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April 22, 2018

This spring seems like one long continuation of late winter. As soon as we get a warm day, the temperature plunges and we are back in February again. It even snowed on Monday of the third week of April.

This up and down weather combined with cold rains has the spring fishing season behind by a few weeks. The spawning runs of white bass into the headwaters of reservoirs are scattershot so far this spring, with some movement followed by retreat.

“I don’t think the white bass have really had a chance to run yet,” said Ron Brooks, director of Fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “I think the fluctuating water temperatures are screwing them up a bit. We need a sustained warm front to get them going.”

Water temperatures are in the low 50s in most reservoirs and streams across Kentucky.

Anglers fishing the headwaters of Taylorsville Lake found rewarding, but sporadic, fishing over the last week.

“Last Thursday, I took home six white bass, but on Friday, I took home 10, at least four of them over 15 inches,” said Clifford Scott, internal policy analyst for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “I had to walk quietly out of there because I had the biggest stringer of fish.”


In-line spinners fool white bass during their spawning runs, like this silver one did a few years ago in the headwaters of Taylorsville Lake. The up and down temperatures this spring stunted the white bass runs, but they should be make their heavy spawning moves into the headwaters of reservoirs soon with the arrival of sustained warm weather (Photo from Kentucky Afield Outdoors)In-line spinners fool white bass during their spawning runs, like this silver one did a few years ago in the headwaters of Taylorsville Lake. The up and down temperatures this spring stunted the white bass runs, but they should be make their heavy spawning moves into the headwaters of reservoirs soon with the arrival of sustained warm weather (Photo from Kentucky Afield Outdoors)

Scott took his fish with a combination of old-school 2-inch curly-tailed grubs in white and yellow along with a 2-inch Bobby Garland Baby Shad in pink and pearl.

“I saw small shad all over the place,” Scott said. “Once I saw them, I switched to the Baby Shad. You had to fish for the white bass, they were not on a hard run, but produced enough action to keep your interest.”

The upper part of Taylorsville Lake WMAGreen River Lake is one of those lakes poised for a white bass breakout. Southwestern Fisheries District biologist Eric Cummins and crew conducted white bass population sampling on the lake last year. They found excellent reproduction in 2014 for white bass, producing an expanding population of fish 14 inches and longer in the lake.

Last week, some bass anglers fishing a tournament on Green River Lake reported incidental catches of white bass while fishing crankbaits for largemouth bass. Anglers should search the Robinson Creek arm from Wilson Creek up to the KY 76 Bridge (Knifley Road) and in the Green River arm above Holmes Bend.

Bank anglers can access the upper end of the Robinson Creek arm at the Elkhorn Ramp and the Wilson Creek Recreation Area. They may also access the upper section of the Green River arm at the Snake Creek Ramp and other roads on the Green River WMA in that area.

Cave Run Lake is another reservoir with growing numbers of white bass. Population surveys conducted in 2017 show high numbers of larger fish, which should mean good fishing in 2018. Search for surface activity to find white bass in spring on the lake.

The fishing peaks in summer on Cave Run, when white bass get in the “jumps” by trapping shad against the surface and ripping through them. The confluence near the mouth of Buck Creek as well as the areas around the Clay Lick and Alfrey boat ramps make excellent places to search for them when it gets hot. Any shad imitating topwater cast into the jumps will get smoked.

Some anglers caught fish in the Broad Ford area in the headwaters of Nolin River Lake a few weeks ago, but the fishing slowed with the cold rains that accompanied major frontal passages earlier in April. The sustained warm weather in the upcoming forecast will draw waves of white bass into Nolin River Lake above Bacon Creek Ramp.

Fast and furious fishing during the spring runs makes white bass one of the most popular fish anglers pursue. When they are on, you can catch fish on consecutive casts.

In-line spinners like the venerable Rooster Tail in white, chartreuse and pink all score white bass. You can work an in-line spinner near the surface or let it sink a few feet and retrieve. Vary the depths of the retrieve until you hit fish.

