Redlips Darter (Etheostoma maydeni). Photo by Matthew R. Thomas
Kentucky is home to a total of 248 native fish species with an additional 19 that have been introduced either intentionally (i.e., for sport) or accidentally. Nationwide, Kentucky ranks among the top four states in terms of native freshwater fish diversity. This is due in large part to an abundance of water bodies and wide variety of aquatic habitats across the state – from swift upland streams to large sluggish rivers, oxbow lakes, and wetlands. While approximately 25 species of fish are most frequently caught by anglers either for sport or food, the largest proportion of Kentucky’s fish fauna (80%) includes darters, minnows, suckers, madtoms, smaller sunfishes, and other groups (e.g., lampreys) that are rarely seen by most people.