Barren River Lake Fishing Report

By Josh Morris
Hello folks I hope spring fever has you itching to get out and catch some fish. The fish are biting and the sun is shining. There are many opportunities to fish from the bank on Barren River Lake.
Port Oliver is a great spot plenty of parking and there are play grounds for kids. I love taking kids fishing, but let’s be honest they can get bored. Kids like catching not fishing. So don’t be afraid to take some distractions for them. I remember playing with worms or minnows, and just having a ball doing that. I didn’t realize at the time how important it was just to be there with family and friends.
If you are more adventurous you could park at a bridge and walk some. Just be cautious it can be dangerous. Then, the Narrows, State Park, Beaver Creek, Spillway, and many other public access areas are available.
I would recommend some type of live bait, bobbers and light tackle. It will be fun getting a sunburn if nothing else. Also take some food and drinks. Have a cook out or a picnic. The Barren River Lake area is so beautiful and right here in our back yard. Do your family a favor and take advantage of it.
Thank each of you for reading, I hope you all can send some family fishing pics for us to post.
Good luck and God Bless.

Josh Morris is a tournament bass angler and an ambassador for FLW. He is on the water two to three times per week. Some of his information comes from the good folks at Barren Outdoors. You can follow Josh on twitter @joshmorris53. Feel free to email Josh questions at
He is sponsored on the tournament circuit by Barren Outdoors, G Loomis, ShimanoPsycho Fishing Lures, Blob Fish, Snack Daddy Lures, and Freddie’s Dugout.

Trophy bass sought for propagation

By Dave Baker, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
When Murray resident Austin Gruner caught an 8.2-pound largemouth bass bulging with developing eggs from Kentucky Lake on Feb. 10, he didn’t keep it.
Instead, Gruner took his trophy to Fisherman’s Headquarters in Benton, where employees held it for pick up by a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources hatchery truck.
“Austin’s fish is the first donation we’ve received this year for the department’s Trophy Bass Propagation Program,” said Jeff Ross, assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “We’re seeking additional donations of big bass caught in other lakes so we can increase the potential for oversized largemouths in Kentucky’s waters.”
Trophy bass donated to the program go to Pfeiffer Fish Hatchery near Frankfort for spawning. The department stocks the trophy offspring to the original lake and select other lakes in fall.
Anglers really don’t lose their trophy. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife gives participants professionally mounted, fiberglass reproductions of their fish in return for the donation. Photos of the four bass donated in 2016 – the inaugural season of the program – are viewable online at Trophy Bass Propagation Program.
In spring, Kentucky’s program only accepts female bass weighing more than 8 pounds, and male bass weighing more than 6 pounds. Fish this size generally exceed 22 inches in length. In fall, the department accepts fish of any gender weighing more than 7 pounds.The seasonal program shuts down for the summer on May 31, because the higher temperatures are stressful to the fish and reduce the chances of survival.
Anglers should take their trophy bass to a participating bait shop as soon as possible, rather than leaving the fish in a livewell or stringer for an extended period of time. Bait shop employees will hold the fish in aerated bait tanks until a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife employee can pick up the bass and take it to a hatchery.
Look for more information about the trophy bass program, fish handling tips and a list participating bait shops on the department’s website, Trophy Bass Propagation Program.

