Fishing Forecast

2024 Fishi​ng forecast and tips

​Welcome to the 2024 Fishing Forcast for Kentucky's Major fisheries. The forecast is based on 2023 fish population surveys, creel surveys, fish stockings, and historical knowledge of the fisheries. The Forecast is designed to assist anglers in planning their fishing trips and improve their fishing success. Additional fishing information is available from the Department’s website at, by obtaining copies of the 2024 Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide available at most sporting goods stores, and now through our new Fish Boat KY App found in both the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. The Kentucky Trout Waters brochure is contained in the 2024 Fishing and Boating Guide.

​To locate fishing access sites in Kentucky, visit our website and on “Fishing,” and then scroll down to the “Find a Place to Fish” section. You will be able to search for your favorite water bodies and get directions to all major boat launches and access sites. On our Fish Boat KY App, click on “Waterbody List” on the app’s main page. You will be able to search for your favorite water bodies and get directions to all major boat launches and access sites.

Opening day of the 2024 fishing season starts March 1 with the new year’s license, so take a trip to your local sporting goods store, get online at 2024​ fishing license, or just use the Fish Boat KY App to purchase your 2024 fishing license. Licenses and permits are not currently available by phone. Please visit for updates.

The Fishing Forecast is partially financed through funds provided by your purchase of fishing equipment and motorboat fuels under the Federal Sport Fish Restoration Program.


New and expanding fisheries in 2024

  • Brown Trout will be stocked into Laurel River Lake (Whitley and Laurel counties) in 2024.
  • Rainbow Trout will be stocked for the first time into Black Lick Creek at McCutchen-Coke Park in Auburn, KY (Logan County).
  • Blue Catfish stockings in Barren River Lake will resume in 2024.


New up-and-comers

Several waterbodies have shown improvements in their fisheries in the last year. You might try to get in on the action at the following:

  • Bluegill at West Fork Drakes Reservoir (Simpson County)
  • Redear Sunfish at Benjy Kinman Lake (Henry County) and Corinth Lake (Grant County)
  • Saugeye at A.J. Jolly Lake (Campbell County)
  • Smallmouth Bass at Kentucky Lake (Marshall, Calloway, Lyon, Livingston, and Trigg counties) and Lake Barkley (Trigg, Lyon, and Livingston counties)
  • White Bass at Cave Run Lake (Bath, Menifee, Rowan, and Morgan counties)

Fishing forecast
cheat sheet

Make sure you check out the Fishing Forecast Cheat Sheet. For those looking for a quick answer to where the best fishing can be found for each species, the Cheat Sheets are your guide. The Cheat Sheets lets you know which lakes are forecasted to provide the best fishing (rated 4 stars or greater) for each of your favorite fish species. Just look up the species you are interested in and then see which lakes are marked in orange. These are the lakes which will provide the best chance for a memorable fishing trip for that species. The Cheat Sheets are located on several pages, so if you don’t see the species or lake you are interested in on the first page, make sure to check the following pages.


  • Adam Martin, Nick Simpson and Justin Graben
    Western Fisheries District
  • Jeremy Shiflet, Maddy Ruble and Michael Kinney
    Northwestern Fisheries District
  • Eric Cummins, Kayla Boles and Phillip Matlock
    Southwestern Fisheries District
  • Jeff Crosby, David Baker and Danny Duvall
    Central Fisheries District​
  • Tom Timmermann, Nathan Hayes and Chad Nickell
    Northeastern Fisheries District
  • Marcy Anderson, Bradley Hartman and Dirk Bradley
    Southeastern Fisheries District
  • Jason Russell, Emily Watling and Mark Harless
    Eastern Fisheries District
  • Dane Balsman, Jack Fish, Ryan Kausing and Bobby Widener Urban Fishing Section
  • Jay Herrala, Brandon Sawyers, Robert Nipper and Elijah Holcome Streams Investigation Section

Late winter/early spring fishing frenzy

As warm winds begin to flow over Kentucky, put your new fishing license to good use by trying a few early spring fishing hot spots. In March, fish activity begins in the smaller bodies of water such as farm ponds and smaller public lakes as water temperatures reach the 50s. These smaller, shallower bodies of water warm quicker than reservoirs in spring. Late winter and early spring may be the best time of the year to catch big fish.

