Fishing forecast promising in south-central Kansas

The coming year holds great promise for central Kansas anglers.

Here's what biologists are predicting for the region's three largest lakes.

Cheney Lake — Once again, Cheney's going to be one of Kansas' top walleye lakes.

Fish above the lake's 21-inch minimum length limit may be tough to find early in the spring.

"Our walleye fishery is dominated by the 2008 year class. Last fall they were between 15-20 inches," said Jeff Koch, Cheney's fisheries biologist. "But given a half-year or so of good feeding, we may start seeing more fish over 21 inches."

Koch said Cheney is still home to a few super-sized walleye.

Wiper fishing is expected to be good with nice numbers of fish up to 25 inches. Cheney has a 21-inch minimum length limit on wipers.

Overall numbers of keepers are down a bit from last year. Koch said several other nice year classes bode well for the future.

Fall test nettings showed white bass numbers are down significantly at Cheney though Koch has talked to anglers who've caught some nice fish.

The lake's crappie population is poor but Koch said there are plenty of channel catfish from 16-24 inches. He's seen some 30 inches long.

Unfortunately, the white perch population seems to be rebounding from a huge die-off a few years ago.

Koch said numbers are still far below the high density in 2005 when the fish dominated the lake.

It's hoped good populations of walleye and wipers will keep the white perch numbers from getting out of hand again.

Cheney's gamefish populations suffered for many years because invasive white perch destroyed many year classes by eating eggs and small fish.

El Dorado Lake — The big news at El Dorado is the recent implementation of conservative length and creel limits on several species of fish.

The changes were made hoping increased numbers of large gamefish would keep the recently discovered white perch population under control.

Walleye must now be 21 inches with a limit of two per day.

Biologist Craig Johnson said the lake's walleye population is good and that about 27 percent of the fish are 21-25 inches. A few bigger fish are also present.

Wipers must also be 21 inches with a limit of two daily. Johnson said the lake has good numbers of fish from 17-19 inches.

He's hoping a good shad hatch this year and improved water quality will help the wipers grow rapidly.

Crappie are looking good in the lake, though the average size is fairly small.

White bass numbers are lower than in some recent years and most are between 10 and 13 1/2 inches.

Marion Lake — Rated as one Kansas' top lakes for wipers, this year Marion Lake has a limit of five per day with no minimum length limit.

Biologist Jessica Mounts said fall test-nettings showed very high numbers of wipers from 15 to 20 inches. She found quite a few fish that weighed about five pounds.

She rated the overall population of walleye as excellent for numbers.

Many of the fish are slightly under or right at the lake's 18-inch minimum length limit.

White bass fishing could be good this year with fish to two pounds. Crappie numbers are good.

"We have a lot of fish from about one-half to about three-quarters of a pound," Mounts said. "We have a pretty good year class coming on."

Mounts said the lake's channel catfish population is also strong and remarked the fish look well-fed.