10 Best Trout Fishing Lakes and Streams in Kansas

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With neighbors like Colorado and Missouri, Kansas likely is not the first state trout anglers think of when planning their next trip in the middle of the country.

But that’s unfortunate.

The Sunshine State offers trout enthusiasts ample opportunities to catch rainbow trout and a few brown trout during the cooler months.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks stocks over 30 waterways with tens of thousands of trout each season. Whether you’re local or visiting from out of state, there’s likely a trout fishery near you.

Below you’ll find my picks of the top 10 best trout fishing locations in Kansas. I prioritized not only good trout fishing but variety.

Some of the following selections are simply unique places to visit while catching trout, while others give urban anglers a reason to keep a rod and reel handy during the fall, winter, and early spring.

Where to Trout Fish in Kansas

You’ll notice that these spots are spread out across the state, as I tried to include the best urban fishing locations along with a few rural places that let you avoid the crowds.

I highly encourage you to read the Kansas Trout Fishing Regulations before heading to any location, as they vary from spot to spot.

Atchison City Lake #1

Though it’s called a lake, Atchison City Lake #1 is what I call a large pond you’ll find north of Atchison, a little more than an hour’s drive north of Topeka or Kansas City.

Several other lakes are scattered around Atchison, but only #1 is stocked with rainbow trout. 

I really like this little lake because it provides easy access to all anglers, whether fly fishing or using a spinning rod and reel. Most of the bank is easily manageable, with just a few trees scattered around the shore.

The best approach will be to use small spinners or spoons to locate the trout, then use floating dough baits like Berkley PowerBait (yellow, pink, and rainbow colors are my favorite) to get more to bite.

If this fishing is really slow, try cured or artificial salmon eggs or trout worms.

For the fly fishermen and fisherwomen, elk hair caddis, BH pheasant tail, and Zebra midge work well in most Kansas waterways.

I focus most of my efforts towards the middle of the pond, as trout tend to school up in deeper pools in search of cooler water and structure. However, on some days, they can be found closer to the shore than you think, so mix it up until you find fish.

See the Atchison State Fishing Lake page for more information.

Lake Charles

Another small lake stocked with trout from Nov. 1 through April 15 is Lake Charles in Dodge City. 

This lake allows anglers of all skill levels to land a few rainbow trout when other species are less willing to bite.

Scattered trees line this small impoundment, so fly fishing will be a little more difficult in spots, especially when crowded.

I would start my efforts around the bridge, as trout will often duck under structures to feel safe from predators.

If the bridge is already being fished, seek out some deeper areas in your search for trout. Or look for active trout on the surface for signs of feeding.

The typical lures and baits will work here, too, as these are all hatchery-raised trout and generally quick to bite.

Glen Elder Outlet

While Waconda Lake (Glen Elder Reservoir) in north-central Kansas is known for excellent warmwater fishing for walleye, crappie and bass, the reservoir’s outlet (below the dam) is stocked with trout during the cooler months of the year.

Trout also will be stocked in the Glen Elder State Park pond as conditions allow.

Traditional trout stream anglers should head for the Glen Elder Outlet, as this is a small river that resembles the typical place you would find trout.

When stream fishing, I focus on eddies and current breaks using small spinners and spoons.

In the slower-moving pools, I’ll toss out floating dough bait at the top and bottom of the pool. Natural baits like nightcrawlers are another good bet.

Fly anglers will succeed using Royal Wulf, Rubber Legs, and Wooly Buggers, depending on the time of year and the trout’s mood.

When fishing the state park pond, I would primarily use dough baits or trout worms cast towards the middle of the pond.

Gunn Park East Pond

Located in Fort Scott in southeastern Kansas, Gunn Park East Pond (a.k.a. Fern Lake) is stocked with rainbow trout every two weeks, beginning around October 15 through April 15. 

I would focus on the shade the trees cast onto the water, though it won’t be much when they lose their leaves.

Then I would use dough baits or artificial salmon eggs cast toward the middle of the pond or around the brush that’s fallen into the water.

If there’s water flowing into or out of the pond, I would also make several casts into the moving water, as trout prefer to hang out near the current, waiting for their next meal.

While many trees are around the impoundment, there’s still enough open space to fly fish here at Gunn Park East Lake.

Kanopolis Seep Stream

Below Kanopolis Lake is a small stream that is unique compared to other Kansas trout fisheries. This walk-in access area holds trout throughout most of the year as the water from the bottom of the lake keeps the waters cool enough to support trout.

