Art Landers Outdoors: Barren River Lake offers excellent crappie and catfish populations
Barren River Lake is about 10 miles southwest of Glasgow, KY, in Barren, Monroe, and Allen Counties.
The lake was impounded from the Barren River, a 135-mile long tributary to the Green River.
The main access highways are U.S. 31E, Ky. 252, KY. 517, and Ky. 87.
At summer pool, Barren River Lake is 10,000 acres at elevation 552, has 135 miles of shoreline, is 33 miles long and 70 feet deep above the dam.
There is a substantial winter drawdown of 27 feet to elevation 525, which reduces the surface acreage to 4,340.
At winter pool the upper half of the lake is very shallow. The drawdown goes all the way to the pre-impoundment elevations of the old river channel, and miles of mudflats are exposed.
Barren River Lake State Resort Park, open year-round, is about 14 miles southwest of Glasgow, KY, off U.S. 31E. The park encompasses 1,053 acres and was dedicated in 1965 when the lake opened.
Facilities include a 51-room lodge, 22 two-bedroom cabins, restaurant, pub, 99-site campground, 18-hole golf course, beach and hiking trails.
For information telephone 270-646-2151.
Lake Manager’s Office
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Resource Manager’s Office, Barren River Lake, 11088 Finney Road, Glasgow, KY 42141, telephone 270-646-2055.
Managing Fishery Biologist
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Southwestern Fishery District, Eric Cummins, District Biologist, 970 Bennett Lane, Bowling Green, KY 42104, telephone 270-746-7127.
There are four marinas.
Walnut Creek Marina, open seasonally, is about 6 miles south of the dam on Walnut Creek Road (Ky. 1855), reached via Ky. 252. For information telephone 270-618-5858.
Barren River Lake State Resort Park Dock, open seasonally, is 10 miles southwest of Glasgow, off U.S. 31E. For information telephone 270-646-2357.
Peninsula Marina, open seasonally, is 2 miles northeast of the dam, off Ky. 252. For information telephone 270-646-2223.
The Narrows Marina, open seasonally, is on Ky. 1318, about 11 miles southwest of Glasgow, off U.S. 31E. For information telephone (270) 646-5253.
Boat Launching Ramps
There are 10 boat launching ramps.
The Austin boat ramp is on Ky. 1342, about five miles south of Barren River Lake State Resort Park, reached via U.S. 31E and Ky. 87. There is no fee to launch.
The Bailey’s Point boat ramp is off Ky. 517, reached via Ky. 252, about 6 miles east of the dam. The fee to launch is $5.
The Barren River Lake State Resort Park campground boat ramp is southwest of Glasgow, KY, off U.S. 31E. There is no fee to launch.
The Beaver Creek boat ramp is the closest ramp to Glasgow, off U.S. 31E, on Ky. 1342. The fee to launch is $5.
The Barren River Lake State Resort Park boat ramp is southwest of Glasgow, KY, off U.S. 31E. There is no fee to launch.
The Brown’s Ford boat ramp is off Ky. 98, near the head of the lake in Allen County, about nine miles east of Scottsville, KY. There is no fee to launch.
The Narrows Marina boat ramp is on Ky. 1318, about 11 miles southwest of Glasgow, off U.S. 31E. 1318. The fee to launch is $5.
The Peninsula Marina boat ramp is southwest of Glasgow on Ky. 2065, off Ky. 252. The fee to launch is $5.
The Port Oliver boat ramp is just above the dam on its south side, off Ky. 252. The fee to launch is $5.
The Walnut Creek boat ramp is in Allen County, mid-lake on its west shore, off Ky. 1855. There is no fee to launch.
There are three carry-down sites for fishing kayaks and other small boats.
The Barren River Lake WMA site is on South Lucas Road, reached via U.S. 31E from Glasgow, KY and Ky. 1318 (Lucas Road). There is no fee to launch.
The Dry Creek Unit WMA site is on Bradshaw Road, reached via U.S. 31E from Glasgow, KY and Ky. 87. There is no fee to launch.
The Quarry Road site is just above the dam on its north side, off Ky. 252 at the swimming beach. There is no fee to launch.
Local Tourism Information
Glasgow/Barren County Tourist Commission, 118 E. Public Square, Glasgow, KY 42141, telephone (270) 651-3161 or toll-free (800) 264-3161.
Barren River Lake is a eutrophic lake of high productivity.
The flatland, warm-water reservoir supports populations of three species of black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass), bluegill, two species of crappie (white crappie and black crappie), three species of catfish (channel catfish, flathead catfish and blue catfish), and two species of temperate bass (hybrid striped bass and yellow bass).
