plants from native mixed-grass prairie, prescribed burning, conversion of cool season grass to native grass, installation of alternate watering facilities to help with native short-grass prairie management, and construction of perimeter fencing on expiring CRP fields to help maintain those fields in native grass. These projects will improve more than 11,192 acres of habitat for Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Kansas.
To be eligible, applications must address issues and strategies identified in the Kansas Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan. Applications will be scored based on established criteria to ensure all applicants are considered fairly and that the best projects are selected. Higher priority consideration will be given to proposals that specifically address restoration and enhancement activities that contribute to 1) development or maintenance of large grassland blocks capable of supporting area-sensitive wildlife species, 2) restoration or maintenance of areas supporting high densities of playa lakes surrounded by grasslands, and 3) restoration or enhancement of streams and associated riparian buffers.
Interested landowners should contact any KDWP regional office or private lands biologist for application materials or to schedule a consultation concerning a proposed project. For information regarding program administration, write Roger Wolfe, KDWP Region 2 Office, 300 SW Wanamaker Road, Topeka, Kansas 66606 or phone 785-273-6740. Persons with special communication needs may utilize the Kansas Relay Center, 1-800-766-3777.

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Friday, May 13, 2011


Signup deadline July 15

PRATT — Landowners interested in the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ (KDWP) Walk-In Hunting Access Program (WIHA) — which pays landowners to allow public hunting access on their land — are reminded that the deadline for enrollment is July 15. The WIHA program, which began in 1995, has grown to include more than 1 million acres and nearly 3,000 contracts with Kansas landowners.
Almost anyone who owns, leases, or manages 80 contiguous acres of land with suitable wildlife habitat can qualify. A little more than half the land enrolled in WIHA is federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grass, but other lands are also considered,including native rangeland, weedy wheat stubble, milo stubble, and riparian and wetland areas.
After receiving applications, KDWP biologists evaluate wildlife habitat on the applicants' land. Payment rates are based on the size and location of tracts and the number of months the landowner will open the land to hunting. A 50-percent additional incentive payment is offered for WIHA in the following urban counties: Butler, Coffey, Cowley, Douglas, Franklin, Harvey, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Kingman, Leavenworth, Lyon, Miami, Osage, Ottawa, Reno, Saline, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Sumner, Wabaunsee, and Wyandotte.
Counties that have had historically low program participation are also eligible for the 50-percent additional incentive payment. The following counties are considered to have historically low program enrollment: Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Barber, Barton, Bourbon, Brown, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clay, Cloud, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Elk, Ellsworth, Geary, Greenwood, Harper, Labette, Linn, Marion, McPherson, Montgomery, Morris, Neosho, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Rice, Riley, Stafford, Wilson, and Woodson.
Once enrolled, the property is posted with signs indicating access dates, and a map of the tract will be included in a free atlas provided by KDWP. Natural resource officers periodically patrol WIHA properties. In addition, state law provides protection to private individuals who lease their land to the state for recreational purposes from liability for damages or injuries resulting from ordinary negligence.
Lease options include open periods running Sept. 1-Jan. 31 and Nov. 1-Jan. 31, with the option to run through March 31 in areas where habitat and hunt opportunities are appropriate. A popular spin-off is the Spring Turkey WIHA Program, with lease dates from April 1- May 31. For more information, phone 620-672-5911.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Decades of visionary ranching practices paid off for Alexander Ranch, wildlife
PRATT — The Alexander Ranch in Barber County has been selected as the 2010 Kansas Wildlife Habitat Conservation Award winner. The annual award program receives nominations from wildlife biologists from across the state. All nominations are reviewed by committee, and a winner is selected based on overall wildlife habitat quality, quantity, maintenance, and enhancement of the property. Additionally, the state wildlife habitat conservation award winner is then nominated for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award. The Alexander Ranch is owned and operated by Ted and Brian Alexander.
“The Alexanders’ decades of dedication to the improvement of native grasslands in an area once over-grazed and degraded by the encroachment of eastern redcedar deserves statewide recognition,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) wildlife biologist Chris Berens, who nominated the Alexander Ranch for the award. “The Alexanders’ management efforts created a heterogeneous grassland that benefits livestock and a diverse group of wildlife species.”
The ranch covers more than 7,000 acres and has flourished as a custom grazing operation for the past 27 years. Partnering with several agencies, the Alexanders have leveraged resources to optimize the land’s environmental capabilities. As a result of these partnerships, the ranch operates on a rotational grazing system with three grazing cells, each split into many smaller paddocks. This number of paddocks allows 40-45 days post-grazing recovery time for the grass in each paddock.
Additionally, a cooperative effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and KDWP was key to many of the accomplishments on the ranch, which is home to many wildlife and aquatic species considered at-risk or in need of conservation. This partnership helped the Alexanders interseed forbs on old cropland acres previously converted to native grass, enhance water developments, restore riparian areas, and expand the grazing system. The Alexander Ranch has also entered into a “Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances” with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. This voluntary agreement guarantees to address the conservation needs of a species before they become listed as endangered or threatened by specifying actions that will remove or reduce threats to the species.
These stewardship practices have drawn many accolades for the Alexander Ranch. In 2001, the Alexanders were presented with the Rancher Wildlife Conservationist of the Year Award from the Kansas Wildlife Federation. In 1987, they received the Excellence in Grazing Management Award from the Society of Range Management and the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts Grasslands Award, and in 2007, they were awarded the Region VI Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.
“Any number of landowners could have won the state habitat conservation award based solely on habitat enhancements and other stewardship accomplishments on their ranches,” said Berens. “However, it’s the off-the-ranch activities that make the Alexanders stand out. One of the most notable is their willingness to share what they have learned throughout the years with other ranchers, either through one-on-one mentoring or through one of the many conservation organizations to which Ted and Brian belong or serve on the boards. Additionally, they have opened their ranch to many training opportunities for public, state, and federal agency staff and have allowed many university students to conduct wildlife research, including the interaction of wildlife and grazing practices.
“The Alexander Ranch is a great example of how excellent ecosystem management can benefit both the producer and Kansas wildlife,” Berens continued. “Congratulations and many thanks to the Alexander Ranch for their contributions to promoting wise working-land practices in Kansas.”

