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By Lee McClellan
Special to KyForward

This is the second installment of the “Spring Fishing Fever” series of articles, detailing productive fishing techniques and opportunities across Kentucky. The series will continue until early summer. An archive of past articles is available on the department’s website at www.fw.ky.gov).

February days in the 60s make for crowded boat ramps and golf courses during a time of year usually spent indoors.

Everything, nature wise, seems a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Buds show on lilac bushes, green grass already grows in bunches and the sound of lawn mowers permeates an afternoon backyard barbecue.

The rare winter temperatures may alter white bass spawning runs as well.

“With the weather pattern so far, I would be looking at the white bass getting going a little earlier than usual,” said Rob Rold, Northwestern Fisheries District biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “When we’ve had consecutive warm days, the white bass run up a bit into the headwaters above Nolin River Lake, but when it cools they go back down in the lake. They will do false runs until it gets right.”

Water temperatures are in the low 50s on Nolin River Lake, while other lakes such as Taylorsville Lake are flirting with water temperatures in the mid 50s.

“It should be getting close,” said David Baker, Central Fisheries District biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “We are doing a creel survey on Herrington and the white bass are staging in the upper one-third of the lake, waiting for the next temperature spike. A good warm front with water temperatures getting into the upper 50s, they will start moving to the shoals in the upper lake of both Herrington and Taylorsville.”

Baker said Herrington gets the nod for size of white bass.

“There are a lot of really big white bass in Herrington, many up to 14 inches long. For catching a big white bass, Herrington is better than Taylorsville,” he said.

Taylorsville Lake produces numbers of white bass, but less size.

Anglers may access the upper section of Herrington Lake and Dix River via Bryants Camp Boat Ramp in Garrard County. Bank anglers may access the Salt River above Taylorsville Lake via River Road on the Taylorsville Lake Wildlife Management Area until the opening of spring turkey season April 15. Boaters use Van Buren Boat Ramp on Taylorsville Lake.

Nolin River Lake holds arguably the best white bass population in Kentucky. 
Rold said the Cane Run area, known to locals as the “Three Fingers,” in the upper lake upstream to Broad Ford at the KY 1214 Bridge is usually where the white bass runs begin.

“The length of day really dictates when they will run, even if it is not the preferred water temperature,” Rold said. “They start staging around Cane Run. It is a bit early, but they will come on soon.”

Rold said bank anglers use the access at Bacon Creek for productive white bass fishing.

“Go to Bacon Creek ramp and walk the bank up or down,” he said. “The Corps property goes all the way up past Broad Ford. At winter pool, Broad Ford is the first shoal on Nolin River upstream of the lake.”

The tailwaters downstream of the locks and dams on the lower Green River also provide excellent white bass fishing.

“The water below Lock and Dam 1 at Spottsville, Lock and Dam 2 at Calhoun and Lock and Dam 3 at Rochester all have decent white bass,” Rold said. “The mouth of Pond River downstream of Calhoun at Jewel City has a big white bass fishery. They run up into Pond River.”

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

Anglers may access the mouth via a public boat ramp at Jewel City. The tailwater below Lock and Dam 2 has a boat ramp and limited bank access at the end of Second Street in Rumsey, across the river from Calhoun. The tailwaters below Lock and Dam 3 at Rochester offer excellent bank access just west of town on Boat Ramp Road via KY 70.

The smaller male white bass make the initial runs. You will catch many fish during this time, but most will be of similar size. You often catch fish on consecutive casts when the males are running.

“By the first weeks of April, the females show up and it is prime,” Baker said. “This is the best fishing of spring runs.”

Running white bass hit anything that resembles baitfish with abandon, one of the keys to their enduring popularity. When the spring white bass runs peak, nothing else compares to the furious fishing.

White, chartreuse or gray in-line spinners are hard to beat during the runs, but 2-inch white curly tailed grubs rigged on 1/16-ounce leadheads also produce many white bass. Anglers also suspend 1/32-ounce white and red, pink or yellow feather jigs from 18 to 24 inches deep under small bobbers and allow them to drift in the current. Some anglers tip the feather jigs with small crappie minnows to make them more attractive to white bass.

As the runs peak, small topwater propeller baits draw vicious strikes, but you get more consistent action with subsurface presentations.

The next long sustained warm front will get the white bass running. It is time for the most exciting fishing of the year. Remember to buy your fishing license. The new license year began March 1.

 

Lee_McClellanLee_McClellan

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: @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.

When Murray resident Austin Gruner caught an 8.2-ounce largemouth bass bulging with developing eggs from Kentucky Lake on Feb. 10, he didn’t keep it.

Instead, Gruner took his trophy to Fisherman’s Headquarters in Benton, where employees held it for pick up by a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources hatchery truck.

When Murray resident Austin Gruner caught an 8.2-ounce largemouth bass bulging with developing eggs from Kentucky Lake on Feb. 10, he didn’t keep it (F&W Photo)When Murray resident Austin Gruner caught an 8.2-ounce largemouth bass bulging with developing eggs from Kentucky Lake on Feb. 10, he didn’t keep it (F&W Photo)“Austin’s fish is the first donation we’ve received this year for the department’s Trophy Bass Propagation Program,” said Jeff Ross, assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “We’re seeking additional donations of big bass caught in other lakes so we can increase the potential for oversized largemouths in Kentucky’s waters.”

Trophy bass donated to the program go to Pfeiffer Fish Hatchery near Frankfort for spawning. The department stocks the trophy offspring to the original lake and select other lakes in fall.

Anglers really don’t lose their trophy. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife gives participants professionally mounted, fiberglass reproductions of their fish in return for the donation. Photos of the four bass donated in 2016 – the inaugural season of the program – are viewable online at www.fw.ky.gov by searching under the keywords, “Trophy Bass Propagation Program.”

In spring, Kentucky’s program only accepts female bass weighing more than 8 pounds, and male bass weighing more than 6 pounds. Fish this size generally exceed 22 inches in length. In fall, the department accepts fish of any gender weighing more than 7 pounds.The seasonal program shuts down for the summer on May 31, because the higher temperatures are stressful to the fish and reduce the chances of survival.

Anglers should take their trophy bass to a participating bait shop as soon as possible, rather than leaving the fish in a livewell or stringer for an extended period of time. Bait shop employees will hold the fish in aerated bait tanks until a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife employee can pick up the bass and take it to a hatchery.

Look for more information about the trophy bass program, fish handling tips and a list participating bait shops on the department’s website, www.fw.ky.gov.

From Fish and Wildlife Communications

 

Total surpasses 139,000...


Kentucky deer hunters bagged more than 139,000 deer this past season that concluded Jan. 16. This is the third highest harvest total ever recorded (F&W Photo)Kentucky deer hunters bagged more than 139,000 deer this past season that concluded Jan. 16. This is the third highest harvest total ever recorded (F&W Photo)

It’s often said these are the good old days for deer hunting in Kentucky, but for those of a certain age, or new to hunting, it’s all they have ever known.

The world was tip-toeing into a new millennium the last time Kentucky’s deer harvest did not break 100,000 for a season. The 2016-17 season cleared that mark and surpassed 130,000 for the fifth consecutive season.

Hunters combined to take more than 139,000 deer before the book closed Jan. 16 on one of the three best seasons on record in Kentucky. The only seasons with higher harvest totals were the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons.

“We’ve been harvesting a lot of deer and that’s a reflection of how many deer we have on the landscape,” said Gabe Jenkins, big game program coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The good thing is our quality is still up. I’ve talked to a lot of folks who saw a lot of nice deer harvested this season.”

The 2015-16 season produced new records at nearly every turn, including the overall harvest record. Archery hunters kept the trend going this past September by starting the 2016-17 season with a record opening weekend.

A slowdown ensued as unseasonably warm temperatures set in. High winds, an ample acorn crop and a full moon added to the challenge for early muzzleloader season in mid-October and the two-day take was down sharply from the previous year.

Cooler temperatures arrived for modern gun season in November and coincided with the peak of breeding activity across the state.

Hunters responded by checking 41,796 deer the first weekend of modern gun season and 102,848 for the modern gun season overall. Both figures were the second highest on record behind the 2015-16 season.

“I think the warm weather possibly shifted some early season hunters to later,” Jenkins said. “I’ll have to look at that when I start digging into the numbers. I would venture to say that a lot of folks who normally take deer in September and October didn’t and waited until November.”

For the first time in 18 seasons, Owen County did not lead the state in the number of deer taken. Pendleton County finished ahead of it.

Harvest totals in the northern Kentucky county have been on the upswing for several seasons, and the recent results bring added attention to the fact. Hunters there reported taking more than 3,200 deer this past season. Owen, Crittenden, Graves and Christian counties completed the top-five.

Hunters took more than 5,500 deer on public lands across the state, according to telecheck harvest results. Two areas of interest entering this past season were Big Rivers WMA and State Forest in Crittenden and Union counties and the new Rolling Fork WMA in Nelson and LaRue counties.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife debuted a first-of-its-kind quota hunt for archery and crossbow deer hunting this past season at Big Rivers, which expanded in 2016 with the addition of the 841-acre Jenkins-Rich tract in Crittenden County.

“It was a pretty big move for us,” Jenkins said. “When we looked at this one, it wasn’t people shooting five or six deer. It was one person coming and shooting one deer, and it was a lot of people doing that. So it was strictly a numbers game.”

The action achieved the intended result: the deer harvest on Big Rivers was reduced by 38 percent this season.

Rolling Fork WMA came online this past September and allows modern gun hunting for deer. Of the 27 deer taken with a modern gun on the area, 19 were bagged on the more rugged LaRue County side of the property. A total of 32 deer – 15 male, 17 female – were taken on the WMA across all seasons.

Hunters reporting their harvest to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife through the telecheck process this past season were asked for additional information if they were checking male deer with or without antlers. Their answers will help biologists.

“We will be able to get a better feel for age-at-harvest more than we ever have,” Jenkins said. “It will allow us to analyze how we’ve been estimating in the past through our collections in the field compared to what our hunters are reporting. It will be beneficial to make those comparisons.”

Hunters who took a trophy deer this past season are encouraged to submit the necessary information for recognition in the trophy deer list that will appear in the next Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide. The deadline for submissions is May 1.

To be eligible, a hunter must have taken a white-tailed deer in Kentucky this past season that net scored 160 or higher typical or net scored 185 or higher non-typical going by the Boone and Crockett scoring system. The completed and signed score sheet along with a photo should be sent to Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide, #1 Sportsman’s Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601.

Include the county in which the deer was taken and the equipment used to harvest the deer. Emailed submissions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. also are accepted.


By Kevin Kelly
Special to KyForward

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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Registration Now Open for the 5th Annual Kentucky Century Challenge and the Newly Established Kentucky Cycling Challenge

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 24, 2017) - Organizers of the Kentucky Century Challenge are pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 5th Annual Kentucky Century Challenge and the newly established Kentucky Cycling Challenge.

The Challenges feature five of the most popular touring rides in Kentucky, and are generously supported by new Platinum Sponsor Ale-8-One and Gold Sponsors Graviss McDonald’s and Morehead Tourism.

Registration is free and open to all cyclists on the Kentucky Adventure Tourism website through April 15 (Note that separate registration for the individual rides is also required, and the rides do charge a fee for registration).

To meet the challenge, a registered cyclist must accomplish one of the following:

Complete at least 4 of the 5 century (100 mile) routes as a registered rider at participating events. Cyclists who meet this challenge will earn a free “400 mile” jersey. Any cyclist who rides all 5 century rides will also receive free matching cycling shorts or bibs; or
Ride at least 250 miles over the course of our 5 rides. Cyclists who log at least 250 miles and participate in at least 4 events will earn a free Kentucky Cycling Challenge jersey.
The only way to get a jersey is to complete one of the Challenges!

The 2017 ride dates and locations include:

*  Redbud Ride, April 21-22, London

*  Horsey Hundred, May 26-28, Georgetown

*  Bike Morehead, June 17, Morehead

*  Bourbon & Bluegrass Ride, August 5, Owensboro

*  Hub City Tour, Sept. 9, Elizabethtown

While there is no limit on the number of participants in the Challenges, only the first 700 to sign up will be eligible for a free jersey. Those registering after the first 700, and earning one of the jerseys will be able to purchase their jersey at cost.

In addition to our Platinum and Gold Sponsors, the Kentucky Challenges are pleased to welcome the following sponsors for 2017: Advanced Cardiology of Owensboro, OZ Tyler Distillery, Owensboro/Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Zombie Cycling Team, London Downtown, Cumberland Valley Cycling Club and Georgetown/Scott County Tourism.

To find information about other outdoor opportunities and locations, as well as a calendar of events happening all across Kentucky, visit the Office of Adventure Tourism’s website at www.getoutky.com. Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/KYOutdoorAdventure, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @kyadventures.

 

The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission took another step toward its goal of increasing Kentucky’s elk population at a faster rate by proposing hunting season modifications and setting season dates at its Jan. 6 special meeting.

The commission recommends all hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the General Assembly and approves all expenditures by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. All recommendations must be approved by legislators before they become law.

Kentucky’s free-ranging elk population is the nation’s largest east of the Rocky Mountains, but the commission is taking strides to grow it faster as a way to create more recreational opportunity.

The commission moved to compress the state’s hunting season by ending the season Dec. 31. In doing so, it proposed moving Cow Firearms Hunt 2 (second week) from January to December immediately after Cow Firearms Hunt 1.

The commission also proposed the 2017 elk season dates:

Bull Archery:

Sept. 16 – 29; Oct. 14 – Dec. 8; Dec. 23 – 31

Bull Crossbow:

Sept. 23 – 29; Oct. 14 – Dec. 8; Dec. 23 – 31

Bull Firearms 1:

Sept. 30 – Oct. 6

Bull Firearms 2:

Oct. 7 – 13

Cow Archery and Crossbow:

Oct. 14 – Dec. 8; Dec. 23 – 31

Cow Firearms 1:

Dec. 9 – 15

Cow Firearms 2:

Dec. 16 – 22

The next regular Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time), Friday, March 17, 2017. Meetings are held at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife headquarters, located at 1 Sportsman’s Lane off U.S. 60 in Frankfort.

From F&W Communications