Do you have what it takes to go hand fishing? You can find out June 15-Aug. 15 during the Kansas hand fishing season. Other than a strong grip, hand fishing permit and a fishing license, all you really need is nerves of steel because you’ll be reaching into dark crevices and undercut banks to feel around for a hiding flathead catfish, which by the way, might weigh more than a 10-year-old little league shortstop.
Hand fishing is allowed only on the Arkansas River; the Kansas River, from its 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. In addition to a fishing license, unless exempt, hand fishers must also have a $27.50 hand fishing permit. Hand fishers may not use hooks, snorkeling or scuba gear, or any man-made device except a stringer. Man-made objects, such as barrels or tubs, may not be used to attract fish.
Once a fish is felt, a hand fisher must try to work a hand in its mouth and grip the fish’s lower jaw to bring it to the surface, which is just about as difficult as it sounds, especially on big fish. And then there’s the mental aspect of hand fishing – wondering what else may be lurking in the dark underwater recesses. That’s where the nerves of steel come in handy.
Only flathead catfish are allowed to be caught hand fishing and the daily creel limit is five. For more information about hand fishing and other types of fishing, consult the 2017 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, available wherever licenses are sold and at