Finding a good place to fish used to involve some cloak-and-dagger tactics. I used to go to the nearest bait shop and hang out in the hook section, hoping to overhear some anglers bragging about their hotspot. I also had a spy network of friends who would call me whenever they got a new bit of fishing intelligence.
The fisheries folks at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, however, have taken away all the fun. Now all you have to do is go onto the department’s Web site at www.fw.ky.gov, click “Fishing,” then “Where to Fish,” and you can find all kinds of information—maps, ramp information, fishing tournament schedules, and more.
But I’ve also learned that just because a lake looks good doesn’t mean that the fishing there is good. That’s where the department’s annual fishing forecast comes in.
Throughout the year, employees called creel clerks visit with anglers to see what they’re catching and whether the fishing is any good. Next, biologists in shocking boats—specially equipped boats that apply an electrical current to the water to stun fish and bring them to the surface—sample a lake to see what’s in it.
Biologists gather all this information and rate the fishing in 60 lakes, rivers, and streams for each kind of fish found there.
The forecast helps you understand trends in fish populations. For example, you’ll learn that Lake Barkley has an above average number of largemouth bass over 12 inches, but the number of 8- to 12-inch bass has dropped off. Or you’ll learn that the lake has pie plate-sized redear sunfish.
The great thing about the fishing forecast is that it not only gives you an idea of the numbers of fish in a lake or river, but it provides valuable tips on how to catch them. To catch hybrid striped bass, the forecast suggests trolling and casting over flats and long points during early summer mornings on Barren River Lake.
For your own copy of the forecast, visit the department’s Web site or call (800) 858-1549.
It’s time to buy your new hunting and fishing licenses. If you need your license and the stores are closed, buy one online at www.fw.ky.gov, or call (877) 598-2401.