15 Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Kansas

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Kansas may not make your Top 10 list of the top bass fishing states in the U.S., yet you’ll find some phenomenal bass fishing whether you live here or are just passing through.

Many lakes across the Sunflower State not only provide great bass action but variety as well, with spots that are home to incredible fishing for largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass. 

No matter the species you prefer to target, there are several lakes you should visit. We’ll show you the best of each.

Let’s get started with the best largemouth bass fishing lakes in Kansas.

Best Largemouth Bass Fishing in Kansas

La Cygne Reservoir

In the past, Bassmaster Magazine has recognized this 2,600-acre lake as one of the best in the Midwest.

This modestly sized reservoir near the Missouri border continues to produce more than its share of trophy fish because it’s a discharge for a power plant on the east side of the lake.

The plant keeps the water warmer throughout the year, allowing fish to grow even when bass in other Kansas lakes have slowed their metabolisms and feeding efforts to match colder water.

Anglers regularly catch bass over 5 pounds and even 10-pounders now and then at the reservoir, sometimes labeled on maps as La Cygnes Lake.

The type of cover varies widely around the lake; you can choose rip-rap, brush, or grass, which means you can use various lures to catch largemouth bass here.

Using colors that match the baitfish, such as shad, bluegill, and sunfish, generally yields the best results.

There are several boat ramps and a campground for anglers to take advantage of while visiting La Cygne.

La Cygne Reservoir also is popular because it’s just over an hour south of Overland Park and neighboring communities.

Butler State Fishing Lake (Lake Clymer)

Butler State Fishing Lake, also known as Lake Clymer, is a 124-acre lake located northwest of Latham, less than an hour east of Wichita.

Despite its small footprint and a maximum depth of 22 feet, it has a high density of largemouth bass, with some reaching actual lunker status. 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) manages the lake for better fishing opportunities. 

Because it’s shallow, the lake will warm and cool quicker than deeper bodies of water. 

The best locations to begin will depend on the time of year you visit. During warmer months, target the shallow cover; in colder months, target the transition areas from shallow toward the deepest water. 

The best lures to use are a chatterbait, spinnerbait, topwater lure, and Texas-rigged soft plastic. The primary baitfish is sunfish, so colors such as green pumpkin and chartreuse work best.

The earthen fishing piers were created to give shore anglers more access to deeper water, but much of the lake is easily accessible to bank anglers since it’s mostly grass, except on the upper end of the lake.

There is a boat ramp on the northwest side of the lake for anglers with a boat or kayaks. 

Cowley State Fishing Lake

Cowley County State Lake is an 84-acre impoundment located 13 miles east of Arkansas City, near the Oklahoma border. The clear water reaches a maximum depth of 32 feet. 

You can expect a good mix of trees, grass, and rocks along the shore, giving bank anglers plenty of access to fishing spots, but using a kayak or boat remains the best option.

The primary forage for largemouth is bluegill and redear sunfish, so using colors closest to these will give you the best chance of getting a bite. 

The best lures are crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and a Texas rig.

If you are in the mood to explore, don’t miss the Cowley County State Lake Waterfall! 

Gridley City Lake

This small 33-acre lake is a mile north of Gridley and about 45 minutes southeast of Emporia (south of the much larger John Redmond Reservoir).

Gridley City Lake has a park with RV and tent camping sites and a playground. 

The rip-rap dam is a great place to cast a crankbait, while a spinnerbait often shines in the rest of the lake. However, feel free to break out the soft plastics on a slow day.

There are plenty of opportunities to fish from the shore or a boat. You should expect to fish a mix of everything from rocks, grass, and brush piles.

The main food sources for bass are bluegill, sunfish, and other bass, so matching your lure colors to these patterns is best.

See the Gridley City Lake webpage for more information.

Alma City Reservoir

Alma City Reservoir is an 80-acre impoundment located 2 ½ miles southeast of Alma, or roughly 45 minutes west of Topeka.

It’s part of the Community Fisheries Assistance Program, which means it’s free to fish if you have a Kansas fishing license. 

Bank anglers will find a few places to fish around the lake, but boat and kayak anglers will have the most opportunities. 

There is a good mix of rocks, grass, and trees around the lake’s edge, so crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, and chatterbaits will be great lures for covering water. When it’s time to slow down, bust out a wacky or Texas rig. 

The best colors will be those closest to sunfish and bluegill, as this is the main forage for bass in Alma City Reservoir.

Lyon State Fishing Lake

Lyon State Fishing Lake is a clear 135-acre waterway northeast of Emporia, with a maximum depth of 34 feet.

Boat anglers will be happy about the concrete boat ramp and loading dock. At the same time, bank anglers will be glad to have access to seven rip-rap fishing piers extending into the lake. 

Due to the clear water, I recommend keeping your colors and lures as natural as possible. The primary forage will be crawdads, bluegill, and sunfish.

Most of the time, jigs and soft plastics will be the best options due to the various cover you’ll encounter here.

McPherson County State Lake

Mcpherson County State Lake is a small 46-acre impoundment located northeast of the city of McPherson, with a maximum depth of 30 feet. 

There’s a boat ramp that provides access to the water for kayak and boat anglers. There’s also a lot of shoreline for bank anglers to take advantage of the rip-rap and grassy shores.

Several manufactured PVC cubes and brush piles are scattered around the lake that attract sunfish, crappie, and bass. 

Jigs, spinners, crankbaits, and soft plastics will be the best lures to use most times of the year. Choosing colors that mimic crappie, sunfish, and other baitfish is essential.

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge and Battle Hill RV Park border the fishing lake.

