An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
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 waterbodies by species"
Articles written by Lee McClellan and Kevin Kelly
Lee McClellanFrankfort, KY
With Memorial Day weekend on tap, the summer fishing patterns are upon us. The summer weather is a welcome relief after the spring of crazy weather we've had. With a brisk April followed by some of coldest average May temperatures in memory, we can finally look forward to stable water levels and predictable fishing.
Bass fishing in summer revolves around light, or the lack of it. The best times to sling a lure are pre-dawn to mid-morning, dusk and nighttime. You will not find a better largemouth bass fishing spot during these times than a weedy farm pond.
Farm ponds make for great low-light bass fishing because they are much easier to navigate than a huge reservoir. Target weed edges with a floating plastic frog or a Jitterbug in the pre-dawn, dusk and at night. A steady retrieve usually produces strikes, but switch speeds or pause the lure for a time if they don't cooperate.
Lee McClellanFrankfort, KY
After an unusually cool April and May so far, the long range forecast calls normal temperatures to return as we come into the warmer months, the best time of year to stream fish for smallmouth bass from a paddlecraft.
The pop-up thunderstorms common in summer may spike the flow on an average stream or free flowing river, but a tailwater such as the Green River below Green River Lake or the Barren River below Barren River Lake offer more predictable flows in summer.
"You have controlled flow in a tailwater with more stable water conditions," said Mike Hardin, assistant director of Fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Lee McClellanFrankfort, KY
Those of us who wade rocky streams for smallmouth or tailwaters for trout sometimes bite off more than we can chew.
An eddy on the other side of the stream looks inviting and the more you stare at it, the more you want to cast there. The only problem is a waist-deep run with strong current lies between you and the enticing water.
You begin crossing the stream, but about half way, the current begins to push hard against your legs. You barely lift your foot and the current pushes it out from your body, nearly causing a fall. You look back and realize it will be just as hard to get back to where you started, as it will be to get to the other side of the stream.
You are stuck.
A day spent catching fish from the bank of a pond or lake will hook a novice angler and entertain the most experienced one.
May traditionally offers good opportunities for anglers as fish move shallow to spawn - and into easy casting range.
I fished a small lake in Nelson County on May 2," said Brian Moore, marketing coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
We caught a few from the bank. Then, we found a bedding area near logs and brush in the headwater of this small lake. We caught at least 50 redear sunfish. As soon as we threw it out there, the bobber was gone."
Derby week is a festive time in Kentucky. Everyone seems to be in a good mood, summer is just about here and cold winds are gone until fall. The dramatic warm up this past week foreshadowed the gorgeous sunshine and warm temperatures of June.
The stretch of April with below average temperatures and nighttime lows in the 30s and 40s put a bit of a damper on spring fishing, but that is forgotten now. We are heading into the best time of year to catch stream smallmouth bass.
Anglers with a bit of salt in their hair remember fondly the venerable Sassy Shad, the paddle-tailed, shad-shaped soft plastic wonder that caught practically anything that swims.
In the fishing lure world, what is old oftentimes becomes new again. Over the last decade or so, the soft-plastic swimbait stormed the fishing world, looking remarkably like a Sassy Shad with refinements.
With softer, lifelike soft plastic formulations and more realistic color schemes that closely resemble shad or other baitfish along with salt and scent fused into the lure, the modern swimbait is one of the most versatile lures you can throw.
Kevin KellyFrankfort, KY
Although mired in an unusually long dogwood winter, a folklore term for a mid-April cold snap when dogwood trees bloom, the extended forecast calls for it to break early next week. The increased temperatures and dry weather in the forecast should get river systems in Kentucky in good shape for late April and early May fishing.
Late spring is an excellent time to fish rivers in Kentucky, waters often overlooked by anglers fishing our sprawling reservoirs and the many smaller, state-owned lakes.
Kevin KellyFrankfort, KY
The first warm days of the year never come soon enough. But when they do, a feeling of euphoria sweeps over anglers because springtime offers some of the year’s best opportunities for trophy largemouth bass.
"Fall is a great opportunity to catch a big one, but your best shot at the biggest bass of the year or your life is right now," said Geoff Roberts, a conservation educator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and an avid bass angler.
