No, not Lucky Charms — rainbow trout.
Last fall’s trout stocking saw fish weighing up to 7 pounds being loaded into the lake.
The parks and recreation department stocks the lake in partnership with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism as part of the Communities Fisheries Assistance Program.
“We are proud to continue this partnership with KDWPT to enhance the fishing experience for the residents and visitors of Shawnee County,” said John Boyd, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation planning and development director, in a news release.
For those who’ve never caught a trout before, they may be surprised at just how slippery they are to hold onto. Trout are covered in a protective slime coating that helps prevent them from getting sick. Anglers are often told to wet their hands before handling a trout to keep the membrane from coming off if they are going to catch and release fish.
Typical bait and lures used to catch rainbow trout include trout dough, corn, minnows, salmon eggs, worms, Vibric Rooster Tails, Little Cleos, spinners and Yakima Mag Lips. Trout also have keen eyesight, which means anglers should use light lines when seeking trout. Fly fishing also is a popular method of targeting trout, especially when water temperatures get warmer.
Trout typically are found in shallow waters, running in schools near the banks or near the surface over deeper waters. They prefer cooler water, ideally 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. When water temps reach 65 and higher, trout typically stop feeding and many die off or head to deep, cooler waters as it continues to heat up into the 70s and 80s.
Rainbow trout in the wild generally run smaller in size than some of their salmonid brethren, such as the lake trout and Chinook salmon. They are bigger than many other species, however, such as the grayling, sockeye salmon, golden trout and whitefish, and can reach up to 45 pounds or more. The state record rainbow trout weighed 15.72 pounds and was caught by Spring Hill resident Josh McCullough at Kill Creek Park Lake in 2014, though Lake Shawnee has produced some record trout in years past.
The daily creel limit in Kansas is five trout per day, with a possession limit of 15.
All state licensing and permit requirements apply to fishing at Lake Shawnee and Ward-Martin Creek, which also is stocked, and anglers must have a state trout permit to fish for trout. The permit costs $14.50 and can be purchased online through the KDWPT’s website at http://www.ksoutdoors.com/. Licenses last 365 days from the date of purchase, meaning those who purchased a trout permit in the fall will not need to buy one this spring.
The county’s trout stocking program was started in 1979 by Ted Ensley, former Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Commission secretary and Shawnee County Parks and Rec director, after game warden Bill Burlew came to him with the idea.
“He and I got to talking one day and he said, ‘Well, I think this kind of a program would go good here,’ and I kinda looked at him and I said, ‘I don’t think so,’ ” Ensley said in a 2017 interview with The Topeka Capital-Journal. “But anyway, we had that conversation over the period of a couple of weeks or whatever and I said, ‘I’m going to bring that to the board of the county commission,’ and they said yes, so that was the genesis of the program.”