By Lee McClellan
Associate Editor, Kentucky Afield Magazine
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
Kentucky is blessed with fantastic aquatic resources in our 17 major reservoirs, dozens of smaller state-owned lakes and more flowing water than all but a few states. Fishing is a year round activity in the Commonwealth.
Summer can be a tough time to fish, but Kentucky offers great fishing opportunities for the warm months.To get a fish in your hand this summer, try fishing for bluegill in Kentucky Lake and its neighbor Lake Barkley or paddle Floyds Fork for smallmouth bass in the newly completed Parklands of Floyds Fork, a 4,000 acre oasis of paddling, biking, hiking and fishing on the outskirts of Louisville. Wade fishing the Cumberland River below Lake Cumberland on an early summer morning is one of the best ways to beat the heat while enjoying world class angling for brook, brown and rainbow trout.
Kentucky Lake/Lake Barkley
The bluegill in these neighboring large reservoirs grow huge, with numbers of them exceeding the trophy length of 10 inches with many from 6 to 9 inches long. Fish the outside, deeper side of weedbeds with crickets or redworms suspended under a bobber for the best action. A size 6 Aberdeen style hook makes the best choice for bluegill. After a long day of fishing, enjoy the gracious hospitality at either Kenlake or Lake Barkley State Resort Parks (SRP).
At both locations you will find comfortable lodge rooms, cabins and camping all with beautiful lake views. At Lake Barkley SRP, admire views of the wooded shoreline from your lodge room or dine at Windows on the Water, a glass walled 331 seat restaurant with panoramic and scenic views of the lake and known for featuring the finest in Kentucky Proud locally grown meats and produce. Floyds Fork, Jefferson County
The entire Parklands of Floyds Fork opened to public use this past spring, providing nearly 20 miles of Floyds Fork Creek for public paddling and fishing. The park installed excellent public paddling access on Floyds Fork, offering floats that can be done in a few hours, half a day or a full day. The creek holds an improving population of smallmouth bass, with many fish ranging from 14 to 18 inches in length. Try a silver and black Rapala-style floating/diving minnow above and below riffles for smallmouths. This model park also offers dozens of miles of excellent biking and hiking trails, fishing ponds along with playgrounds and spraygrounds for the kids to enjoy. For more information, visit www.theparklands.org.
Repair work on Wolf Creek Dam lowered the flow of water into the Cumberland River below it for several years, but with a return to normal flows a few years ago, the trout in the river are thriving. The Cumberland River is home to the state record rainbow trout, brook trout and the 21-pound state record brown trout. Fly anglers will find good sport fishing beadhead prince nymphs, zebra midges and olive or white wooly buggers for trout. Spinning anglers do well on white, silver or red and silver in-line spinners, small silver and black suspending jerkbaits or small crawfish-imitating crankbaits. Check the generation schedule at www.tva.gov/Environment/Lake-Levels/Wolf-Creek before planning a wade trip. Generation of two turbines or less is best, with no generation being optimal. Water releases greater than two turbines makes for dangerous wading conditions. Remember your waders as even in the hottest months the water is chilly.
Located nearby is the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, the only cold water fish hatchery in Kentucky responsible for all trout stockings in the state. The Hatchery is open all year with a welcome center featuring a walk through display illustrating the wildlife found in Lake Cumberland and its tailwaters where you can learn about the region’s trout and explore its karst terrain.
And the latest addition is Hatchery Creek Stream, a recently opened man-made trout stream. Most of Hatchery Creek is open to catch and release fishing with artificial lures only, but anglers may keep trout in the extreme upper section the creek. Look for signs denoting the catch and keep section and harvest regulations.
Try these three options for a great summer day of fishing in Kentucky. Visit Kentucky’s Adventure Tourism for lists of places to fish. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has information on stream fisheries and Kentucky Fishing License regulations.