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FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky anglers who like sauger, white bass or muskellunge need to plan a trip to the Kentucky River in the next couple of weeks. Population sampling on the Kentucky River conducted by fishery biologists with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources over the past several weeks show healthy populations of white bass, sauger and muskellunge.

“We consistently saw 12- to 15-inch sauger,” said Ohio River Fisheries Biologist Doug Henley, who assisted with the population sampling on the Kentucky River. “We also saw lots of 8- to 10-inch sauger. Those 12- to 15-inch fish are good eating size.”

Nice sauger now live up and down the Kentucky River. A sampling team led by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Central Fisheries District Biologist Jeff Crosby found 18-inch sauger at Lock and Dam 5 near Tyrone. Henley saw a 16 1/2-inch sauger in the upper Kentucky River.

The water level of the Kentucky River dropped enough recently to make the tailwater below Lock and Dam 2 at Lockport in Henry County fishable. “Now that the water in the Ohio River has dropped enough to bring Lock and Dam 2 out of the water, it should provide productive sauger fishing,” Henley said. “It is historically a good sauger area. You get some fish from the Ohio River there.”

The Kentucky River is now loaded with white bass, albeit most of them run 6 to 8 inches. “We’ve seen white bass up to 15 inches and decent numbers of 11 to 13 inchers,” Henley said. “You are going to need to plow through the little ones to get to the bigger ones.”

Henley and crew didn’t see many white bass in their population sampling on the Kentucky River last year. “The ones in the river last year must have spawned well. That is the way white bass do,” Henley said. “They pulse in their reproduction.”

The Kentucky River may be the most overlooked muskellunge fishery in the state.

“In early spring, we typically see muskellunge below the locks and dams on the Kentucky River,” Henley said. “This year most everything we saw was over 30 inches and we’ve seen several over 40 inches.”

The mouths of tributaries near locks and dams on the Kentucky River could lead to a muskellunge fishing field day. “We saw a truckload of them in Cedar Creek below Lock and Dam 3,” Henley said.

He explained that many suckers and buffalo (fish), the preferred food item of muskellunge, migrated into Cedar Creek and the muskellunge followed.

“There are some untapped newly developed fisheries in the Kentucky River,” said Gerry Buynak, assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “The sauger and white bass fisheries are the result of a five year stocking effort by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Anglers should get on the Kentucky River this spring and enjoy them.”

 

 



FRANKFORT, Ky. – When Kentucky’s spring wild turkey season opens April 16, hunters should get plenty of opportunities to match wits with the older, experienced gobblers that make the sport so challenging and exciting.

“We have a high percentage of adult birds in our flocks and they are coming into breeding season in excellent condition because of last fall’s big mast (nut) crop,” said Steven Dobey, wild turkey biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The big harvest of 2-year-old birds last season may have buffered (lessened) the number of 3-to-4 year-olds taken.”

Kentucky's 23-day spring wild turkey season closes on Sunday, May 8th. The youth-only season, for hunters under age 16, is the weekend of April 2-3.

Hunters should anticipate the prospect of another excellent spring season. “I think we’ll see some carryover from that reproductive boom in 2008. It was such a massive hatch,” said Dobey.

In the past two years there have been record harvests, but Dobey reminded hunters that “year-in and year-out, weather is a major factor in the spring harvest. The harvest could go higher if we get four sunny, rain-free weekends.”

In 2009, hunters took 29,007 turkeys. The harvest jumped to 36,097 birds last spring. Hart County led the state for the spring 2010 turkey season with 739 birds taken. Logan County was next with 703 birds, followed by Grayson County with 650 birds, then Butler County with 647 birds. Wayne County rounded out the top five with 604 birds. These harvest numbers are a remarkable turnaround from a decade ago.

“Last spring’s harvest was a 94 percent increase over the 18,607 turkeys taken during the spring 2000 season,” said Dobey.

Statewide, Kentucky’s wild turkey flock is stable at about 225,000 birds, but growth continues in some mountain counties. “There’s an obvious abundance of turkeys in eastern Kentucky,” said Dobey. “That was concealed somewhat by the lack of hunting pressure.”

Hunter success and turkey numbers are increasing throughout the state. The most impressive gains were in 24 counties of southeastern Kentucky. In that area, Dobey said there was a 37.5 percent increase in turkey harvest during the past season. Two counties in that region made the top 10 in harvest for the state: Wayne County was fifth with 604 birds taken and Pulaski was eighth with 576 birds taken.

Both of these counties are typical of the region - hilly terrain, large tracts of public land, and lots of potential for finding a good place to hunt. “It’s a matrix of forested and open land, with good nesting habitat,” said Dobey.

Kentucky has an estimated 90,000 wild turkey hunters. The hunter success rate in 2010 was about 40 percent.

Wild turkey restoration in Kentucky began in 1978. At that time, the statewide flock was estimated at roughly 2,380 birds. Biologists started live-trapping turkeys in 1981 and gradually increased the number of birds caught in-state for Kentucky’s stocking program.

From 1978 through 1997, 6,760 birds were relocated on 430 sites across Kentucky. Restoration was completed in 1997 when Kentucky’s wild turkey population had increased to around 130,000 birds.

The spring season limit is two bearded turkeys per hunter, but hunters can only take one bird per day. Any wild turkey with a visible beard may be taken, including bearded hens, which typically make up less than one percent of the harvest statewide. In some wild turkey populations, a higher percentage of hens may grow beards. Hens’ beards are shorter and thinner than gobblers’ beards.

Hunters are reminded that hunting over bait, such as grain, seed or manufactured animal feed, is illegal. Feeding wildlife outside the curtilage of the home (the area immediately surrounding a home or group of homes) is prohibited March 1 through May 31.

It is a hunter’s responsibility to know if an area has been baited. By law an area is considered baited for 30 days after all bait has been removed.

While it is legal to use locator calls such as a crow or an owl call prior to the season, it is illegal for hunters to mimic the sounds of a wild turkey from March 1 until opening day of the spring season.

For complete regulations regarding Kentucky's spring wild turkey season, visit the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website at: fw.ky.gov.

 

The Department of the Interior has created a website for young people to serve as a "one-stop shop for information on job and internship opportunities, upcoming outdoor events, educational resources and more," the department said today. The new website – http://www.youthgo.gov/ – is part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which also includes the Department of Agriculture.

The site links to internships, seasonal jobs and career opportunities in the Interior Department, ranging from working concessions in a national park to building trails on public lands. “This website is designed to help young people get out, get involved, and get a job when it comes to the great outdoors,” said Secretary Ken Salazar. He said it is part a department-wide effort to get youth more involved in recreation and conservation, and to increase employment and career opportunities. (Read more)

Posted by Al Cross

 

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