Coffey County Lake

category : Recreation
Coffey County Lake The Coffey County Lake has been called the "Crown Jewel" of Kansas fisheries. The 5,090 acre lake provides cooling water for Wolf Creek Generating Station's condenser water system. The lake water helps cool steam to turn it back into water, which is then reheated to once again make steam. The average depth of the lake is 21.5 feet with the deepest point approximately 90 feet. The lake has been filled and stocked since 1982 with a variety of species including walleye, blue, flathead, and channel catfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, black and white crappie, white bass, striper and wiper.

Temperature, Clarity, Habitat - As the lake water passes through the plant, it heats up by 30 to 40 degrees. This water is discharged back into the lake, producing a year-round warm water area. The fish in the lake enjoy this warm water in the winter, but steer clear of it in the summer months. Although the area near the discharge is warm while the plant is operating, the overall temperature of the lake is typically the same as area lakes.

Because of the limited amount of land which provides drainage to the lake, the lake is relatively clear. This allows more submerged vegetation to grow. These underwater plants, combined with standing timber and several miles of rock-lined shores, provide excellent fish habitat.

Predator/Prey Balance Means Prime Fishing - Throughout the Midwest, gizzard shad cause serious problems for power plants which rely on lake or river water for cooling. These fish can get caught in the screens that filter lake water before it enters the plant. If enough shad collect on the screens, the screens can become clogged, causing the plant to shut down.

To control the gizzard shad population, predator fish were stocked in the lake. Bass, crappie, walleye and wipers, as well as other predator species, help control the shad population. The predators were well-fed and their sizes soon increased. In a typical midwestern reservoir, gizzard shad make up 30 to 45 percent, by weight, of the total fish population. In contrast, Coffey County Lake's shad constitute only about two to six percent of the total fishery weight. What a prime lake for fishing! The fish population in the lake is an important part of power plant operation. To assure efficient plant operation, proper fishery maintenance is important.

Where You'll Find 'Em - As with most lakes, you're likely to find fish in a variety of locations. But at Coffey County Lake there are areas that some species prefer:

* Along the lake's rock-lined shores you're likely to find walleye, channel catfish, and smallmouth bass.
* Largemouth bass and crappie frequent areas where there's standing timber.
* The lake's open water is home to white bass and wipers.
* About 3/4 mile of shoreline is open for fishing.
Call 620-364-2475 for the Lake's opened or closed status.

Public Access - Public access facilities constructed to open the lake include: an access road, boat ramps, a loading dock, restrooms, parking area and gatehouse. The facility is open to boats and shoreline fishing from the lake's public access area. The lake is managed to ensure it will continue to support electricity generation and to provide recreational fishing opportunities.

A few areas of the lake will not be open for public access:

* The discharge area
* Space around the lake's pair of nesting bald eagles
* The intake region for water used in the plant
* A 70-acre bird and wildlife refuge in the northern area of the lake which is included in the Wolf Creek Environmental Education Area.

Fishing Regulations - The reservation system has been eliminated.

1. All pertinent rules and regulations promulgated by the Kansas Secretary of Wildlife and Parks, and any penalties established for violations thereof, shall be applicable.
2. A valid Kansas fishing license is required.
3. Public shoreline fishing is allowed in the designated area only. Public shoreline fishing in any other area is prohibited. A portion of the shoreline fishing is handicapped accessible.
4. Boats are allowed in designated areas and for fishing purposes only. All boats must be motorized. Non-motorized boats, boating in non-designated areas and boating for other than fishing purposes are prohibited. Wading tubes and float tubes are not permitted.
5. The lake may only be accessed and entered at the Public Access Area. Any other public access or entry to the lake is prohibited.
6. All persons must check in and check out at the gatehouse. Please arrive no earlier than 30 minutes after sunrise. All persons must be checked out one hour before sunset.
7. Fishing on the lake is permitted from sunrise to sunset. Fishing from sunset to sunrise is prohibited.
8. Parking is limited. If possible, please limit your group to one vehicle.
9. While there is no formal limit to the number of boats allowed on the lake each day, a maximum of 250 anglers per day will be allowed.
10. Before entering the lake, all bilges, live wells or cooling systems must be drained to help prevent the introduction of zebra mussels to the lake. Placing or dumping bait buckets into the lake is prohibited.
11. All persons in a boat on the lake are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III or V personal flotation device at all times. Persons are prohibited from being in a boat on the lake if they are not wearing an approved flotation device.
12. The lake is subject to being closed to boat access under certain wind or other conditions. A person shall be prohibited from placing a boat on the lake when the lake is closed. A person shall be prohibited from remaining on the lake, upon being notified the lake is being closed. The County reserves the right to close or limit access to the lake whenever it deems the same to be necessary or appropriate.
13. Under certain high-wind conditions, Coffey County officials may close the lake.
* From October 15th through April 14th - the lake may be closed when:
o Sustained winds are 20 mph or greater from any northerly direction (northeast to northwest);
o Sustained winds are 25 mph or greater from any other direction.
* From April 15th through October 14th - the lake may be closed when:
Sustained winds are 30 mph or greater from any direction.

14. Any person committing any prohibited act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $100 or commitment to the county jail for a period not exceeding 30 days, or both. The County reserves the right to require any person committing a prohibited act to immediately leave the lake.

Daily Limits - Fishing is primarily catch and release to ensure the lake will support electricity generation and also to provide further recreational fishing opportunities. Creel and size restrictions are enforced and access to the lake is limited. Once the daily limit on a species is reached, other fish of that species must be released back into Coffey County Lake. Fish smaller than the minimum size must also be returned to the lake immediately. To reduce hooking mortality, please bend down barbs on all hooks. Handle fish carefully and with wet hands.


Max. Daily

Min. Length

Channel, blue
& flathead catfish

(any combination)


any size


(black or white)



Largemouth Bass



Smallmouth Bass


16" to 20" protected



18" to 26" protected

White Bass

No Limit


Wiper Hybrid



No special creel limit or minimum length limits are imposed on other species.

Phone: Is lake open/closed?: (620)364-2475

Click here to view the lakemap!

Come visit us in Burlington, Kansas

Attractions and Upcoming Events

1896 School House

The Rural Dale School which was located east of LeRoy, Kansas in Coffey County, was recently donated to the Coffey County Museum by Irene Woods. The 1896 school house has been moved next to the Museum and is currently undergoing restoration. Restoration should be completed early in 1997.

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Wolf Creek Generating Station

Wolf Creek Generating station is the only nuclear power plant in the state of Kansas. It plays a key role in providing electrical power for some 780,000 customers in Kansas and Missouri.

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Coffey County Historical Society and Museum

The Coffey County Museum, which features 12,000 square feet of displays, is located in Katy Park of the original Townsite of the City of Burlington, which was platted in 1857

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