Like what Scott found last week, small shad-shaped soft plastic lures or curly tailed grubs also attract white bass. Some anglers fishing the headwaters of reservoirs suspend 1/16- to 1/32-ounce white feather or hair jigs under bobbers and let them drift in the current. Change the depth of the jig until you find white bass.

Anglers may keep 15 white bass daily, but only five of the daily limit may be longer than 15 inches. White bass fishing gives you a fantastic reason to buy your fishing license, so don’t forget to get one if you haven’t already.

By Lee McClellan
Special to KyForward

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Author Lee McClellan is associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Lee and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter at @kyafield

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. For more information on the department, click here.

 

March 29, 2019

Changes would take affect this coming season

 

HENDERSON - Deer and waterfowl hunters, you will want to take note.

Some significant changes are being officially recommended by the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Commission -- including a longer statewide deer season that would also increase the number of deer harvests allowed on regular permits as well as "bonus" permits.

 

Those changes also include opening up quota waterfowl hunting in part of the Sauerheber Unit of the Sloughs Wildlife Management Area in Henderson and Union counties.

That possibility, when disclosed earlier this year, stirred protest among some hunters -- especially those with private hunting land and clubs bordering the Saurheber Unit.

Another notable change recommended: Moving Henderson and Union counties from Zone 2 to Zone 1 for deer hunting. Zone 1 is more aligned with counties in the far western portion of the state.

The proposals were among multiple recommendations to deer, waterfowl and migratory bird seasons made by commission members at their March 23 meeting in Frankfort. 

"The commission recommends hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the Kentucky General Assembly. Legislators must approve all recommendations before they become law," according to a new release.

More notable still "the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission has recommended expanding modern gun season for deer to 16 days statewide, increasing the number of deer allowed on a statewide permit from two to four, and increasing some license and permit fees for non-residents.

"The changes recommended by commission members are designed to help thin the state’s deer herd in more densely populated areas while boosting numbers where deer populations are lower than desired. Changes also will boost many opportunities for hunters," said the news release.

All deer-related regulations will go into effect for the 2018-2019 seasons if approved by legislators. 

Deer hunting specifics

Among the deer-related recommendations approved by the commission:

*  Creating an antlerless-only modern gun hunt during the last weekend of September in Zone 1 counties. (Henderson is being moved to Zone 1)

*  Expanding the modern gun deer season to 16 days statewide. 
Modifying the statewide deer permit from a two-deer limit to four deer, and the youth deer permit from a one-deer limit to four deer. Hunters would still be limited to one antlered deer statewide, regardless of zone or method.

*  Allowing hunters to take a bag limit of deer in each zone, independent of the other zone’s bag limits. 

*  Modifying the additional deer permit from a two-deer limit to 15 deer. Hunters would still be limited to one antlered deer statewide, regardless of zone or method. 

*  Creating a special deer hunt program that would allow modern gun hunts for deer outside of the normal season. This would only apply to nonprofit conservation organizations working under Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s recruitment, retention and re-activation guidelines. 

*  Allowing a person to use an unlimited number of deer control tags. The current limit is five tags.

*  Removing the requirement to sign a deer control tag at the time of transfer from landowner to hunter.

*  Requiring the hunter to sign a deer control tag at the time of harvest. 

Waterfowl specifics

Commission members also took several steps at their meeting to simplify some waterfowl regulations and to increase opportunities for hunters, according to a news release.

These waterfowl regulations will also go into effect for the 2018-2019 seasons if approved by legislators.

Among the recommendations:

Allowing expanded waterfowl quota hunts on the Sauerheber Unit in Henderson County. 

Removing blind site hunting restrictions on the Sauerheber Unit. (This would mean hunters wouldn't be restricted to only hunting from established blinds.)

Developing a check-in system for quota hunt participants on the Sauerheber Unit. 

