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  • Kansas Outdoor News

    Location: Kansas

    PRATT -- December in Kansas is an unpredictable month; the weather is usually cold, with most days warming into the 40s, but occasionally, Mother Nature blasts an arctic front into the Sunflower State, pounding daytime highs into the low teens and nighttime temperatures into single digits. When this happens, die-hard anglers begin thinking "ice."

    This year, Kansas has already experienced two arctic fronts with the possibility of another, and ice anglers are getting the itch to fish. This may be one of those winters.

    While ice fishing can be a productive way to put fish in the freezer, anglers should be patient and cautious. Because Kansas weather is so variable, cold spells can be followed by warm days, making even thick ice treacherous. Wait for at least 4 inches of clear, hard ice, which can require several weeks of very cold temperatures.

    Anglers should tread with care, making test holes near shore before venturing out. Never go near open water or on rivers with even the smallest trickle of current. Also be wary of lakes that harbor large numbers of waterfowl that may keep parts of the lake open most of the winter.

    Ice opens a reservoir to all anglers, and fishing can be very good. If the weather cooperates, sleds will replace bass boats as fishermen trudge across lakes and huddle on stools and buckets, staring intently at small holes in the ice. Their patience is often rewarded with catches of crappie and white bass.

    Proper equipment is the key to successful ice fishing. The wise ice fisherman always brings more clothing than he thinks he'll need. For safety, a change of clothes is advisable, as is a throwable cushion, a length of rope and ice spikes. Never ice fish alone. An ice auger is the handiest way to cut holes, which can’t be larger than 12 inches in diameter. A ladle will help clear ice chips from the hole.

    Most anglers build or modify sleds to pull their gear over the ice, and proper fishing equipment is also essential. In cold water, many hits may go undetected with heavy tackle, so a light, sensitive rod works best. A reel with a good drag system is a must for larger species such as white bass and stripers. Jigging spoons, jigs, and live bait work well under the ice.

    Caution is always the first rule of thumb in winter, but continued frigid temperatures could produce ice fishing this year. Watch the weather, watch the ice, and watch your step.


    FARLINGTON -- In 2007, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) fisheries staff confirmed the presence of largemouth bass virus (LMBV) at Crawford State Fishing Lake in southeast Kansas. Testing of bass from the lake was conducted in response to a decline in the population. Now, four other lakes in the state have tested positive for the virus: Big Hill Reservoir (east of Cherryvale), Gardner City Lake (north of Gardner), Lonestar Lake (southwest of Lawrence), and Woodson State Fishing Lake (east of Toronto).

    KDWP staff have been screening for the virus, particularly at Farlington Fish Hatchery, which uses Crawford State Fishing Lake for its water supply.

    KDWP biologists, like other fisheries scientists around the country, are working to learn more about the virus and its impact on the resource. Scientists do not know enough about it to determine if the virus will have long-lasting effects on bass populations. Studies throughout the U.S. suggest that it does not cause long-term harm to fisheries.

    While other fish species -- including smallmouth bass, spotted bass, bluegill, white crappie, and black crappie -- have been infected with the virus, it has so far proved to be fatal only in largemouth bass.

    Infected fish typically show no signs of the disease and appear completely normal. Adult bass weighing 2 pounds or more seem to be the most susceptible. Summer water temperatures appear to be one variable that increases the lethality of the virus; almost all bass die-offs documented in other states have occurred from June through September. Scientists do not know how the virus is transmitted or how it is activated into a disease, and no cure is currently known.

    The virus is not known to infect any warm-blooded animals or humans. Common-sense precautions are recommended, such as thoroughly cooking any fish and not consuming fish that are found dead or appear sick.

    While there has not been a sudden die-off of largemouth bass in any of these lakes, monitoring at Crawford revealed a substantial decline in bass numbers. One result has been a proliferation of undesirable fish species, such as carp and bullhead catfish, presumably the result of reduced predation by largemouth bass.

    Anglers can help minimize the spread of LMBV, other fish diseases, and aquatic nuisance species by always following these precautions:

    • because the virus can live for several hours in water, anglers should clean boats, trailers, and other equipment thoroughly between fishing trips to keep from transporting undesirable pathogens and organisms from one water body to another;

    • never move fish or fish parts from one body of water to another, and do not release live bait into any flowing or impounded water;

    • handle bass as gently as possible if you intend to release them;

    • conduct fishing tournaments during cooler weather, so fish caught will not be excessively stressed; and

    • report dead or dying fish to any KDWP office.

    News Source: Kansas DWR - Dec. 25, 2008

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