Kentucky 2009 Fishing Calendar
October 04, 2010
Here are 36 waters where you can find great fishing fun, from now through the end of the year. Is one or more of these proven picks near you? (Feb 2009)
Some anglers get out there all year long, looking for something to bend their fishing rods, while others fall under the category of fair-weather fisherfolk. Most anglers fall somewhere in between the two extremes.
But regardless of where you fit in, there's always something biting all year long in Kentucky. The trick is knowing what species, and where.
We've done some research, relied on personal experience and that of other anglers, as well as consulting with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to seek out some of this year's best fishing.
Following are 36 fishing trips for you to consider, from January through December.
When trout are mentioned, many people think only of stream fishing. However, there are some great opportunities for catching trout in other locations -- and one of them is Paintsville Lake.
Every January, it gets a healthy stocking of rainbow trout, usually to the tune of up to 18,000 fish.
This annual stocking provides a very decent fishing opportunity at a time of year when many species of fish are hard to catch. In fact, this winter event has become so popular that at stocking time, numerous anglers gather to be among the first to take part in the action.
The trout are stocked at the boat ramp between the state park campground and the marina. In the immediate area, there's usually quite a crowd right trying to get in on the newly released fish. Bank access is good and so is success from the bank, even during the day. Night-fishing is not necessary at this time of year.
The stocked fish are about 8 inches long. But after three consecutive summers of good cool-water habitat, some nice holdover trout grow to 15 inches and longer. Try duping them with live bait under a bobber, or with small bright spoons or inline spinners.
These trout can be caught along the riprap bank areas near the campground and marina and bank areas near the dam.
Laurel River Lake
The dead of winter is tough on anglers. Usually they either stay inside or fret over not being able to fish, or they do venture out to suffer the elements.
However, those willing to brave a little cold weather have an excellent chance of catching a huge smallmouth or two at Laurel River Lake.
Smallmouths are known for being more active in colder water than some of their other black bass kin. This month can be a great time to find them ready and willing to bite.
What's even better is that you'll likely be one of only a few anglers on Laurel River Lake, which is almost 6,000 acres in size. The KDFWR fishing forecast states that it's home to an excellent population of smallies and good numbers of 14- to 18-inch fish, with some being even larger.
This month, smallmouth activity and fishing technique are very dependent upon weather. Anglers will need to experiment to find what method is working best. Smallies might be caught on jigs, spoons or by casting flies. On most days, the float-and-fly method is also deadly.
Carr Creek Lake
Year after year, Carr Creek Lake produces excellent assessments for walleyes, but its walleye fishery still doesn't seem to get the respect or recognition it deserves. There are excellent numbers of fish up to 28 inches, with a few larger fish possible as well. There are lots of 6- to 8-pound marble-eyes, with some even going up to 12 to 13 pounds!
By the third week of March, walleyes are usually in their pre-spawn mode and will often be near the banks, feeding aggressively.
During daytime hours, you can find them from two to six feet deep. Some will be found down to eight feet deep where brush provides good submerged cover.
You'll find keeper walleyes scattered throughout the lower two-thirds of the lake. But focus on the lake area from the state Route 15 Bridge crossing over the Littcarr arm down to the dam. In this area, target riprap bank areas, deadfall trees and brush near the bank.
Also good are rocky shoreline areas, standing timber in the Smith Branch cove near the Carr Creek Lake Marina, and the two coves near the dam. Work these shallow-water shoreline areas with jigs tipped with minnows or night crawlers. Also try shallow-running crankbaits with defined pauses in the retrieve.
Wood Creek Lake
This Laurel County lake may be small, but it has an awesome largemouth fishery. After all, Wood Creek Lake is home to Kentucky's state-record bigmouth. There are plenty of decent largemouths at Wood Creek Lake, and anglers here catch some real wallhangers regularly.
The KDFWR gives this fishery an "Excellent" rating based on its assessment formula. There are good numbers of bass between 14 and 18 inches, with trophy-potential bass exceeding 18 inches.
