KDWPT / Fishing / Fishing Regulations

Fishing Regulations

The information in this Web site is a service to anglers. It has been prepared as a guide only. This is not a complete list of regulations. For more detailed legal information, contact the department's Law Enforcement Division. Complete regulations may also be viewed and printed online. Just click here .

Special regulations for specific waters are posted on the Fishing Location Pages

Updated: 12/18/14


Father Padilla Pond in Herington has been added to the list of Type 2 Trout Waters and will receive periodic trout stockings during the Nov. 1-April 30 trout season.


Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) waters are defined as waters containing prohibited species such as Asian carp, white perch, and/or zebra mussels. Fish may not be transported alive from ANS-designated waters. (ANS Designated Water List)

  • Zebra mussels were found in Pomona Reservoir in 2014

A special permit is no longer required to fish with float lines during the designated season on designated waters (see “Legal Equipment").


The maximum mesh size allowed for dip and cast nests was increased to one-half inch.


2015 Free Fishing Days are June 6 and 7

Updated: 12/18/14

Floatline fishing will be allowed from sunrise to sunset from July 15 through Sept. 15:

  • Council Grove, 
  • Elk City, 
  • Fall River, 
  • Glen Elder, 
  • Hillsdale, 
  • John Redmond, 
  • Kanopolis, 
  • Lovewell, 
  • Tuttle Creek, 
  • Pomona, 
  • Toronto, 
  • Wilson reservoirs.

Anglers will be allowed no more than eight floatlines. All floatlines must be under immediate supervision of the angler and must be removed from the water when fishing ceases. All float material shall be constructed only from plastic, wood, or foam and shall be a closed-cell construction. A "closed-cell" construction shall mean a solid body incapable of containing water.

Updated: 2/13/13
Type of Fish Number of Fish Length of Fish
Channel and Blue catfish (single species or in combination) 10  
Walleye, sauger, saugeye (single species or in combination) 5 15 inches
Rainbow trout, brown trout (single species or in combination) 5  
Black basses (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, single species or in combination) 5 15 inches
Flathead catfish 5  
Northern pike 2 30 inches
Striped bass 2  
Wiper (white bass/striped bass hybrid) 2  
Crappie 50  
White bass, bullhead, bluegill and all other legal species No limit  
Paddlefish 2 34 inches
Updated: 2/13/13

A Bass Pass ($12.50), required of each angler participating in a black bass tournament between Sept.1 and June 15 allows anglers to keep two fish, to be released after tournament weigh-in, that meet the statewide 15-inch minimum length limit but are under a special length limit for that fishing location.

Individuals or organizations planning to conduct a registered and permitted bass fishing tournament that allows participants to use a bass pass must apply on a form provided by the department. You can find that form HERE. These tournaments may be held from Sept. 1 through June 15 only.

The application process requires organizers to provide tournament scheduling and location information, a copy of written permission from the facility manager authorizing the tournament, and a description of equipment and procedures planned for weigh-in and release of fish. The application describes minimum requirements for weigh-in and fish handling by tournament participants. Boats used by tournament anglers must be equipped with working livewells that contain an electrolyte chemical-water solution. In addition, tournament organizers must report data to the department within 30 days following the conclusion of the tournament. For more information, phone, (620) 342-0658.

The regulation also allows an angler in a registered tournament to cull his or her catch after reaching the daily creel limit, by releasing a small fish and replacing it with a larger one.

Updated: 11/5/14

A fishing tournament, when conducted on Wildlife and Parks-managed lands and water, requires a special event permit if one of the following conditions exist:

  1. An entrance, admission or participation fee is charged; 
  2. Food, merchandise, or service is offered for sale;
  3. The exclusive use of a facility or a specified land or water is required;
  4. An organized or advertised competition will be conducted; 
  5. Sound will be amplified that may disrupt area users; or 
  6. Temporary structures, other than blinds or common camping equipment, will be erected.

Applications for special event permits are available at Department offices. Each application for a special event permit shall be made to the Department not less than five week-days before the event. The special event permit fee is negotiated based on event type, required services, and lost revenue; the maximum fee is $200. Payment must accompany each application.

Updated: 2/13/13

Residents age 16 through 74 who have been legal residents of the state for 60 days immediately prior to buying a license, must have a resident license in possession while fishing in Kansas. All nonresidents 16 and older must have a valid nonresident license to fish in Kansas (unless fishing on a private pond not leased for public fishing). All licenses expire Dec. 31 each year, except five-day, lifetime, and 24-hour fishing licenses.

Landowners and their immediate family living with them, and tenants renting land for agricultural purposes and members of their immediate family living with them are exempt from fishing license requirements on waters on their own land. Fishing licenses are not required on private ponds. Guests of landowners fishing on streams and rivers must have a fishing license.

