• Post’s pair of lakes stocked full of fish

  • Merritt and Smith Lakes are open to the general public.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Merritt and Smith Lakes are open to the general public because they are part of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Community Lakes Assistance Program, said Neil Bass, Directorate of Public Works natural resources specialist. Therefore, anyone 16 years or older with an in-state Kansas fishing license is permitted to fish on post.
    Each month from April to October, about 200 pounds of channel catfish are put into each lake by the KDWPT, Bass said. The lakes are also populated with largemouth bass, bluegill, green sunfish, carp, crappie and minnows.
    Bass said Merritt Lake is the textbook definition of a Kansas stocked pond since it was drained and dredged in 2015.
    “It was like a clean slate. (The lake) was totally dredged, drained and all the fish were gone,” Bass said. “Then, the state came back in and put in minnows, bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish, which is the kind of mix they want.”
    The same process was conducted for Smith Lake in 2013. While Smith also has a good balance of fish, some fish that remained in Merritt when it was drained were added to Smith, including crappie and carp, Bass said.
    All anglers must follow the Fort Leavenworth fishing regulations, which are posted north of Merritt Lake and south of Smith Lake. Regulations include complying with local, state and federal laws, carrying a valid ID, and obtaining and carrying the appropriate licenses for those 16 years or older. Ice fishing, trotlines, boats and bait fish collection are prohibited on post.
    Daily creel limits include two catfish, 10 bluegill and one largemouth bass at least 15 inches long.
    “What (the length requirement) does is that makes sure there are some bigger fishes in here so that they can reproduce,” Bass said. “It also makes sure there are some fishes out there that people are going to be interested in catching.
    “While the state stocks the catfish every month, they don’t stock the bluegill or the bass,” he said. “Those are self-repopulating, so you want to protect the young ones.”
    The Rod and Gun Club’s fall Kids’ Fishing Derby is 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at Smith Lake.
    First-, second- and third-place finishers and a biggest fish award will be recognized by age group. The event will also include door prizes, hotdogs and drinks for sale, and fishing worms for sale for $1 per cup. The cost of the event is free for children of club members and $3 for nonmembers.
    To register, call 684-3452.
    The Rod and Gun Club hosts various fishing tournaments and events throughout the year.
    For more information about obtaining in-state fishing licenses, visit ksoutdoors.com.
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