During the hot weather months, mid-June through September, dissolved oxygen levels in the lake are too low to support fish below 15 feet.
Cover types vary. The upper lake is predominated by shallow mud flats, with numerous stump beds and scattered pockets of standing timber.
The lower lake has more rock along its shorelines, including boulders, chunk rock, shale bluffs, and four islands in a horseshoe bend around Bailey’s Point.
The main forage fish is the gizzard shad.
The largemouth bass fishery is rated good/excellent, with good numbers overall and above average numbers of 14 to 18-inch fish.
Hybrid Striped Bass
The hybrid striped bass fishery is rated good. Overall numbers are good with large fish (20-inch plus) present.
Spring fishing is best in the upper arms of the lake. Anglers cast spinners, crankbaits and curly-tailed jigs.
In the summer fish the main lake, around islands in the mid to lower lake) or above the dam at night, or early and late in the day.
In the fall, schools of hybrids can be found throughout the lake.
The population is maintained by annual stockings.
The catfish fishery is rated excellent, with good populations of blue catfish, channel catfish, and flathead catfish present, and good numbers of larger fish.
The best fishing is near creek channels and at night.
The crappie fishery is rated excellent, with good numbers of both white crappie and black crappie.
There are good numbers of larger white crappie (10-inch plus), but fewer black crappie (10-inch plus).
The species ratio in about even.
Target shallower water for black crappie in the spring and early summer.
Summer and winter fishing is best around deeper structure in creek/river channels and around fish attractors.
The spotted bass fishery is rated fair, with a low density population overall, but quality fish (15-inch plus) are present.
Fish bridge pylons, bluff walls and rock slides.
The smallmouth bass fishery is rated fair, with a low density population overall, but trophy fish (20-inch plus) are present.
Anglers have the best luck fishing rock outcroppings and rocky transition areas in the lower lake.
The white bass fishery is rated fair, with low numbers of fish.
The best opportunity to catch white bass is during spawning run in late-March to mid- April, casting spinners, small jigs and small crankbaits above the lake, in the Barren River, Peter Creek, Skaggs Creek and Beaver Creek.
The yellow bass fishery is rated good with abundant numbers.
Most fish are 7- to 9-inches in length and eager to bite.
Cast small jigs and spinners or drift live minnows around bridge pylons during the summer.
The bluegill fishery is rated good, with good numbers of 6 to 8-inch fish.
Fish stump beds and back of coves during the spring and fall. During the summer fish deeper water in small coves, along bluff walls near laydowns or standing timber.
Barren River is being stocked with river-run walleye by KDFWR as part of their project to restore this native fish throughout its former range in Kentucky.
To protect these walleye during restoration special regulations are in effect for Barren River and its tributaries, including Barren River Lake, all streams flowing into the lake, the immediate tailwaters, and Barren River farther downstream of the lake to Lock and Dam 1, at Greencastle, KY, in Warren County.
River-run walleye are potamodromous, meaning they move upstream to spawn in river headwaters.
Special Regulations / Minimum Size Limits and Daily Creel Limits
Walleye: 18 to 26-inch protective slot limit. All fish between 18 and 26 inches must be released. The daily creel limit is two.
Crappie: 10-inch minimum size limit for both white crappie and black crappie.
Largemouth Bass: 15-inch minimum size limit, but one fish under 15 inches may be kept in the daily creel limit of six.
Smallmouth Bass: 15-inch minimum size limit, but one fish under 15 inches may be kept in the daily creel limit of six.
Blue Catfish: The daily creel limit is 15, channel catfish and blue catfish combined. No more than one fish may be over 25 inches.
Channel Catfish: The daily creel limit is 15, channel catfish and blue catfish combined. No more than one fish may be over 25 inches.
Tailwater Fishing Opportunities
The fisheries in the tailwaters include hybrid striped bass, muskellunge, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, sauger and walleye.
There is a boat launching ramp below the dam. There is no fee to launch.
Float trips on the Barren River below the lake are popular with anglers in small boats because there are numerous access points in the 81 miles from the dam to Barren River’s confluence with the Green River, near Woodbury, KY.
Christmas trees, stake beds, brush piles and reefs, hinge cut trees and plastic structures have been placed in more than 30 locations in the lower lake, west of U.S. 31E.
View a map of Barren River Lake fish attractors at www.google.com
Bank Access and Fishing Piers
There is bank access at the Port Oliver boat ramp, just above the dam on its south side, off Ky. 252.