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Survey indicates highly-satisfied Memorial Day weekend visitors
PRATT — Looking for a peaceful, uncrowded Memorial Day weekend outdoor experience? Try a Kansas state fishing lake.
Last year, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) fisheries biologists and public lands managers conducted surveys at state fishing lakes during the Memorial Day weekend to determine if anglers felt crowded. A total of 337 interviews were completed at 24 state fishing lakes across Kansas.
The result? Most anglers reported low levels of crowding, high satisfaction, and sufficient access for shore and boat anglers. Three observations made it clear that state fishing lakes offered an uncrowded, user-friendly experience, even on the busiest weekends:
  • minimal to no wait time to launch a boat;
  • on average, only one-third of parking areas full; and
  • anglers less crowded than they anticipated.
Anglers were highly satisfied with their experience, indicating that state fishing lakes are great alternatives for those seeking less crowded experiences during a traditionally busy fishing and camping holiday weekend.
In addition to fishing, picnicking and camping were popular activities at state fishing lakes. Some, such as Kingman, McPherson, Mined Land, and Ottawa offer modern, affordable cabins for those who prefer not to camp. Many state fishing lakes also have ADA-compliant facilities, such as accessible docks and piers.
You don’t need a boat to enjoy the state fishing lake angling experience because numerous piers, jetties, and accessible shoreline are available for easy access. In fact, last year’s survey indicated that nearly half of the interviewed anglers fished from shore, and they responded positively when asked if there was enough access to the lake without having a boat.
As the name suggests, most state fishing lakes are managed for anglers, so no pleasure boating, skiing, or swimming is allowed. (Because Crawford, Meade, and Scott are also state parks, they allow swimming, and Crawford and Scott allow some recreational boating and offer recreational facilities such as sand volleyball courts, bathhouses, and horseshoe pits. Chase State Fishing Lake also has a swimming beach.) Water-use restrictions may limit their appeal to some outdoor users, but for others, the limitation may be a peaceful plus.
“The bottom line is that anglers who chose to fish on Memorial Day weekend at state fishing lakes last year were very happy with their experience,” said Doug Nygren, KDWP Fisheries Section supervisor. “And most did not feel crowded, even on the busiest weekend of the year. These lakes are great alternatives to large federal reservoirs on Memorial Day. If you just want to enjoy nature, camp, and fish, you may be able to find a great family-friendly spot all to yourself at a state fishing lake this Memorial Day weekend.”

