Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Stocking up

Fish at state lake near Tonganoxie flourishing; new ones added periodically

August 29, 2001

A new batch of channel cats splashed their way on a recent morning into the Leavenworth State Fishing Lake.

But first, so that state fisheries biologists such as Richard Sanders can keep track of their growth, Sanders and three others clipped the right pelvic fin off each wiggling fish.

The 24,000 channel cats added recently weigh about one-fourth of a pound each.

Lenny Lentz, who lives at the lake and oversees the maintenance, along with two University of Kansas students, Uriah Price and Ryan Pfeiffer, estimated it would take about two hours to clip all of the fish.

Fishing at the 165-acre lake, which is five miles northwest of Tonganoxie, has been pretty good this year, Lentz said.

The lake, which from 1994 through 1997 underwent renovation, is one of the deepest fishing lakes in Kansas, Sanders said.

Near the dam, the water is about 47 feet deep. In the channel in the lake's center, the water is about 30 feet deep. Since this summer's heavy rains, the lake has been full.

Even though the lake is one of the most beautiful spots in the county, it is primarily out-of-county fishermen who utilize it.

Lentz estimated that about 80 percent of those fishing and camping are from Wyandotte County. The rest are often from Leavenworth and Douglas counties, he said.

This summer, the lake grounds have been a destination for campers, most of them in tents, Lentz said.

There is no fee for camping, he said. Nor are there hookups for campers. Also, there are none, if any, trashcans, because visitors are supposed to take their trash with them.

The lake is strictly a fishing lake, which means fishing boats are allowed.

There is no limit on motor sizes. Sailboats also are allowed. But water skiing and swimming are not.

Since the lake reopened in 1997, the state has been working to fill it with high-quality fish. And to keep the fish growing.

"We have seven fish feeders on the lake," Sanders said. "We feed more than 16,000 pounds of fish food a year, from the end of April to the end of September to try to accelerate growth."

The fish, Sanders said, soon learn to hone into where the fish feeders, which automatically dispense fish food three times a day, are located.

The strategy seems to be working, Lentz said.

"We've had reports of six or more 20-pound channel cats caught out of here," Lentz said.

He added that most of the channel catfish caught in the lake are ranging from 1.5 to 3 pounds.

"But every once in a while a whopper happens," he said.

Sanders said he talked to fishermen recently who had caught 15 largemouth bass.

They told him that earlier in the week, when fishing through the night, they reeled in a total of 200 largemouth bass.

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