Fishing success depends on a lot of factors, but you can boost the odds in your favor with a simple tool available from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks: the "2005 Kansas Fishing Forecast," available at the KDWP Web site, www.kdwp.state.ks.us.
Since 1994, KDWP fisheries biologists have produced the annual forecast with the sole purpose of helping Kansas anglers catch fish. Every year, biologists sample fish populations in Kansas lakes. Sampling results provide the basis for management strategies, such as fish stocking rates or creel-limit requirements, aimed at enhancing anglers' success.
The forecast provides a wealth of information on 15 popular sport-fish species, from walleyes to bluegills. Tables illustrate a variety of ratings, to accommodate any angler's fishing preference. For example, a "density rating" quantifies the number of quality size fish per unit of sampling effort. A "quality" channel catfish, for example, is 16 inches or longer. The higher the density rating, the greater the number of quality-sized fish anglers will find per surface acre in the lake.
The "preferred rating" indicates the number of above-average-sized fish available. A lake with a higher rating in this category is a good bet for anglers wanting to catch bigger fish.
The "lunker rating" indicates the relative density of trophy-sized fish in a lake. For example, most anglers consider a channel catfish longer than 28 inches a lunker. Obviously, lunker size differs among fish species, but if you want a chance at a potential state-record fish, this rating deserves your attention.
The forecast also contains a "biggest fish" entry to record the largest specimen caught during sampling.
Finally, the "biologist's rating" may reflect environmental conditions that the biologist believes affected his sampling efforts. Or it may simply incorporate trends from previous years' data which, in the biologist's opinion, temper the data recorded solely by sampling efforts.