Anglers lined the bank of the Dix River in Rankin Bottoms in Herrington Lake’s extreme headwaters, casting minnows suspended under brown cork bobbers with metal fishing rods and catching fat white bass after fat white bass.
"I’ve fished the runs the last 8 years and there is no definite schedule," said Chace Wallen, information center supervisor for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "When night time lows stay above 50 degrees consistently for three or four days, that is when we’ve done best. There is no science to it. You have to play the weather and you have to play the water temperature. You have to scout and you have to put the time in and fish."
Chad Miles, host of the Kentucky Afield television show, had a royal field day earlier this week on Dale Hollow Lake.
"I caught about 10 pounds of smallmouth bass in two casts," he said. "One was over four pounds and the other weighed 5.2 pounds."
Miles said the fish wanted a faster retrieve than what is typical for reservoir smallmouth bass in March. "You didn’t want to burn your lure, but you didn’t want it on the bottom either," he explained. "A spybait would work really well right now for smallmouth bass in reservoirs."
Anglers in Kentucky often learned to fish by wading the abundant streams that course over the surface of our state. Many of these streams flow over a rocky bottom and hold substantial populations of smallmouth bass.
The air temperatures will flirt with 80 degrees this week and the white bass are running sporadically in the headwaters of Taylorsville Lake. Water temperatures range from the mid-to-high 50s on lake across Kentucky and the temperature spike this week should get white bass running into the headwaters of Nolin River Lake, Herrington Lake, Fishtrap Lake, Green River Lake and Cave Run lakes.
The temperatures rose to the high 70s last weekend and dropped into the low 50s earlier this week again in the 70s this coming weekend. The up and down nature of spring weather can cause consternation among anglers when planning fishing trips. Concerns about the weather is one of three things to consider before heading out to the water this spring.
Spring has sprung all across Kentucky. Air temperatures nipped at 80 degrees earlier this week and water temperatures are over 60 degrees on many lakes.Black crappie are moving along rocky banks now in lakes that have them.
It was roughly a year ago on Good Friday when Evarts resident Mark Ward went fishing after work with his wife and daughter at 6-acre Highsplint Lake in Harlan County.
It is just about the time of year when the big “bull” redear sunfish move shallow to spawn, sending a shiver of excitement through many Kentucky anglers.
One of the age-old quandaries concerning fishing is finding somewhere to go and catch fish. Over the past several years, the staff of the Fisheries Division of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources upgraded a Kentucky angler’s ability to find productive waters by using by the department’s website at fw.ky.gov.
A 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.
The summer temperatures predicted for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend bring the perfect environment for taking some kids fishing. If they like the experience, how do you keep the fishing momentum going throughout the summer?
The gorgeous weather combined with warming, but tolerable, temperatures make June one of the best months to be outside. The wonderful weather drives hordes of largemouth bass anglers to waters across Kentucky, filled with anticipation of catching a couple of five pounders.
Water temperatures are 75 degrees in Kentucky Lake in west Kentucky and the same at Lake Cumberland in southeast Kentucky and the hot weather in the forecast will increase those temperatures, sending channel catfish to rocky banks in reservoirs to spawn. June is one of the most productive months to fish for them.
Largemouth bass are one of the most popular sport fish in Kentucky. Two of Kentucky’s excellent state resort parks, Barren River Lake State Resort and Lake Barkley State Resort Park, lie on two of the best largemouth bass lakes in our state.
The dog days of summer slow everything down. The heat and humidity along with the long days make outside work sweaty and arduous as June gives way to July. The weather forecast calls for temperatures of 90 degrees and above this coming weekend.
Note to Muskie Anglers: When using Live Bait, please Use a Quick-strike Rig to reduce catch-and-release muskie mortality.
The basic rig construction consists of a 24-inch length of uncoated bronze stranded wire, 20 to 50 lb. test, a heavy duty rear treble hook, and a smaller front treble or optional single front hook. The front hook should contain shrinkable tubing around the shank so it will slide on the wire making it adjustable. A strong black swivel should be attached on the opposite end of the whole rig. An optional small spinner blade should be added in front of the front hook making it legal for use in states where a multiple hook rig is illegal. The whole thing can be assembled by using either crimp-on sleeves or twisting the wire to make a good connection. You can easily make your own rigs or they can be purchased from most Musky tackle outlets.
Information courtesy Musky America at Musky.com. For more information see: www.musky.com