Fish Habitat

Fish swimming in murkey water

Fish Habitat​​​​

Like all other animals, fish need suitable habitat for living in, raising their young and foraging for food. Most of the lakes in Kentucky were created more than 50 years ago and are starting to show their age. Natural processes like sedimentation and decay of woody structure can reduce the number of places that fish have for spawning and nursery habitat. KDFWR has active projects across the Commonwealth designed to improve, enhance and replace this habitat that has been lost due to time. This lack of habitat also creates an opportunity for anglers. The old adage "build it and they will come" applies to fish habitat as well. By building habitat structures in frequently fished areas, we can draw in fish from areas with poor habitat and make fishing a little less of a hit and miss process. Deciding where to fish on lakes can be a daunting task for first-time anglers. That is another reason KDFWR creates fish attractors and provides maps to help people find these hotspots of fish activity.

The fish habitat/attractors are made in a variety of shapes and sizes and include material from trees, rocks, logs, wooden pallets, and even commercially made plastic structures. These structures are typically dense in nature with tree limbs and shade producing cover. Rock piles and gravel beds create spawning grounds for many species and brush piles provide much needed shelter for young fishes. All of these structures also provide stable substrates for the attachment of aquatic plants that provide the basis of the food chain in lakes. In general, more habitat just means more fish.

KDFWR also collects trees for habitat with our annual Christmas tree drive. Every year after the holiday season, we collect and recycle thousands of discarded natural trees into brush piles for habitat.

All of the habitat sites that KDFWR creates are published and made available to the public via Google Maps. All of our published habitat sites can be accessed by using the Find a Place to Fish portions of our website or can be accessed with the Lakes with Fish Attractors page.

The Lakes with Fish Attractors page also has downloadable GPX files for importing into the depth finder of your boat. Most brands of depth finder will allow for the download of GPX files, but you may have to consult your owners manual. YouTube is also a good source for instructional videos on how to import and convert these files.

Once you know where the sites are, fishing them can be rewarding. The GPS locations will get you to the general vicinity, but your depth finder will be valuable in finding the exact location and depth. As far as fishing goes, weedless presentations and lures are a good option when fishing these areas to reduce snagging. Lake habitat sites will vary in depth and may include areas in the backs of creeks, large flats, small pockets, and even main lake points. Many of these sites are located away from the bank in deeper water, so fish finders will help in identifying these offshore locations. Before picking a site to fish, consider the time of year, water temperature, and fish behavior to increase your success on the water.

Construction equipment on the ramp next to a large lake

​Staging trees at the ramp for building fish habitat

Image showing a group of people loading evergreen trees on wagons hooked up to trucks Building habitat structures on shore for transport to the site by boat

A boat is offloading trees of a barge into a river
Deploying trees in the lake to improve fish habitat

Click on the following short videos showing fish using the KDFWR-constructed habitats​