Archery season for deer and fall turkey began September 6.  Read the 2014-15 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide before hunting.​

The hunting season for dove and some other migratory birds began September 1.  Read the 2014-15 Dove Hunting Guide before hunting.​

 Boating Guide Introduction

  Boating Guide Cover

Dr. Jonathan Gassett


This is a SUMMARY of the laws regarding fishing and boating. This guide is intended solely for informational use. It is not a reprint of any referenced statute or regulation in its entirety and should not be used as such. Questions about the information contained in this guide should be directed to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources BEFORE engaging in the activities referenced. Actual wording of any Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) or Kentucky Administrative Regulation (KAR) can be viewed at


Kentucky Fish and Wildlife also produces regulation guides for spring and fall hunting and trapping, waterfowl and other migratory bird hunting. Call 1-800-858-1549 weekdays, look for a copy of these regulation guides where hunting licenses are sold, or Click Here.






Kentucky State seal

Commonwealth of Kentucky

Steven L. Beshear, Governor


1st District: Terry Teitloff, Smithland
2nd District: C.F. “Frank” Williams, Madisonville
3rd District: Stuart N. Ray, Louisville
4th District: Dr. James R. Angel, Campbellsville
5th District: Jimmy Bevins, Owenton
6th District: Stephen Glenn, Frankfort
7th District: Voncel Thacker, Hindman
8th District: Norman “Joe” Fryman, Paris
9th District: Christopher Lee Godby, Somerset
Commissioner Emeritus: Dr. James R. Rich, Taylor Mill


Commissioner: Dr. Jonathan Gassett
Deputy Commissioner: Benjy Kinman
Wildlife Director: Dr. Karen Waldrop
Fisheries Director: Ron Brooks
Law Enforcement Director: Hank Patton
Information & Education Director: Tim Slone
Administrative Services Director: Darin Moore
Engineering Director: Keith Parker
Public Affairs Director: Brian V. Blank


Editor: Lee McClellan
Art/Design Director: Adrienne Yancy
Contributors: Dane Balsman, Ron Brooks,
Gerry Buynak, Mike Hardin and Jeff Ross


Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is fundedthrough the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and boat registration fees. It receives no general fund state tax dollars. The Department manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is an agency of the Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet.




This past year was a great one to fish in Kentucky, particularly in the spring. Anglers found abundant crappie and largemouth bass in our lakes, smallmouth bass in our streams and catfish in our rivers.

However, there are some issues surrounding fishing in Kentucky. Anglers are catching many striped bass from Lake Cumberland, but they run smaller, due to the drawdown of Lake Cumberland to facilitate repairs on Wolf Creek Dam. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the Wolf Creek Dam work is on schedule for completion in December of 2013 with a slow refilling of the lake in early 2014.

The good news is the striped bass fishing in the lake and the trout fishing in the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam should return to their former excellence in just a few years.

Through the years, the Ohio River produced many large blue, channel and flathead catfish. This year we will know the results of a multi-state study of trophy catfish in the Ohio River. Some anglers grew concerned about overharvest of large catfish in the river by commercial anglers over the past several years. This report will help with future catfish management plans on the river and ensure trophy catfish remain.

The most ominous threat to great fishing swims in Kentucky waters. Asian carp, mainly bighead and silver carp, escaped from fish farms in the flood plains of the Arkansas, White and Mississippi rivers in Arkansas during huge floods in the 1970s and 1990s. They migrated up the Mississippi River, into the Ohio and eventually up the Green, Kentucky, Salt and Licking rivers. They also made their way into Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

Asian carp threaten Kentucky’s native fish populations because they eat the same small organisms when young. These fish are very prolific and produce millions of eggs. Asian carp easily adapt to almost any body of water and displace fish native to Kentucky.

Anglers may unintentionally spread Asian carp when they gather live bait for fishing and move it to another water body. Young Asian carp look similar to native shad or skipjack herring often used as bait for striped bass, black bass and catfish. Anglers who release their unused bait into another body of water may accidentally cause future harm to that lake, river or stream.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) is gathering public input on a regulation to restrict the movement of all live baitfish from one body of water to another. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife also will examine potential regulatory restrictions regarding the movement of the four Asian carp species, bighead, silver, black and grass carp (except for triploid grass carp used for vegetation control in small lakes and ponds).

These proposals will be based on public input KDFWR receives through discussions with the public. Please give us your feedback about these regulations to protect the sport fishing, commercial fishing and boating industries by visiting and answering our short questionnaire. I hope all Kentuckians enjoy great fishing in 2013.

— Dr. Jonathan Gassett


A person shall not enter upon the lands of another to hunt, fish or trap without the oral or written permission of the landowner, tenant or person who has authority to grant permission. Those who fail to obtain permission are subject to arrest and prosecution. Railroad tracks and rights of way are privately owned property and permission to hunt, fish or trap must be obtained prior to entry. (KRS 150:192)