Dog Days of Summer create challenges for reservoir fishing, try the streams

By Lee McClellan
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
The dog days of summer settled over Kentucky in the last week, bringing the hottest temperatures of the year. The summer heat this August is making fishing reservoirs a tough prospect. Even bluegill get grumpy in the larger lakes at this time of year, much less largemouth bass.
“We are getting to the time of year of the maximum production for baitfish, such as shad, in our reservoirs,” said Ryan Oster, fisheries program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Bass and other predator fish don’t have to search hard for food. The bigger lakes are full of 2- to 3-inch shad; a perfect bite-sized meal for them. They shouldn’t be as hungry on our larger lakes.”
Anglers have options now that reservoir fishing is tough during the day. Oster recommends flowing waters such as creeks and tailwaters below the major reservoirs for fishing during the dog days.
Wade fishing a stream for smallmouth bass is a productive and refreshing way to spend a scorching August afternoon. Wading a stream boils fishing down to the essentials; you must carry all of your lures and tackle. Wading harkens back to youthful fishing adventures with older relatives when all you had was one spin cast outfit and a small tackle box.
Streams usually flow low and gentle this time of year, making for easy wading. However, the best fishing of the year is a water rise that follows a soaking rain. Not a flood or water that looks like flowing mud, but a gentle rise that slightly stains the water. Smallmouth bass move to flowing shoals when creeks rise in late summer and hit 4-inch black finesse worms with abandon. They also crush dark brown creature baits that imitate crayfish.
When streams flow at normal levels in July and August, downsize your lure selection for stream smallmouth bass. A 3-inch Senko-style soft plastic jerkbait really shines in low, clear late summer water. Those in hues of green or brown with gold, green, blue, silver or red glitter seem to catch more smallmouths now than those with just black flakes or no flakes at all.
Topwater lures work well right now in the first and last hours of the day. Smaller, subtler topwaters such as a floating/diving minnow draw more strikes in late summer than loud, aggressive topwaters such as a buzzbait. The peak of topwater fishing on streams is still on the horizon in September.
Log on to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and click on the “Recreational Fishing” tab, then the “Stream Fisheries” tab for a list of smallmouth streams in Kentucky. Click on the “Where to Fish” tab for public access spots on these streams.
Forget the big lakes during the day in July and August. The flowing waters are best right now.

Observe boating safety this Labor Day

By Lee McClellan
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
The Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah of the boating season. Boaters, kayakers and canoeists will swarm waters all over Kentucky during the holiday weekend, squeezing the last bit of fun out of what many consider the last weekend of summer.
Boaters who plan to hit the water should keep in mind some important considerations before they launch their motor boat, canoe or kayak over the holiday weekend and the upcoming fall fishing season.
“There are more non-motorized boats, such as kayaks and canoes, on the water every day,” said Zac Campbell, boating education coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Their low profile makes them easy to overlook by motor boat operators.”
Sales of non-motorized boats, especially fishing kayaks, rose dramatically over the past decade as more people found their low cost, simplicity of operation and ease of transport appealing.
“A canoe or kayak has much less maneuverability to avoid danger than a motorized boat,” Campbell said. “Those using non-motorized boats should wear their lifejacket at all times while on the water.”
Campbell also recommends canoeing or kayaking in a group as wakes from motor boats can upset a canoe or kayak. “It is a good idea to bring a square, throwable personal floatation device to help friends in case of trouble,” Campbell said. “People in canoes and kayaks on our waters should stay close to shore and out of congested areas.”
Boater’s fatigue is another challenge for boat operators. The combination of sun, dehydration and the movement of the boat along with the concentration required to safely operate a boat takes its toll and can induce an almost trance-like state.
“Stabilizing yourself while driving the boat requires energy,” Campbell said. “The pounding your body takes while riding in a boat also drains energy.”
These stressors dull the senses and slow the reaction time of someone operating a boat.
“When you add consuming alcohol on top of these other factors, it makes for a potentially dangerous situation,” Campbell said. “Boater’s fatigue affects you without alcohol. Consuming alcohol makes it worse. Don’t consume alcohol if you plan to operate a boat.”
Navigational buoys often cause confusion for boat operators, especially inexperienced ones. “The red and green buoys mark the channel and keep boats from running aground in shallow areas,” Campbell said. “Buoys are the traffic signals on our waterways and guide operators in a safe manner.”
An easy to remember phrase, “red, right, returning,” helps boaters navigate these buoys correctly. When the boat is moving upstream on a river or up the lake (away from the dam) on a reservoir, keep the red navigation buoy on your right.
The reverse is true when the boat is moving downstream on a river or down the lake (toward the dam) on a reservoir. Keep the green navigation buoy on your right: “red, right, returning.”
“Other buoys must be obeyed as well,” Campbell said. “You may receive a citation for violating a no wake zone.”
Buoys with a diamond indicate a hazard or underwater obstruction while those with a crossed diamond mean the area is closed to boating. Buoys with a square relate non-regulatory information such as directions.
Boaters should double check their boats for the required safety equipment such as a U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejacket in good working order and readily available for all occupants of the vessel.
Persons under 12 years of age must wear their lifejacket at all times in the open portion of a boat that is underway. Boats operating on Kentucky waters must have a working fire extinguisher that is not expired located for immediate use and signaling devices such as a loud whistle or horn. All boats must also have a Type IV personal floatation device designed to be thrown such as a ring or a square that resembles a seat cushion.
Keep these things in mind before hitting the water over the Labor Day weekend and during fishing season this fall.

