Kids fishing at the preserve's ponds.
Recreational fishing at the preserve.

NPS Photo

Catch-and-Release Fishing

Tallgrass Prairie National preserve allows fishing as a means of providing for public enjoyment, and the customary and traditional use. The preserve regulates fishing to ensure that it is managed in a manner that avoids unacceptable impacts to park resources. Three preserve ponds are open to the public for catch and release fishing under the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Park and Tourism's Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats (F.I.S.H.) program. The fishing program is available year-round.

Additional permits, regulations, and maps are posted below and at the parking area kiosk.

Fishing Map
Two Section Pasture Fishing Map

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Fishing on Two-Section Ponds

The fishing ponds are located northeast of Strong City. From Strong City, travel east on U.S. 50 for 1.5 miles, turning north on U-Road at the Kansas historic marker. Travel approximately one mile on gravel road. The parking lot is on the west side of the road. The ponds are accessible via a short hike from the parking area.

Fox Creek Trail hiking and fishing map
Fox Creek Trail hiking and fishing map

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Fishing on Fox Creek

Fishing is available on Fox Creek from the Bottomland Trail (south end) to the low-water crossing located approximately 2 miles north. The creek has only walk-in access. Park your vehicle in the Bottomland Trail parking lot located 1/3-mile east of St. Anthony Cemetery on the County Road 227. The gravel road is not marked, so watch carefully as you approach the cemetery. Fishing is catch-and-release. Anglers must possess a valid Kansas fishing license.

Fishing Regulations

Kansas residents age 16 through 74 must possess a valid Kansas fishing license. All nonresidents 16 and older must have a valid nonresident license to fish in Kansas. Apply for a Kansas Fishing License.

The fishing regulations apply to all "finfish" found in the park, falling under regulations for "fishing" (36CFR2.3).

Other taxa, including amphibians, mollusks and crustaceans (e.g. waterdogs, crayfish) are not considered "fish" for the purpose of NPS fishing regulations and addresses by NPS regulations governing "wildlife protection" (36CFR2.2).

These fishing regulations apply, regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within the park that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States.

The following are prohibited:

  • Fishing in fresh waters in any manner other than hook and line, with the rod or line being closely attended.
  • Possessing or using as bait for fishing in freshwaters, live or dead minnows or other bait fish, amphibians, non-preserved fish eggs or fish roe, except in designated waters.
  • Chumming or placing preserved or fresh fish eggs, fish roe, food, fish parts, chemicals, or other foreign substances in fresh waters for the purpose of feeding or attracting fish in order that they may be taken.
  • Commercial fishing, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law.
  • Fishing by the use of drugs, poisons, explosives, or electricity.
  • Digging for bait, except in privately owned lands.
  • Failing to return carefully and immediately to the water from which it was taken a fish that does not meet size or species restrictions or that the person chooses not to keep. Fish so released shall not be included in the catch or possession limit: provided, that at the time of catching the person did not possess the legal limit of fish.
  • Fishing from motor road bridges, from or within 200 feet of a public raft or float designated for water sports, or within the limits of locations designed as swimming beaches, surfing areas, or public boat docks, except in designated areas.
  • Introducing wildlife, fish or plants, including their reproductive bodies, into a park area ecosystem. This includes the discarding and/or dumping of bait and bait buckets.
  • The use or possession of fish, wildlife or plants for ceremonial or religious purposes, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law, or treaty rights.

In addition to the NPS General Regulations above, the following park specific regulations apply:

  • Three water impoundments within Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve are open to public access for catch and release fishing to the public, in accordance with Kansas State fishing regulations and laws.
  • Swimming, floating, and boating are prohibited on the waterways inside the preserve.
  • Anglers are limited to worms and artificial lures.

Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters

The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.

Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish or shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are "islands", but the much larger "ocean" that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside the park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.

Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and increase concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Fish Consumption Advisories

  • Fishing on the preserve is catch-and-release only.

To learn more about this topic, the National Park Service maintains information about Fish Consumption Advisories and Mercury and Toxins in Nature.


Aquatic Invasive Species

Imagine your favorite fishing spot and the wonderful memories. Things may look fine but underneath the surface there is a serious threat. Everything you remember is now cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Invaders have wiped out the fish species you used to catch.

Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species.

For many centuries, humans have contributed to spreading non-native species around the globe. You can make a difference. To learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species in the National Park Service.

How You Can Help - Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers

  • Floats, rafts, boats, and other watercraft are prohibited on waterways within Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

Fishing Throughout the National Park Service

We invite you to visit the Fish & Fishing website for more information about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing.

Last updated: February 20, 2022

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