I have seen and heard big flights of sandhill cranes over the house the last few days as the big birds head to Barren River Lake for the winter.
And if you’re into hunting them, you have until the end of the month to apply for a permit.
Applications for Kentucky’s sandhill crane hunting season will be accepted online at www.fw.ky.gov until Nov. 30.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will issue permits to 400 hunters this year through a randomized computer drawing.
Applicants drawn for a hunt must pass an online identification test before they can receive a permit.
Applicants must have a valid Kentucky hunting license or be license exempt when they apply. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife charges a $3 fee for each application.
Applications can only be made online at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website. The drawing will be held by Dec. 5, with results made available to applicants online.
Drawn hunters must complete the permit requirements, including the identification test, by Dec.10 to receive their permit and tags by opening day of the season.
Sandhill crane season opens Dec. 14 and closes Jan. 12, 2014. The daily and season bag limit for each hunter is two birds. Hunters must telecheck their game the same day it is taken. The season will close earlier if hunters reach the quota limit of 400 birds.
To remain eligible for the 2014-15 season, hunters participating in this season’s hunt must complete a post-season survey by Jan. 25, 2014.
Kentucky’s season is statewide. However, sandhill cranes may not be hunted in the Beaver Creek, Skaggs Creek and Peters Creek embayments of Barren River Lake Wildlife Management Area.
Crappie are still biting at Barren River Lake as evidenced by the success earlier in the week by two of my oldtimer buddies, Larry Spencer and Freddie Carver. They got into some big slabs Tuesday.
I heard again this week from Johnny Rush that this is the time to go for big smallmouth on Dale Hollow.
Smallmouth experts agree with Johnny that this is the ideal time for catch those “bigguns”. That’s the topic of this week’s Kentucky Afield report from Lee McClellan.
“From now into late winter, if you can stand it, is the best time of year to catch trophy smallmouth bass,” said John Williams, southeastern fisheries district biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The whole cold water period of the year is the most productive time for large smallmouths.”
Water temperatures at Lake Cumberland, Dale Hollow Lake and Laurel River Lake are getting perfect for bringing smallmouth into the range of angler’s lures.
For those who just want to catch fish, pitching large crappie minnows or medium-sized shiners into main lake pockets on Lake Cumberland, Dale Hollow or Laurel River lakes is incredible fun. Using medium or medium-light spinning gear, fishermen should tie on a size 1/0 Octopus style hook to 6- or 8-pound fluorocarbon line. Pinch on one or two BB-sized split shot sinkers (the non-removable kind work best) 18- to 24-inches above the hook.
Hook the shiner through both lips starting from the bottom one. Rig a large crappie minnow through the tail and gently cast this presentation to the main lake pocket or point and let it slowly sink toward bottom. Rhythmically retrieve the offering once it touches down until the line jumps, goes slack or moves off to one side. Take a few deep breaths, reel in the slack line and set the hook. Live bait produces more trophy smallmouth bass than anything else in fall and winter.
Our state is the home of the all-tackle, world record smallmouth bass, an 11-pound, 15-ounce beast caught from the Kentucky portion of Dale Hollow Lake in the summer of 1955. Dale Hollow, Cumberland and Laurel River lakes hold some of the biggest specimens of smallmouth bass on Earth.