Barren River Lake waterfowl blind drawing set Oct. 4 at Corps office

By Lee McClellan
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
The dates are now set for the annual waterfowl blind drawings for Doug Travis, Lake Barkley, Barren River Lake, Green River Lake and Sloughs Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).
Hunters interested in participating in the waterfowl blind drawing must be at least 18 years of age and possess a valid Kentucky hunting license, a Kentucky migratory game bird – waterfowl hunting permit and a federal migratory bird permit (also known as a duck stamp) at the time of the drawing.
The waterfowl blind drawing for Barren River Lake WMA in Allen and Barren counties will be from 7- 9 a.m. (Central) Saturday, Oct. 4. The drawing will be held at the Barren River Lake Corps of Engineers office, located at the Barren River Lake dam off KY 252.
The waterfowl blind drawing for Doug Travis WMA in Carlisle and Hickman counties will be 10 a.m. (Central) Saturday, Aug. 30. The drawing will be held at the WMA office, located one-half mile south of Berkley on KY 123. Registration begins at 9 a.m. (Central)
The waterfowl blind drawing for Lake Barkley WMA in Trigg and Lyon counties will be 8 a.m. (Central) Monday, Sept. 15. The drawing will be held at the shelter on the east side of the Cumberland River at Lake Barkley Dam, located off U.S. 62 near Lake City. Participants should use the Power House entrance then turn right toward the drawing location.
The waterfowl blind drawing for Sloughs WMA in Henderson and Union counties will be 7 p.m. (Central) Wednesday, Sept. 24. The drawing will be held at Union County Middle School located off U.S. 60 west in Morganfield. Registration begins at 6 p.m. (Central)
The waterfowl blind drawing for Green River Lake WMA in Taylor and Adair counties will be 10 a.m. (Eastern) Saturday, Sept. 27. The drawing will be held at the Green River Lake Corps of Engineers office, located off KY 55 approximately seven miles south of Campbellsville. Registration begins at 9 a.m. (Eastern).
Hunters drawn for blinds on Doug Travis, Lake Barkley, Green River Lake, Barren River Lake or Sloughs WMAs must locate, prepare and maintain the blind site for the duration of the 2014-2015 waterfowl seasons. Each drawn hunter may select a co-owner of the blind site for use in the absence of the hunter drawn. The co-owner must be present at the drawing.
Hunters may construct a permanent blind or use a boat or portable blind, but each blind site must be permanently pinned with a permanent marker identifying permit holders for the site. Those hunters selected hold first rights for use of the blind site, but these blind sites are open to public use if the selected hunters are not in the blinds by 30 minutes before shooting time.

