PITTSBURG — The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has announced rankings of the clearest lakes in the state — and several of those at the top of the list are located in the Mined Land Wildlife Areas scattered throughout Crawford and Cherokee counties.
“Aquatic vegetation, underwater structures, and even fish may be visible at these lakes, providing a unique view of what lies beneath the waters’ surface,” the KDWPT press release notes. “From paddleboarders looking for that Instagram-worthy photo, to anglers after the ultimate fishing challenge, Kansas’ clearest lakes should be a part of your 2020 travel plans.”
The top six lakes on the KDWPT’s recently released list are Mined Land Wildlife Area (MLWA) lakes. These include lakes 4, 7, 12, 17, 27, and 30. The first two of these are in Crawford County and the rest — including Mined Land Lake 17, the clearest lake in the state according to the KDWPT — are in Cherokee County. Mined Land Lake 44 in Cherokee County and Bone Creek Lake in northern Crawford County are also included on the list.
“Water clarity in Kansas reservoirs is affected primarily by either algae or suspended sediments,” KDHE Environmental Scientist Layne Knight said in the release. “It’s a good indicator of the level of human impact in a watershed.”
While it may not technically be the case that MLWA lakes have seen a minimal human impact — most are water-filled pits formerly used for strip mining — they can nonetheless be a good place to go fishing.
“Strip-mine lakes produce some of Kansas’ finest fishing,” according to information about the MLWA accessible on the KDWPT website. “Sportfish include largemouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish, spotted bass, wipers, bullhead, and warmouth. Some lakes have been specially managed to favor certain fish species.”
While area lakes may offer opportunities to catch a wide range of fish, the clarity of the water recently highlighted by the KDWPT can also make doing so more difficult.
“In general, fish in clear water will behave different from fish in turbid water,” KDWPT Fisheries Biologist Jeff Koch said in the release. “Fish in clear water will be more wary, so you have to change up your technique if you want to be successful.”
The KDWPT website also provides some tips for fishing at the MLWA. “Anglers who approach the water quietly, use light line and fish during low-light hours are more successful,” it notes. “Special length and creel limits may be in effect for some fish species. Check the Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary and all posted notices before fishing.”
Although canoeing is allowed at MLWA lakes, motorized boats are only allowed for hunting and fishing, and swimming, water skiing and personal watercraft are prohibited. “Many of the lakes are steep sided,” the KDWPT notes. “Anglers wading the shorelines should use caution.”
Fishing is also allowed at Bone Creek Lake, a 540-acre reservoir located four miles north and two miles west of Arma, which similarly to the MLWA offers opportunities to catch a variety of fish species. For more information, visit ksoutdoors.com.