From Barren River to Guist Creek, plus two other choices, here's where you'll find some of our state's hottest hybrid action this summer season.(July 2006)
Photo by Tom Evans
When it comes to hybrid striped bass fishing, Kentucky offers some of the best trophy angling in this region of the South. Bluegrass anglers have several top hybrid lakes, and Barren River, Herrington and Taylorsville lakes are three of the best. And any discussion of hybrid fishing in Kentucky will often include Guist Creek Lake as well.
Bluegrass fisheries biologists have conducted stocking programs that have proved highly successful through the years. According to biologist Kerry Prather, this stocking program is a carefully monitored management tool.
"Maintenance stockings at most lakes are 10 fingerlings per acre," says Prather. "However, Herrington Lake and Taylorsville Lake get 20 fingerlings per acre, and Guist gets 30 per acre. Forage fish at Herrington (primary to hybrids) are threadfin shad and gizzard shad. At Guist Creek, it is gizzard shad."
When questioned as to how to fish these lakes for hybrids, Prather offered the following tips. "At Herrington, all (approaches) are done: casting, trolling, still-fishing under lights at night, casting to surface 'jumps' in middle to late summer at dawn and dusk."
At Guist Creek Lake, the fisheries biologist says that hybrids are caught primarily by anglers trolling crankbaits or fishing with live shiners and shad (cast netting is illegal at Guist Creek) during most months. Casting crankbaits and spinnerbaits along the shoreline is also effective, especially during the spring and fall.
Prather also referred to the excellent hybrid fishing available at Taylorsville Lake. "Taylorsville Lake has a good hybrid population with a gizzard shad forage base, a similar fishery to Herrington Lake. Hybrids are caught in the headwaters (Salt River) in spring and fall on crankbaits, spoons and rooster tails."
For Kentucky anglers in search of topnotch hybrid fishing, the opportunities for trophy-sized fish are found throughout these lakes. And for fishermen who prefer big waters, Barren River fits the bill. For medium-sized inland lakes, Herrington and Taylorsville top the list. And for small-lake fishing, Guist Creek is relatively small, yet loaded with big hybrids.
BARREN RIVER LAKE
The 10,000 acres of summer pool found at Barren River Lake hold plenty of trophy hybrids. Located in parts of Allen and Barren counties, this large body of water is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is managed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
The boundaries of Barren River Lake are from the dam upstream to the state Route (SR) 100 bridge, Long Creek to the SR 100 bridge, Beaver Creek to the SR 1297 bridge, Skaggs Creek to the Matthews Mill Road Bridge and Peter Creek to the Peter Creek Road Bridge.
For the fishing area within these boundaries, special fishing regulations apply. For white bass, yellow bass, striped bass and their hybrids, the daily limit is 20 fish. The possession limit is 40 fish, singly or in combination. No more than five in the daily limit or 10 in possession may be 15 inches or longer.
According to the 2006 Kentucky Fishing Forecast, the outlook for hybrid striped bass at Barren River Lake is "excellent." According to the forecast, "Overall numbers are good with large fish (20-inch plus) available. Adults will move into the headwater areas in the spring. Target the main lake areas in the summer and fall as schools appear throughout the lake. Trolling and casting during the early morning periods are most productive over flats and long points. Some fish are taken during the winter months in scattered areas throughout the lake."
Lake is in south-central Kentucky near the cities of Glasgow and Bowling Green. It also borders with Tennessee. Barren River State Park is on the east side of the lake, about halfway down the impoundment. At normal water levels, depths range from about 80 feet on the north end near the dam to 10 feet on the south end.
Besides fishing, the lake offers recreational activities that include swimming, hiking, camping and boating. The surrounding areas are also regulated for wildlife protection.
Access points include Barren River Lake Tailwater Access Area. This year-round, 24-hour boat ramp is free of charge. It is a single-launch, "B" rated paved ramp that can handle any light trailerable recreation boat. This access point has a fairly sizable parking lot with nearby picnic, camping and restroom facilities.
The Peninsula Marina Access Area is a year-round, 24-hour launch ramp that requires a fee. It is a "B" rated ramp with a courtesy dock and a large paved parking lot. Restrooms are available at this launch site.
Beaver Creek Access Area is a seasonal launch site that also charges a fee for launching. Seasonal shoreline fishing is available, as are picnic, camping and restroom facilities.
The Barren River Lake State Resort Park Access Area is a year-round free launch site, offering multiple ramp lanes. Shoreline fishing is available year-round along with picnic, camping and restroom facilities. A courtesy dock is available, as is a marina.
At the Walnut Creek Access Area, a free seasonal launch site with a multiple-lane launch ramp is available to hybrid anglers. Shoreline fishing is available. A picnic area, parking lot and restrooms facilities are at this location.
For additional information on Barren River Lake, call (270) 646-2055. For fishing information, call (270) 646-2122.
Herrington Lake is a top hybrid water. Covering well over 1,800 acres in portions of Mercer, Boyle and Garrard counties, this medium-sized lake provides quality habitat for the hybrid population found here. Excellent habitat and a consistent management program have helped hybrid bass thrive in this lake's waters.
Herrington is a deep, narrow, winding lake. In places, the maximum depth is nearly 250 feet. This lake is Kentucky's oldest major reservoir, having been built in 1926 by Kentucky Utilities. It is used for flood control as well as for generating hydroelectric power. Water level fluctuations can be substantial even during the summer months, so anglers need to be prepared.
Herrington has good populations of gizzard and threadfin shad, excellent forage for hybrid striped bass. Creel surveys have brought up large numbers of hybrids that weighed 3 pounds
and up. Many fish over 8 pounds were also reported.
According to the 2006 Fishing Forecast, large numbers of hybrid stripers in the 2- to 5-pound range are predicted. Best success for hybrid anglers is in the upper half of the lake. Fishing at night with surface lures is forecast to be good during the summer months.
Special fishing regulations are in place for Herrington Lake. White bass, yellow bass, striped bass and their hybrids have a daily limit of 20 and a possession limit of 40, singly or in combinations. No more than five of the daily limit or 10 of the possession limit may be 15 inches or longer.
Herrington Lake has been compared to a flooded river that covers 1,890 acres in central Kentucky. Some fish are caught in its flooded tributaries, yet most of the hybrid catches come from the original river channel. The lake runs south from the dam as it meanders across parts of Mercer, Boyle and Garrard counties.
Plenty of submerged logs and stumps found throughout the lake can present problems to boaters. Yet these places are where some of the best fishing takes place. The lake is also relatively murky, which may help account for the lack of recreational boating activity.
Access points are numerous, with nearly all of them charging a fee for use. The Dix Dam Boat Ramp is a year-round, 24-hour access ramp with a "B" rating for light recreational boats. This is a paved ramp with parking available nearby.
The Cane Run Ramp has an "A" rating for any size trailerable recreational boat. This is a single-lane launch ramp with a parking lot at the site.
The Camp Kennedy Launch ramp has multiple lanes with an "A" rating. A relatively large parking lot is close by and a courtesy dock is available. Camping and restroom facilities are also available at this location.
The Tanyard Branch-Red Gate Fishing Camp access ramp has a multiple lane ramp with an "A" size rating. Camping and restrooms are available.
The Herrington Marina Ramp also provides good access, with a courtesy dock and relatively large parking area available to anglers. Restrooms are available at this location.
The Bryants Camp launch ramp is a multiple lane ramp with an "A" size rating. A courtesy dock is located at this ramp, as is a paved parking lot with approximately 50 spaces. Camping and restroom facilities are available at this location. As with all the aforementioned launch ramps, this one charges a fee.
For additional information on the lake and the fishing at Herrington Lake, call (859) 748-4444.
At summer pool, Taylorsville Lake provides over 3,000 acres of prime hybrid waters. Covering parts of Spencer, Anderson and Nelson counties, this lake is known for its quality hybrid fishing and for the potential for catching trophy-sized fish.
