Fishing and Hunting Remain Open:
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources encourages your outdoor recreational pursuits, but they should be done in a manner consistent with social distancing guidelines and in compliance with any orders from federal, state and local government. For the latest information on the novel coronavirus in Kentucky, please visit kycovid19.ky.gov.
To follow the reopening plan for Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Healthy at Work page developed by the state. Effective May 22, Governor Beshear lifted the ban on interstate travel. This now allows non-residents to hunt or fish in Kentucky without a 14-day quarantine. Also, groups of 10 people or fewer may gather, but they should follow social distancing protocols.
Open-air sites, such as public lands and streams and wildlife management areas remain open. Kentucky hunting and fishing license requirements, seasons and bag/creel limits remain unchanged.
State Offices Closed to In-Person Contact but Still Available to Help:
All Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources offices are closed to in-person contact with the public to minimize health risks. Please utilize this website to gather information. We also have Fish and Wildlife Information Specialists available to answer your questions. You may contact them at 800-858-1549, or via email at email@example.com. They are available via phone Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM (Eastern).
COVID-19 Related Closings, Cancellations, Postponements, and FAQ’s
(We update this page daily. These are the properties and locations that we are aware of at this time, but KDFWR does not control access to all public bodies of water or public lands.)
Fishing tournaments in Kentucky are suspended through May 31 because of the COVID-19 outbreak. On May 15, the Governor announced fishing tournaments may resume on June 1 with new guidelines. The fishing tournament guidelines are now available on the Kentucky Healthy at Work page.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife encourages anglers to be aware of COVID-19 related actions taken by the Governor, and follow the latest guidelines issued by public health experts.
- Bank anglers: Stay
at least one fishing pole’s length from those around you. Take advantage of the
outdoor space and practice social distancing. Find areas to fish away from
places that others may naturally want to congregate, such as fishing piers.
- Boat anglers: Allow enough room on the boat to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.
- At boat ramps, practice proper social distancing and avoid mass gatherings or crowded areas while on the ramps. Please take extra time to space out while waiting to load boats into the water. Stay off the ramp if others are loading or unloading to avoid crowding. Wait until the courtesy dock is clear of others. Avoid touching areas such as hand rails on the courtesy dock unless absolutely necessary.
- Stoney Cove Ramp on Cave Run Lake – This ramp is on Army Corps of Engineers property and the surrounding facilities have closed.
- Anderson County Park Lake – This FINS lake is closed due to the closure of the Anderson County Community Park.
- The indoor facilities of the department-owned fish hatcheries are closed to the public. This includes Minor Clark Fish Hatchery in Morehead and Peter W. Pfeiffer Fish Hatchery in Frankfort.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources intends to keep boat ramps open for public use and avoid a complete shutdown due to overcrowding. Compliance with current guidance about mass gatherings and proper social distancing is essential.
Please be advised: Not all ramps are owned or operated by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Therefore, it is recommended that you check the signage at the ramp for hours of operation before launching your boat.
- Kentucky State Parks returned to normal operating hours on June 1st. These hours of operation also apply to boat ramps on state park grounds. For more information about Kentucky State Parks and COVID-19, please visit parks.ky.gov/covid-19-information.
- Some boat ramps operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may be closed. Also some bank access on Corps property may have limited access. Please check by visiting Corps websites:
We encourage the public to continue to enjoy our waterways responsibly. Avoid crowds of any size and practice social distancing to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Boat registrations have been extended for 90 days. Boats registrations will now expire July 31, 2020. Those who have recently purchased a new boat or have purchased a boat from a third party, will need to have their bill of sale on the boat showing the recent purchase. For more information on boating, visit our boating web page.
All trout stockings scheduled for May are complete. You can find stocking locations and dates on our Trout Stocking Schedule. Also, catfish stockings have resumed at Fishing in Neighborhoods lakes. Visit our Catfish Stocking Schedule to see the dates and locations stockings occurred. In an effort to reduce crowding at stocking locations, trout and catfish stocking dates won’t be posted online until after the fish are stocked.
The Cave Run Kids Fishing Derby typically held at Minor Clark Fish Hatchery is canceled for 2020. This decision is in the best interest of the health and safety of the children, volunteers, and families of all that would participate in the event.
This is just one of many fishing events normally held across Kentucky that is canceled in May or June of 2020. We advise that you check with the organizer of your local fishing event to determine if it has been canceled.
Anglers are reminded that June 6th and 7th remains free fishing weekend and anglers of any age can fish without a license in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is suspending overnight camping on designated campgrounds on all department-owned wildlife management areas until further notice. This closure impacts the following WMA’s:
On May 15, the Governor announced camping at Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area will reopen June 11. Campers must have self-contained campers or RVs with bathrooms. Please continue checking this page and the Kentucky Healthy at Work page for the latest information.
Dispersed camping is still available on Peabody and Clay Wildlife Management Areas as long as social distancing can be maintained.
Please reference the websites of the US Army Corp of Engineers, United State Forest Service, National Parks Service, and Kentucky State Parks for camping information on their properties.