This is the ideal destination for fly anglers, but it’s also an excellent place to use spinning gear.

There are areas marked for particular types of baits and lures, so be sure to pay attention to which area you’re currently fishing. The best flies are often midges, while most artificial baits work here too. 

Be prepared to walk a ways to reach the best spots at this Central Kansas location; however, many anglers enjoy fishing this stream because it provides solitude that the urban ponds can’t match.

I recommend bringing at least mud boots, if not waders, as your feet are likely to get wet and cold if you don’t.

The stream tends to be stocked a handful of times from October through late winter.

Mined Land Wildlife Area Unit #30

Another unique location is the Mined Land Wildlife Area Unit #30, where you’ll find the “Trout Pit.” While more than 1,000 strip mining pits dot this wildlife area, only Unit #30 is stocked with trout during the colder months. 

Rainbow trout are the main species stocked; brown trout are also occasionally stocked at this pond in the southeastern corner of Kansas.

The water in the Trout Pit is up to 60 feet deep and crystal clear, which makes it great for trout.

Though it is possible to do a little bank fishing, a kayak or small boat is a real advantage due to the steep banks, trees, and deep water.

Small spinners, crankbaits, and spoons will work best. Don’t overlook the flies, though; if you’re comfortable fly fishing from a boat, this is a great place to do it.

The Trout Pit is typically stocked at least a half dozen times from about late October through late winter. It’s located on NW Lawton Road about 10 miles southwest of West Mineral.

Find more information at the Mined Land Wildlife Area website.

Pratt Centennial Pond

A catch-and-release-only fishery, except for trout, makes Pratt Centennial Pond a popular fishing destination in south-central Kansas.

Centennial Pond is on fish hatchery property, which makes it a great place to bring the family to fish and visit the museum. 

The small pond is open, and the shoreline is easily accessible. I recommend starting on one of the small peninsulas as this will allow you to cast in different directions and the best chance of finding where the trout are located that day. 

The typical trout lures and baits work here; I wouldn’t overthink it, sticking with natural colors and corn or yellow-colored dough baits.

If you’re looking for a place to fly fish, Pratt Centennial Pond is great for learning to fly fish with the open banks. Just be aware of other anglers.

Neighboring Pratt County Lake has good walleye fishing and places to camp overnight.

Lake Shawnee

This 416-acre lake is our list’s largest impoundment and the best place for Topeka residents and visitors to catch rainbow trout. 

While locating these trout might take more time and effort, I would focus my efforts near where they release them. However, if you’re not having luck, venture away to other areas, as the trout will disperse across the lake. 

You’ll find several fishing docks around the lake, where trout may hang out in the shade. I would fish the points and coves from the bank, where you’ll find lots of parks and other public access areas.

If you own a small boat or kayak, you can also use it for fishing in this lake. Trolling lures, baits or flies can be very effective for trout and allow you to cover lots of water.

Because of the fishing pressure this lake receives, don’t be afraid to think a little outside of the norm when considering your approach and baits. The typical baits and lures work here, but sometimes being just a little different in color or size goes a long way into having a good or great day.

Willow Lake

Below Tuttle Creek Reservoir north of Manhattan, Willow Lake is stocked with thousands of trout yearly. 

Because it’s larger than most other impoundments on the list, except Lake Shawnee, I recommend using a boat. However, fishing from the bank, fishing dock or earthen fishing piers are certainly options. 

If you have a boat, fishing around the island is an excellent place to start. I would also check out north and south of the boat ramp where they release the trout.

The most popular baits here are worms, corn, and dough baits; however, using flies isn’t out of the question once you’ve found the fish.

Above the dam, Tuttle Creek Reservoir offers a variety of fishing for walleye, crappie and other species.

Wichita East KDOT Pond

Urban anglers will be excited whenever the Wichita East KDOT Pond is stocked with trout.

This pond, also known as the KDOT East Borrow Pit Lake, was a source of construction fill right on the northeast corner of the I-135 and I-235 interchange.

This 10-acre pond allows non-motorized watercraft. However, the boat ramp on 45th Street North is closed to the public, so you’ll need to use a boat you can carry from the parking lot to the shore.

Small spinners, worms, dough baits, and spoons are the best baits. The best colors are typically yellow (corn color), orange, green, or pink.

It’s open enough to fly fish, but if you’re looking for a tranquil fishing experience, this is not the place for you with the freeway noise in surround sound.

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