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Chase State Fishing Lake holds variety of fish
By Brett Talkington

Nestled in the heart of the Flint Hills, Chase County offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities for the average angler. Ponds, creeks, reservoirs, and rivers inhabit most of the county, making it easy to find a spot to fish. Careful conservation has allowed Chase County to become one of the most abundant fishing areas in the state.

The heavy dependence on livestock and the frequently dry summer causes ranchers to build multiple ponds in a single pasture. Local anglers and ranchers stock these ponds with bass, crappie and bluegill. The Cottonwood River flows through central Chase County and is fed by multiple tributaries like South Fork and Middle Crick. Deep pools and rocky ledges provide safe havens for channel cat, largemouth bass and carp.

After the devastating 1951 flood that inundated much of north central and eastern Kansas, government officials developed a flood control plan that included building large reservoirs to help collect runoff. Many of these reservoirs have been built since 1951, including the Chase County State Fishing Lake which was completed in 1954. The 109-acre lake is located one and a half miles west of Cottonwood Falls or about 25 minutes from Emporia and is surrounded by a 383-acre wildlife area with strictly enforced hunting and fishing guidelines.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has stocked the lake with many species of fish. Excellent populations of channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, walleye, largemouth and white bass, as well as wipers and saugeye can be found in the lake. Mud flats in the south end near the feeder creek provide excellent opportunities to catch medium size catfish and the clear water makes it easy to find a special spot. In some places, crappie school together and inhabit submerged brush piles. Live bait seems to work the best in these places. Bass and bluegill can be found almost everywhere in the lake and fishing peaks in early summer when the fish move to shallow water to spawn. Special length and bag limits may affect some species, so check the fishing regulations summary and all posted notes before fishing.

Fishing isn't the only recreation available at the lake. Hunting, camping and hiking are also popular. Outhouses and picnic areas have been constructed on the west side of the lake with camping spots close by. The steep hills, abundant wildlife and beautiful views are perfect for hiking, but watch for rattlesnakes. In the winter ducks and geese stay at the lake but hunting is legal only on the east side of the lake and below the dam.

To insure health of the wildlife at the lake a no trash policy is in effect, requiring that individuals to take their trash out of the park with them. Vehicles are restricted to established roads and off roads vehicle use is prohibited.



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