General Tips for Stream Fishing

Smallmouth Bass

Anglers report good success targeting areas directly above and below gravel shoals and targeting rocky banks with current. Try fishing ¼ oz spinner baits and crawfish imitating crank baits. Texas-rigged 3 inch craws and 3 ½ inch tube jigs work well for a slower presentation. When the bite gets tough don’t overlook a 3 inch white or motor-oil colored curly-tailed grub.

Largemouth/Spotted Bass

Focus fishing effort around rocky banks with woody debris. Anglers have good luck fishing crawfish imitating soft plastic baits Texas-rigged, medium running crank baits, spinners and a variety of top water baits. Match bait colors to the water conditions: natural patterns work best in clearer water (white, watermelon seed), while in muddier conditions use dark (black) or very bright (chartreuse) colored baits that produce vibration.

Rock Bass

Target chunk rock banks with woody debris and log jams in the slow, shallow pools. Try fishing small inline spinner baits, 2 inch crawfish crank baits or 2 inch black grubs over the rocks. Don’t overlook a weightless 3 inch senko rigged wacky style, as quality rock bass willing strike this bait. Rock bass can also be taken on live bait fished near or on the bottom. Try fishing minnows, red worms and small crayfish.

Striped Bass

Striped bass can be found in large abundances in upper Barren River during the spring spawning season. A majority of these fish will hold in holes that are 10-15 ft deep. Also, concentrate on rocky areas such as bluff walls, rocky banks and cliffs. If a fish is caught there are likely others nearby, so continue working a steady pattern of casts across the same area. Tackle to use includes crank baits, swim baits or jerk baits during the spawn. If a boil is spotted, try using top water lures that are casted into the boil. If fish are deep try using large jigs tipped tube jigs and soft plastics that mimic baitfish.

White Bass

Try fishing anything that flashes silver in the water or resembles a shad or other baitfish. You can target this species just about anywhere in a stream. However, early in the year target eddies, debris buildups, riprap and other associated areas that deflect current. Other lures to use include a 1/8th ounce leadhead with a 3 inch white or chartreuse colored curly-tailed grub, white, grey, pink or chartreuse in-line spinners, small silver casting spoons and tiny shad-colored crankbaits.

Yellow Bass

During the spring and fall in upper Barren River target areas with substrates made up of rock gravel or sand most commonly shallow rocky shorelines or shallow rock reefs. During summer and winter months target areas with deeper holes of water with a mucky/muddy bottom substrate. Tackle to use is fairly simple such as a small leadhead jig 1/16th to as small as 1/64th oz dressed with a tube or curly tail grub. Other lures to use include: inline spinners, jigging spoons and lures resembling small worms and insects. Fish baits such as night crawlers and small minnows also work extremely well.

Bluegill/Redear Sunfish

Fishing should be focused around woody debris in areas that are pooled with little current. Try fishing a variety of live baits(worms, wax worms, crickets, etc.) under a bobber/cork or small tube jigs and curly-tailed grubs.

Black/White Crappie

Spring and fall are the best times to target crappie as these fish are moving into shallower waters to spawn in the spring and feed. Look for areas with still or slow-moving waters. Try to target areas with sunken logs, downed trees, brushy cover or any vertical structure. A variety of lures and baits can be used when fishing for crappie. Live baits (minnow, crickets, worms, etc.) or soft plastics such as a curly tail grub attached to a 1/8 or 1/16 ounce jig head work extremely well. Small spinner baits work well when casting for crappie and small crankbaits resembling minnows work well when trolling.

Channel Catfish

Target deeper pools with log jams with slow to moderate current. Fish baits like chicken livers, worms, fresh cut bait and stink baits on the bottom. Best luck would be around dusk and dawn or low light conditions when catfish are more active.

Flathead Catfish

Areas with large, chuck rock, log jams and around bridges are the best areas to target flathead catfish. Flathead fishing is best at night or during low light conditions either early or late in the day. Flathead catfish prefer live bait such as bluegill and sunfish, but can be caught on cut bait as well.


Throughout the year muskellunge anglers should focus their efforts around bank slides, log jams, the mouth of creeks and the tailwaters of Lock and Dams. Try using big inline spinners, swim baits and top water baits like buzz baits and walking baits.


Try fishing buck-tail jigs with minnows or using a 1/8 to 3/4 oz round or bullet-head jig head with a 3 to 4 inch curly-tailed grub or minnow for vertical jigging or casting in back eddies and near areas where current meets some type of current break (ex: bridge piers, large rock and boulder formations, or downed wood) and fish directly downstream along the margin between slack and moving water. Metal jigging, blade baits, and bright colored crank baits also work well in these areas.