Seven Great Kentucky Fishing Destinations
You can hop in the car and drive to great fishing all summer long in Kentucky.
Most anglers spend a portion of their idle hours dreaming of fishing road trips. Some of these dream trips are very attainable while others may be pipe dreams never to be realized by the average angler.
We cannot help with the dream trips to faraway exotic locations, but there are many locations right here in Kentucky for fantastic road trips.
Best of all, they are close to home and represent an easy way to expand your fishing horizons. Here is a look at seven such Kentucky fishing spots to help plan an epic road trip this month.
LAKE CUMBERLAND STRIPERS
Fishing is once again great at our premier striper lake and fishing success is found year around. With warming water, stripers are on the move, so finding them is the hard part. Use electronics to locate schools of shad or alewives and look deeper for following schools of stripers.
Live forage caught at the lake is best, but purchased shiners work too. If a school of stripers is stationary, position over them and drop baits on down rods, keeping the baits just above the stripers. If fish are on the move, trolling with planer boards is the best option. Troll parallel and close to the shoreline right at first light, then move out deeper as the sun comes up.
Cumberland is very large and very deep, so finding nomadic stripers is sometimes difficult. If fishing there for multiple days, consider hiring a guide for the first day to learn the current patterns and then use that knowledge to ensure the next few days are productive.
If You Go
Take a side trip to the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery located at the dam near Jamestown. Not only is it an awesome place just to see, touring the grounds and learning the behind-the-scenes efforts is educational and impressive. The hatchery produces some one million trout annually for stocking in Kentucky waters. There is a visitor center as well as trout fishing, fly fishing workshops, kids’ events and much more.
KENTUCKY AND BARKLEY LAKES BASS
The big twins are phenomenal for largemouth bass most any time of the year, but right now ranks near the top of absolute best times. Bass are shallow and vulnerable to lots of different tactics and baits; success here is about as easy as it comes for bass. However, right now is the time when anglers who are skilled with flipping and pitching really shine.
Head to the backs of coves with button ball brush and quietly get into position to toss baits directly to individual bushes or into pockets between them. Use a jig or plastic bait such as a Brush Hog and toss it right beside the bush and into openings and let it fall to the bottom. Some of the biggest bass of the season are found holding tight right against the bases of these bushes.
Of course, this is not the only productive method. Casting the same baits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits to shoreline cover puts plenty of bigmouths in the boat too. During frontal conditions, drop off to the first point or other depth contour and work the jig slowly.
If You Go
Check out The Cabin Bait and Tackle right offHighway 62 in Kuttawa for any fishing needs whether for bass or other species. The store is fully stocked and staffed by anglers knowledgeable on current fishing conditions on Kentucky and Barkley lakes, so not only are they great for supplies; they are always great for a hot tip or two.
GREEN RIVER LAKE CRAPPIE
Crappie fishing at Green River Lake is fantastic, especially as far as catch rate is concerned. That is because the population of crappie is very large. There are plenty of legal and quality-sized fish present, but anglers generally cull several short fish on the way to a limit.
Look for post-spawn crappies to be holding on deeper brush and angler-placed fish attractors, of which there are plenty. Depth varies greatly depending on water temperature and conditions, so electronics with side scanning capabilities are a real help. Some of the best spots on Green are channels or drains leading from shallower to deeper water with brush along the edge. This allows the fish to easily move up and down the water column without traveling far.
Minnows on down rods over top of a brush pile or fish attractor catch plenty of crappies on Green and are hard to beat at times. However, one of the hottest baits on the lake is a Southern Pro tube jig in baby bass color. It may be fished alone or tipped with a minnow or Berkley Crappie Nibble.
If You Go
The Holmes Bend Marina is a great jumping-off spot on Green River Lake. Not only does it put anglers quickly into some of the best fishing locations on the lake, but the marina has plenty of supplies and a grill for a bite to eat. Plus there is a great fish cleaning station near the ramp.
GAME FARM LAKES CATFISH & TROUT
Everybody needs to make a trip up to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) Game Farm Lakes at some point in their fishing career. These lakes are stocked regularly and provide awesome family fishing, plus there is a lot to see and do while there. This may not be an epic fishing trip as far as trophy dream trips, but it does make for an epic family day.
