The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s F.I.S.H. Program, which stands for Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats, was patterned after the very successful Walk-In Hunting Access Program with a goal of increasing public fishing opportunities in Kansas. First introduced to Kansas anglers and landowners in 1998, F.I.S.H. leases private waters from landowners for public fishing. Landowners participating in F.I.S.H. receive payments, and F.I.S.H. provides anglers with a place to fish while leaving the land in private ownership. The deadline for landowners to enroll for 2013 is December 15, 2012.
Special regulations are in place for F.I.S.H. properties, and KDWPT officials periodically patrol the areas. Violators will be ticketed or arrested for vandalism, littering or failing to comply with fishing regulations. Access is limited to foot traffic, except on roads designated by the landowner in the case of very large tracts of land. Additionally, under this program some landowners are eligible for fish stocking, habitat management, fence crossers, cattle guards, rock boat ramps, or rocked parking areas.
Each year, KDWPT publishes a fishing atlas featuring maps that show each body of water enrolled in the program, boating allowance, and fish species available. F.I.S.H. sites are open for public access from March 1 to October 31 or year-round. Landowners allowing year-round access receive a 10 percent lease increase.
The program leases privately-owned ponds for public access by the acre. Base lease rates range from $75-$125 per/acre/year, depending on where the pond is located in. Boating allowance bonuses are available as well. Ponds allowing carry-in boats only will receive an additional $10/acre/year and properties allowing all boats access (adequate launching site must be present) will receive an additional $25/acre/year.
Another focus of the F.I.S.H. program is to increase access to streams for fishing and paddlesports. Depending on the quality of the stream’s fishery, annual lease rates for fishing access range from $500 to $1,500/mile. Stream stretches that allow paddlesport access could receive an additional annual payment of $500-$750/mile. To be eligible for the additional paddlesports payment, the stream stretch must be at least one-mile, with put-in and take-out spots (bonus applies only between put-in and take-out spots), and signed up for a long-term lease (minimum five years).
Big River Access Leasing
The Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri Rivers are considered navigable waters and are open to public access. However, public land access points are limited. To increase public access to these rivers, the F.I.S.H. program leases access sites from willing landowners. Landowners with adequate launch facilities, can annually receive $1,500/site. If the site is within 10 river miles of any other public access site a landowner can annually receive $2,000/site.
For more information about enrolling your water in the F.I.S.H. program contact your nearest KDWPT office, or the Operations office in Pratt, 620-672-5911. You can also learn more about F.I.S.H. at www.ksoutdoors.com.
This program is made possible by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Act, the sale of fishing licenses, and the Farm Bill.
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism