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Beginning float fishing classes offered

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will host three public meetings to gather comments from people interested in ruffed grouse management in the state.

Department biologists developed the state’s Ruffed Grouse and Young Forest Strategic Plan to lead focused management efforts to improve grouse numbers in eastern Kentucky.

Grouse2, web

The department has already received public comments by phone and email. The upcoming meetings provide additional opportunity for the public to learn about the plan in detail and add their input.

Meeting dates, local times and locations include:

· Ashland area: 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, Northeast Fish and Game Club, Dezarn Lane (off South Big Run Road), near Coalton community.

· Whitesburg: 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, 7 p.m., University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Office, 478 Extension Drive.

· London: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Office, 200 County Extension Drive.

The Ashland event will include an inaugural trap shoot and cookout sponsored by the Kentucky River Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society. The event will be held prior to the grouse plan meeting. Doors open at 9 a.m. for the event, with trap shooting from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Food will be provided.

Beginner Float Fishing Classes Offered in August

Enrollment is underway for novice anglers who want to try their hand at fishing from a kayak.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, in partnership with Canoe Kentucky of Frankfort, will offer free basic fishing classes in August through its Anglers Legacy program. Courses include three 90-minute classes that cover the basics of fishing, followed later by a fishing trip on the department’s headquarters lake and the Kentucky River or Elkhorn Creek in Franklin County.

Classes are offered as part of Canoe Kentucky’s Explore Nature Series. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife employees will teach the classes and offer their fishing expertise as part of the department’s ongoing effort to increase angling participation.

Registration is available by calling Canoe Kentucky’s Chris Howard at (502) 227-4492, or emailing him atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The course is limited to 20 participants. Equipment is provided. Participants must have a valid Kentucky fishing license.

Classes will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Eastern time) on Aug. 9, Aug. 16 and Aug. 23. During the Aug. 16 session, Lower Sportsman’s Lake, on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife campus near Frankfort, will close at 4 p.m. for a class session. The lake will reopen for public use at daybreak, Aug. 17.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife encourages all anglers to enjoy float fishing trips around the state. Recommended floats, along with maps, mileages and descriptions, are available on the department’s website, fw.ky.gov. Search under the keywords “Blue Water Trails” for more information.

From F&W Communications

 

The Fort Gay High School Alumni Association will host the 4th annual Joe Damron Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, September 2, 2016, at Eagle Ridge Golf Course at Yatesville Lake State Park in Louisa, KY.

The Alumni Association hosts the tournament to raise money to support an endowed scholarship it established through the Marshall University Foundation Inc.  Each year, a senior at Tolsia High School, Fort Gay, WV, is awarded a four-year academic scholarship to Marshall University.  This year’s award winner will share $12,000 for the 2016-17 school year with three previous Tolsia graduates, all of whom are designated by Marshall as “Fort Gay Scholars”.  The alumni group has funded 57 scholarships to 24 scholars since the initial grant in 1999.

The best ball tournament begins at 9:00 a.m. and is open to the public.  Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. “The golf course is in excellent condition this year,” said Paul Salmons, the tournament chairman. 

The entry fee is $50 per person, or $200 to sponsor a team of four persons.  The fee includes the cost for cart, green fees, a continental breakfast, snacks, beverages, and lunch.  There also will be prizes and awards. 

“You can help raise money for the scholarship program even if you are unable to play by sponsoring a golf hole with a tax-free donation of $100,” added Salmons.  Please contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or (606) 652-4048, if you wish to play in the tournament or want additional details about sponsorships.

June is month of transition for largemouth bass fishing

The gorgeous weather combined with warming, but tolerable, temperatures make June one of the best months to be outside. The wonderful weather drives hordes of largemouth bass anglers to waters across Kentucky, filled with anticipation of catching a couple of five pounders.

Often, at the end of a day of fishing in perfect weather, they only have a few 12-inch fish to show for their efforts. Despite the great conditions for humans, June is a transitional time for largemouth bass.