Creating a lottery for unclaimed blinds or hunt sites on the Sauerheber Unit and removing the ability to occupy unclaimed blinds.

Creating a quota hunt for the Jenny Hole Unit of the Sloughs WMA, with spots allocated by a weekly drawing. 

Closing the Jenny Hole Unit to waterfowl hunting, except for quota hunt participants. 

Prohibiting boat use on the Jenny Hole Unit from Thanksgiving Day to the last Sunday in January, except for quota hunt participants during limited hours. 

Recommendations affecting Ballard WMA in far western Kentucky include removing the requirement to hunt from a blind in the Ballard Zone.

Commission members proposed several changes to the existing regulations governing sandhill crane hunting. These would expand hunting opportunities and establish a second refugee area on public property. Proposals include:

Changing the sandhill crane quota hunt application period from late November to the month of September to align it with quota hunt application periods of other game species. 

Increasing the number of sandhill crane permits and tags issued. 
Lengthening the sandhill crane season and increasing the statewide bag limit. 

Allowing hunters to take more than two birds in a season, if they have the required number of tags. 

Requiring participants to buy a hunting license by Sept. 30 to be eligible for a permit. 

Establishing a new refuge for roosting birds by closing portions of Green River Lake to sandhill crane hunting. 

The next regularly scheduled Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be 8:30 a.m. EDT Friday, June 8. Meetings are held at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife headquarters, located at 1 Sportsman’s Lane off U.S. 60 in Frankfort.

By Douglas White
The Gleaner

March 23, 2018

Spring fishing is underway, but anglers should monitor weather trends


The calendar says yes, but the weather forecast can be iffy.

Spring fishing is underway and now is the time for anglers to pay close attention to weather trends — temperature fluctuations, outlooks for precipitation, and storm fronts, to pick the best times to wet a line.

Springtime in Kentucky means unsettled weather, and sometimes snow, as we experienced this week. Make the most of your time on the water by fishing when conditions are best.

Anglers cast jigs, spinnerbaits, plastics, and suspending jerk baits to catch largemouth bass as they begin to move up into the shallows to spawn in the spring (Photo provided)Anglers cast jigs, spinnerbaits, plastics, and suspending jerk baits to catch largemouth bass as they begin to move up into the shallows to spawn in the spring (Photo provided)


Anglers cast jigs, spinnerbaits, plastics, and suspending jerk baits to catch largemouth bass as they begin to move up into the shallows to spawn in the spring (Photo provided)

Affects of weather on spring fishing

Here’s a few observations on how weather affects fishing in the spring:

• The worst fishing conditions are high, muddy, cold waters, followed by a bluebird (clear, high pressure) day. Cold fronts push fish deeper.
• The best fishing conditions are stable and clearing waters, with a slight warming trend and overcast skies.
• Rapidly falling water levels pull fish out into deeper water.
• Bright sun warms up stained or turbid waters, drawing fish into the shallows.
• The best fishing begins when water temperatures push into the mid-to-upper 50s.
• Rain is not all bad. Warm rain entering a cold lake concentrates fish where the run-in (creek) enters the lake.
• Snowmelt is bad because it’s cold water, which pushes fish deeper.
• Fish follow subtle water level rises into the shallows, especially as the spawn approaches.
• Windblown points, and shorelines in bays can be productive fishing spots because winds push schools of bait up against the bank.
• Light, warm winds raise the temperature of the surface layer of water.

Two popular spring fish and top waters in the region

Two of the most popular fish species with springtime anglers in Central Kentucky are largemouth bass and crappie. Here are some updates on top bass and crappie waters in the region:

• Anglers cast jigs, spinnerbaits, plastics, and suspending jerk baits to catch largemouth bass as they begin to move up into the shallows to spawn.

Small lakes warm up faster and earlier than major reservoirs so they are a good option for largemouth bass in late March and early April.

