King Lake, on the northern edge of Emporia State University and I-35, will soon be Kansas' newest waterbody open to the public for fishing, thanks to an ongoing partnership between Emporia State and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP). Positioned in front of ESU's newly constructed Prophet Aquatic Research and Outreach Center, King Lake's fishery will be managed by ESU students enrolled in Fish Ecology and Fisheries Management courses, with the guidance of Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologists.
"This arrangement is going to allow students at ESU the opportunity to get hands-on experience managing a fishery, while affording Emporia-area anglers another location to wet a line," said Ben Neely, KDWP Fisheries biologist. "We're excited to see this fishery grow and to, hopefully, see more anglers out there enjoying what this lake has to offer."
An initial survey of the lake was conducted by students in Dr. Rachel Bowes' Fish Ecology class in November 2021. Working alongside KDWP Fisheries biologists, students sampled 12 fish species, including good numbers of bluegill, largemouth bass, and white crappie. Students also identified management strategies moving forward, which will include supplemental stockings of channel catfish and largemouth bass to help achieve a balanced food web and increase angling opportunities. Additionally, winter stocking of rainbow trout is being considered to provide winter angling opportunities in the area.
"Emporia State University is proud of our long-standing partnership with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks," said Dr. Brent Thomas, dean of Emporia State's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "The presence of a public fishing lake on our campus that is collaboratively managed by our students and the agency will provide unique applied-learning opportunities to our Fisheries and Wildlife students."
Anglers can access King Lake via the I-35 underpass off Highland Street, east of the KDWP Research and Survey office and ESU soccer field. Currently, fishing regulations for King Lake follow statewide regulations; however, regulations may be adapted as additional surveys are conducted (https://ksoutdoors.com/Fishing/Fishing-Regulations).
When fishing at King Lake, a current fishing license is required (unless exempt); and, anglers may keep the following:
- Channel Catfish: No minimum length; daily creel limit is 10
- Crappie: No minimum length; daily creel limit is 50
- Largemouth bass: Minimum length is 15 inches; daily creel limit is 5
For more on fishing in Kansas, visit ksoutdoors.com/Fishing.
For more on ESU's Prophet Aquatic Research and Outreach Center, visit www.emporia.edu/paroc.