State works to keep number of fish at high level

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MILFORD LAKE, Kan. (KSNT) – An entire industry in Kansas is working day-in and day-out to keep the fish biting for local fishermen. Specifically, catfish.

Half of the state’s catfish that are about to be stocked into lakes across Kansas are located at the Milford Fish Hatchery near Milford Lake. The 300,000 catfish will be released within the upcoming weeks.

“We’re going to make a lot of fish runs, stop at a lot of places, drop off a lot of fish, make a lot of people happy,” said Hatchery Manager Daric Schneidewind.

Catfish are one of the most popular fish of Kansas, and it is the hatchery’s main focus until they are stocked.

“Anybody can catch a catfish with a hook and a worm,” said Ely Sprenkle, Manhattan District Fisheries biologist for Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.

This hatchery is one of four in Kansas. The additional three are located in Meade, Pratt, and Farlington. These hatcheries raise all kinds of fish including catfish, bass and walleye.

“Most people don’t think about how a fish goes from here to there and ends up on the end of the line,” Schneidewind said.

“We’ve got to bolster that population above what natural reproduction does, and so that like the channel catfish behind me, that’s what we’re doing, the hatchery raises up channel catfish to a larger fish that we can stock up that’s close to where anglers can harvest them and catch them,” Sprenkle said.

The biologists working at the Hatchery observe the populations of fish in the lakes to determine how many fish they can place in each. The biologists also focus on what the fishermen want to see.

“That’s part of the reason I’m managing for anglers, because virtually all of our revenue comes from anglers,” Sprenkle said.

The catfish that will be released within the next few weeks have been at the Hatchery for almost two years, where they have spent their time growing and adapting to the environment.

“It’s a great day at the hatchery, not only when we’re stocking fish, because we know those fish are going to go out into the lakes for our anglers and be available for fishing, but also because it’s been a long time that they’ve been on the hatchery, that we’ve had to worry about them and take care of them, make sure they don’t die and give them the best opportunity to survive,” Schneidewind said.

Over 20,000 catfish have already been moved to Milford Lake, with a remaining 150,000 that are waiting to be moved.

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