“June can be a tough month,” said Dave Dreves, assistant director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Largemouth bass are done spawning, but haven’t yet moved into their full summer pattern. The fish can be anywhere in the lake.”

Chad Miles, host of the “Kentucky Afield” television show, holds a 23-inch largemouth bass he caught in June on a Shakey head and straight-tailed worm a few years ago from Nolin River Lake. June is a transitional month for largemouth bass, but those who fish the right areas and depths should catch plenty of fish (F&W Photo)

After spawning in shallow water in late spring, largemouth bass migrate toward the deeper spots where they spend most summer days. They use ditches, channels, points, roadbeds or even a row of stumps that once lined a fencerow as migration arteries to move from their shallow spawning areas to channel drops, offshore humps and deep points in June.

Continuing to fish too shallow is one of the main reasons many bass anglers struggle to catch quality fish in June. Those weedlines, fallen tree tops and other shoreline cover that held bass on Derby weekend don’t have many bass around them now.

“Flats adjacent to deep water are really good in June,” said Jeff Ross, assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife who once served as the department’s black bass coordinator. “Bass use flats as a movement corridor or they just set up on them.”

Map study prior to fishing reveals bass holding flats. Wide spaces between the topographic depth lines of a fishing map denote flatter areas. Flats with a series of lines that are close together beside them show a drop-off into deeper water. These are June hot spots for largemouth bass; those with some cover, such as brush or stumps are best.

Check the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at www.fw.ky.gov and type in “lakes with fish attractors” in the search engine to complement your map study. The fish habitat structures placed by department employees are shown in detail for lakes across Kentucky. Anglers may also click on the “Where to Fish” tab, under the “Fish” tab, for new maps of lakes showing the bottom contours as well as the fish attractors.

A Carolina rig, with a 3/4- to 1-ounce egg sinker in front of a leader, is hard to beat in June for fishing flats and related drop-offs. The heavy weight gives great feedback to the angler, quickly revealing the bottom composition. Those who can afford tungsten weights get even more feedback.

Five- to 7-inch soft plastic stick baits such as the Senko on the business end of a Carolina rig is deadly on June largemouths. The shimmy action of these baits when retrieving the rig, as well as on the fall, provokes strikes. Ribbon-tailed worms in the same length also work well on a Carolina rig at this time of year.

Baby bass, green pumpkin, watermelon and red flake, junebug and black all make good colors for soft plastic stick baits and worms. Make sure to set the hook firmly when fishing deeper water with a Carolina rig.

In June, deep running crankbaits in the sexy shad color also work well retrieved over the deep end of flats as do 7-inch green pumpkin straight-tailed worms rigged on 3/16-ounce Shakey heads and dragged slowly on the bottom.

For more outdoors news and information, see Art Lander’s Outdoors on KyForward.

Deep points and submerged humps also hold largemouth bass in June. Points and humps tend to get better as June burns toward July. A 5/16-ounce jig in the soft-craw color with a matching crawfish imitating trailer works extremely well. Slowly crawl the jig down the point until you hit bass.

The crawling retrieve also does well on submerged humps with a 7-inch straight-tailed worm rigged on a Shakey head. Use the lightest head you can while still maintaining bottom contact. If all else fails, cast the rig and let it settle down to the hump. Then, reel in the slack and let the worm sit still, occasionally squeezing the rod handle. Finicky bass who passed up all other offerings often hit this “deadsticking” presentation in June.

Worms with contrasting tip sections perform best fishing deep humps in June. Black with a blue tip, brown with an orange tip and watermelon with a chartreuse tip all make good choices. Many anglers use scented dyes to color the tip section.

June has great weather for people, but largemouth bass are migrating and recuperating from the rigors of spawning. Don’t fish where you did earlier in spring. The bass have left the shallows for their more comfortable summer haunts.

Lee_McClellan

Author Lee McClellan is associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

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.

By Lee McClellan
Special to KyForward

Summer is arguably the most popular time to fish as muggy, hot days push people to the water for relief and relaxation.

Many anglers, especially those who seek game fish such as black bass, trout or striped bass, release their catch.

“Catch and release works and is a good thing,” said Dave Dreves, assistant director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “But, if you don’t handle the fish properly, your good intentions can be reversed.”

Fish grippers, such as this one used to remove a lure from the mouth of a smallmouth bass prior to release back into Jefferson County’s Floyds Fork Creek, are invaluable tools for anglers who want to release their catch in summer. Proper fish handling techniques help fish thrive after release during the hot months. (F&W Photo)

Fish have a protective slime coat that acts as part of their immune system. Protecting this slime coat is of the utmost importance when handling fish.

“Fish are surrounded by pathogens all of their lives in the water they inhabit,” Dreves said. “The slime coat is their protection.”

A fish gripper is an essential tool for handling fish with ease and doesn’t harm them. They provide exceptional control of the fish by latching on to its lower lip. “They are a great thing, especially on toothy fish such as walleye, for getting hooks out of fish without touching them,” Dreves said. “They also keep people from squeezing a fish too hard which can damage internal organs.”

Some models with calibrated scales cost a pretty penny, but many on the market simply hold the fish and cost less than $20, with some less than $10.

“These devices keep people from handling a fish with a towel,” Dreves said. “I can’t imagine anything much worse you can do to a fish than using a towel to hold them. You must protect, not remove, the slime coat.”

If you must handle a fish with your hands, wet them first. Dry human skin strips off the fish’s slime coat. “Also, if you plan to measure its length, wet the measuring board before placing the fish on it,” Dreves said. “Make sure to keep the measuring board out of the sun. They can get really hot.”

Secure the fish when landing it. Do not allow the fish to flop around on the bank or in the bottom of a boat. This not only removes the protective slime coat, but may cause injuries.

Anglers who catch a big largemouth bass or hybrid striped bass usually want a photo to commemorate the event.

“You see these anglers on fishing shows sometimes hold their fish out of the water for way too long when talking to the camera,” Dreves said. “If I am fumbling around for a fish scale or a camera, I either put the fish back in the water while I hold it or I drop it in the livewell. A fish out of water can’t breathe.”

Livewells work great for keeping fish alive, but in summer they can be a potentially lethal environment for fish if proper procedures are not followed.

“Warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen,” Dreves said. “Because of the heat and the lower levels of dissolved oxygen, summer is a highly stressful time on fish in a livewell.”

Dreves explained the most important thing is to cool the water first after pumping it in from the lake. Two frozen 1/2-gallon jugs of water will cool a 30-gallon livewell about 10 degrees for roughly three hours.

“Then, you need to recirculate the water in the livewell to avoid pulling hot lake water back into the livewell,” he said. “You also don’t want to cool it more than 10 degrees.”

Enter “Keeping Your Bass Alive” in the search box in the top right corner of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s homepage at www.fw.ky.gov for complete details on proper livewell procedures for summer bass tournaments.

“Plus, if you plan to keep fish to eat, it is much better to place those fish in a cooler with ice right away than in a hot livewell,” Dreves said.

Light tackle is fun and produces a lot of fish. But, ultralight rods and 4-pound line are not the best choices for the stressful times of summer if you plan to release the fish.

“Some say light tackle is more sporting, but getting the fish in hand as quickly as possible is best for the fish’s health in summer. Long battles are not good for them when it is hot.”

Employing catch and release helps ensure good fishing for future generations, but sloppy techniques can cancel out the benefit of this practice in summer.

Lee_McClellan

Author Lee McClellan is associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

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.

By Kevin Kelly

A new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey and published this week offers compelling evidence that amphibian populations across the country are declining at a rate of almost 4 percent per year.

Urbanization, pesticide use, changing weather patterns and disease all represent threats to amphibians, but how each threat impacts these species varies from region to region, according to the study.

“Implementing conservation plans at a local level will be key in stopping amphibian population losses since global efforts to reduce or lessen threats have been elusive,” Evan Grant, a U.S.G.S. research wildlife biologist who led the study, said in a news release.

Maggie Smith, a wildlife health technician with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, swabs an Eastern newt as part of an ongoing study to monitor amphibians for disease.  Department biologists conducting the study plan to visit 50 sites across Kentucky over the next two years (F&W Photo by Iga Stasiak)

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has tracked amphibian populations for years and this spring initiated its own statewide study to monitor these species for diseases. Plans call for visiting 50 sites across seven ecological regions over the next two years.

“We’ve done a lot of surveys, and through those we know we have robust populations of amphibians,” said Iga Stasiak, wildlife veterinarian with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “We generally don’t have a lot of information about amphibian health in Kentucky. What we’re focused on with this study is identifying disease, which is the first step in preventing its spread.”

Among the threats facing amphibian populations worldwide is the lethal chytrid fungus. A close relative of it now is taking aim on salamander populations in Europe. This new fungus – known generally as salamander chytrid fungus – could have serious effects if it turns up in the U.S. Chytrid fungus causes an infectious, and often fatal, skin disease in amphibians.

“It would be potentially devastating if we had an introduced pathogen such as the salamander chytrid fungus,” Stasiak said. “Some experimental studies have shown that a number of salamander species found in Kentucky and North America are susceptible, including the Eastern newt.”

Kentucky is home to 35 types of salamanders. The Eastern newt is most common in the forested areas of eastern and southern Kentucky but can be found across the state, said John MacGregor, state herpetologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

Biologists conducting the study are collecting newts and tadpoles at each monitoring site.

“We set minnow traps in a wetland and leave them overnight,” said Maggie Smith, wildlife health technician with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “Newts cruise around looking for prey, usually beetles or some type of invertebrate, and they’ll just kind of crawl into that trap. We also do dip netting. You’re just looking for a deepish pond that’s fairly permanent, and scouting for muddy areas with lots of vegetation because that’s what they like.”

Once collected, each specimen is swabbed and then immediately returned to the water. The samples are sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin for testing. Newt samples will be tested for chytrid fungus and salamander chytrid fungus, and tadpole samples will be tested for chytrid fungus and ranaviruses.

“The reason we’re sampling tadpoles is because that life stage and the ranid family of frogs appear to be most susceptible to those agents,” Stasiak said. “We’ve had die-offs reported in Kentucky but we’ve never documented a disease-related die-off in Kentucky.”

For more outdoors news and information, see Art Lander’s Outdoors on KyForward.

The public can help prevent the transmission of diseases to amphibian populations by following some simple guidelines, starting with not releasing captive exotic or native species of amphibians into the wild.

“You could be spreading a disease or pathogen unknowingly by releasing them,” Stasiak said. “When we go into the field, we have a decontamination protocol and we disinfect our equipment and our boots with a diluted bleach solution before going from one pond to another.

“We certainly encourage people to appreciate wildlife and spend time outdoors, but it’s best to not move them from one place to another and to also be mindful of your boots and your equipment.”

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife offers additional information about how to prevent the spread of chytrid fungi on its website at fw.ky.gov.

Stasiak hopes to continue the monitoring long term to track any changes in amphibian populations across Kentucky.

“Prevention is an important facet of wildlife health and often overlooked,” she said. “Often we’re very action oriented but prevention is equally important. Early detection is part of that. If we can detect a disease early on in the population we’re more likely to be able to potentially implement management actions to prevent its spread.”

K Kelly 1

Kevin Kelly is a writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. An avid angler with a passion for muskellunge and stream fishing, his journalism career has included stops at daily newspapers in Cincinnati, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Charleston, S.C. Get the latest from Kelly and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @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.