Smallmouth being handled

Fall Fishing Festival



​​The following columns provide information on some of the better sites to fish for each species. For a more complete list of water bodies where each species can be found click here and then​​ select the species that you are interested in under “Search for water bodies for species.”

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Kentucky Afield Magazine, Spring 2023 Issue

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Tim Slone caught this chunky bass in a farm pond

Lee McClellan  •  October 16, 2023

Bass fishing ponds in fall​

​An aerial view of Kentucky will show many circular pods of water scattered across the landscape. Some have trails made by cattle coming to them for a drink, some are ringed with large trees, some have a four-plank wooden fence surrounding them to keep out valuable thoroughbreds.​


hands holding up a largemouth bass

Lee McClellan  •  September 29, 2023

Fall is a great time for bass fishing on western Ky’s big lakes​

Anglers looking for good lakes for fall bass fishing should head west – to Kentucky and Barkley lakes. Bass fishing here is on an upswing, especially for smallmouth bass. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources rates smallmouth bass fishing in these lakes as the best in 20 years.



​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​2022 Columns


Lee McClellan  •  December 7, 2022​​

December is a great month for striped bass on Lake Cumberland​​

​​A Few things in Kentucky's outdoors compare to being on Lake Cumberland at dawn with a bait tank full of threadfin shad, the boat slowing as it comes off plane as you near the channel drop that you plan to drift those shad over to fool a large striped bass.

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Chase Wininger holding a smallmouth bass at the falls of the Ohio

Lee McClellan  •  October 11, 2022​​

October and November Is Hybrid Striped Bass Time​

Dr. James Henshall, the “apostle of the black bass,” famously said: “I consider him (black bass) inch for inch, pound for pound, the gamest fish that swims.”




Lee McClellan  •  September 1​, 2022​​

Early fall makes a great time to fly fish for stream smallmouth bass

Kentucky's topography is laced with flowing, rock-bottomed streams that hold smallmouth bass. Most of the state east of the Tradewater River basin has streams that hold smallies.



​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​2020 Columns


Lee McClellan  •  December 10, 2020

Float and Fly ​​Works During th​e ​​Coldest ​Months​

​​Water temperatures are in the mid-50s and falling in Lake Cumberland, Dale Hollow and​​ Laurel River Lake. Once water temperatures drop below 50 degrees for extended periods, threadfin shad begin to suffer from the col​d water.​​​

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Lee McClellan  •  December 2, 2020

Sauger bite during the holiday season

S​auger are starting to hover just above bottom downstream of dams, waiting for a stunned shad to tumble into their orbit. Anglers started catching sauger below dams on the Ohio River recently, with some catching fish in excess of 15 inches long.




Lee McClellan  •  November 19, 2020

Enjoy seasonal catch and release trout streams this winter

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is next week. Kentuckians are going to have some time off over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Spending some time outdoors is a good way to refresh the spirit and get some exercise during a time when many of us gain a few pounds.




Lee McClellan  •  November 12, 2020

Five things to consider for reservoir smallmouth bass season

The recent Indian summer weather and record highs earlier this week are but a fleeting thing. It will soon be cold as Thanksgiving is just around the corner, followed by winter. Water temperatures at Kentucky’s world-class smallmouth reservoirs: Lake Cumberland, Laurel River Lake and Dale Hollow Lake are in the low 60s, and the reservoir smallmouth fishing season is upon us.​



Lee McClellan  •  November 5, 2020

Largemouth bass active on smaller lakes across Kentucky

Many anglers think the first cool winds of early fall spur largemouth bass to move from their deep summer haunts and shove their noses practically on the bank.


female brown trout

Lee McClellan  •  October 28, 2020

Fall for trout ​all over ​​​again

Anglers treasure the fall months in Kentucky. The shortening periods of daylight and the cooler, drier air bring welcome relief from summer and bring on the fall colors. It’s during this time of transition that some of the best fishing of the year can be had.​


Kentucky Lake Bass

Lee McClellan  •  October 14, 2020

Three State Resort Parks For Great Fall Fishing​

Kentucky Lake - along with its twin to the east, Lake Barkley – have taken it bit on the chin reputation wise over the past few years, but both lakes continue to churn out big largemouth bass. The lake earned a “good” rating for the largemouth bass fishery in the Fisheries Division’s 2020 Fishing Forecast. The lake still has great trophy potential and a great spawn in 2016 means more smaller bass in the lake, which will provide good fishing in the upcoming years.

