PITTSBURG — The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has announced rankings of the clearest lakes in the state — and several of those at the top of the list are located in the Mined Land Wildlife Areas scattered throughout Crawford and Cherokee counties.


“Aquatic vegetation, underwater structures, and even fish may be visible at these lakes, providing a unique view of what lies beneath the waters’ surface,” the KDWPT release notes. “From paddleboarders looking for that Instagram-worthy photo, to anglers after the ultimate fishing challenge, Kansas’ clearest lakes should be a part of your 2020 travel plans.”


The top 10 lakes are as follows:


1) Cherokee County, Mined Land Wildlife Area – Mined Land Lake 17; 13.1 feet of clarity.


2) Crawford County, Mined Land Wildlife Area – Mined Land Lake 04; 12.3 feet.


3) Cherokee County, Mined Land Wildlife Area – Mined Land Lake 27; 12.3 feet.


4) Cherokee County, Mined Land Wildlife Area – Mined Land Lake 12; 11.2 feet.


5) Crawford County, Mined Land Wildlife Area – Mined Land Lake 07; 11 feet.


6) Cherokee County, Mined Land Wildlife Area – Mined Land Lake 30; 10.3 feet.


7) Russell and Lincoln Counties, Wilson Reservoir; 9.9 feet..


8) Crawford County, Bone Creek Lake; 8.4 feet


9) Trego County, Cedar Bluff Lake; 7.9 feet.


10) Douglas County State Fishing Lake; 7.7 feet.


Shawnee County State Fishing Lake came in at No. 25 with 4.5 feet of clarity.


“Water clarity in Kansas reservoirs is affected primarily by either algae or suspended sediments,” KDHE Environmental Scientist Layne Knight said in the release. “It’s a good indicator of the level of human impact in a watershed.”


While it may not be the case that MLWA lakes have seen a minimal human impact — most are water-filled pits formerly used for strip mining — they can nonetheless be a good place to go fishing.


While area lakes may offer opportunities to catch a wide range of fish, the clarity of the water recently highlighted by the KDWPT can also make doing so more difficult.


“In general, fish in clear water will behave different from fish in turbid water,” KDWPT Fisheries Biologist Jeff Koch said in the release. “Fish in clear water will be more wary, so you have to change up your technique if you want to be successful.”


The KDWPT website also provides some tips for fishing at the MLWA. “Anglers who approach the water quietly, use light line and fish during low-light hours are more successful,” it notes. “Special length and creel limits may be in effect for some fish species. Check the Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary and all posted notices before fishing.”