Annual Trashmasters Classic Sept. 20

The 27th annual Barren River Lake Trashmasters Classic is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 20, beginning at 8 a.m.
The lakeshore cleanup is seeking volunteers to pick up trash around the lake, as well supply pontoon boats to assist.
Volunteers may register that day, beginning at 8 a.m., at tables at boat ramps at Baileys Point, The Narrows, Barren River Lake State Park, Port Oliver and Walnut Creek. Groups are encouraged to pre-register by calling 270-646-2055.
Trash bags and gloves will be provided for volunteers.
Pontoon boats are also needed to shuttle volunteers and pick up and drop the trash. Boat owners will receive either a $40 gift card for gas reimbursement or two nights camping at any Barren River Lake Corps of Engineers campground. Pontoon owners will also be eligible for a $200 prize. Tarps and a power washer will be available to keep the boats clean.
Volunteers are also being sought to assist with registration and as zone coordinators at the boat ramps.
If you can volunteer the use of your pontoon or to help at registration or as a zone coordinator, call 270-646-2055.
At noon, volunteers will be treated to an afternoon of activities, including lunch and door prizes, at the former beach at Barren River Lake State Park.
The cleanup is designated an official National Public Lands Day and a Take Pride in America event.
The Trashmasters Classic is being sponsored by Service Master, in conjunction with the Friends of Barren River Lake & Park and the Barren River Lake State Park.
For more information about the Trashmaster Classic or how you can participate, call 270-646-2055 or click Friends of Barren River Lake & Park.

Barren River Lake State Park golf course will host senior men’s golf tournaments

Barren River Lake State Park Golf Course is scheduled to host two senior men’s golf tournaments.
Senior 3-Man Scramble, Aug. 18
The course will host a three-man scramble on Monday, Aug. 8, with a shotgun start scheduled for 8:30 a.m. CT. Entry fee is $35 with a limited field. The age of the members of the group totaled will determine flights. For more information, call the clubhouse at 270-646-4653.
Senior Men’s Invitational, Sept. 8
The state park course will host the annual Senior Men’s Invitational Tournament on Monday, Sept. 8, with a shotgun start scheduled for 9 a.m. CT. Entry fee is $50 with the field limited to the first 96 golfers. The entry fee will include golf, lunch, tee gifts and other prizes. Competitors will be flighted by age 50-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75 and up. For more information, contact the clubhouse at 270-646-4653.
The Louie B. Nunn is also offering a special rate for golfers and their guests. Sunday night lodging is $49.95, plus tax and fees, while Monday-Wednesday lodging is $69.65, plus tax and fees. To make reservations, click on Reservations or call 800-325-0057.

20th Scout Celebration at Tailwater

Beginning today, scouts (both boy and girl) from across Kentucky and Tennessee are setting up camp at the Barren River Lake Tailwater Campground to participate in the 20th annual Barren River Lake Scout Celebration.
The celebration will get underway tonight and continue through Sunday at the campground.
Both Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops will participate in a variety of events.
Awards will be presented to the scouts for Best Campsite, Best Gateway, Best Exhibition, and the winner of the cook-off will receive the “Golden Skillet.”
At 3 p.m. on Saturday, the public is invited FREE to view the scouts’ various displays and enjoy samples of the cook-off entries.
For more information, log on to ScoutCelebration.org or call the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office at Barren River at 270-646-2055.

Barren River Lake State Park offering Bed and Breakfast package through Dec. 1

The Barren River Lake State Park is offering a Bed and Breakfast package now through Dec. 1.
Enjoy one night’s stay in the park’s Louie B. Nunn Lodge and breakfast the next morning in the park’s Driftwood Restaurant for $79.99, plus tax and resort fee.
This offer is only good Sunday-Thursdays, and not available for holidays, special events or group outings.
Make reservations by calling 1-800-325-0057 or click RESERVATIONS and include the promo code BB14 for the Bed and Breakfast package.

Ride the trails on horseback at park

Enjoy an afternoon or morning riding the trails on horseback through Barren River Lake State Park.
The park’s stable is open seven days a week from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. until Labor Day. The stable is located on the park’s main drive, halfway between the park entrance and the Louie B. Nunn Lodge.
It contains 12-14 horses that will take riders on a 45 min. guided trail ride through the park. All horses are well broken for easy riding.
No experience is required to ride. In fact, anyone 5 years old and up can participate on the ride.
Trail rides begin on the hour, with the last ride of the day leaving at 4 p.m.
The cost is $18 per person (cash only).
To make reservations to ride, call the park at 270-646-2151, ext. 2418 or just ask for the stable.

