The weather is usually chilly, with most days rising well into the 40s. However, every few years, an arctic front blasts into the Sunflower State and die-hard anglers begin thinking about ice fishing.
Last week's single-digit temperatures gave many ice anglers the itch to fish, but anglers should be patient and cautious.
Because Kansas weather is so variable, cold spells can be quickly followed by warm days, making even thick ice treacherous.
Before ice is safe, daytime high temperatures should be below 20 degrees and nighttime lows near zero for several days.
Once ice has hardened, anglers should tread with care, making test holes. The ice should be at least four inches thick. Never go near open water or on rivers near the smallest trickle of current.
Also be wary of lakes that harbor large numbers of geese that may keep parts of the lake open most of the winter.
Ice should be abandoned at the slightest sign of weakness: cracking sounds, movement of ice, or warming temperatures that create trickling water.
Ice is the hard-core fisherman's dream. Lakes and reservoirs in the northern half of Kansas may soon be locked in thick layers of ice, and lakes elsewhere could follow suit.
Sitting on a bucket over ice in single-digit weather can yield full creels of crappie, white bass and stripers.
The wise ice fisherman always brings more clothing than he thinks he'll need. In case of emergency, a change of clothes is also advisable, as is a buoyant throw cushion.
An ice auger is the handiest way to cut holes. Keep in mind the law allows only holes 12 inches in diameter or smaller. A ladle will help clear ice chips from the hole.
Most anglers build or modify sleds just to pull their gear on the ice, and proper fishing equipment is also essential.
In cold water, many hits go undetected with heavy rods, so a light, sensitive rod works well for sensing the slightest strike.