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Thursday, May 5, 2011


Tagged fish worth big bucks
SIDNEY, Neb. — Get out your shiny lures and round up some night crawlers. Cabela’s, along with the Outdoor Channel — Wanna Go Fishing TV — and supporting sponsors have announced “Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?”, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win millions of dollars in cash and prizes by enjoying one of America’s favorite pastimes — fishing.
Cabela’s and Wanna Go Fishing TV are tagging hundreds of fish in lakes near select Cabela’s retail stores, including several in Kansas, and every one of them is a winner. Among the winning fish are grand prize winners that may qualify for additional bonuses based on the winning angler using or wearing sponsors’ products when they catch a tagged fish.
“We all know there is tremendous competition when it comes to deciding how to spend leisure time,” said Cabela’s Chief Executive Officer Tommy Millner. “We are particularly excited about the Wanna Go Fishing for Millions? promotion because it’s fun, interactive, has the potential for a lot of winners, and will help promote fishing on local waters.”
In celebration of Cabela’s 50th anniversary, the 50th tag redeemed will win a $10,000 Cabela’s shopping spree that can be redeemed in a store or online. There are additional prizes for the first fish tag redeemed in every state.
Want to win even more? By catching the grand prize tagged fish while using an Abu Garcia reel spooled with Berkley line, anglers can double the winnings. Catch the grand prize fish while sporting Costa sunglasses or Sperry Top-Sider shoes, and you can increase the prize package by $100,000. By using all of the equipment, and catching the grand prize tagged fish, the package more than doubles from $1 million to $2.2 million.
“Through our angler advocacy campaign, KeepAmericaFishing, we are proud to partner with Cabela’s to promote clean waters, minimize access restrictions and restore fish populations,” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association. “Programs like Wanna Go Fishing for Millions? promote sustainable fishing and encourage families to responsibly enjoy our nation’s waters.”
Winning is as easy as baiting a hook. Full details are available at or at any Cabela’s retail store. Anglers need to pre-register on the website and hit their local lakes between May 14 and July 14 for their chance at millions.
Local waters that have been stocked with prize-winning tags will be announced via a special insiders’ email to contest registrants on May 10. The list of lakes goes public on May 14, via the official website. All prize winners will be announced online after July 14.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011


