Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats (F.I.S.H.) program. Private Waters Leased for Public Fishing
The F.I.S.H. Program, which stands for Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats was patterned after the very successful Walk-In Hunting Access Program with a goal of increasing public fishing opportunities in Kansas.
The F.I.S.H. Program was first introduced to Kansas anglers and landowners in 1998. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) leases private waters from landowners for public fishing. Landowners participating in F.I.S.H. receive payments, as detailed below. F.I.S.H. provides anglers with a place to fish while leaving the land in private ownership. By providing a place to fish, the tradition of fishing can be preserved.
Special regulations are in place for the public that access F.I.S.H. properties and KDWPT officials periodically patrol the areas. Violators will be ticketed or arrested for vandalism, littering or failing to comply with fishing regulations. Access is limited to foot traffic, except on roads designated by the landowner in the case of very large tracts of land. Additionally, under this program some landowners are eligible for fish stocking, habitat managment, fence crossers, cattle gaurds, rock boat ramps, or rocked parking areas.
Each year, KDWPT publishes a fishing atlas outlining each body of water enrolled in the program, boating allowance, and fish species available at each water.
F.I.S.H. sites are open for public access from March 1 to October 31 or year-round. Landowners allowing year-round access receive a 10% lease increase.
The program leases privately-owned ponds for public access by the acre. Base lease rates range from $75-$125/acre/year depending on what county the pond is located in (as detailed on the "County Payment Rate Tier Map"). Boating allowance bonuses are available as well. Ponds allowing carry-in boats only will receive an additional $10/acre/year and properties allowing all boats access (adequate launching site must be present) will receive an additional $25/acre/year. Finally, to encourage program enrollment in counties lacking public fishing opportunities and F.I.S.H. sites, the program is offering sign-on bonuses.
Another focus of the F.I.S.H. program is to increase access to streams for fishing and paddlesports. Depending on the quality of the stream's fisheries resource,s annual lease rates for fishing access range from $500 to $1,500/mile. Stream stretches that allow paddlesports access could receive an additional annual payment of $500-$750/mile. To be eligible for the additional paddlesports payment, the stream stretch must be a minimum of one-mile, with put-in and take-out spots (bonus applies only between put-in and take-out spots), and signed up for a long-term lease (minimum five years).
Big River Access Leasing-
The Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri Rivers are considered navigable waters and are thus public fisheries. However, locations allowing for public access are limited. To increase public access to these public fisheries, the F.I.S.H. program leases access sites from willing landowners. Landowners along these rivers, with adequate launch facilities, can annually receive $1,500/site. If the site is within 10 river miles of any other public access site a landowner can annually receive $2,000/site.
Interested in learning more about enrolling your property in the F.I.S.H. Program? Contact your nearest KDWPT Regional Office or submit your inquiry to the program coordinator.
This program is made possible by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (a Federal Aid Project funded by your purchase of fishing equipment), through fishing license sales, and the Farm Bill.