Three State Resort Parks For Great Fall Fishing

By Lee McClellan

FRANKFORT, Ky. The dramatically cooler nights of the last few weeks are a blessing for anglers. These longer, colder nights pull the residual heat from the water, signaling to game fish that it is time to fatten up on the fall harvest of baitfish born earlier in the year.

The picturesque panorama of the changing leaves rings many of our reservoirs in fall. The fishing sometimes takes a backseat to the pleasure of soaking in all of the exquisite scenery. A fall weekend of staying at a Kentucky State Resort Park and fishing in the most superb setting of the year is a great stress reducer before the hubbub of the holiday season arrives.

Here are three of the best Kentucky State Resort Parks for a fall weekend fishing getaway: Due to Covid-19, some operations of the parks have changed, but the lodges, cottages and campgrounds are open.

Kenlake State Resort Park, Kentucky Lake: 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.

Fall is one of the best times to book a weekend at Kenlake State Resort Park ( Kenlake State Resort Park’s location provides excellent access to great bass fishing spots on Kentucky Lake. The lake is often nearly empty in autumn.
During fall, Kentucky Lake’s largemouth bass are making the transition from deep water summer haunts on main lake ledges and channel drops back into shallow water, following the shad migration. The sloping banks in the bays on the Land Between the Lakes side of the lake directly across from Kenlake State Resort Park provide outstanding action. The changing leaves on this undeveloped side of Kentucky Lake provide spectacular scenery.
Try bottom-crawling a 1/2-ounce football jig in the Okeechobee craw or Cumberland craw colors down these sloping banks in Barnett Bay, Vickers Bay or Rhodes Bay. A deep-running shad colored crankbait work along these same banks produces strikes. You also may stumble across a brute smallmouth bass in these areas as well.

Lake Cumberland State Resort Park, Lake Cumberland: Striped bass in Lake Cumberland are thriving. The population is stable with good growth of striped bass. Recent reports show fishing picking up with the cool weather. 

Fall is a fantastic season for Lake Cumberland striped bass fishing and the location of Lake Cumberland State Resort Park ( places anglers in the perfect spot on the lake. 

 In October, stripers usually hang from 35 to 70 feet deep along main lake flats and points. These same areas in the lower ends of major creek arms such as Beaver, Indian and Wolf creeks also hold stripers. The lower lake region, from Lake Cumberland State Resort Park down to the dam, produces better fishing in fall. 

Bottom fishing live alewives, shad or large shiners is one of the easiest and most productive ways to catch fall stripers on Lake Cumberland. The small coves on the south bank of the lake from the mouth of Beaver Creek to the mouth of Indian Creek make great places to bottom fish in fall. Most of these coves have bank areas comprised of broken shale mixed with mud. Smart anglers beach the nose of their boats on these soft banks and fish their live bait rigs off the back of the boat.

A slip-sinker rig comprised of a 1/2-ounce egg sinker, barrel swivel and leader of 17-pound abrasion resistant monofilament line with a 5/0 circle hook on the business end works wonders. If you don’t get a bite within 45 minutes, move to the next cove.

Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park, Dale Hollow Lake: Few other lakes in the country produce as many robust 3- to 6-pound smallmouth bass as Dale Hollow Lake. The 6,614 acres of the lake in Kentucky make good water for fall smallmouth bass fishing. Bonus: Dale Hollow is one of the most scenic lakes in the upper South.

Leitchfield’s David L. Hayes caught the 11-pound, 15-ounce all-tackle world record smallmouth bass not far from the boat ramp now named for him at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park ( on July 9, 1955. The weedbeds found in the coves adjacent to the ramp hold smallmouth bass in fall.

Drifting large crappie minnows or medium-sized shiners over these weedbeds produces the best numbers of smallmouth bass and fools the big ones. Use a size 1 Octopus style hook with a few slip shots gently crimped on the line 18 to 24 inches above it. 

Weedbeds abound in Wolf River arm of the lake, as well as in Sulphur and Illwill creeks. Fishing the minnows or shiners on points in these areas also produces smallmouth bass, but the weedbeds seem to the more consistent producer of bigger fish.

Visit a Kentucky state resort park this fall and enjoy bountiful fishing during the best time of year.