Webster Reservoir

West of Stockton in northwestern Kansas, Webster Reservoir is a 3,740-acre impoundment with good walleye and bass fishing. 

Plenty of shoreline and several boat ramps give all anglers a good chance of catching some largies. There are also campgrounds where you can stay during your next fishing adventure, including Webster State Park.

On the east end of the lake, there’s plenty of rock and rip-rip, while the west end of the lake has more brush and grass. 

Shad, sunfish, and bluegill are the primary forage fish, so matching your colors and lures to these fish will allow your bait to look as natural as possible. 

Best Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Kansas

Winfield City Lake

Although efforts have been made to diversify Winfield City Lake’s fishing opportunities by stocking walleye, smallmouth bass still reign as a favorite game fish at this lake, less than an hour from Wichita.

The smallmouths at Winfield City Lake are both numerous and large, but before you get after them, remember to buy a city permit at the lake office.

To catch these bronzebacks, consider downsizing your usual largemouth lures and using natural colors. Inline spinners are a great smallmouth lure that many anglers overlook. 

Small swimbaits like the Damiki rig are other incredible smallmouth lures.

A drop-shot around rock piles and along the edges of brush piles works very well for smallmouth when you need to slow down. 

There is a boat ramp and plenty of shoreline access, so all anglers can try their hand at catching a Kansas smallie.

Glen Elder Reservoir (Waconda Lake)

Largemouth and smallmouth bass inhabit this 12,600-acre lake in north-central Kansas.

With several boat ramps and over 100 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of opportunities for anglers to wet a line at Waconda Lake.

The walleye fishing is some of the best in the state, so after you catch your limit of bass during the day, stay for the evening walleye bite. Or check out its great catfishing.

When targeting smallies, look for the harder, rockier bottoms than you would typically fish for largemouth.

I like to throw crankbaits, chatterbaits, and wacky rigs for smallmouth. However, Ned rigs and jigs are two other lures smallies can rarely resist, especially in natural baitfish colors.

Glen Elder State Park can make a good base camp for your fishing trip.

Wilson Reservoir

Wilson Reservoir, not to be confused with the excellent spotted bass lake Wilson SFL, is located in central Kansas and is beloved among anglers in part due to its abundance of smallmouth bass.

This 9,040-acre impoundment, located north of the community of Wilson not far off Interstate 70, has a max depth of 40 feet and is home to an abundance of smallmouth bass.

Target areas with a hard bottom or head to the Saline River on the west end and fish the current breaks. 

The best lures tend to be soft plastics, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits. However, I always have a jig handy when bass fishing anywhere.

Because shad, crawfish, bluegill, and sunfish are the primary food sources for smallies, I try to match these colors as best as possible.

Parks with access and other amenities include Wilson State Park.

Melvern Reservoir

Recent black bass surveys show a thriving smallmouth population, with many fish in the 12- to 18-inch range at Melvern Reservoir, about 40 miles south of Topeka. 

This 7,000-acre impoundment, also known as Melvern Lake, has a max depth of 60 feet, giving smallies many places to hide and grow big.

Boat anglers can launch from a few different boat launches, while shore anglers have access to over 100 miles of shoreline, though not all of that is fishable.

Smallmouth will be located in the clearer portions of the lake around rock and brush piles.

Using smaller crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics in natural colors tends to work best when targeting smallmouth.

These smaller lures may also result in a mixed bag with crappie, since Melvern also is among the top crappie fishing lakes in Kansas.

Eisenhower State Park is on the northeastern side of the reservoir.

Best Spotted Bass Fishing in Kansas

Cedar Bluff Reservoir

Three black bass species are found in Cedar Bluff: largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass.

This 6,000-acre lake, located 10 miles north of Brownell in Western Kansas, has 50 miles of shoreline and several boat ramps, giving anglers plenty of options. 

When targeting Cedar Bluff spots, I recommend finding transition areas. Unlike their cousin bass species, spotted bass are more likely to hold in open water near bluff walls and steep depth changes. 

While you will catch them around rock and brush piles, they leave the shallow water for largemouth.

Jerkbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits are all excellent lures to use when targeting spotted bass at Cedar Bluff Lake.

Since shad are their primary food source, consider using white and silver lures that resemble natural shad colors.

Cedar Bluff State Park offers amenities, including camping on both sides of the reservoir.

Keith Sebelius Reservoir

Sebelius Lake is located southwest of Norton in northwestern Kansas.

This 2,200-acre lake has a max depth of 42 feet, a few boat ramps, several campgrounds, and 32 miles of shoreline. 

I recommend starting your search for spotted bass near the dam and the main lake points. These areas allow spotted bass to feel comfortable with deep water nearby and have plenty of food. 

Fishing docks near the creek or river channels are great places to catch some spots. 

Swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics are all good spotted bass lures. Try using a swim jig or bladed jig to mix things up.

Prairie Dog State Park is along the lake’s northeastern shoreline.

Bourbon County State Lake

The KDWP manages this 103-acre lake for fishing near Elsmore, in southeastern Kansas.

Steep bluffs border the lake’s east and southwest portions, while the lake’s west side is managed for shoreline anglers. There are also several earthen fishing piers and two floating docks for anglers. 

Fishing the rocky points in the main lake, especially those created by the fishing piers, will be a great place to begin when searching for spotted bass.

Spots will hang out around the creek channel near the dam, so fishing a jig, swimbait, jerkbait, or spinnerbait along the edge of the depth change will often yield the best results.

Bluegill and redear sunfish are the primary food source for bass in this lake, so try using greens and chartreuse lures.

Catch More Bass

We have a complete guide to bass fishing techniques and tips that will get you off to a great start whether you are trying to catch largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass.