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Teaching your kids to fish in Kansas' productive waters

Thanks to the incredible number of well-stocked and easily accessed fisheries, Kansas is a great place to introduce your kids to angling. But you have to ensure they have a good time while fishing, if you want to spark a long-term interest in the sport. And to ensure they have a good time, you need to make sure they actually catch fish, rather than just staring at a bobber all afternoon.

Fortunately, that’s pretty easy to do if you embrace the following tips:

1. Start with Kid-Appropriate Gear

If you want your kids to have success, you’ll need them to equip them with rods, reels and tackle they can use easily. This generally means setting them up with a small (5- to 6-foot) spinning or spincasting combo and an appropriate live-bait rig (consisting of a float, a small bait hook and a couple of split-shot crimped to the line). If your kids are really young (let’s say 4 or 5), you may even want to simplify things more by outfitting them with cane poles – the ultimate in angling simplicity.  

2. Fish for Kid-Friendly Species

You may prefer fishing for walleye, largemouth bass and northern pike, but your kids will have a much better chance of catching bolder species, who will be more eager to bite your bait. Bluegill (and the other panfish residing in Kansas’ local waters, such as red ear sunfish), channel catfish and bullhead are all great choices. You can catch bluegill and other panfish by using crickets, leaches or earthworms, although corn kernels and doughballs are also effective. Bugs and worms also catch cats and bullhead, but you may have better luck targeting these fish with hotdog slices or commercial catfish baits. 

3. Pick a Good Location

Anytime you are fishing with your kids, you want to visit an accessible, stocked water body with plenty of nearby amenities, such as bathrooms. Plainville Township Lake is a great option for those in the northwestern portion of the state. It is one of the most generously stocked bluegill lake in all of Kansas, and it has bathrooms, pavilions and a fishing dock. Ottawa State Fishing Lake is another well-stocked bluegill lake with bathrooms and pavilions, and it is located a little more conveniently for those living in the eastern portion of Kansas. If it is catfish that you’re after, consider checking out the fishing pond in Topeka’s Central Park or Mary’s Lake in Lawrence, both of which are surrounded by a walking trail. Anglers in the Wichita area have a number of possibilities. You can check them out by go to Where to Fish in and Around Wichita.

4. Follow the Local Laws and Regulations

You’ll always want to stay on the right side of the law when introducing your kids to the sport of angling, to avoid setting a bad example for them. Besides, you don’t want to end your day on the water by letting your kids see a law enforcement officer hand you a citation.

Kids younger than 16 don’t require a license, whether you live in the state or not, but you will. The state offers a variety of different licenses, including a 1-day license that is great for visitors. However, if you plan on catching trout, you’ll also need to obtain a trout permit. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the creel and length limits. Fortunately, you can catch as many bluegill or bullhead as you want, but you’ll have to start throwing catfish back after catching 10 (although, that would be a great problem to have).


If you’d like to learn a few more tips and tricks that may help you teach your kids to fish, cruise on over to Outdoor Empire and check out their comprehensive review of the topic. You’ll not only learn some of the best gear and lures for kids to use, but you’ll also learn about some of the ways to make the trip more fun for everyone involved.

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