Spring is can’t-miss time for muskellunge

By Kevin Kelly, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
Spring break for many conjures thoughts of traveling somewhere warm and catnapping on a beach between rounds of golf.
A staycation sounds much better if you’re a muskellunge angler from Kentucky. The state’s muskellunge fishery has earned a reputation that extends beyond its borders, and experienced anglers know spring is one of the can’t-miss times of the year.
“Your odds of catching a trophy are better in the spring and fall,” said Tom Timmermann, northeastern fisheries district biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “In the fall, they’re packing on that weight to get through the winter. In the spring, if you catch those females before they release their eggs, they’re full of eggs. Either way, you’re looking at a chance at some bigger fish.”
Kentucky lies within the natural range of the Ohio strain of muskie, but the population in lakes and streams now is supported with stocking.
“I believe they’re probably right there and ready to go pretty soon,” said Hardin, an assistant fisheries division director with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “The cold weather may slow things down a little bit but they’re already making that march.”
The longer periods of daylight and water temperatures climbing past 50 degrees trigger the muskellunge’s instincts to move shallow. Many anglers do well focusing on larger embayments, secondary cuts and flats because they warm up first.
Look for areas that offer food, vegetation or timber, warmer water and close proximity to deeper water. Start at the points and work back to the shallows, casting to the bank and any structure or sub-surface features along the way.
“Those fish run up into the hollows seeking that flowing water,” Timmermann said. “The males are up there early and the females come up second. If you see a bunch of males, you know you’re still a little ways off from the big fish getting up there.”
Many a bass angler pitching a crankbait or plastic frog has been surprised by a muskie. To have a fighting chance, it’s best to pair a 6-foot-6 or longer medium-heavy or heavy action rod with a 4.2:1 or 5.2:1 ratio baitcasting reel spooled with 65-pound or heavier braid. Wire leaders of 9- to 18-inches are a necessity because of the muskie’s sharp teeth.
Up-sized rattling lipless crankbaits, large soft-plastic swimbaits, minnow-imitating crankbaits, jerk and glide baits, spinnerbaits and in-line spinners are enough to cover just about any situation in the spring.
Anglers should dip the rod tip into the water as a lure gets to within a few feet of the boat and draw a figure eight. Muskie are prone to stalk a lure and the figure eight can entice a boat-side strike.
“I don’t know how many fish I’ve had hit right at the boat and I’ve never seen them until I’ve made the turn,” Hardin said.
A guide once told Timmermann that muskellunge anglers should not be married to one spot in spring.
“If you’re not catching fish, if you’re not seeing fish on your electronics, if you’re not raising fish, keep moving,” Timmermann said. “This time of year, jump from big hollow to big hollow.”
“Pay attention to what you’re moving and when you’re moving it. Clean your motors and trolling motors off before you move to a new spot and clean those weeds off of your bait,” said Timmermann.
Furthermore, boaters can fight the spread of hydrilla by clearing any plant material from their boats before launching and removing all plant material from boats, motors and trailers after pulling their boats from the water. Spray or scrub off any remnants of plant material on boats before storing them.
One more thing to remember before trying for the muskellunge of a lifetime this spring in Kentucky is a fishing license. The new license year started March 1. Consult the Kentucky Fish and Boating Guide for complete licensing information. It is available online at and wherever licenses are sold.

State Park Campground opens March 31; stay one night, get second night free

Barren River Lake State Park Campground opens Friday, March 31.
The campground has 101 camping sites (99 with standard electricity, two for tent camping). It also includes utility hookups, a dump station, showers, restrooms, and a boat ramp.
Reservations can be made by clicking Campground Reservations.

Stay One Night, Get Second Night FREE!
From Saturday, April 1, through Thursday, April 27, campers, using the promo code SPRING2017, when booking online through ReserveAmerica, or by calling the park, 270-646-2151, will receive one night’s FREE camping when they stay one night.

Metal Docks by Quality Docks, LLC approved for Barren River Lake

Metal docks by Quality Docks, LLC have been approved for installation on Barren River Lake.

Metal docks by Quality Docks, LLC have been approved for Barren River Lake.
Following a year approval process by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Quality Docks LLC has received approval to begin installing the docks around the lake. This approval was necessary because metal docks are not a pre-approved design in the USACE Shoreline Management Plan. Only wood docks with blue foam or encapsulated foam are pre-approved.
This is the same approval process Quality Docks, LLC had to go through when it introduced encapsulated foam to Barren River Lake four years ago, and now it has become the preferred standard.
The metal dock design is completely free of any wood parts. Quality Docks, LLC uses an angle iron and rod design that is completely galvanized. Encapsulated foam flotation is attached to the frame.
Finally, the docks are decked with an injection molded, interlocking plastic decking that stays cool to the touch on even the hottest summer days. The interlocking decking is attached and trimmed out so there are no screws visible on the walking surface.
The components used on the metal docks make them virtually maintenance free and safe.
Quality Docks, LLC offers metal docks in the same dimensions that boaters have become accustomed to with the traditional wood docks approved for Barren River Lake.
For more information on the metal docks or to get a better understanding of how to complete the USACE approval process for new or replacement docks, contact Quality Docks, LLC at 270-943-0379 (Brett) or 270-943-9276 (William).

