Bear Hunters: The quota for the 2015 bear season with dogs WAS NOT MET on Sat November 28.  Therefore, the bear season will remain open on Sun November 29.  For information about checking bears, click here.

General Information




man holding up catch

As a voluntary program, fishing event organizers are strongly urged to use the Tournament webpage to register and report on their events by clicking here. Tournament planners can avoid space conflicts with other previously registered events by adjusting the date, time, specific launch areas or weigh-in site for their activities.

Other recreational anglers and boaters can check the web site to see when and where fishing events are scheduled. This will assist them in planning their activities and also help avoid potential space conflicts. Additional permits may be required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the U.S. Forest Service or Kentucky State Parks.

If the launch site for your tournament involves using a marina ramp, please contact the marina operator before scheduling your tournament.

There are over 1,000 fishing tournaments held annually in Kentucky waters. These can be a valuable source of information to our fishery biologists. Following each scheduled event, tournament organizers are asked to report their catch data directly on the tournament web site or on forms which can be sent via postal mail. Voluntary cooperation from tournament organizers will be used in making fishery management decisions. At the end of the tournament season, a summary of tournament results will be sent to all providers. If not provided with one, contact your local fisheries district office. They will provide a packet.

Bigger tournaments

Fishing tournaments involving 100 or more boats are regulated and permitted by the Division of Law Enforcement, 1-800-858-1549.


Kentucky Fish and Wildlife recommends tournament anglers and directors follow these simple steps during summer tournaments that run from June through August. Summer tournament fishing places great stress on bass due to high water temperatures.  You can view a list of these procedures here.





Q:  Can you sell fish caught while possessing only a valid Kentucky sport fishing license?

A:  No.  It is illegal to sell any fish caught without the proper commercial fishing license and gear.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife regularly creates and maintains fish attractors and habitat structures in lakes across Kentucky. These structures vary in material and benefit sport fish populations while providing anglers productive fishing areas. GPS locations of many of these structures are found here.




Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria found in lakes in Kentucky and throughout the United States. They occur naturally, but if their numbers get too high they can pose health risks to humans and animals. Anglers, hunters, boaters and all others who might use these water resources should be aware of the potential risks associated with these blooms. Both the Kentucky Division of Water and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have initiated testing of lakes in Kentucky to document these blooms and provide updated information to the public.




The Kentucky Departments for Environmental Protection, Health Services and Fish and Wildlife Re - sources jointly issue a fish consump - tion advisory to the public when fish are found contaminated. Trace con - taminants such as polychlorinated bi - phenyl (PCB), mercury and chlordane are found in some fish in Kentucky. An advisory cautions people about poten - tial health problems that may result from eating fish caught from a par - ticular area. An advisory does not ban eating fish; it is a guide to reduce your risk. This guide provides information on how often fish may be safely eaten. Most fish are healthy to eat and are an excellent source of low-fat protein.


Sensitive population

Women of childbearing age, children 6 years of age or younger, pregnant and nursing women and women who plan to become pregnant should follow the advisories in the “Sensitive Population” category.

All waters are under advisory for mercury. Women of childbearing age and children 6 years of age or younger should eat no more than one meal per-week of freshwater fish. Adult men and other women are not included in the consumption notice.

Organic mercury can occur naturally in the environment and does not affect swimmers, skiers or boaters. Fish can accumulate low levels of mercury by eating plankton and other small aquatic creatures.


A new method for reporting fish consumption advisories has been adopted. Consumption rates for specific fish have been developed based on a meal of ½ pound of fish (before cooking) eaten by a 150-pound individual. Following these guidelines and spacing your meals of those fish species will limit your health risks by reducing your total exposure. See table below for fish consumption advisories.

Risks from eating contaminated fish can be reduced by the following:
  • fillet the fish, remove the skin and trim all fat
  • do not eat fish eggs
  • broil, grill or bake the fillets instead of frying or microwaving
  • do not eat or reuse juices or fats that cook out of the fish


Kentucky anglers will occasionally clean a fish and find a white or yellowish color worm in the fish’s flesh that is about the size of a grain of rice. Or, when stream fishing, an angler will encounter a smallmouth bass or sunfish with small black specks on its belly or across its body.

This is a parasitic fluke that requires different host animals to complete its life cycle: a fish eating bird, a snail and a fish. The grub matures and produces eggs inside a host fish-eating bird such as a Great Blue Heron. The eggs enter the water from the bird’s droppings or from its mouth. The eggs hatch and tiny larvae of the parasite burrow into a snail. After a time in the snail, the parasite changes form and swims to its next host, a fish. Inside the fish, the parasite changes to a grub form and waits for the fish to be eaten. Then, the cycle repeats.

The angler’s first instinct is to discard any fish with either the grubs in the flesh or black specks on the body. Grub-infested fish are safe to eat. Grubs do not infect people. Remove any grubs found and prepare the fish as you normally would.