The largemouths at Wood Creek Lake will typically start spawning sometime between the last part of April and the first part of May. With the bass getting ready to spawn this month, look for them to be found in staging areas -- usually on transition areas and break lines between deep water and shallower water.
The best method of fishing can vary on a day-to-day basis. Flipping jigs, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits can all be great at times. Bait colors can also vary greatly. Many times, the best color to use can be the one the you feel the most confident about and can fish with the most enthusiasm.
When stripers are your intended targets, no place in Kentucky matches up to the fishery to be found at Lake Cumberland. It's our best and most acclaimed striper fishery and truly something to be proud of.
Each year, the KDFWR stocks many thousand of stripers into the lake. Through great management -- as well as great respect from anglers and professional guides on the lake -- the striper population and quality of the fishery are second to none.
There are lots of stripers between 8 and 15 pounds in the lake, as well as some real tackle-busters to do battle with. Fish over 40 pounds are caught almost every year.
There's a strong year-class of fish from 2006 in Cumberland. Last year, anglers were catching boatloads of striped bass just under the legal size limit of 24 inches. This year, that year-class should have reached the keeper size and be ready to make your
You can catch stripers throughout the lake but often must cover a lot of water to find them. Trolling, especially with planer boards, is the method most often used. Fishing big shiners on multiple rods at staggered depths gives the greatest coverage through the water table.
The KDFWR's last forecast for bluegills gave the Taylorsville Lake fishery a good rating, but some local anglers may have a different assessment. Last year, anglers on the lake were catching lots of above-average bluegills. Around some of the local bait shops and marinas, there was a lot of buzz about the good-sized panfish being hauled from the lake quite consistently. This year should produce more of the same.
During June, both bank-fishers and those in boats can catch bluegills easily. The fish will often be stacked up in very accessible shallow water -- but don't underestimate them. They do prefer structure at times and are not always a sure bet if you don't use a little fishing savvy.
Bluegills can be a tremendous amount of fun when taken with a number of different fishing methods, from live bait under a bobber to flies and popping bugs on a fly rod.
The best live baits include red worms, crickets, wax worms and mealworms. Anglers can also find success with baits as simple as whole-kernel corn. For those who prefer artificial baits, try small flies, poppers and inline spinners.
Whenever fishing at Lake Malone is talked about, largemouth bass are what's usually discussed. Though the lake does boast a tremendous bass fishery, it's also home to a very nice population of channel catfish.
Annual stockings by the KDFWR maintain the population. The channel cat fishing can be absolutely terrific at this time of year, especially when other species are sometimes hard to catch. Channel cats are often active all day, but get really active during low-light conditions and at night.
Lots of baits will work for channel cats, but the smelliest ones are most often the best. Popular choices at Lake Malone include night crawlers and chicken liver, but many other fishermen choose dough balls, blood baits, shrimp or cut bait.
You can fish these baits on or near the bottom from boat or shore, with or without a bobber. Boaters often drift-fish or anchor and fish vertically on the bottom. Bank-anglers will usually use a tight line on the bottom or use a slip bobber.
Lake Malone has some really good catfish up to several pounds, but most of the fish you catch will be slightly smaller. Don't forget, there's a 12-inch minimum-size limit on channel catfish at Malone.
Hybrid Striped Bass
According to the KDFWR, there's an excellent hybrid fishery with many large fish at Fishtrap Lake, with excellent numbers of fish up through 26 inches and possibly even a few up to 28 inches in length.
In July, watch for surface jumps, meaning that the hybrids are feeding on gizzard shad. These feeding frenzies are often short-lived, so you must get in position quickly before the action stops. Occasionally, though, this type of feeding frenzy can last up to 30 minutes, and that's when the action can get really exciting.
Anglers usually enjoy good results from approximately Millers Creek to Joes Creek, though other areas can produce well, too.
