Perry Lake is an 11,600-acre reservoir just 20 minutes from Topeka and is one of the best all-around fishing spots in Kansas.
You’ll need a lifetime to master this sprawling impoundment, also known as Perry Reservoir. But by the end of this article, you’ll have a jump start on many anglers who are just learning its secrets.
Let’s get started with some tips for catching black bass and then move on to other favorite gamefish!
Perry Lake Bass Fishing
Perry Reservoir is home to two of my favorite species to catch, smallmouth and largemouth bass. Neither species is known to grow to a massive size here, but it’s a great place to catch a lot of 1- and 2-pounders.
It’s possible to catch smallies and largies in the same area using the same technique, including around the bridge structures.
However, more than likely, you’ll have more success changing up your tactics to focus on each species because they have somewhat different preferences when it comes to habitat and feeding.
When targeting largemouth bass, I recommend focusing on the creek arms. This is because largemouth are more likely to be found in the shallows around brush, standing timber, and laydowns.
Another reason you’ll find more largemouth bass than smallmouth bass in creek arms is that largemouths are better suited for dirty water. The creek arms tend to be a little murkier as this is where most sediment washes into the lake.
When largemouths are in a feeding mood, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and bladed jigs are very effective.
A Texas or wacky-rigged green pumpkin Senko is my go-to when the bite is tough.
Since smallmouth prefer clearer water with current and rockier structure, the main lake points will be the best location to find them, especially when the dam releases water.
However, don’t be surprised if you catch a smallmouth when the river or creeks are running, as smallies handle current much better than largemouth.
I downsize my lures for smallmouth. Instead of large spinnerbaits, I throw Rooster Tail and Meps spinners. I also love fishing small 3-4″ swimbaits that match the local forage, and I’ll also throw wacky-rigged 4″ Senkos.
Catch More Bass
Check out all of the best bass fishing lakes in Kansas.
Now, come prepared by brushing up on simple bass fishing techniques, including favorite lures and bass-catching tips.
Perry Lake Crappie Fishing
If you want to fill a livewell with delicious crappie, Perry Reservoir is one of Kansas’s best crappie fishing locations. White crappie are the dominant species here, and you can easily catch them early in the year.
The time of year often determines the best technique and spot to catch them, but the bridges are a great place to start year-round.
During the spring, they move shallow to spawn and are easily caught on minnows, jigs, and small spinners around rock and brush piles.
During the summer, after the spawn, crappies school around brush piles in 15-25 feet of water. Jigs and minnows are often the best way to catch them this time of year, as these popular crappie fishing techniques are the easiest to fish in deeper water.
In the fall, crappies follow small shad back to shallow waters to feed up before winter. In the winter, they tend to roam; some days, they’re ultra-shallow, searching for warmer water; at other times, they’re back deep.
Jigs that imitate shad and minnows and live minnows work best during these times.
Crappies as large as 1 ½ pounds are caught here yearly; however, the average is under 1 pound.
Perry Lake Catfishing
Another fish known to draw a crowd at the lake and dinner table is the catfish. Perry Lake is home to blue and channel cats, which you might catch side-by-side.
The species can be misidentified, so brush up on your ID skills before heading to the water, as there are special catfishing regulations for Perry Lake.
You can do a few things to target the larger blue catfish, as we suggest below.
Still, since they have a similar diet and inhabit the same areas, often creek and river channels, you’ll never eliminate the possibility of hooking into a channel catfish.
If you’re looking to catch a catfish over 20 pounds, your best chance is targeting blues, as they can get well over 100 pounds in ideal habitats.
In Perry Lake, blue catfish have tended to max out at about 25 pounds, but the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks (KDWP) is working hard to increase the size of the blues here with special regulations.
The best baits for blues are large chunks of cut bait or live bait. Shad is the best choice, followed by sunfish.
The smaller channel cats are easier to clean. So if you’re looking for a mess of fish for dinner, these are probably what you’ll want to catch.
I love using nightcrawlers for channel catfish. However, small chunks of cut bait also work very well.
You’ll likely find both species around depth changes, such as creek and river channels. They move shallow to spawn on rocky points and flats in the late spring. As usual, the bridges are a great place to begin catfishing, no matter the time of year.
