Kansas, who knew?

Barb Carey

I recently took a road trip to Parsons Kansas. I went to attend an Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers event.  To be honest when I heard we were going to Kansas, I wondered; why Kansas?  I pictured Kansas as an area of vast great plains with tumbleweeds rolling along the landscape and flat land leading to the horizon. I never really thought of it as a hunting or fishing destination. I was dead wrong.

We stayed in the Labette County area and spent a couple days fishing. The Big Hill Lake is over 1200 acres of bass heaven. The 21 inch size limit for Largemouth and 18 inch limit for smallmouth has created a trophy bass fishery, and they are plentiful. The lake is a reservoir, and one end of the lake has large dead trees sticking up out of the water. Areas of thick shoreline cover offer many places to bass to hide but tossing in a senko proved to be irresistible to the fish.  Many fish were caught and the biggest one I saw was a 22 inch largemouth caught by our guide, Zac Udock.

Besides bass, crappies were caught; some in the 12 inch range. Locals reported crappie action to be slow, but trolling crank baits seemed to wake them up. I only wish I had brought my Off Shore Tackle mini planer boards with me so we could have really had a hay day with them.

Another area we fished was the Mined Land area. Coal mines from the 1800s have been turned into recreational area’s and several hundred water filled pits provide 1500 acres of public fishing. State owned cabins are available to rent and pier fishing is great. We took 12 foot Pro Angler Hobie kayaks in the pits and was able to operate the kayak with the pedal system allowing our hands free to cast and reel in big rainbow trout. The biggest one caught was three pounds, and as I  floated around in my Hobie, I saw a local man catching fish after fish off the public fishing dock. Along with trout, largemouth bass, channel catfish, pan fish and other species are prevalent.

Along with some great angling opportunities, Kansas has great turkey hunting and you can buy a tag over the counter. Some of our group went turkey hunting and within the three days, almost all of them got their birds.  The biggest draw from out of state visitors is the trophy deer hunting. It is a premier hunting destination for both whitetail and mule-deer species. There is much land open to public hunting and the season goes from September to January. You must apply for a tag before the end of April if you want to hunt that fall.

It just may be time to call up that long lost relative in Kansas and go for a visit. I was pleasantly surprised and I know next time I go, I will be renting a cabin at the Mine Pits.  To find out more, go to http://kdwpt.state.ks.us, or for specifically LaBette County where I visited, contact http://www.visitlabette.com.


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