Pratt County Veterans Memorial Lake has been fixed and filled, and now fish stockers are replenishing fish just in time for holiday anglers.
Fisherman are known for their patience. They sometimes have to wait a long time to catch a fish or get a bite or sometimes they don’t catch anything.
Fishermen at the Pratt County Veterans Memorial Lake will have to have a lot of patience as the fish are slowly replaced over several months in that body of water. The lake was drained and the fish removed to make repairs on the inlet and outlet valves and tubes.
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism was able to purchase some adult channel catfish and blue gills and get them in the lake on July 2, said Lowell Aberson, KDWPT fisheries biologist.
The fish were purchased from a commercial producer in time to get them in the lake for Independence Day.
“There will be some fish in there to catch,” Aberson said. “We were lucky to get these for the Fourth of July. There may be more later. We don’t know about availability.”
There is a chance that KDWPT will be able to get more adult fish next week, depending on availability.
“We’re scrambling to get some fish,” Aberson said.
The quickest KDWPT will be able to put their own fish in the lake will be in August when they will stock in small channel cats but those are only about 11 inches long and weigh just 0.3 pounds each.
There are four KDWPT hatcheries across Kansas and located in Pratt, Farlington, Milford and Meade. The decision to drain the lake to repair flood damage to the inlet and outlet valves and tubes was made well after the timeline for restocking. Aberson said he sends in the restocking order in December to give the aquaculture guys at the hatcheries time to plan out how many fish they will need.
When the hatcheries start production in the spring, they won’t have adult fish then. They produce fingerlings and small fish but they don’t produce large adult fish.
“We don’t have five pound catfish. We have tiny little fry,” Aberson said. “Those fish will be stocked next year as three pounders.”
Sometimes there are some leftover adult production fish that can be put in the lake but it is unknown if any will be available until the time comes, Aberson said.
Eventually, KDWPT will provide channel cats, blue gill, largemouth bass, wipers and walleye.
Since the lake is being filled with water directly from the Ninnescah River, there will be some crappie and carp that make it from the river into the lake. Some stream fish have already been seen in the lake.
But for now, fishermen will just have to be patient. They might get lucky and get one of the restocked fish or one from the river. But it will take time to build up the fish populations in the lake.
After all, the worst day of fishing still beats the best day at work.