Not much is needed for a great day at these lakes. Fishing from the bank or fishing pier puts plenty of catfish, panfish, trout or bass in the cooler. Live bait is a great option, and of course plastic baits and various hard baits are great for fishing from the bank for bass.
These fishing lakes may be fished free of charge with a Kentucky fishing license and children under 16 do not need a license. Bait must be obtained elsewhere, but fishing poles and tackle may be checked out free of charge at the Salato Center. Obviously there are a limited number of poles available, so a call ahead may be warranted to check if there are any large groups scheduled.
If You Go
This trip provides an excellent opportunity to tour the KDFWR headquarters. The Salato Center is a top-notch family attraction with multiple inside and outside exhibits showcasing our state’s fish and wildlife.
ROUGH RIVER LAKE HYBRIDS
The hybrid striped bass fishery here is rated excellent by the KDFWR and regular stocking keeps it in fantastic shape. Abundant fish are available throughout a wide size range, with plenty of quality fish over 20 inches present.
Troll the main lake points as a search tactic or simply as a relaxed way to fish. When fish are found, continue trolling or set up and cast to the school with minnow or shad-type baits, inline spinners, live or natural baits. Night crawlers, minnows and chicken liver put lots of hybrids in the boat. Live shiners fished near the big island are often very productive too.
During the warm months, hybrids are in the jumps and this is some of the most exciting fishing of the year. Watch for jumps or diving birds to indicate schools of feeding fish. Get in position quickly and cast most any type of surface or subsurface bait that resembles forage or has some flash.
If You Go
The Rough River State Park Marina has a paved ramp and plenty of parking. There are also plenty of handy amenities such as restrooms, courtesy dock and a fish cleaning station. There is also year-round camping available and bank access for shoreline fishing.
CARR CREEK LAKE WALLEYES
If catching huge walleyes sounds like an epic fishing trip, then head to Carr Creek Lake for some of the best walleye fishing in the state. The fishery is rated excellent by the KDFWR and there are lots of fish present up to about 26 inches (with some even larger). Fish up to 8 pounds have been reported.
Walleyes are caught at the lake day and night, but tactics vary greatly. During the daylight hours, try a night crawler on a bottom bouncer along the edges of deeper channels or down some of the main lake points. Deep running crankbaits also work at times.
Good action happens shallower at night, early and late in the day or on overcast days. Sometimes a rattling crankbait cannot be beat. Other anglers like using live minnows or creek chubs. Live bait is especially good in the summer when walleyes suspend beneath schools of alewives. Good electronics are almost a must to locate these schools of forage, but even without electronics, walleyes can often be located by trolling and being patient.
If You Go
The Carr Creek Marina features multiple lanes on a paved ramp and plenty of parking. There are handicap facilities, restrooms, courtesy dock, fishing pier and shoreline access. The marina does charge a launch fee.
CAVE RUN LAKE MUSKIE
This lake is not only the premier muskie lake in the state; it is one of the best muskie lakes in the country. The KDFWR stocks the lake each year to keep the fishery in great shape and there are plenty of fish throughout a wide size distribution in the lake. Best of all, there are good numbers of quality fish present, with an above-average chance of catching a true trophy.
Muskies are moving out of the backs of the coves with the warming water. Throw spinnerbaits, big inline spinners and muskie plugs near flooded timber and along the channel edges leading back out toward deeper water. As the grass develops, cast and retrieve right along the weed edge. Some of the sandy areas near the beaches may still be good bets early and late in the day. Always remember to do a figure eight at the boat to trigger a strike from a follower.
If You Go
The Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery in Morehead is one of the largest warm water hatcheries in the nation. It produces millions of fish each year that are stocked into Kentucky waters including the muskies at Cave Run. Touring this facility and seeing how much is involved in producing these fish is really eye-opening. There is also an outside viewing tank available during the summer months where visitors can see some of the larger fish up close.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Don’t be just a dreamer. These trips are not cost prohibitive for most Kentuckians and they make excellent outings for a day, a weekend or a vacation week. Put off the yard and other tasks for a bit and get out there and enjoy some awesome fishing in the Bluegrass State this month.