Kansas has long-term habitat goals

PRATTE, Kan. — Kansas B.A.S.S. Nation (KBN) members are hoping that a habitat project that they began with Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) in 2014 will kick into high gear in 2016.

“All Kansas B.A.S.S. Nation affiliated clubs are involved,” said Jesse Jordan, KBN conservation director. “We have a good working relationship with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.”

Members helped assemble and place 300 “Georgia cubes” in Kansas reservoirs during 2015, with a goal of 900 annually in the years to come.

Thus far, Jordan said, cubeshave been added to Milford, Wilson, Melvern, Perry, El Dorado, Tuttle Creek, and Horsethief reservoirs, as well as Yates Center’s South Owl and Eureka City lakes and Butler, Clark, Pottawatomie No. 1, Pottawatomie No. 2, and Meade state fishing lakes.

“We call the structures ‘Georgia cubes’ because we used a design originally created by the Georgia DNR,” said David Breth, KDWPT’s new coordinator for the project. He added that KBN members “have been a great help.”

District biologists modified the cubes a bit, Breth said, but generally each one is a 4x4x3 PVC frame, woven with more than 50 feet of corrugated pipe. The design maximizes surface area growth of periphyton, a mix of algae, fungi and bacteria, which attract invertebrates and small fish, which then draw bass and other predator species.

Additionally, the cubes are cost-effective, lasting more than three times longer than natural brushpiles. And, based on their use in other states, they attract as many fish as natural cover without affecting water quality.

License fees and federal Sport Fish Restoration funds finance this long-term project.

“Although fish may not always be caught, the cubes give anglers relatively snagless targets to fish,” Breth said. “The effectiveness of the structures as habitat to increase fish populations will be evaluated as more cubes are placed in designated waters.”

The cubes were marked by GPS coordinates and will be monitored by sonar and/or video to determine fish use, the coordinator continued.

“In addition, we encourage anglers to report catches near these structures. Local tournament anglers have already reported catching largemouth bass relating to the cubes at both reservoirs and state fishing lakes,” said Breth.

“We want the anglers’ experience to be as good as we can make it,” said Doug Nygren, Kansas fisheries chief, “so we consider boating access facilities and fish attractors, such as the cubes, a very important part of our strategy.

“At some point we may have deployed enough artificial structures to consider them more than just fish attractors. For now, we are focused on giving anglers enhanced confidence in finding fish by providing the cubes and traditional brushpiles. We hope this will help improve catch rates and angler satisfaction.”

The GPS coordinates are available on KDPWT’s website.