Try wade fishing for Smallmouth Bass in flowing streams during the hotter days

By Lee McClellan
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
The dog days of summer settled over Kentucky in the last week, bringing the hottest temperatures of the year. The summer heat in July and August make fishing reservoirs a tough prospect.
Even bluegill get grumpy in the larger lakes at this time of year, much less largemouth bass.
“We are getting to the time of year of the maximum production for baitfish, such as shad, in our reservoirs,” said Ryan Oster, fisheries program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Bass and other predator fish don’t have to search hard for food. The bigger lakes are full of 2- to 3-inch shad; a perfect bite-sized meal for them. They shouldn’t be as hungry on our larger lakes.”
Anglers have options now that reservoir fishing is tough during the day. Oster recommends flowing waters such as creeks and tailwaters below the major reservoirs for fishing during the dog days.
Wade fishing a stream for smallmouth bass is a productive and refreshing way to spend a scorching July or August afternoon. Wading a stream boils fishing down to the essentials; you must carry all of your lures and tackle. Wading harkens back to youthful fishing adventures with older relatives when all you had was one spin cast outfit and a small tackle box.
Streams usually flow low and gentle this time of year, making for easy wading. However, the best fishing of the year is a water rise that follows a soaking rain. Not a flood or water that looks like flowing mud, but a gentle rise that slightly stains the water. Smallmouth bass move to flowing shoals when creeks rise in late summer and hit 4-inch black finesse worms with abandon. They also crush dark brown creature baits that imitate crayfish.
When streams flow at normal levels in July and August, downsize your lure selection for stream smallmouth bass. A 3-inch Senko-style soft plastic jerkbait really shines in low, clear late summer water. Those in hues of green or brown with gold, green, blue, silver or red glitter seem to catch more smallmouths now than those with just black flakes or no flakes at all.
Topwater lures work well right now in the first and last hours of the day. Smaller, subtler topwaters such as a floating/diving minnow draw more strikes in late summer than loud, aggressive topwaters such as a buzzbait. The peak of topwater fishing on streams is still on the horizon in September.
Log on to the department’s website at fw.ky.gov and click on the “Recreational Fishing” tab, then the “Stream Fisheries” tab for a list of smallmouth streams in Kentucky. Click on the “Where to Fish” tab for public access spots on these streams.
The Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam is another great place to wade in July and August where the water flows cold year round. The completion of repairs on Wolf Creek Dam brought back the normal release schedule that improved the water quality in the Cumberland River for trout.
“When you see the fish in the Cumberland now, they are more robust, healthier and there are many more big fish,” said Ron Brooks, director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
Last year, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife stocked 13,000 15- to 17-inch quick growing, sterile rainbow trout. “We are starting to see many bigger rainbows from last year’s stockings,” Brooks said.
Earlier this summer, Brooks caught a 24-inch brown trout, followed by 20-inch rainbow trout on consecutive casts while on a wade fishing trip on the Cumberland. “I caught several rainbows over 20 inches,” he said. “It was an incredible day, the best day I’ve ever had.”
Brooks said he overheard a conversation between two anglers through the dense early morning fog that is a summer staple on the Cumberland. One lamented an upcoming trout fishing trip to Montana.
“He said we have more and bigger trout here on the Cumberland tailwater than in Montana,” Brooks said. “When you hear something like that, you know you’ve got something special.”
Trout are holding in deep water under rocks, submerged logs and undercut banks during the day right now in Cumberland River. Brooks had his glory day fly fishing a wet caddis fly, but fly anglers report trout currently prefer midges, prince nymphs and bead-head pheasant tails.
Spinning anglers should work small, suspended jerkbaits in the rainbow trout color over rocks, logs or other trout hiding spots. Small deep-running, crawfish-colored crankbaits fished along submerged rocks, logs and along undercut banks also work well. Brown trout especially like this presentation.
“With all of the air conditions running now, they are generating more electricity with more turbines running at the dam,” Brooks said. “Check the generation schedule before you go and be careful wading or boating.”
To check the generation schedule for the day, call 1-606-678-8697 or log on to the Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s homepage at www.lrn.usace.army.mil/ and click on the “Missions” tab, then the “Recreation” tab.
The Cumberland is not the only tailwater that holds trout. A list of stocked tailwaters and the monthly trout stocking schedule are under the “Recreational Fishing” tab at fw.ky.gov.
Forget the big lakes during the day in July and August. The flowing waters are best right now.

Reminder: Poker Run CANCELED!

The annual Poker Run, sponsored  by the Friends of Barren River Lake & Park, has been canceled. The event, that was scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 2, is the organization’s primary fundraiser.

In a statement released by the Friends said,
“Due to unforeseen circumstances with the Kentucky State Department of Charitable Gaming, the Poker Run sponsored by the Friends of Barren River Lake & Park will not be held this year. We regret that this event must be cancelled, but the Friends group is committed to hosting a bigger and better event next year. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.”