An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
As a voluntary program, fishing event organizers are strongly urged to use the Tournament website at fw.ky.gov/tournamentschedule.aspx to register and report on their events. Tournament planners can avoid space conflicts with other previously registered events by adjusting the date, time, specific launch areas or weigh-in site for their activities.
Other recreational anglers and boaters can check the web site to see when and where fishing events are scheduled. This will assist them in planning their activities and also help avoid potential space conflicts. Additional permits may be required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the U.S. Forest Service or Kentucky State Parks.
If the launch site for your tournament involves using a marina ramp, please contact the marina operator before scheduling your tournament.
There are over 1,000 fishing tournaments held annually in Kentucky waters. These can be a valuable source of information to our fishery biologists. Following each scheduled event, tournament organizers are asked to report their catch data directly on the tournament web site or on forms which can be sent via postal mail. Voluntary cooperation from tournament organizers will be used in making fishery management decisions. At the end of the tournament season, a summary of tournament results will be sent to all providers. If not provided with one, contact your local fisheries district office. They will provide a packet.
Fishing tournaments involving 100 or more boats are regulated and permitted by the Division of Law Enforcement, 1-800-858-1549.
KEEPING YOUR BASS ALIVE
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife recommends tournament anglers and directors follow some simple procedures to keep bass alive during summer tournaments that run from June through August. Summer tournament fishing places great stress on bass due to high water temperatures. You can view a list of these procedures here.
Q: Can you sell fish caught while possessing only a valid Kentucky sport fishing license?
A: No. It is illegal to sell any fish caught without the proper commercial fishing license and gear.
The Kentucky Department of Fish
and Wildlife regularly creates and maintains
fish attractors and habitat structures
in lakes across Kentucky. These
structures vary in material and benefit
sport fish populations while providing
anglers productive fishing areas. GPS
locations of many of these structures
are found here.
Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria found in lakes in Kentucky and throughout the United States. They occur naturally, but if their numbers get too high they can pose health risks to humans and animals. Anglers, hunters, boaters and all others who might use these water resources should be aware of the potential risks associated with these blooms. Both the Kentucky Division of Water and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have initiated testing of lakes in Kentucky to document these blooms and provide updated information
to the public.
The Kentucky Departments for
Environmental Protection, Health
Services and Fish and Wildlife Resources jointly issue a fish consumption advisory to the public when fish
are found contaminated. Trace contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), mercury and chlordane
are found in some fish in Kentucky. An
advisory cautions people about potential health problems that may result
from eating fish caught from a particular area. An advisory does not ban
eating fish; it is a guide to reduce your
risk. This guide provides information
on how often fish may be safely eaten.
Most fish are healthy to eat and are an
excellent source of low-fat protein.
Women of childbearing age, children 6 years of age or younger, pregnant and nursing women and women who plan to become pregnant should follow the advisories in the “Sensitive Population” category.
All waters are under advisory for mercury. Women of childbearing age and children 6 years of age or younger should eat no more than six meals per year of predatory fish and no more than one meal per month of panfish and bottom feeder fish. The general public should eat no more than one meal per month of predatory fish and no more than one meal per week of panfish and bottom feeder fish.
Organic mercury can occur naturally in the environment and does not affect swimmers, skiers or boaters. Fish can accumulate low levels of mercury by eating plankton and other small aquatic creatures.
A new method for reporting fish consumption advisories has been adopted. Consumption rates for specific fish have been developed based on a meal of ½ pound of fish (before cooking) eaten by a 150-pound individual. Following these guidelines and spacing your meals of those fish species will limit your health risks by reducing your total exposure. See table below for fish consumption advisories.
Due to expanded testing on more
waterbodies and additional fish species, the fish consumption advisories
changed this year due to a wider presence of organic mercury than previously found.
