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KDWPT Fisheries Staff Seek Input on Wilson Fishery

PRATT – It could be time to reduce the daily creel limit for striped bass at Wilson Reservoir, but for anglers who are familiar with the recent history of the 9,040-acre impoundment – this proposed reduction could be considered good news; it signifies the lake’s gizzard shad and striped bass populations are once again healthy.

In 2017, Wilson’s population of gizzard shad ­– a critical food source for many of Kansas’ sportfish – crashed as a result of drought conditions in previous years. Subsequently, the health and growth rates of the lake’s prized striped bass population tanked from lack of available forage.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Fisheries biologists raised the striped bass daily creel limit from two, as it had been for decades, to five to allow the gizzard shad population to recover more quickly. That would eventually mean more food, and better health, for the lake’s remaining stripers, too.

Thanks to the compliance of Kansas anglers, the strategy worked so well that Wilson’s shad population has fully recovered. The lake’s stripers have regained their health, but the population has dropped low enough to warrant protection.

The proposed daily creel limit change from five to two would begin Jan. 1, 2021, if passed by the KDWPT Commission. Commissioners will vote on the matter during their next public hearing via Zoom on Thursday, Sept. 24. Public comment regarding the proposed regulation change is encouraged, and can be shared with:

     Bryan Sowards

     KDWPT Fisheries Biologist

     (785) 658-2465

When healthy, Wilson Reservoir’s striped bass population provides a trophy fishery for anglers, to include the current state record striped bass that weighed in at 44 pounds.

Striped bass also help control invasive species such as white perch, which if left unchecked, can overpopulate and decimate a sport fishery.

Wilson’s striped bass are raised at KDWPT’s Milford Hatchery and usually thrive in the impounded waters of the Saline River, growing upwards of 21 inches within just three years.

Located in Russell County – amid the Smoky Hills of northcentral Kansas – Wilson Reservoir is also home to excellent largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing, as well as walleye and white bass.

For more on Wilson Reservoir, and other fishing opportunities in Kansas, visit

For additional details on the upcoming Sept. 24 KDWPT Commission meeting, visit