Public fishing on Kansas’ Mined Land Wildlife Area can be surprisingly good

05/24/2014 6:38 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

Looking for some of the best bass fishing in Kansas? Head south.

Just a couple of hours from the Kansas City area, there’s a place where:

You’ll find a wildlife area filled with secluded, often overlooked places to fish.

You might pull into a parking lot near a boat ramp and not see another trailer in the lot, despite the fact that the bass are hitting like crazy.

Even on public water, you might venture far off the beaten path and stumble onto a chute that has seldom been fished before.

Weeds, logs, stumps and rocky banks provide ideal bass cover.

Welcome to the Mined Land Wildlife Area, one of the biggest blocks of public land available to fishermen in Kansas.

Covering 14,500 acres, there are more than 1,000 strip pits on the wildlife area in Cherokee, Crawford and Labette counties. That adds up to 1,500 acres of water, some of it laden with bass.

“I can’t believe that the pits don’t get hit harder than they do, especially being so close to Kansas City,” said Jim Zaleski, executive director of tourism for Parsons, Kan., and Labette County. “The greatest part of fishing the pits in the Mined Land is that some of them are virtually unexplored. The farther you get from the easy access, the better your chances of finding big bass.”

But even easily accessible pits can produced surprisingly good bass fishing, Zaleski said. He launches his 21-foot bass boat on concrete ramps at some strip pits and can easily maneuver down narrow strips of water to where the bass are.

“It’s a misconception that the public strip pits are hard to access,” Zaleski said. “There are many pits that the state (Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism) maintains that have either concrete or gravel ramps.”

For more information on fishing the Mined Land Wildlife Area, call Zaleski at 620-421-6500 or email him at

To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to

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