Anyone residing in Kansas who is at least one-sixteenth American Indian by blood, and so certified by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, may apply to Wildlife and Parks for a free fishing license, which must be in possession when fishing. All other laws and regulations apply to American Indians.

Persons on active duty in the armed forces who entered the service while residents of Kansas may purchase a resident fishing license. Nonresidents on active military duty stationed in Kansas and nonresident students going to school in Kansas are entitled to purchase a resident fishing license, which they must have with them while fishing, along with evidence of active duty or enrollment.

Active members of the Kansas Army or Air National Guard are eligible for free fishing and hunting licenses and park permits. Legal Kansas residents who have been separated from the armed services under honorable conditions and have a disability certified by the Kansas Commission On Veterans Affairs as being service-connected and such disability is equal to or greater than 30 percent may apply through the Pratt Operations Office for free hunting and fishing licenses (not applicable for park permits).Applications are also available on the KDWP website, kdwp.state.ks.us .

Updated: 12/18/14

Each angler is limited to two rods (three with three-pole permit) with no more than two baited hooks (single or treble) or artificial lures per line. An artificial lure is defined as a man-made fish-catching device used to mimic a single prey item. The umbrella rig, popularly called the Alabama Rig, may only have two separate lures with hooks.

Trotlines, Setlines, Floatlines  

In addition to two rods, an angler may set one trotline with no more than 25 hooks OR eight setlines with no more than two hooks each, OR eight floatlines with no more than two hooks each. Trotlines, setlines, and floatlines may not be set within 150 yards of any dam. Fishing lines, setlines, and trotlines must be checked at least once every 24 hours. Trotlines, setlines, floatlines, tip-ups, and unattended fishing lines must be tagged securely and plainly with the angler’s name and address or KDWPT number.  

Trotlines and setlines are prohibited on all department-managed waters under 1,201 surface acres. Other restrictions may be applied by posted notice.

Floatline Fishing Information

Updated: 2/13/13

Legal fish bait includes artificial lures, bait fish, prepared bait, vegetable materials, artificial bait, worms, salamanders, frogs, and crawfish. No species listed as threatened, endangered, or in need of conservation may be used as bait. Any LEGALLY TAKEN wildlife may be used, including sportfish of legal length taken by hook and line.

It is illegal to clip the fins, tag, or otherwise mark fish if they are to be released after catch.

Updated: 2/13/13

Before fishing private waters (except private waters enrolled in the FISH Program), anglers must obtain permission from the landowner or tenant. This also applies to anglers fishing from roadways, bridges, or railroad rights-of-way. Unless otherwise posted, all streams in Kansas other than the Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas rivers are under private ownership of adjoining landowners. Those three large rivers are public property up to the normal high-water line; however, fishermen must obtain landowner or tenant permission before crossing private property to fish.

Updated: 2/13/13

Icefishing with baited hooks or lures is legal on lakes, reservoirs, and streams. In addition to the allowed two rods, eight tip-ups may be used to icefish, unless otherwise posted. Tip-ups may have a maximum of two hooks each. Unattended tip-ups must be tagged plainly with the angler's name and address. County or city lakes may have local laws controlling such activity. Motorized electric or gasoline-powered two-wheeled vehicles, all-terrian vehicles, work-site utility vehicles, golf carts, and snowmobiles may be operated on ice-covered department waters only for the purpose of ice fishing from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. These vehicles shall enter onto the ice only from boat ramps and points of entry as established by posted notice. Holes cut in the ice of public waters may be no more than 12 inches in diameter or 12 inches square.

Updated: 2/13/13

Handfishing, for flathead catfish only, is legal from sunrise to sunset June 15 through Aug. 31 at three locations:

  • the entire length of the Arkansas River in Kansas,
  • all federal reservoirs from beyond 150 yards of the dam to the upper end of the federal property,
  • and on the Kansas River from its origin downstream to its confluence with the Missouri River.

A special permit ($27.50) is required in addition to a fishing license. Anyone handfishing may not use:

  • hooks
  • snorkeling or scuba gear,
  • any other man-made device OR possess any fishing gear except a stringer.
  • Stringers may not be used until the fish are caught by hand and are at or above the surface of the water.
  • No man-made object — such as a barrel, box, or bathtub — may be used to attract fish.

Each permit holder must complete and submit a department-provided questionnaire within 30 days after the handfishing season closes.

Updated: 2/13/13

Unless otherwise posted, spearguns, without explosive charge, may be used to take nonsport fish in waters posted “open to scuba and skin diving.” Spears must be attached to speargun or person by a line. Nonsport fish may also be taken by gigging in waters not posted as closed to gigging.