Catch More Catfish
Now, learn how to catch more with our favorite catfish fishing techniques, baits and tackle.
More Perry Lake Fishing
Often misidentified as their close cousin, the walleye, sauger are not the easiest fish to catch. When you land one, it’s especially rewarding. And Perry Lake is the best place to fish for sauger in Kansas.
There are great numbers of sauger here, but that doesn’t make them easy to catch. The best way to catch them is often trolling crankbaits or Lindy rigs near the dam, as they prefer rocky areas with access to deep water.
Sauger are very sensitive to light, like walleye, so fishing in low-light conditions during the early morning or late evening gives you the best chance to land them.
Night fishing is also a great idea.
Using a jig or crankbait in areas near a light are great places to start. The light will draw bugs at night that fall into the water and get eaten by small fish, which are then eaten by sauger and other predator fish.
Catch More Sauger
Our article on the best walleye fishing in Kansas also covers top sauger spots.
The tips in our simple walleye fishing guide also catch sauger.
White Bass Fishing
White bass (a.k.a. sand bass) are one of the most underrated fish, in my opinion. They fight hard and have flakey white meat. That’s a match made in fishing heaven!
They’re also not difficult to catch if you keep a few things in mind.
I use lures that look like shad and other small baitfish. This usually means throwing a spinner, swimbait, small spoon, or shiny crankbait.
In spring, white bass move up the creeks and rivers to spawn and are easily caught from shore.
Once the spawn ends, these sandies migrate back to the main river channel or lake.
The warmest months are when I love to troll for white bass. I use a shiny crankbait or spoon and idle until I find a school of sand bass.
They follow the shad, so finding a school of baitfish is generally the best option; once again, I’ve caught many white bass around bridges, so I would start at one of the bridges on Perry Lake.
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Bluegill and Sunfish
Sunfish are a fish everyone loves catching, especially on an ultra-light setup. Sunfish are feisty little fish that are easy to catch, which makes them the perfect species to target if you’re fishing with kids.
During the warmer months, bluegill and other species of sunfish come in near the shore and hide out in vegetation, brush piles, and under docks.
I use earthworms and small crappie jigs to catch sunfish any time of the year. Once you’ve caught one, quickly cast your bait back in the same spot because there are likely a few more.
Catch More Bluegill and Sunfish
Though these species are generally among the easiest fish to catch, you’ll increase your odds of a fun day on the lake by making note of our simple bluegill and sunfish fishing tips.
Planning Your Trip
Perry Lake is a great place to spend a day or a week. Many public areas have boat launch ramps and shoreline access for bank anglers. You can also stay at one of the campgrounds scattered around the lake.
With eight concrete boat ramps, paved parking, and some courtesy docks dotting the lake, you can access the water no matter the wind direction or which side of the lake you’re on.
The only boat ramp on the north side of the lake is the Old Town Boat Ramp, just south of the Highway 92 bridge.
The Longview boat ramp is near mid-lake on the east side, while the Devil’s Gap and Slough Creek Bridge boat ramps are on the southeastern portion of the lake.
Jumping to the west side of the lake, the Perry State Park Boat Ramp, Rock Creek Marina Boat Ramp, and Wildhorse Campground Boat Ramp are all located mid-lake.
The Rock Creek Boat Ramp, not to be confused with the Rock Creek Marina, is located in the southwestern portion of the lake.
Perry Lake has several public use areas on all sides of the lake, so if you don’t own a boat, don’t worry, you still have access to miles of shoreline fishing.
Paradise Point Public Use Area is on the northern tip of the lake. The Old Town Public Use Area is in the northeastern part of the lake.
Slough Creek and Longview Public Use Areas are mid-lake on the eastern side. In comparison, the Perry Public Use Area and the Outlet Public Use Area are in the southeastern part of the lake.
The Rock Creek Public Use Area is in the southwestern portion of the lake, and Perry State Park is roughly mid-lake on the western side.
Where to Stay
Perry State Park is a favorite place to stay at the lake. There are tent sites, RV hooks ups, or cabins to rent.
If camping isn’t your style, you can always find a hotel or motel in Topeka or Lawrence, the largest towns nearby.