Trophy largemouth bass, especially females, are at their heaviest weight of the entire year during late winter and early spring. Female bass feed heavily during this time to provide fuel for the upcoming spawn. Farm ponds and smaller public lakes are prime spots for early spring largemouth bass fishing before the larger bodies of water warm enough for bass to feed.

A few of the best lakes for catching trophy bass in spring are Lake Barkley, Kentucky Lake and Lake Malone in western Kentucky along with Cedar Creek, Kincaid and Guist Creek lakes in central Kentucky. Greenbo Lake in northeast Kentucky and Wood Creek Lake in southeast Kentucky both produced multiple state record largemouth bass in the past. Lake Beshear in west Kentucky, Barren River Lake in west-central Kentucky and Herrington and Green River lakes in central Kentucky also offer excellent early spring bass fishing. Dewey, Fishtrap, Fishpond and Highsplint lakes give east Kentucky anglers a great shot for an early spring trophy largemouth bass. The new Kentucky state record largemouth bass (14-pound 9.5-ounce) was caught from Highsplint Lake in 2019.

If you are after smallmouth bass, head to Green River Lake, Kentucky Lake, Lake Cumberland, Laurel River Lake, Dale Hollow Lake and Fishtrap Lake for a good chance at catching the smallmouth bass of a lifetime in late winter and early spring. Streams also provide excellent fishing for smallmouth bass in early spring throughout southwestern, central and eastern Kentucky. Adult fish migrate from their winter habitat in deep, slow-moving holes in the lower sections of streams to spawning areas in smaller tributary streams. Elkhorn Creek, South Fork of the Licking River and several upper Kentucky, Green and Barren river tributaries offer the best spring fishing opportunities for smallmouth bass. The upper Levisa Fork is also a great smallmouth fishery.

Slab crappie  are ready  to  be caught,  beginning  in  late  winter,  at  many  reservoirs  in central  and western Kentucky.  Catches  of  crappie over  12  inches  are not  uncommon at  Barkley  and Kentucky  lakes  during this  time.  Black  crappie move into shallow  water  well  before the spawning season  in early  March,  so start early  for  these fish.  Other  good  bets  for  crappie include Herrington,  Taylorsville,  Cumberland,  Dewey, Carr  Creek,  Rough,  Nolin,  Barren,  and  Buckhorn lakes  as  well  as  Ohio River  embayments.

Excellent  white bass  fishing  can be  found  during the early  spring  in the  upper  sections  of  reservoirs  such as  Barkley,  Cave Run,  Nolin River,  Taylorsville,  Herrington,  and  Fishtrap  lakes.  The Kentucky,  Green, and Ohio  rivers  offer  excellent  spring white bass  fishing. 

During  late winter,  sauger  and walleye fishing peaks  in  tailwaters  below  dams  on the Ohio,  lower Kentucky,  Cumberland,  and Tennessee rivers.    Lake Cumberland,  Dale Hollow,  Laurel  River,  and Carr Creek  lakes  possess  excellent  walleye fisheries.

If  you are  interested in muskellunge,  they  move  in spring to  shallow  shoreline structure and  headwater areas  in  search of  warmer  water  at  Cave Run,  Green,  Buckhorn,  and  Dewey  lakes.  Remember,  a 36-inch minimum size  limit  and one  fish daily  creel  limit  is  in  effect  for  muskellunge at  Cave Run,  Green,  and Dewey  lakes.   A  40-inch minimum size  limit  and one fish daily  creel  limit  is  in  effect  at  Buckhorn Lake. 

Do not  forget  to  take  advantage  of  trout  waters such  as seasonal  catch-and-release trout  streams,  lakes stocked with trout  in  winter  months,  Fishing in Neighborhood  (FINs)  lakes  stocked with trout,  and  the Cumberland River  tailwater  and  Hatchery  Creek  below  Lake Cumberland in late  winter  and early  spring. Trout  bite willingly  in cold  water.

Download the 2024​ fishing forecast
& cast with confidence