Barren River Lake Fishing Report

By Josh Morris

Josh Morris had a good week on Barren River Lake, catching this one of many bass.

What a beautiful week we have had on Barren River Lake. Spring is in the air and water.
Sunday on the water while windy, proved to be a good day.  The lake was full of fishermen in kayaks and power boats alike.My son and I set out to put a few largemouth bass in the boat and we did find some. We also were lucky enough to watch an immature bald eagle catch a fish less than 20 yards from our boat.The water is still at winter pool and was 53 degrees. But the fish are eating and are fat.
Plenty of Shad are available just up Skaggs Creek from the narrows.
Bass were holding on bluff points where feeder creeks come in to the main channel. Transition type rocks were best. We caught ours on NED Rigs. With the wind, I use a GLoomis IMX drop shot rod and a Sahara Shimano reel. It casts well in the wind and is super sensitive. It also is stiff enough that the small hook on the NED rig doesn’t pull out.
Crappie have been on fire.  They are hitting 8- 12 feet deep spider rigging minnows. Also, some are being caught around wood same depth.
Hybrids are being caught trolling the channels.
A few Catfish are being caught on cut Shad.
I caught a bass with a Shad in its throat. I often write and talk about paying attention to the little things when you catch a fish- color, is there anything in its throat, is there mud on the belly. A lot of subtle things will help you get the puzzle figured out.
Also included is a picture of a good limit of crappie Bill Hester caught.
Thank everyone who has reached out in the last few days.  I hope everyone gets out and catches some fish very soon!
Good luck and God Bless.
Josh Morris is a tournament bass angler and an ambassador for FLW. He is on the water two to three times per week. Some of his information comes from the good folks at Barren Outdoors. You can follow Josh on twitter @joshmorris53. Feel free to email Josh questions at spottedm@gmail.comHe is sponsored on the tournament circuit by Barren Outdoors, G Loomis, ShimanoPsycho Fishing Lures, Blob Fish, Snack Daddy Lures, and Freddie’s Dugout.

Bill Hester caught this good stringer of crappie from Barren River Lake last week.

