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Current fisheries efforts include signs, creel survey, and smallmouth bass
POSTED: 06/20/2012
Area residents who use their boats in JCPRD’s three largest lakes are being asked to take steps to help keep zebra mussel and other invasive species out of these bodies of water.

This proactive effort is one of several fisheries management-related endeavors going on in district parks. Others include a creel survey in Shawnee Mission Park, as well as some unique fishing opportunities.

Signs were recently placed beside boat ramps in Shawnee Mission, Heritage, and Kill Creek park lakes asking boaters to “stop aquatic hitchhikers” by inspecting and cleaning their boat, trailer, and equipment before and after use.

“It’s very important that the public is aware of the species that we do not want in the parks,” explained JCPRD Field Biologist Matt Garrett. “That’s why we’re putting the aquatic invasives signs up at the boat ramps. It’s very important to let boaters and fishermen know what they could be unintentionally bringing into the park district.”

In addition to zebra mussel, specific species mentioned on the signs include: Asian carp, and rusty crayfish, as well as plant species such as purple loosetrife, hydrilla, and Eurasian milfoil. Although they are all in the Midwest, none of these species has yet been found in district lakes and Garrett wants to keep it that way.

“We really want boaters to clean their boats, drain their holds, and bilges and bait buckets before leaving the area,” Garrett said. “Clean, drain, dry is kind of the tagline. We’re trying to be proactive and keep aquatic invasives - be it plants or animals - out of our parks.”

In addition, all park visitors are asked to refrain from releasing bait, aquarium fish, shellfish, or plants into local bodies of water.

Since March, a randomized creel survey has been going on at Shawnee Mission Park and is scheduled to continue until October.

“People can expect to meet a creel clerk we’ve hired who will interview anglers about what they’re catching, and what they’re after,” Garrett said. “It will give us an idea of what the pressures are on Shawnee Mission Lake. We’ll get a lot of data from that and it will help us better manage the resource.”

The survey is truly random and takes place during two-hour windows at various times of the day and week.

For each session, the clerk counts visitors fishing from shore and from boat and then interviews anglers using a set series of questions. These include the number of people fishing together as well as their age and gender, hours fished, residence of the driver, fish kept and their length, fish released and their length, what they were fishing for, and the fisherman’s ranking of their fishing success using a scale of one to five with one being best.

The clerk again counts fisherman at the end of the two-hour window.

Garrett said the most statistically valid data comes from folks who have completed their fishing session and are getting ready to leave because their data covers their entire fishing experience. He emphasized that there is no enforcement as part of the survey as the clerk is only recording information.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and Tourism’s creel survey system software is being used to tally the results.

“The idea is to do this for three years and to find out what people are catching and the sizes and tailor our management to what the public’s after,” he said. “A three-year window would make sure that you’re not making decisions off of one season’s data. Three seasons should cover the gamut of weather and conditions.”

Two overnight fishing opportunities are being offered in JCPRD parks during July: at Heritage Park on July 21, and at Shawnee Mission Lake on July 28.After 11 p.m., the specified park will be open for fishing only and park police will be on duty throughout the night.

Before fishing, area anglers ages 16-64 will need to have a valid Kansas fishing license, a JCPRD fishing permit, and any applicable boat tags.

The final overnight fishing opportunities of 2012 will take place on Aug. 18 at Kill Creek Park, and Aug. 25 at Shawnee Mission Park.

Another interesting fishing opportunity involves about 1,200 five-to-six-inch smallmouth bass stocked in Shawnee Mission Lake last fall as a new species for anglers. All regular license and permit requirements apply.

“We’ll be interested to see how the smallmouth bass respond to Shawnee Mission Lake and what anglers think of catching smallmouth bass,” Garrett said.

Shawnee Mission Park is located at 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee and Lenexa. Heritage Park is located at 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe. Kill Creek Park is located at 11670 Homestead Lane, Olathe.

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