The 5 Best Fish to Catch in Kansas This Summer

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: May 19, 2023
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When most people picture Kansas, they think of rolling hills, the Great Plains, and the various animals that inhabit those diverse areas. Since the state isn’t known for its rivers or vast lakes, outsiders often miss out on the fishing available in the state. That’s why we decided to come up with a list of the five best fish to catch in Kansas this summer. We’ll tell you about a few different types of fish that you can try to catch this year as a beginner or an experienced fisherman.

What Are the Best Fish to Catch in Kansas?

Kansas is firmly landlocked. That means you won’t catch any sharks or marlins in its waters. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a diverse selection of great fish to catch. We’ve developed a list of five different types of fish you can find in the various lakes and rivers in this state. Some of them are more popular than others. Yet, they’re all good for one reason or another, which we will tell you about. 

1. Channel Catfish

Channel catfish

Channel catfish is a very common fish in Kansas.

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The channel catfish is one of the most common fish people catch in Kansas. The one thing that makes this fish a good creature to catch is its widespread availability. They can be found in lakes, rivers, lakes, and streams.

These fish are often found in places like La Cygne Lake, Fall River Lake, Clinton Lake, and many others. They may also be found in the Missouri River and Kansas River. Catching these fish is not that difficult, and they are tasty to eat. They’re good to catch for both novices and experts.

Channel catfish typically average about 20 inches, but the largest ones can measure over twice that length. You should try to find these fish at dusk or just after. They like to linger in less busy areas of the water, and they enjoy all sorts of bait, from nightcrawlers to chicken livers.

2. Longnose Gar

Portrait of longnose gar swimming among seaweed.

Longnose gars are not so simple to catch.

©Mikhail Blajenov/

We’re going from one very easy-to-catch fish to one that’s not so simple. The longnose gar is a very large fish that can measure up to five feet or more, weighing dozens of pounds. They are known as a strong predator of fish, waterfowl, and other creatures that live in the water. That includes other members of their species!

Your best bet is to fish for these creatures late in the day or early in the morning. That is when they are most active. Fortunately, they are also very active in the summer. These fish are found in lakes, swampy areas, and river backwaters in the eastern portion of Kansas.

They like shoals and shallow areas, and you should consider using lures that are between 3 and 4 inches long. Longnose gars have rather strong scales and sharp teeth, so you’ll need to be careful when you pull them from the water. Although some people eat these large fish, many just catch and release them.

So, if you’re looking for the best fish to catch in Kansas this summer, the longnose gar may just be it!

3. Largemouth Bass

Trophy Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass like to eat anything!


Now, we’re going to take a step back to a common, easily caught fish. The largemouth bass likes to eat, and they’ll strike at just about anything. That means you don’t need the fanciest bait to get these fish to bite. Novices will appreciate the lack of required effort in choosing bait.

However, the largemouth bass is also a great fish to catch for serious fishers as well as people who are looking for a quick meal. That’s right, you can take this bass to the table. You’ll mostly find the largemouth bass in lakes and ponds throughout the state.

Some people only go to La Cygne Lake to catch bass, but they’re all over. Just to give you an idea of how big these fish can get, the largest largemouth bass caught in the state measured 11.80 pounds and 28.5 inches long! You won’t get a lot of fight from these fish, but you’ll have a good time catching them!

4. Walleye


Walleye stay in deeper parts of the water during the day.


The walleye fish gets its name from the pearly center of its eye, and you’ll find them in lakes and ponds. They’re very widespread throughout various reservoirs and big lakes in the state. They’re not very big fish, usually measuring less than 10 pounds and measuring about 1 foot long.

However, trophy fish can weigh a fair amount more and grow 2 feet in length. Some people think they are a little harder to catch than the largemouth bass. That may be due to them being most active around early morning and dusk.

They stay in deeper parts of the water during the day. At night, they use their superior vision to spot fish closer to the shoreline, and that’s when you’ll want to catch them. In the daytime, though, your best bet is to look for them amongst aquatic vegetation where they like to hide.  

You’ll find these creatures in Wilson Lake, Clinton Lake, Cheney Reservoir, Pratt County Lake, and many others.

5. Striped Bass

Striped Bass

Striped bass can also live in fresh water.


You may be thinking, aren’t striped bass a saltwater fish? Well, yes, but they can survive in freshwater as well. Like their largemouth bass cousins, these creatures will eat anything that moves in the water. That made it easy for them to adapt to the lakes and impoundments where they were introduced.

Of course, Wilson Lake, a reservoir that takes water from the Saline River, has saltier water than most inland lakes and is a great habitat for these fish.  

You’ll find striped bass in Wilson Lake, La Cygne Lake, Elk City Lake, and a whole host of others. These fish are regularly stocked in the lakes since they don’t reproduce here, but they are fun to catch. They can be caught from shore or in a boat, and they take all sorts of bait. Try using a trolling technique while having fresh herring or alewives as bait and watch them bite!

Now that we’ve gone over the best fish to catch in Kansas this summer, you should see that this state is pretty good for fishing. At the very least, it’s better than most people think. Just make sure you check out the updated fishing and hunting license rules for the area and follow the rules outlined in each body of water. Other than that, have some fun catching fish for sport or dinner!

Summary of the 5 Best Fish to Catch in Kansas This Summer

RankTypes of Fish
1Channel Catfish
2Longnose Gar
3Largemouth Bass
5Striped Bass

The photo featured at the top of this post is © FedBul/

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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