NUMBER OF MEALS PER SPECIES General Population Sensitive Population
FISH LAKE, Ballard Co.(from lake headwaters to outflow of Shawnee Creek)
Black bass* and suckers/carp(mercury) 1/month 6/year
GREEN RIVER LAKE(from lake headwaters to dam)
Black bass*, catfish, drum (mercury) and suckers/carp (PCB) 1/month 6/year
GUIST CREEK LAKE, Shelby Co.(from lake headwaters to dam)
Black bass* (mercury) 1/month 6/year
KNOX CREEK, Pike Co. (from VA/KY state line to Tug Fork River)
Flathead catfish (PCB and mercury) No consumption
Channel catfish and drum (PCB) 6/year No consumption
Black bass*, crappie and rock bass (PCB and mercury) 1/month 6/year
LAKE CUMBERLAND (from confluence of Laurel and Cumberland rivers to Wolf Creek Dam)
Black bass* (mercury) 1/month 6/year
Crappie and rock bass (mercury) 1/week 1/month
LEVISA FORK RIVER (including Fishtrap Lake), Pike Co. (from VA/KY state line to Fishtrap Lake dam)
Channel catfish, drum, white bass and suckers/carp (PCB and mercury) 1/month 6/year
Black bass* and flathead catfish (PCB and mercury) 1/week 1/month
All species (PCB and mercury) 1/month
MUD RIVER, Logan Co. (from headwaters to Wolf Lick Creek)
Catfish, drum, suckers/carp (PCB) No consumption
Black bass*, crappie and sunfish (PCB) 1/month 6/year
MUD RIVER, Butler and Muhlenberg cos. (from Wolf Lick Creek to Green River)
Catfish, drum, suckers/carp (PCB) 1/month 6/year
Black bass*, crappie and sunfish (PCB) 1/week 1/month
OHIO RIVER, UPPER REACH (mouth of the Big Sandy River to Markland L&D)
Channel catfish over 21” and paddlefish (and their eggs) 6/year No consumption
Carp, channel catfish under 21”, drum, flathead catfish, hybrid striped bass, sauger, smallmouth buffalo and white bass 1/month 6/year
Black bass* 1/week 1/month
White crappie unlimited 1/week
OHIO RIVER, MIDDLE REACH (Markland L&D to Cannelton L&D)
Channel catfish over 21” and paddlefish (and their eggs) 6/year No consumption
Carp, channel catfish under 21”, drum, hybrid striped bass and white bass 1/month 6/year
Black bass*, flathead catfish and sauger 1/week 1/month
OHIO RIVER, LOWER REACH (Cannelton L&D to mouth of Ohio River)
Paddlefish (and their eggs) 6/year No consumption
Blue catfish over 14”, channel catfish, carp, drum, hybrid striped bass and white bass 1/month 6/year
Blue catfish under 14”, bigmouth buffalo, black bass* and sauger 1/week 1/month
White crappie unlimited 1/week
All species (PCB) No consumption
*Black bass include largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass.



brown trout

rainbow trout


redear sunfish

white crappie

black crappie


flathead catfish

channel catfish


  hybrid striped bass

striped bass

white bass

yellow bass

rock bass

smallmouth bass

largemouth bass

spotted bass

blue catfish

lake sturgeon and alligator gar




These five species of fish are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to take these fish species and utilize them for any purpose including as live bait for fishing.

blackside dace

cumberland darter

palezone shiner

relict darter

tuxedo darter





It’s the law

No live fish, live minnow, or live bait organisms not native or established in Kentucky shall be bought, sold, possessed, imported, or in any way used or released into Kentucky waters.

Sport anglers unintentionally and intentionally stock fish in Kentucky’s public waters. These species mainly include gizzard shad and alewives that are present in several water bodies. Gizzard shad have been illegally released in several small public lakes where they previously were not present. They interfere with the lake’s ability to support a quality bluegill population. Alewives are a non-native fish illegally stocked into several Kentucky lakes. The total impact of these fish is not known, but they are known to eat young fish, including sport fishes.

Additionally, there are many nonnative aquatic species that invaded the country, particularly in Great Lake states. These include both plants and animals such as Eurasian watermilfoil, Asian carp, hydrilla, spring water flea, and zebra mussels.


  • CLEAN your boat and trailer before launching into or leaving any waterbody.
  • REMOVE all plants and animals.
  • DRAIN all water from bilges and livewells.
  • DISPOSE of unwanted live bait on shore – DO NOT STOCK THE LAKE!
  • RINSE your boat, trailer and equipment with high pressure hot water.
  • DRY everything for at least five days.


Two new species of Asian carp, the big head and silver, have invaded river systems in Kentucky. Any river or large stream tributary to the Ohio or Mississippi Rivers most likely possess Asian carp. Both of these species are plankton eaters and may exceed 50 pounds in size. Their impact on native species is not presently known, but they represent a competitive threat to other plankton eating fish such as our native paddlefish and most of our sport fish at early life stages.

Very young Asian carp in these river systems can be easily mistaken as shad or skipjack herring. All bait collectors using cast or dip nets should never dispose of any live bait into other water bodies due to the potential threat of spreading these aquatic nuisance species.

zebra muscle


Kentucky has zebra mussels present in our waters and are at nuisance levels in the Ohio River. They attach themselves to any solid submerged surface in a cluster, reproduce rapidly, and pose a serious threat to native freshwater mussel populations. These mussels have elongated pointed shells less than two inches long with a zebra like pattern of stripes. Zebra mussels can live 8 to 10 days out of water and can be transported to another water body while attached to a boat.take me fishing




rilla is an exotic plant invading Kentucky through transfer of plant fragments by boats and personal watercraft. All it takes is a small fragment of the plant to start a new colony. This plant forms extremely dense mats that grow to the surface of the waterbody making boating and swimming difficult. It literally fills shallow areas from top to bottom with vegetatio



drilla also chokes out native plants and displaces fish. It is extremely difficult to eradicate once it becomes established.

In order to limit the spread of this nuisance plant, please check all trailer parts, boat motor and other equipment for mud or pieces of plant and remove before leaving the lake.

asian carp