||Kentucky Department of
Fish & Wildlife Resources
Late Winter Provides
Good Fishing Opportunities
February 14, 2004
Contact: Lee McClellan
Frankfort, KY (February 14, 2004) - Many
Kentucky anglers don’t think the fishing season begins until the first real
short sleeve weather of the year. That first warm front in February gives
anglers a shot of adrenaline, as they believe the fishing season is just around
The shot of adrenaline soon fades as an
Arctic cold front sweeps over Kentucky and temperatures drop 30 degrees in one
day. For most, the cold front means the fishing season is delayed, but for
knowledgeable Kentucky anglers, it means the fishing season just started.
The unstable, blustery weather of February gets fishing
moving and ready to begin their spawning cycle. As they make their spawning
runs, sauger congregate in tailwater areas in February and into March. The
tailrace areas of dams on the Ohio River produce a lot of February sauger, as do
the tailrace areas of Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Dams halt the spawning
migration of sauger and they stack up in great numbers below them.
Sauger also move to the mouths of major creeks on the Ohio
River and the shallow flats at the mouths of major creek arms on Kentucky Lake
and Lake Barkley in February. They can gather on those flats in great numbers at
Fuzzy grubs in orange, yellow or white tipped with minnows
are very good for winter sauger. Small orange and chartreuse, chrome and
chartreuse and firetiger crankbaits work well on these fish. Chartreuse, white
or gray Sassy Shad soft plastic baits are one of the most deadly sauger baits.
Small spoons and in-line spinners work well. The main thing is to keep the bait
close to bottom where sauger feed. You are not fishing correctly if you are not
getting hung up occasionally on the bottom. Sauger are excellent table fare,
comparable to walleye in flavor.
Walleye also make February spawning runs. Once the water
temperatures warm to 45 to 46 degrees, walleye start to move to tailrace areas
below dams and the headwaters of reservoirs. Walleye stack up below Wolf Creek
Dam in February and March and on the face of the dam in March. One could target
both of the areas easily on one trip without a boat. Walleye also run up the
Laurel River, the Rockcastle River and Big South Fork of the Cumberland River
every February and March from Lake Cumberland.
Walleye also make spawning runs in Green River Lake,
especially in the Robinson Creek arm, Nolin River Lake up the Nolin River from
the Bacon Creek boat ramp upstream as far as Wheeler’s Mill, Laurel River Lake
up to the Corbin City dam and Paintsville Lake up into the Open Fork and Little
Paint Creek arms.
Bottom bouncers rigged minnows are excellent February
baits for walleye. Neon green, chartreuse, white, yellow and pink grubs also
work. Small to medium sized chartreuse, chrome or firetiger crankbaits draw
strikes as do silver or chartreuse spoons.
Remember that if you plan to fish for these species after
February 28, 2005, you must purchase a 2005 fishing license. For more
information on Kentucky fishing, log on to fw.ky.gov.