Hand fishing is only allowed on the Kansas River, from its origin to the downstream confluence with the Missouri River; the Arkansas River; and all federal reservoirs from 150 yards beyond the dam to the upstream end of the property.
Hand fishing was legalized in Kansas in 2007, and since then has gained a loyal following of enthusiasts. The sport is big in Oklahoma and throughout the South, but hasn’t been legalized in Missouri or Nebraska. It’s a somewhat dangerous sport, as hand anglers may encounter snakes, snapping turtles, beavers, muskrats and, in the southern states, alligators, all of which may inhabit old catfish holes. In 2013, a man in southwestern Oklahoma was bitten by a 3 1/2-foot cottonmouth while noodling. Though cottonmouths aren’t prevalent in this part of Kansas, copperheads are common, and a man was bitten earlier this month at Cheney Lake while swimming. Venomous snakes can be identified by their triangular heads and elliptical (catlike) pupils. Alligator snapping turtles also are native to parts of Kansas, and the common snapping turtle is a seen throughout the entire state.
The daily creel limit on flathead catfish is five in Kansas.