Barren River Lake is full of catfish, blues, channel, flatheads and at least a half dozen other varieties.
There are all kinds of methods of catching them. You might think you’ve hooked a lake record bass on your favorite crankbait only to fight a 20-pound flathead for 20 minutes. You might catch a 5-pound channel fishing minnows for crappie or you might hook any of a host of special species while trolling.
If cats are your thing, there are several ways of going after them from dangling a nightcrawler from the bank, using liver, stink bait or live bait.
My “Oldtimer” leader Ed Darst loves jugging and he brings in many in that fashion. But the only “hands on” method is called “noodling” and that’s something I prefer to watch and not participate in.
Folks who enjoy that particular sport, and there’s many of them, will want to know that there will be a catfish noodling tournament on Barren River Lake June 28, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Barren Outdoors is sponsoring the event for the second consecutive year.
The entry fee is $100 per team which can include as many as four members. There will be 100 percent payback for three places with the poundage winner getting 60 percent of the pot, second 30 percent and third, 10 percent. There will also be an opportunity to sign up for a side pot for the biggest catfish for an additional $10. You must be signed in at their shop on 31-E South by 5 p.m. on June 27. Weigh in on the day of the tournament will be at 5 p.m. in the Barren Outdoors parking lot. Fish must be weighed in alive and will be returned to the lake.
Bass, crappie, hybrids, bluegill and cats are still going strong at Barren. I talked to some friends who caught a nice string of crappie on jigs this week, fishing in cover in about 10 feet of water. I heard of a nice smallmouth being caught by a young lady in a co-ed tournament over the weekend, a tournament winner to my understanding. I had hoped for a photo.
A news release from Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources reports the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission has recommended dates for the 2014-15 early migratory bird season as well as lengthening of the dove seasons. All recommendations must be approved in the state legislature before they become law.
Proposed early migratory bird seasons for 2014-2015 include:
Sept. 1 – Oct. 26; Nov. 27 – Dec. 7;
Dec. 20, 2014 – Jan. 11, 2015
September Canada Goose
Sept. 1 – 15
Wood Duck and Teal
Sept. 17 – 21
Nov. 1 – Dec. 15
Virginia and Sora Rail, Common Moorhen and Purple Gallinule
Sept. 1 – Nov. 9
Sept. 17 – Oct. 26; Nov. 27, 2014 – Feb. 1, 2015
Dec. 13, 2014 – Jan. 11, 2015
The news release also covered other recommendations approved by commissioners at their quarterly meeting that included: an additional 20 days of dove season for 2014-15; daily bag limit for the September Canada goose season increased from three to five birds; and daily bag limit for teal increased from four to six birds during the combined wood duck and teal season.
The commission also proposed several changes for the 2015 wild turkey seasons. These include allowing hunters to use .410-gauge shotguns during any open turkey season, a smaller gauge that is friendlier for youth than is currently allowed.
The Commission voted to allow archery and crossbow hunters to take four bird fall turkey season bag limit during any fall season for turkeys, beginning in 2015. Currently, archery and crossbow turkey hunters must take two of their four bird fall season bag limit during the fall firearm turkey season.
In trapping business, the commission recommended removing the 10-foot spacing requirement for traps on private land. The 10-foot spacing requirement remains on public land. The commission also recommended restricting the use of body-gripping traps on lands owned or managed by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to 110-type traps for land sets.
It was also proposed to establish a standard means of registering trappers on wildlife management areas (WMAs) to avoid user conflicts. Trappers are exempt from hunter orange clothing requirements. Upon receipt of the tag, CITES tags must be immediately attached to bobcats or river otters. These two species must be telechecked before leaving Kentucky. These regulations begin in March 2015.
For the fall 2014 seasons, the new 804-acre Sinking Valley WMA in eastern Pulaski County will be open under statewide regulations for all hunting and trapping seasons except for deer.
For deer, the WMA will be open for youth firearms, bow and crossbow seasons only.
In boating and fishing business, the commission proposed lifting the 10-horsepower boat motor limit at Beaver Lake in Anderson County, Kincaid Lake in Pendleton County, Elmer Davis Lake in Owen County, Shanty Hollow Lake in Warren County, Corinth, Bullock Pen and Boltz lakes in Grant County, and Swan Lake in Ballard County. Boats must be 22 feet or less; those motors larger than 10 horsepower will have to operate at idle speed only.
Boats with motors 10 horsepower and under may be operated at any speed on these lakes. This regulation will go into effect in October. Finally, the commission voted to prohibit the harvest of alligator gar statewide, including by bowfishing.
The department will also implement a free online paddlefish harvest permit system in order to gauge the population status of this species. These regulations will go into effect March 1, 2015.
The next Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 15. Meetings are held in the Arnold Mitchell Building, located at 1 Sportsman’s Lane in Frankfort.
This week’s Kentucky Afield report from outdoor writer Lee McClellan talks about stream fishing for smallmouth:
“We saw good numbers of 14-, 15- and 16-inch smallmouth this spring in our Elkhorn Creek population sampling,” said Jeff Crosby, central fisheries district biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
“We saw fish up to 18 inches and the overall catch rate was the highest since the mid-2000s.”
Those who love to catch stream smallmouth bass are blessed to live in Kentucky. Many flowing ribbons of smallmouth water course through our state. If a local stream has a rocky bottom, pools and riffles and water at least waist deep in some holes, it likely holds smallmouths. You can jump across many productive smallmouth streams in Kentucky in spots. Most get little fishing pressure.
Stream smallmouth fishing boils the pursuit down to its essence and that is the beauty of it. No electronic sonar units, GPS maps nor expensive boats needed. Just a handful of lures, a light to medium-light power spinning outfit spooled with 6-pound line and an ability to read flowing water is all you need. Choose a rod with a forgiving tip and a strong butt section. Noodle rods don’t cut it for stream smallmouth.
Wading is a cheap and highly productive way to fish these streams. Wading boots or a worn out pair of hiking boots protect the feet while wading.
Avoid open-toe sandals or flip flops as your feet need a buffer from sharp rocks, glass or pieces of barbed wire deposited in the stream bed during the last flood.
Stream smallmouth bass reside in three main places in summer: the flowing areas upstream and downstream of a riffle and in the flowing shoals. The tranquil areas in deep holes hold fish at rest, not those actively feeding.
Topwaters worked along undercut banks in flowing shoals make the most exciting stream smallmouth fishing. The Rapala-style lures work well in this situation, but chuggers and the cigar-shaped lures designed for the walk-the-dog retrieve work better. Yellow and red colored deer hair poppers cast on a fly rod along these banks also brings great sport.
For a list of productive smallmouth streams and access spots, visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife homepage at fw.ky.gov and click on the “Fishing” tab.