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Artwork of Spotted Bass by Rick Hill, Kentucky Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources.

Lee McClellan  •  October 7, 2020

​School’s in for spotted bass in fall​

They were not even recognized as a distinctive fish species until 1927. People for many years believed these fish only existed in Kentucky.




Kevin Kelly  •  September​ 30, 2020

Adjusting to Fishing Situations in the ​Fall Months

Anglers become conditioned to expect high water on lakes in spring and stable conditions in summer before the fall drawdowns to​ winter pool.



smallmouth fishing in a kayak

Lee McClellan  •  September 24, 2020

Stream smallmouth bass love early fall​

​T​his past spring and early summer was just like the one before it. It rained and rained until mid-summer, then it didn’t rain much at all. Streams ran low and hot during most of August.




Lee McClellan  •  December 12, 2019

Lake Cumberland tailwater offers great winter trout fishing

Consistency is a trait all anglers love in a body of water. Most Kentucky lakes and rivers go through seasonal temperature swings that make fishing tough during the hottest and coldest months of the year.



Lee McClellan  •  December 5, 2019

Few lures beat a tailspinner in cold water

Some lures on the market have stood the test of time, catching fish decade after decade. The Dardevle spoon, the Jitterbug and the Hula Popper along with in-line spinners, the Panther Martin and the Rooster Tail, still catch fish today like they did when swing music topped the charts.​


mike hardin with crappie

Lee McClellan  •  November 14, 2019

Three productive winter crappie spots

Winter is a season of nesting for many Kentuckians. Hot cocoa and a book by the fireplace is more appealing than getting outside in the wet and cold



Lee McClellan  •  November 8, 2019

A revival for the fly and rind

Bass angler’s hearts sank all over the upper South when the venerable Uncle Josh Company announced in early 2016 that they would no longer produce pork rind jig trailers. Hogs go to slaughter younger than they used to and the company struggled to find pork rind old and tough enough to withstand the rigors of fishing.​


fall brown trout

Lee McClellan  •  October 31, 2019

Fishing remains productive during deer season

K​entucky offers some of the finest deer hunting found anywhere, and the modern gun deer season stands as one of the most anticipated opportunities ​each year.​​


flatwater kayak

Lee McClellan  •  October 24, 2019

Best kayaks for flatwater fishing

A car, truck or sport utility vehicle with a couple of kayaks on the roof with fishing poles visible through the back window is an increasingly common sight on Kentucky highways.

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Man holding up a smallmouth

Lee McClellan  •  October 18, 2019

Reservoir Smallmouth Bass Season Around the Corner​

Reservoir smallmouth anglers are a weird lot. They dangle tiny little hair jigs under bobbers in air so cold ice forms in the guides of their rods. They think the best late fall fishing days feature leaden, low skies, light rain and highs in the 40s.




Lee McClellan  •  October 9, 2019

Cooler temps heat up fall​ bass fishing

The orange tint in the tops of mature trees portend what is coming our way. Cool nights with crisp, gorgeous days signal not only some of the best days of the year in Kentucky, but also the beginning of the fall reservoir fishing season for largemouth bass.



state record muskie being held by two women and a man

Kevin Kelly  •  October 2, 2019

Muskellunge fishing heats up in fall

T​​he angler’s whoop traveled fast and loud over the water from the back of Buck Creek on Cave Run Lake. Bringing a trophy muskellunge to the boat after a spirited fight uncorks raw emotions and provides a unique sense of satisfaction. In this instance, the 45-inch torpedo of a fish was a new personal best and the fourth muskellunge the angler had caught on this cool, calm, overcast Friday in mid-September.


A woman holding up a large spotted bass

Lee McClellan  •  September 26, 2019

Spotted Bass School in Fall

They were not even recognized as a distinctive fish species until 1927. People for many years believed these fish only existed in Kentucky. In 1956, the Kentucky legislature designated this species the “Kentucky bass” and made them the official state fish. Many anglers, especially in the south-central portion of the United States, still call the spotted bass a Kentucky bass.