After years of drought, recent wet weather in Kansas lifts Kansas fish farmers

Associated Press

After years of drought, all the recent wet weather in Kansas has been a boon to the state's fish farmers.

"Usually we're not this busy this time of the year, but people have water and they're wanting fish for their ponds," said Brent Culver of Culver's Fish Farm in McPherson. Culver. "It's been pretty crazy. We've been taking out 20 loads some days."

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Mike Miller, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism information chief, estimates Kansas has more than 150,000 fishable private ponds, thousands of which went dry during four years of drought, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1Mwavov ).

Bill Hartley, of Hartley Fish Farms near Kingman, said his farm regularly delivers fish to five states. Recently, they've had people from five or six other states come to their farm to take fish home for stocking. He said basic packages cost pond owners about $350 per acre, plus delivery charges if needed.

"People seem to be more confident that the drought is over, so they're wanting to get their ponds restocked," he said.

Culver and Hartley said most clients want minnows, bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish. They suggest pond owners get about five or six grass carp per acre to help control aquatic vegetation.

"We're probably selling about 1,000 8- to 12-inch grass carp per week," Culver said.

He said lakes that didn't go completely dry also lost their fish, either because the shallow water got too warm or the ice became too thick and froze the fish during winter. But he said all the recent rain has at times been too much of a good thing.

"We have a guy up by Marion who lost the fish in his pond during the drought, so we restocked it. The drought continued, and he lost them all," Culver said. "This spring we stocked it again and some big rains came, the pond flooded, and he lost all of his fish again. So we've restocked it a third time."

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com