Fish consumption advisories now delineate between
predatory fish, bottom feeder fish and
panfish. Predatory fish include black
bass (smallmouth, largemouth and
spotted), white bass, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, sauger, saugeye, walleye,
muskellunge, flathead and blue catfish,
yellow bass, chain pickerel and all gars.
Panfish include bluegill, crappie,
rock bass as well as green, longear and
redear sunfish. Bottom feeder fish include the bullheads, buffalo species,
channel catfish, common carp, redhorse
species, shovelnose sturgeon, drum,
creek chub as well as the white, spotted,
northern hog and carp suckers.
For the most up-to-date consumption advisory information, visit the Fish Consumption Advisory page.
PARASITES AND GRUBS IN FISH
Kentucky anglers will occasionally clean a fish and find a white or yellowish color worm in the fish’s flesh that is about the size of a grain of rice. Or, when stream fishing, an angler will encounter a smallmouth bass or sunfish with small black specks on its belly or across its body.
This is a parasitic fluke that requires different host animals to complete its life cycle: a fish eating bird, a snail and a fish. The grub matures and produces eggs inside a host fish-eating bird such as a Great Blue Heron. The eggs enter the water from the bird’s droppings or from its mouth. The eggs hatch and tiny larvae of the parasite burrow into a snail. After a time in the snail, the parasite changes form and swims to its next host, a fish. Inside the fish, the parasite changes to a grub form and waits for the fish to be eaten. Then, the cycle repeats.
The angler’s first instinct is to discard any fish with either the grubs in the flesh or black specks on the body. Grub-infested fish are safe to eat. Grubs do not infect people. Remove any grubs found and prepare the fish as you normally would.
These five species of fish are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to take these fish species and utilize them for any purpose including as live bait for fishing.
It’s the law
No live fish, live minnow, or live bait organisms not native or established in Kentucky shall be bought, sold, possessed, imported, or in any way used or released into Kentucky waters.
Sport anglers unintentionally and intentionally stock fish in Kentucky’s public waters. These species mainly include gizzard shad and alewives that are present in several water bodies. Gizzard shad have been illegally released in several small public lakes where they previously were not present. They interfere with the lake’s ability to support a quality bluegill population. Alewives are a non-native fish illegally stocked into several Kentucky lakes. The total impact of these fish is not known, but they are known to eat young fish, including sport fishes.
Additionally, there are many nonnative aquatic species that invaded the country, particularly in Great Lake states. These include both plants and animals such as Eurasian watermilfoil, Asian carp, hydrilla, spring water flea, and zebra mussels.
HELP KEEP OUT NON-NATIVE SPECIES
Two species of Asian carp, the big head and silver, have invaded river systems in Kentucky. Any river or large stream tributary to the Ohio or Mississippi Rivers most likely possess Asian carp. Both of these species are plankton eaters and may exceed 50 pounds in size. Their impact on native species is not presently known, but they represent a competitive threat to other plankton eating fish such as our native paddlefish and most of our sport fish at early life stages.
Very young Asian carp in these river systems can be easily mistaken as shad or skipjack herring. All bait collectors using cast or dip nets should never dispose of any live bait into other water bodies due to the potential threat of spreading these aquatic nuisance species.
Kentucky has zebra mussels present in our waters and are at nuisance levels in the Ohio River. They attach themselves to any solid submerged surface in a cluster, reproduce rapidly, and pose a serious threat to native freshwater mussel populations. These mussels have elongated pointed shells less than two inches long with a zebra like pattern of stripes. Zebra mussels can live 8 to 10 days out of water and can be transported to another water body while attached to a boat.
Hydrilla is an exotic plan invading Kentucky through transfer of plan fragments by boats and personal watercraft. All it takes is a small fragment of the plant to start a new colony. This plan forms extremely dense mats that grow to the surface of the waterbody making boating and swimming difficult. It literally fills shallow areas from top to bottom with vegatation.
Hydrilla also chokes out native plants and displaces fish. It is extremely difficult to eradicate once it becomes established.