ELLIS, Kan. (KSNW) — The drought that has been affecting communities across Kansas is causing problems for the fish at several Kansas lakes. As the water recedes, fish could die.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has issued public fish salvage orders for these four lakes:

  • Ellis City Lake (order issued on Monday)
  • Warren Stone Lake, east of La Crosse (order issued recently)
  • Hodgeman State Fishing Lake, southeast of Jetmore
  • Goodman State Fishing Lake, east of Ness City

David Spalsbury, KDWPT district fisheries biologist, said there may be other lakes in the eastern part of the state, but he does not cover those lakes.

A fish salvage order lets people who have fishing licenses collect any remaining fish in the lake by any legal methods as well as by hand, dip net, or seine.

“Lakes that primarily require, rely on runoff to maintain the pool of water, I mean, we haven’t had rain. We’re at a severe deficit in most parts of the state,” Spalsbury said. “Like I tell people, water is the number one habitat requirement of fish, and if they don’t have water, they can’t exist.”

KDWPT says the drought has caused minimal water flow into Ellis City Lake. It has “begun to have detrimental effects on fish populations at Ellis City Lake.” The department says the dry weather may lead to significant fish losses soon.

“It’s just a low-head dam on Big Creek in Ellis County and, west on Big Creek, there are permanent holes on the creek that are, I say this maybe kind of loosely, but they always have water, so they’re always a reservoir for fish that, when we do, you know, we get wetter, the creek starts to flow, and the fish might emigrate on their own,” Spalsbury said. “And then we do stock on top of them so, but all four lakes are lakes that we stock to some degree or other.”

Under normal conditions, anglers can expect to find the following species at Ellis City Lake:

  • Bluegill
  • Black bullhead
  • Channel catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead catfish
  • Green sunfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Saugeye
  • Wiper

“We have already made efforts to salvage some of the desirable sport fishing out of Ellis City Lake, and we did move them,” he said. “We moved them to Cedar Bluff, mainly just to save them and to hopefully provide some public fishing opportunity with them here, additionally, here at Cedar Bluff.”

Spalsburgy said KDWPT moved about 250 largemouth bass, some flathead catfish, channel catfish, and a few crappie to Cedar Bluff.

“We just try to get in there and get what we can get and move them so we can provide that public opportunity, and then, on the other side, we provide public opportunity by letting, basically letting the public have sort of a controlled free-for-all and take what they can while they can,” he said.

“If things continue to go the way they’re going, the fish are going to die, and they’ll just be kind of a waste, so we’re just trying to get as much utility out of the fish as we can.”

Signs are being put up around Ellis City Lake, letting people know about the public fish salvage. The salvage order will continue until the signs are removed.