In these areas, gizzard shad will often get herded onto the mud flats of the main lake channel and then get ambushed by the hybrids. Anglers should troll slowly and look for schools of shad near the surface. Try casting lipless blade baits and rattle-type crankbaits into the baitfish to entice bites from hybrids nearby.
When you observe a jump elsewhere, get the baits reeled in and move your boat up to that area quickly. Throw baits right into the jumping shad.
Anglers may also pick up a few white bass as a bonus. There are some in the lake, and they will often roam with or near the hybrids.
Dewey Lake can provide good bank-fishing and boat-fishing for flathead catfish. However, bank-fishers may need to scout a little for suitable locations, given the quantity of weed growth that has occurred during the spring and summer.
The lake holds very good numbers of flathead catfish up to 20 pounds. A few are caught each year in the range of 40 to 50 pounds.
Channel catfish are also present in the lake, but to target flatheads specifically, anglers need to stay away from the stinkbaits typically used for channel cats. For flatheads, fishing live sunfish or large minnows at night will get the best results.
At night, the flatheads will move shallow and patrol shoreline areas for food. During the day, they will be primarily sedentary, resting near large rocks, logs and weedbed edges. However, they will hit bait if you place it close to them.
Flatheads are caught throughout the lake. Favorite locations are often the shoreline areas at the mouths of coves, rocky points and the submerged brushpiles that hold small sunfish and crappie.
Rough River Lake
Everyone thinks of the spring crappie run, but there's another great time of year to tangle with those ole papermouths. The fall season isn't quite as fast and furious as the spring, but there's a lot of excellent fishing opportunity out there this month.
As the water cools after summer, the crappie leave their deep-water haunts and begin migrating back toward the banks and into shallower water. First they move up to transition areas, then into relatively shallow water. So each fall, anglers have a window of opportunity when they can fill their livewells with these tasty panfish.
At this time of year, all the usual crappie baits will work. But perhaps none is more effective than that old standby, the minnow.
Of course, sitting stationary and watching a bobber dance on the water's surface is not for everyone. So lots of anglers will opt for artificials. Jigs, spinners, spoons, crankbaits and others all come into play. Anglers will often need to experiment to learn what baits, colors and depths will likely produce the best action.
Green River Lake
When muskie fishing is brought up, Green River Lake is not always the first water in the Bluegrass State that's mentioned.
However, it has a fine muskie fishery, and Green River Lake anglers often pull out some real trophies.
The KDFWR stocks muskies into the lake each year. The most recent assessments have shown the fishery to be excellent, with good size distribution and a lot of quality fish in the lake.
In fact, there are plenty of fish available that will exceed 40 inches!
In the fall, after the water temperature cools a bit, muskie fishing really gets going. Cooler waters draw the big fish back into the shallows as they follow small preyfish. Anglers can find success by casting or trolling in the early part of the day and then again in late afternoon. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and large minnow-type plugs are the most effective offerings.
Every year, saugers move up the river in anticipation of spawning. When they meet up with one of the many flood-control dams, these fish tend to stack up in good numbers just below the dams and will remain there throughout most of the winter.
This affords an excellent fishing opportunity for those who don't mind braving a little chilly weather.
The KDFWR fishing forecast lists saugers as good prospects from November through March.
During these winter months, your best bets are bright-colored jigs or minnows fished very near the bottom. Many folks can double their odds by using jigs tipped with minnows.
Look for eddy areas just below areas of current or swirls. Small fish often get injured or disoriented from the current at the dam, and as the current pushes them along, the saugers will make easy prey of them.
The best fishing usually occurs in the mornings and evenings. But the days with overcast skies, which are frequent at this time of year, are also very productive.
BEFORE YOU GO
There are lots of fishing opportunities around the state, so don't be afraid to try something new this year.
Before fishing any new water, however, don't forget to check for special regulations. You want to be sure you're legal while you're having fun -- right now, and throughout the fishing season.