Outdoors: First ever Kansas Fishing Derby

Steve Gilliland
Special to the Globe

This week’s column comes largely from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism website and should excite all Kansas anglers.

A Kansas angler’s prized catch may actually be worth a prize this spring and summer.

The first-ever Great Kansas Fishing Derby kicked-off May 1 and will run until July 31, 2021, with at least 500 specially tagged fish located in up to 37 public waterbodies in Kansas.

The Great Kansas Fishing Derby is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), Kansas Wildscape Foundation, the Bass Pro-Cabela’s Outdoor Fund and many local retailers across Kansas.

“The main goal is to get more people fishing. We had a lot of anglers join the party in 2020 and we want them to keep participating,” said David Breth, KDWPT sport fishing education coordinator. “We also want to make sure businesses know about their local fishing waters and just how many people visit these nearby fishing spots.”

How It Works

Pre-registration is not required, and participation is free, though normal fishing license requirements remain in effect. To get your Kansas fishing license, visit kshuntfishcamp.com or download KDWPT’s mobile licensing app, “HuntFish KS,” here https://ksoutdoors.com/License-Permits/HuntFish-KS.

Anglers who catch a tagged fish as part of the Great Kansas Fishing Derby must register the tag number at www.ksfishderby.com. A follow-up communication will notify the angler of what they’ve won and where to claim the prize.

Ksfishderby.com will also allow anglers and non-anglers to register to win additional prizes through weekly drawings. All participating bodies of water are open to the public and are managed by the KDWPT. A complete list of waters containing tagged fish is posted on ksfishderby.com.

Businesses across Kansas are supporting the Great Kansas Fishing Derby by providing prizes in the form of gift cards, merchandise and more – including a city zoo that has pledged an annual family pass. KDWPT will also contribute gift cards, which can be credited toward any department-issued license or permit, or magazine subscription. KDWPT gift cards are also honored at all Kansas state parks.

“We’ll have popular sport fish tagged, like bass, crappie and walleye,” said Breth. “We’ll also have some non-sport fish like carp, gar and drum. We have people who like to fish for them and a lot who also participate in bow fishing. There were also some big bluegills tagged because we’d love to see kids win some of these prizes, too.”

Most tagged fish will meet legal length limits and can be legally kept. However, anglers may release their catch if they first remove the tag (see ksfishderby.com for instructions).

Businesses and groups interested in sponsoring tagged fish for this year’s Derby can find sponsorship details at ksfishderby.com. Breth added that more than 500 fish could be tagged as sponsorship grows. He also hopes the Derby becomes an annual event, as it’s become in Washington state. “Washington has been doing it since 2016, with trout they raise in hatcheries” he said. “It’s really popular with anglers and (sponsoring) vendors. It keeps growing every year for them, so we’re hoping that will be the case here.”

What a win-win-win deal; enjoy the fishing, enjoy eating the fish and then the possibility of winning a prize with the fish to boot, and all for the mere cost of a fishing license and a dozen night crawlers. And after the year we’ve all had, who wouldn’t want a deal like that. So go to the website to find the participating lakes and ponds, then grab some kids, grandkids or spouses and wet some lines, all the while Exploring Kansas Outdoors!

Steve can be contacted by email at stevenrgilliland@gmail.com