Updated: 2/13/13

A special Paddlefish snagging season runs March 15 through May 15 on posted areas inside city parks on the Neosho River in Chetopa and Burlington, Neosho River at Iola downstream from dam to city limits, Marais des Cygnes River below Osawatomie Dam downstream to posted boundary, Marais des Cygnes River from the upstream boundary of the Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area downstream to the Kansas-Missouri border, and the Browning Oxbow Lake of the Missouri River.

A Paddlefish permit (Adult - $12.50, Youth - $7.50) is required in addition to a Fishing License. The Paddlefish Permit includes six carcass tags. For locations to buy Paddlefish Snagging permits go HERE or buy ONLINE.

  • Paddlefish may be snagged using pole and line with not more than two single or treble hooks.
  • Daily Creel limit: 2
  • Possession limit: 6
  • There is a 24-inch minimum length limit on paddle fish in Missouri River boundary waters, and there is a 34-inch minimum length limit on the Marais des Cygnes River. Barbless hooks must be used in Chetopa City Park. Catch and release is allowed in Burlington, Chetopa, and Iola, except that once attached to a stringer, a fish becomes part of the daily creel limit.
  • Immediately upon harvest, anglers must sign a carcass tag, record the county/date/time of harvest, and attach the carcass tag to the lower jaw of the paddlefish taken. (NOTE: Tagging harvested paddlefish at designated check-in stations is no longer required.)
  • Anglers must stop snagging once the daily limit of paddlefish is reached.
  • Nonsport fish (carp, drum, grass carp, threadfin and gizzard shad, goldfish, gar, suckers including carpsucker and buffalo, goldeye, and bowfin) may also be snagged in waters posted open to snagging during the paddlefish season. There are no limits on nonsport fish.

A PDF of the complete Paddlefish Regulation can be found HERE.

Updated: 2/13/13

All waters are open to bowfishing, unless posted otherwise. Some bowfishing is permitted at city, county, township, or private lakes, but regulations vary, so bowfishermen should consult local rules. Fish which can be legally taken by bowfishing are nonsport fish. Crossbows are legal. Bowfishermen must have in possession a valid Kansas fishing license, unless exempt by law. Arrows must have barbed heads, and each arrow must be attached by a line to the bow and must be shot from the bow. Waters within 50 yards of an occupied boat dock or ramp, occupied swimming area, occupied picnic site or camping area, and other public-use areas are closed to bowfishing.

Updated: 4/17/14

Bait fish (as defined) may be taken for noncommercial purposes.

  • Methods: seine not larger than 15 feet long and four feet deep, with mesh not larger than 1/4 inch; fish trap with mesh not larger than 1/4 inch and throat no larger than 1 inch in diameter (must be tagged with fisherman's name and address); fishing line; or a dip or cast net with mesh no larger than 3/8 inch.
  • Size: bait fish may not exceed 12 inches. 
  • Limit: 500 per person.
  • Legal waters: statewide, except that seining is prohibited on department-owned waters.
  • License requirement: unless exempt by law, a fishing license is required.
  • Wild-caught baitfish may be used as live bait only within the common drainage where caught and shall not be transported upstream across any dam or barrier that prohibits the normal passage of fish. Bluegill and green sunfish collected from non-designated aquatic nuisance waters may be possessed or used as live bait anywhere in the state. No person may possess any live fish upon departure from any designated aquatic nuisance species water
Updated: 2/13/13

Bullfrog season extends from July 1 through October 31. Daily creel limit is eight. Possession limit is 24 bullfrogs after the third day of the season. A valid fishing license is required for any person to take, catch, or kill bullfrogs, except persons exempt by law from having such license. Bullfrogs may be legally taken any time of day or night by dip net, gig, hook and line, hand, bow and arrow, or crossbow. A line must attach bow to arrow, and the arrow must have a barbed head. Any other method of taking bullfrogs is prohibited.


Common snapping turtles and soft-shelled turtles may be taken year-round. Daily creel limit is eight, single species or in combination. Possession limit is three creel limits. A valid fishing license is required (unless exempt). Legal equipment: hand, hook and line, setline, hand dip net, seine, turtle trap, or gig.

It is unlawful to refuse to allow law enforcement officers to inspect wildlife in possession or devices or facilities used in taking, possessing, transporting, storing, or processing any wildlife or to sell fish taken by sport fishing methods, except as specifically authorized under a commercial fishing permit.


The consumption of cereal malt beverages containing no more than 3.2 percent alcohol is permitted on department lands and waters, unless otherwise posted. Check local posted regulations. Boating under the influence (BUI) of alcohol is illegal, and BUI laws will be strictly enforced.