Anglers in search of channel catfish should make Clinton Lake a destination this year, but fishing for all other species should be fair to poor at the Douglas County reservoir.
That's the assessment of Richard Sanders, district fisheries biologist for Wildlife and Parks, based on samplings conducted last year.
Sanders found record numbers of channel catfish for the fourth consecutive year, most in the 11- to 16-inch range.
"In recent years, channel catfish have trended downward in size and upward in abundance," Sanders said. "The condition of catfish below 24 inches has been low to moderate the past several years, and may relate to increased competition for food due to increasing numbers of channel catfish."
Sanders predicts good to excellent fishing for cats, but he cautioned that many will be small.
The outlook isn't so promising for crappie because the numbers were down from the previous year and only about 20 percent of the sampled fish surpassed 10 inches in length.
"Fishing for crappie should be slightly more challenging compared to 2003, which was a fairly good year," Sanders said. "Angling this year should be fair."
Clinton ranked eighth among state reservoirs in adult crappie density, he noted.
White bass numbers were up, but still below normal, Sanders reported. About 60 percent of the samples exceeded 12 inches. Body condition was better than the previous year, but still was only average. Sanders projects white bass fishing will be fair.
Clinton received more than seven million fry and 125,000 fingerling walleye last year.
"Stockings are necessary to maintain walleye fisheries in most eastern Kansas reservoirs due to recruitment problems associated with habitat and competition with other species," Sanders said.
His walleye sample catch decreased 67 percent. Few small fish were observed indicating stocking survival the last two years has been low.
"Walleye fishing was fairly good last year," he said, "but 2004 may be a tougher year based on the lower numbers."
Clinton is definitely not the place to go if you're a largemouth bass fisherman. Kansas reservoirs generally are poor largemouth bass lakes because turbid, windswept waters create feeding and spawning problems.
Sanders did find more bass than were sampled during the past 15 years, but even with the higher catch the population is still low.
Fewer big bass were observed in 2003 samples, although about 21 percent of bass sampled exceeded 15 inches in length.
"Bass fishing will be poor," Sanders said, "as it has been for a long time."