All you folks who like to use the “hands on” method of fishing are reminded there’s still time to register for the catfish noodling tournament, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., June 28 at Barren River Lake. 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 cat for an additional $10. You must be signed in at Barren Outdoors 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. Everyone is invited to come down and watch the weigh-in.
I spent another enjoyable day Monday with friends trolling for whatever would bite on Barren Lake. Captain Larry Spencer put us on fish as usual and the pot included some nice bass, crappie and catfish. It was one of the Oldtimers regular monthly outings and after the fishing we met at Port Oliver Recreation Area for a cookout. Ben Burnley was our special guest. He is now retired from Ducks Unlimited. He will be remembered by many as the man who put on some fantastic DU banquets here. He was spending a few days camping in the area and fishing with Brother Ed. I understand he boated some nice rainbow Tuesday on the Cumberland River.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has completed an 18-month-long effort to acquire the 926-acre property of Stephen Boone in Henry County.
It is located along KY 389, about three miles north of Gratz.
“What a tremendous property and outstanding opportunity for hunters and anglers alike,” said Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Gregory Johnson in a KDFWR news release. “With more than a half-mile of Kentucky River frontage, 686 acres of woodlands and about 130 acres of lakes and ponds, this is not only an impressive addition to the Kentucky River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), it is precisely the kind of place where memories are made.”
A stunning feature is the area’s 110-acre oxbow lake, home to an active bald eagle’s nest. The property also features a 15-acre man-made lake and 2-acre pond for additional fishing opportunities.
At its quarterly meeting on June 6, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously voted to name the oxbow as Lake Benjy Kinman. This is in recognition of the well-known fisheries biologist and former Fisheries Division director who retired as the department’s deputy commissioner in February, after 38 years of service.
The commission originally authorized the project at its December 2012 meeting, prior to Kinman’s retirement.
The addition of the new tract brings Kentucky River WMA to 3,555 acres. The department used Federal Wildlife Restoration funds to make the $3,185,440 purchase. It used the value in two department-owned tracts as a 30 percent match toward the federal funds. No Fish and Game Fund money was used.
The department will formally open and dedicate the area in mid-August.
The department also announced the donation of two pieces of equipment from the League of Kentucky Sportsmen which will produce better upland and small game hunting in the future.
The League donated $142,000 for two front-end loaders equipped with tree shears for improving habitat for species such as grouse.
“The League of Kentucky Sportsmen always has been focused on wildlife conservation and the development of habitat,” said Mark Nethery, immediate past president of the League. “This seemed a natural progression.”
The shears allow for cutting smaller trees to create open spaces in forested habitat. This benefits upland species such as grouse and quail, as well as small game species such as cottontail rabbits.
“This generous donation from the League will enable us to greatly enhance our forest management activities,” said Karen Waldrop, director of wildlife for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “This equipment will improve grouse habitat and other wildlife habitat across the state.”
Barren River Lake is mentioned prominently this week in the Kentucky Afield report by outdoor writer Lee McClellan. The subject is catfish.
Channel catfish are headed to rocky banks in reservoirs to spawn. June is one of the most productive months to fish for them.
“Channels like crevices to spawn such as rocky areas or stumpy areas,” said Gerry Buynak, assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “They like protecting their eggs in those crevices. anglers.”
You don’t need to spend a ton for good channel catfishing equipment. A 7- to 9-foot long medium-heavy to heavy power fiberglass spinning rod and matching reel spooled with 20- to 30-pound abrasion resistant monofilament line will land most channel catfish. Many anglers use a ½-ounce egg sinker on the main line above a barrel swivel with an 18-inch leader of 20-pound fluorocarbon line.
A 4/0 circle hook works wonders for this style of fishing as the catfish can take the bait for a long time without fear of a deep gut hook. Circle hooks usually catch a catfish in the corner of the mouth. Remember to resist the impulse to set the hook; slowly tighten the line until the catfish hooks itself.
Channel catfish are mainly bottom scavengers with a highly tuned sense of smell. Bait that stinks or bleeds works best. The low light periods of dusk and dark and just before dawn are the best times to catch them in June.
People have used just about anything that gives off scent to catch channel catfish. Bar soap, candy orange slices, offal left out in the sun, rancid cheese, fish guts and the innards of squirrels have all been impaled on a hook and cast for channels.
However, just a few baits consistently catch channel catfish in reservoirs: cut pieces of shad or skipjack herring, nightcrawlers, chicken livers, shrimp and prepared commercial stink or dip baits. Cheap hot dogs soaked overnight in syrup made from unsweetened strawberry Kool-Aid combined with a couple tablespoons of minced garlic make really productive channel cat bait.
Reservoirs across Kentucky hold excellent populations of channel catfish with good bank fishing. The big twins of west Kentucky, Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley have arguably the best population of these fish in the state.
“We used to catch many channel catfish from big boulder outcrops on Lake Barkley in June,” Buynak said. “We caught them on nightcrawlers.”
In addition to rocky banks and points, the softball-sized riprap rock used to armor the bank around marinas on both of these lakes holds June channel catfish. The riprap around bridge approaches also hold fish.
The tailwater areas of both of these lakes have consistently productive channel catfishing with excellent bank access. Cut shad or skipjack herring fished on the riprap that armors the bank just below both dams produces channel cats nearly year round.
Central Kentucky’s Taylorsville Lake has several excellent bank fishing spots for channel catfish. Maj. Shane Carrier, assistant director of law enforcement for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, patrolled the lake for years as a conservation officer.
“The area around Van Buren Boat Ramp and Chowning Lane Boat Ramp are good June spots,” he said. “There is riprap around those ramps and rocky shorelines as well and they catch a lot of fish.” He also recommends the ADA accessible fishing platform at Possum Ridge Boat Ramp for channel cats.
Carrier said anglers catch many catfish from the face of the dam on Taylorsville. A parking lot and bathroom facilities await anglers there, but they must negotiate a steep hill.
Barren River Lake in southern Kentucky holds an excellent population of large channel catfish. Anglers should target rocky shorelines with chicken livers, stink bait or strawberry and garlic soaked hotdogs. Bank anglers may fish at Barren River State Resort Park, Quarry Road Recreation Area near the dam, the Tailwater Recreation Area just below the dam and at the Port Oliver Boat Ramp. Port Oliver has ADA accessible fishing structures and lot of bank fishing room. The Barren River Lake Wildlife Management Area in the Peter’s Creek Arm also has a fishing pier and bank fishing.
Dewey Lake and Yatesville Lake in east Kentucky both have burgeoning populations of channel catfish. Target flats near the channel in the upper section of Dewey Lake. Jenny Wiley State Resort Park offers a wealth of bank fishing in this part of the lake.
Yatesville Lake also holds impressive numbers of channel catfish. The riprap lined banks near the Yatesville Lake State Park Marina hold June channel catfish as does the fishing jetty near the marina.