Barren among up and coming fisheries

By Lee McClellan, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
The Fisheries Division’s Fishing Forecast each year presents its “Up and Coming Fisheries,” a savory menu of potential fishing trips for anglers to try in the coming year.
“The Up and Coming Fisheries on the Fishing Forecast are fisheries that are either a new opportunity or fisheries once considered average to poor that have been building up in quality,” said Jeff Ross, assistant director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Some of these are waters we don’t sample regularly, such as the upper Barren River.”
The black bass population in the upper Barren River upstream of Barren River Lake displayed its strength as Kentucky Fish and Wildlife stream fisheries biologist Jay Herrala conducted population sampling for walleye earlier this week.
“We saw some pretty nice smallmouth bass from 16 to 18 inches long in the upper Barren in the area around Coruth Ford,” Herrala said. “We consistently saw some decent fish.”
The Holland Boat Ramp off KY 100 in Allen County provides access to the upper Barren River. Dave Dreves, assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, spent many hours conducting population sampling on the upper Barren. He said anglers start encountering smallmouth bass upstream of Jewsharp Bend, downstream of Holland Boat Ramp.
An angler in a johnboat, canoe or kayak could work upstream and downstream for smallmouth bass in this area. The woody cover in the deeper holes in this stretch hold good numbers of spotted bass.
The extreme headwaters of the Barren River arm of Barren River Lake holds impressive numbers of largemouth bass at this time of year. Anglers may access this section by using Browns Ford Ramp or Walnut Creek Ramp.
“We would put in at Browns Ford and conduct population sampling in early spring,” Dreves said. “The largemouth bass would stack up in the old river channel at winter pool. There are row after row of stumps lining the old river channel and we would go over those stumps with a shocking boat. There would be largemouths just stacked in there; we would pull three or four nice largemouths off the bigger stumps.”
Dreves also recommends that anglers fish the stump-lined channel of the main lake beginning at the narrow cut-though upstream of the Walnut Creek Boat Ramp. Continue following this channel toward the headwaters for good fishing opportunities. These areas are good to hit in the next couple of weeks, as the lake begins its 27-foot climb to summer pool by mid-March.
Population sampling of the smallmouth bass fishery in central Kentucky’s Elkhorn Creek revealed a dramatic improvement. “We are coming off historically high catch rates for smallmouth bass on Elkhorn Creek,” said David Baker, Central Fisheries District biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “For perspective, it is double what we’ve seen for the last 10 years.”
The average number of smallmouth bass captured and released per hour by electroshocking during population sampling is usually 60 to 70 fish. “In 2016, it was 162 per hour,” Baker said. “We had three phenomenal years of reproduction in a row and it’s showing in the population sampling.”
Baker said fisheries crews see smallmouth bass up to 18 inches in the Elkhorn with good numbers of fish from 12 to 16 inches long.
“People should have a field day for smallmouths,” Baker said. “We also have a fantastic number of rock bass in there up to the trophy size of 10 inches.”
Ross said several of the small state-owned lakes show improved populations of largemouth bass. “Wilgreen Lake in Madison County is showing improved bass populations by all indicators,” he said. “It earned an excellent rating for largemouth bass in the Fishing Forecast.”
Population sampling for largemouth bass on Wilgreen Lake showed impressive numbers of fish more than 15 inches long with a healthy number of large bass bigger than 20 inches.
“Carpenter Lake in Daviess County also shows an improving population of largemouth bass,” Ross said. The 68-acre lake holds an increasing number of largemouths over the 15-inch mark.
The up and coming fisheries are only a small tidbit of the information available in the annual Fishing Forecast. Print your own copy by logging on to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at and click on the “Fish” tab, followed by the Forecast tab.
Fishing licenses expired Feb. 28. Anglers fishing now should make sure they have the current license.

Twisted Oliver Trail work underway

(Click map to increase size) Above is a new map of the Twisted Oliver Trail on Barren River Lake showing (in Orange) the roughed in and rideable 1st Loop. The trailhead is off the amphitheater parking lot in the Port Oliver Recreation Area. The Southwest KyMBA – Kentucky Mountain Bike Association and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers- Barren River Lake are working on the trail together. Work the Land and Ride the Land!

Large tournaments launching from state park ramps and marinas must register

By Lee McClellan, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
Fishing tournament sponsors who launch from a ramp or marina at a Kentucky state park must first register the tournament and obtain a permit if more than 25 boats participate.
These larger tournaments must register through the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ Online Tournament Schedule site and obtain a permit from the Kentucky Department of Parks.
“This announcement is a request from the Kentucky Department of Parks to remind fishing tournament organizers of this regulation and register on our tournament scheduling site,” said Jeff Ross, assistant director of Fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “They must register with the Kentucky Department of Parks for a special fishing tournament permit within 15 days of registering the tournament on our site.”
Ross said users of the state park ramps for tournaments larger than 25 boats must follow procedures specific to state park ramps. “It helps the Department of Parks prepare for large tournaments held on their facilities and avoid ramp conflicts,” he said.
Contact the Kentucky Department of Parks at 1-800-255-7275 to obtain a special use permit. The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Tournament Scheduling site is located online at Search under the keywords, “Tournament Fishing.”

Barren River Fishing League announces March bass tournament schedule

The Barren River Fishing League has announced its March bass tournament schedule.
All tournaments will launch from and return to Port Oliver Recreation Area ramps.

March 11

7 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Five fish, one slot, 70 percent payout
Benefits ACSHS “Up All Night” event.
To get your boat numbers, contact Matt Stinson @ 270-618-1832.

March 12
High School Tournament
All anglers, boat captains must be registered with KHSAA.
For more information, contact Matt Stinson @ 270-618-1832.

March 18
7 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Barren River Fishing League Opening Tournament.
If you are interested in fishing the BRFL, and didn’t make it to the draw, you can take next # in line the morning of.
Please be there early to get registered.
For more information, contact Matt Stinson @ 270-618-1832.