Is the department considering opening up hunting seasons early, or changing bag or daily catch limits?
No. Kentucky’s hunting seasons and fishing regulations have not been expanded. These seasons and limits remain set by regulation for their regular time and length in order to conserve our fish and wildlife populations for the present and future, and to provide maximum sustainable recreation opportunities for the public. Please reference page 16 of our spring hunting guide for information regarding the spring squirrel season.
Are we waiving license and permit fees?
No. Hunting and fishing licenses and permits are required to fish and hunt as always. The new license year started March 1. Licenses and permits can be purchased online at fw.ky.gov, in many retail stores, or by phone at 877-598-2401.
Is the department closing any of its wildlife management areas?
No. All department-owned and managed wildlife or hunter access areas remain open. You can find maps and other access information online at fw.ky.gov.
However, the department is canceling organized events of 10 people or more on the areas. Also, until further notice, offices are closed to in-person services with limited exceptions.
Will coronavirus affect wildlife populations?
Researchers and biologists are uncovering more information about this topic daily. For the latest information compiled by KDFWR, please watch the video above and/or visit here.
Are Hunter Education classes and range days still open for participants?
In-person Kentucky hunter education classes and range days are temporarily suspended. If you have registered for a class that is affected by this change, you will be notified by email. Please keep checking our website for the next available in-person class. Online options for completing the classroom portion of Kentucky’s hunter education are available. This includes a new, free online course. Visit our Hunter Education web page for more information.
A virtual range day option is currently available in lieu of in-person range days to meet certification requirements. Complete information is available on the department’s Hunter Education webpage, including how-to and sample “virtual range day” videos.
Please also note that the department recognizes state-approved Hunter Education certifications from all other states, regardless of their course format.
Is the department waiving the requirements for hunter education because of canceled classes?
No. If you are required to have a hunter education card to hunt in Kentucky, you will still be required to do so. The department has a one-year Hunter Education exemption permit available for those who can’t obtain their Hunter Education card in time for a hunting season; this permit allows people of any age to hunt with an adult mentor who has completed Hunter Education or was born before 1975. To obtain this permit, start by clicking here.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will not offer its summer conservation camps this year due to the novel coronavirus disease 2019. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife operates Camp John Currie, Camp Earl Wallace and Camp Robert Webb to provide youth with outdoor education and experiences.
Department leaders made this decision in conjunction with the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet as part of the Commonwealth’s ongoing effort to ensure the health and wellness of the public as Kentucky fights aggressively to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The department will issue refunds to the family of paid campers. For more information: visit MyProfile at fw.ky.gov.
Salato Wildlife Education Center
Salato Wildlife Education Center is preparing to reopen in a manner that provides the safest environment for all visitors and staff. It will now reopen Monday, June 8. Please continue checking this page and the Kentucky Healthy at Work page for the latest information regarding the Salato Center’s reopening.
Effective March 18, the Salato Wildlife Education Center visitor center (including restrooms, water fountains, and all indoor wildlife exhibits) is closed until further notice.
Visitors may still access the outdoor exhibit trail via a designated entry point. This allows visitors to view our bear, bobcats, deer, and other wildlife.
Admission will be free during this time, and hours will remain the same (9am to 5pm Tuesday through Friday, 10am to 5pm Saturdays). The fishing lakes, picnic areas, and hiking trails on campus will also remain open for use. Restrooms are available near the shelters in front of the visitor center as well as near the parking lot next to the lower lake.
Visitors should continue to practice CDC guidelines when visiting areas where other people are present such as on trails, overlooking exhibits, and on the banks of the lake.
Conservation officers continue to perform their duties in the field. In their everyday role, they ensure compliance with hunting and fishing laws and ensure that the state’s waterways are a safe place for all to enjoy by utilizing a two-pronged approach consisting of education and enforcement.
Our officers are taking some extra precautions due to the coronavirus. Each has been provided hand sanitizer, gloves and an N95 mask. If a conservation officer is checking a hunting or fishing license, the public can help by kindly holding it up and making it as visible as possible from a safe distance. Even in the outdoors, it’s important to practice good social distancing.
Fish & Wildlife Auction
In an effort to protect the public from the spread of COVID-19 virus, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ annual spring auction of surplus and confiscated items is being moved to October. Read more about the postponement in the official press release.
NOTE: Guidance that is being provided by public health experts to maximize public safety and minimize the spread of the coronavirus is subject to change weekly or even daily. We may have to make further changes.
Please continue to monitor this page for updates. We’ll also keep you informed by posting updates to our Facebook page (@kdfwr) and on Twitter (@kyfishwildlife).
We encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Go fishing, hunting or wildlife watching. You can purchase hunting and fishing licenses and permits online. Register your boat through your local county clerk’s office and get out on the water. Take your family outdoors for a hike, to go fishing, or to go turkey hunting. Kentucky offers almost endless outdoor opportunities. Let’s get out and enjoy them today, and safely.