This impoundment of the Salt River receives runoff from a total of over 2,900 square miles. Parts of 15 Kentucky counties are covered by this watershed, and the lake is named after the nearby town of Taylorsville.
The lake's average maximum depth is 70 feet with a quick dropoff of oxygen below 50 feet. Below 60 feet, fish cannot survive. In such an environment, the hybrid striped bass population fluctuates widely. Fishing pressure and tailrace discharge rates play the biggest role in the concentration of hybrids.
Compared to Herrington Lake, Taylorsville Lake is a relatively new reservoir. Created in 1983 by damming the Salt River, this lake is utilized for flood control and recreation. Water depth can vary as much as 47 feet over the course of a year. At summer pool, the maximum depth is 70 feet, and this decreases as one moves away form the dam.
This lake is located about 25 miles southeast of Louisville and has a few special fishing regulations, which is pretty much typical for all hybrid lakes. White bass, yellow bass, striped bass and their hybrids have a 10-fish daily limit, singly or in combinations. No more than five of the daily limit may be 15 inches or longer.
Boat access points include the Settlers Trace boat ramp, a free launch site with an "A" rating for any trailerable recreational boat. This is a multiple-lane ramp with shoreline fishing available. A relatively large paved parking lot is nearby, with a courtesy dock and restrooms.
The Possum Ridge State Park ramp is also free. This is a multiple-lane ramp with paved parking and shoreline fishing. A courtesy dock is available, as are seasonal picnic, camping and restroom facilities.
The Chowning Lane and Van Buren ramps are also free, with class "A" ratings and multiple-lane access. Courtesy docks and shoreline fishing area also available at these launch sites.
GUIST CREEK LAKE
An addition to the top three lakes for hybrids, Guist Creek Lake has a reputation for excellent trophy hybrid opportunities. This lake covers 317 acres in Shelby County and has a maximum depth of 47 feet with an average of 15.
Created in 1961, the lake is about two miles east of Shelbyville, the nearest town, and spreads on both sides of U.S. Route 60. Guist Creek Lake has lots of structure. Coves, backwaters, points and dropoffs are found throughout the lake, which provide plenty of places for fish to spawn and find cover.
Public access is available for a fee. There is a concrete ramp on the east shore of Guist Creek. Boat rentals and restroom facilities are available. In summer, look for hybrids in the deeper waters of the west end. Recreational boaters are not known to frequent the waters of Guist Creek Lake. The twists and turns are well suited to anglers, but recreational boaters seem to prefer more open waters.
According to the 2006 Fishing Forecast for Kentucky, Guist Creek Lake has large numbers of hybrid striped bass in the 20- to 25-inch range, and the potential for catching a trophy-sized fish is good.
When fishing these manmade reservoirs, search out the back areas of coves, especially where hybrids can gather along the shoreline in cover such as brush, timber or weeds. Also check out shoreline breaks within the main body of the reservoir. Flooded timber is an especially good area to fish.
During the warm days of summer, hybrid locations can vary widely. Some reservoirs have wide expanses of shallow water that warm too quickly for these fish. In this case, the deeper channels offer you the best opportunity for finding cooler water and hybrids. In hot weather, depending upon the water coloration, hybrids can be taken from 15 feet depths when the water is murky, and down around 25 when the water is clear.
In summer, look for deep sections of creek channels and the main channel of the reservoir you're fishing on. Cliffs, points, brushy flats and outside bends are also good hybrid lo
cations. In hot weather, hybrids will often feed off points near creek channels, and then head for deeper water after feeding.
As for equipment, your basic bass- fishing rigs will perform well when going after the hybrid striped bass. Obtaining a map of the reservoir will eliminate much of the time spent in exploration. Before launching, knowing where the creek channels are and a lake's average depths will allow you more time fishing and less time moving around on the lake.
To learn more about the hybrid fishing available in the Bluegrass State, contact the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, 1 Sportsman's Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601. You can also use their e-mail address, info.center@KY.gov, or call 1-800-858-1549.