The largemouth bass is Kentucky’s number one sport fish. Generally, largemouth bass are a sport fish, for catch-and-release (Photo provided)The largemouth bass is Kentucky’s number one sport fish. Generally, largemouth bass are a sport fish, for catch-and-release (Photo provided)The largemouth bass is Kentucky’s number one sport fish. Generally, largemouth bass are a sport fish, for catch-and-release (Photo provided)

Kincaid Lake and Guist Creek Lake are two good choices for early spring bass fishing. Concentrate fishing efforts on the upper sections of these small lakes, and at the heads of shallow coves, near channels.

Kincaid Lake, 183 acres in Pendleton County, has a good to excellent bass fishery with lots of fish over the 12-inch size limit and up to 15 inches, with excellent potential for a trophy-sized fish.

Guist Creek Lake, 317 acres in Shelby County, has a good to excellent bass fishery with good numbers of fish over the 12-inch size limit, with excellent potential for 15 to 18-inch bass, and trophy-sized fish over 20 inches.

Two major reservoirs in the region, Green River Lake, and Herrington Lake, also offer excellent early spring bass fishing.

Green River Lake, 8,210 acres in Taylor and Adair counties, has quality in numbers, with lots of 15 to 18-inch plus bass.

Herrington Lake, 2,500 acres in Mercer, Boyle, and Garrard counties, has a good to excellent bass fishery, with good numbers of 12 to 15-inch bass, and larger, and potential for trophy-sized fish.

• As crappie move up, they concentrate around submerged shoreline cover.

Anglers cast jigs and still fish live minnows below floats to catch crappie. While generally, largemouth bass are sport fish, for catch-and-release, crappie are fished for to be eaten. There’s nothing quite like a meal of fried crappie fillets, served with coleslaw, hushpuppies and fried potatoes.

New this year is a 20-fish daily creel limit on crappie. Check the Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide for special regulations regarding minimum size limits and reduced creel limits on crappie at some lakes. Click here to view: fw.ky.gov


In the spring, crappie move up from deep water, and concentrate around submerged shoreline cover (Photo provided)

In the spring, crappie move up from deep water, and concentrate around submerged shoreline cover (Photo provided)In the spring, crappie move up from deep water, and concentrate around submerged shoreline cover (Photo provided)Boltz Lake, 92 acres in Grant County, has an abundant crappie fishery, rated good. A majority of the fish are around eight inches long, with larger fish possible.

Herrington Lake, 2,500 acres in Mercer, Boyle, and Garrard counties, has a good crappie fishery. While crappie are often difficult to locate in this deep, rocky lake, there are many quality-sized fish, nine inches or larger. One fishing strategy for white crappie is fishing brush or fallen trees in upper half of lake. A second tactic targets scattered schools of large black crappie, found around floating wood debris in inlets on the main lake.

The Ohio River is 981 miles long from its headwaters in Pennsylvania to its confluence with the Mississippi River at Cairo, IL. The Ohio River forms the northern border of Kentucky for about two-thirds of its length, with numerous tributaries, both large and small, arising in Kentucky. Surprisingly, crappie fisheries are rated good to excellent in these backwater areas and creek mouths, where there’s submerged brush, deadfalls and driftwood.

Taylorsville Lake, 3,050 acres in Spencer, Anderson and Nelson counties, has a crappie fishery rated good, with good number of fish at and above the 10-inch minimum size limit. The lake had a good spawn of white and black crappie on 2015, so strong year classes are coming on. The daily creel limit is 15 crappie.

Lake Cumberland, 50,250 acres in Russell, Wayne, Clinton and Pulaski counties, has an excellent crappie fishery, with moderate numbers of fish, but good size distribution. Larger fish, in the 12 to 14-inch size range are common. Fish minnows and jigs around submerged cover in the major tributaries.

To get details on current fish populations in all of Kentucky’s major lakes and rivers, consult the 2018 Fishing Forecast, published by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR).

The forecast is based on 2017 fish population surveys, creel surveys, fish stockings, and historical knowledge of the fisheries.

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Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

 

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