There’s a reason you don’t see anglers lining up by the masses on opening day of handfishing season: it’s not for everyone. Blindly reaching into a dark crevice or undercut bank bare-handed, with the intent of luring out a formidable flathead is considered “fun” only by those with enough grit to accept the challenge. Think you have what it takes to handfish? Put yourself to the test June 15-Aug. 31 during the 2018 Kansas handfishing season.
Once you’ve made the commitment to participate in the season, you’ll need a fishing license and handfishing permit ($27.50).
Make sure to stick only to areas where handfishing is allowed: the Arkansas River; the Kansas River, from it’s origin to the downstream confluence with the Missouri River; and all federal reservoirs, from 150 yards beyond the dam to the upstream end of federal property.
You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the rules, too. Only flathead catfish may caught by hand. And its called “handfishing” season for a reason – anglers who are handfishing can’t use hooks, snorkeling or scuba gear, or any man-made device except a stringer. And man-made objects, such as barrels or tubs, can’t be used to attract fish, either. It’s just you, the fish, and the dark, recessed hole it’s lurking in.
Once you feel a fish, the next challenge is figuring out how to work your hand into its mouth and grip its lower jaw to bring it to the surface. This is where you’ll need all the vigor you can muster.
If you make it this far, and get a fish to the surface, grab a quick pic and send it back unless you plan on keeping it. The daily creel limit on flatheads is five.
It’s not a season for everyone, but with enough grit and vigor, you just might be up to the challenge.
For more information on handfishing in Kansas, consult the 2018 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, available wherever licenses are sold and at www.ksoutdoors.com.