11.02-pound fish beats old record by nearly a pound
TOPEKA — What can a brawny rainbow trout do when confronted with the skill and determination of a seasoned angler? Not much, as it turns out. Angling skill conquered brawn when Bob Lorson hooked his dream rainbow trout in the waters of Lake Shawnee, Topeka. Lorson, a Topeka resident and fervent Kansas fisherman, caught an 11.02-pound rainbow on Saturday, April 2, and the fish has been certified by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) as an official state record. The fish measured 29 inches in length and 16.5 inches in girth.
Lorson and fishing buddy Paul Hottman launched their boat at about 7:30 a.m. intending to catch big fish. According to Lorson, “If you want to catch the big ones, you’ve got to be prepared for them.”
So he loaded his fishing rod with a silver/blue Kastmaster lure on the business end of a spool of 8-pound test line. It was a chilly morning, though Lorson’s fishing would heat up long before the afternoon high reached the mid-70s. The duo had been fishing only about 45 minutes, and Lorson was on the fourth fish of a five-fish limit when the big trout attacked his lure. He quickly realized he’d hooked a big one but didn’t appreciate just how big it was until later. During the 15-minute struggle, the embattled fish tail-danced, jumped a few times, and made a run at the boat.
Hottman, as any respectable angling partner would, cheered his buddy and shouted, “Don’t horse him!” Lorson gave the monster plenty of line, not wanting to jerk the hook from its jaws or break the line, which turned out to be a wise tactic. When the battle came to a close and the tired fish was in the net, the lure fell from its mouth.
Lorson initially guessed the fish’s weight at 8 to 9 pounds. He learned this was a considerable underestimate when other friends fishing nearby who had witnessed the struggle pulled their boat alongside Lorson’s and offered up a spring-scale to weigh the fish. When it showed 11 pounds, Lorson knew he was on to something. Checking the KDWP website on his smartphone, he looked up the list of state records and confirmed that he might have a state-record rainbow trout.
Before a fish can be certified as a state record, anglers must follow a specific procedure, and Lorson carefully adhered to the process he read on the website. He first took his catch to Herman’s Meat and Deli in Topeka for an official weigh-in on certified scales. The fish had to be weighed and measured before it was frozen. Engulfed in an admiring group of onlookers, Lorson proudly looked on as the deli staff weighed his fish on two different certified scales, and both instruments reached the same conclusion — 11.02 pounds.
The following Monday, Lorson took the fish to KDWP Region 2 fisheries supervisor Chuck Bever, who confirmed that it was a rainbow trout. If the species had been suspect, tissue samples would have been taken for further analysis. (Sometimes, a potential record fish turns out to be a hybrid or not the species it was originally thought to be.) With a certified weight, measurements, and confirmation of the species, Lorson was ready to submit his application for a state record. He sent the application to KDWP’s Operations Office in Pratt where it was held for 30 days in case evidence was offered that his story or the catch was not as it was presented. That wasn’t the case, and Lorson’s catch was certified as a new state record on May 4. The previous record was a 10.29-pound trout caught at Shawnee Mission Park Lake a little more than a year ago.
Lorson plans to have a taxidermist craft a replica of the fish and then display the mount for all to admire. Grinning proudly, he admits that he still hasn’t come to terms with his accomplishment. Lorson, who has been fishing “like a crazy man” since he was 16, is not a newcomer to big fish, however. He makes it a point to angle for the largest specimens and enthusiastically recalls the big walleye, smallmouth bass, and wipers he has hooked.
“I’ve caught a lot of big fish,” he said, “but I’m usually a catch and release guy. I return catches to the water unless they’re worthy of display or too worn out to live. But after the fight this record trout went through, it was too exhausted to survive.”
Lorson is an energetic proponent of Kansas fishing. “There’s some awesome fishing in Kansas,” he said. “It’s one of the state’s best kept secrets.” He has fished many of the state’s lakes and numerous private waters and has even won small tournaments at several reservoirs. He likes Milford Reservoir and frequents Lake Shawnee in Topeka and Coffey County Lake near Burlington, his favorite.
Lake Shawnee is seasonally stocked with rainbow trout with the help of KDWP’s Community Fisheries Assistance Program (CFAP), which improves fishing opportunities at community lakes across the state. Under the program, KDWP leases fishing rights to the lake and assists with managing the fish populations. The lease offsets the local costs of operating and maintaining the fishery, and anglers are charged no additional fees.
Lorson’s exciting story is one that many state record-holders can identify with. If you think you’ve landed a record, consult the KDWP website at for information and instructions on applying for a record certification. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. For example, freezing a fish before it’s officially measured and weighed on certified scales can change its natural numbers, jeopardizing an application. It’s also important to have the fish examined by a KDWP fisheries biologist who can verify the species.

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