Fall is smallmouth bass season

By Lee McClellan
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
Shorter days and yellowing leaves are about the only ways you can tell it is the third week of September. Temperature wise, it feels like August lasted six plus weeks.
“We are 10 degrees behind, water temperature wise, than usual for this time of year,” said David Baker, Central Fisheries District biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The water is usually cooler by now.”
Although the lingering summer has worn out its welcome, there is a silver lining. The peak of the topwater bite for stream smallmouth bass is just beginning, not winding down.
“I’ve fished Barren River the last two weekends and absolutely waylaid them on a buzzbait,” Baker said. “We caught two over 18 inches long this past weekend. I feel confident throwing topwaters on streams for smallmouth bass until the temperatures drop all the way down into the low 60s.” Daytime water temperatures on central Kentucky’s Elkhorn Creek ranged in the low to mid-80s this past week.
Early fall creates optimum feeding conditions for stream smallmouths, putting them on the prowl and turning them more aggressive. “We are in the best time of the year for food resources on streams, and the smallmouth bass take advantage and feed heavily,” Baker said.
The wet summer brought good flow to streams across Kentucky, providing slightly lower water temperatures with good amounts of dissolved oxygen. “The fish are really, really heavy right now, not the usual end of summer fish,” Baker said. “They were not so stressed during the late summer this year.”
Baker goes big with his topwater presentations in early fall, flying in the face of stream smallmouth orthodoxy that dictates small lures with subtle actions.
“This sounds crazy for stream smallmouth, but I use a ½-ounce white buzzbait at this time of year,” Baker said. “They will hit larger lures at this time of year. The way stream smallmouths grow big and fat is they don’t chase a lot of little stuff in fall. They eat a big meal when they can.”
Baker targets the shady, shallow side of the creek bend; a spot ignored by knowledgeable stream smallmouth anglers for most of the year. “Longear sunfish use these spots in fall and the smallmouth are feeding on them,” he said. “Small longears are a good food source for stream smallmouth.”
In addition to a buzzbait, a floating/diving minnow such as the venerable Rapala works in these spots as well. “My buddy has been catching a bunch of them on the silver with black back classic Rapala, the one that is about 4 1/2 inches,” Baker said. “The water clarity must be good for the Rapala to work well.”
Walking baits such as the Zara Spook or Puppy, designed for the “walk the dog” retrieve work well fished over the shallow, shady side of the creek now. Walking baits move side-to-side by gently jerking the rod tip from one side to another. Stream smallmouth can’t stand this retrieve and often hit walking baits with tremendous aggression in early fall. The best colors are bone, silver plate (chrome) and flitter shad.
“When casting a topwater lure for stream smallmouth, throw as tightly to the bank as possible,” Baker said. “Throw it a few feet past the target and bring the topwater lure back to it. If you throw it on top of them, they’re spooked.”
This also applies to the other topwater hotspot in early fall: the deeper pockets and eddies just above a riffle. Those with logs, large rocks or undercut banks nearby produce best. Avoid fishing topwater lures in the sections of the stream with the strongest current.
From the riffle area, cast chugger or popper-style topwater baits, such as the Chug Bug, Pop-R or Skitter Pop, upstream of the eddy, log, undercut bank or rock. Gently jerk the rod with the rod tip down to make the convex face of the lure pop and splash water. Don’t over work a chugger for stream smallmouth. Topwater propeller baits such as the Baby Torpedo or a floating/diving minnow lure also work well in this situation.
When the light dims at dusk to the point where it is hard see well enough to tie on one last lure for the day, choose a black 1/8-ounce Jitterbug. Cast it above stream drops at a 45-degree angle and retrieve it just fast enough to make the lure gurgle. Smallmouths sometimes just sip it from the surface or hit with a force that leaves you shaking.
“There is nothing more exciting than a stream smallmouth blowing up on a topwater,” Baker said. “It will stop your heart a bit.”
To find a good smallmouth bass stream near you, visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at http://www.fw.ky.gov. Click on the “Fish” tab, then “Recreational Fishing” tab for a wealth of information about smallmouth streams in Kentucky, including access points, stream fisheries information and paddling opportunities on streams with good smallmouth bass populations.

Barren River Lake Fishing Report

By Josh Morris
Hello fine folks I hope all is well!
The water is flowing through barren River lake as the corps tries to off set the rain from last weekend.
I will omit my bass findings this week, as I have a tournament Saturday. I wouldn’t want to mislead or tell anyone what I have found.
I will say bass continue to be hard to pattern.
Crappie look up Skaggs Creek on laydowns and brush piles in 8-15 feet of water.
Catfish you can catch from the bank on points and channel walls. Cut bait and liver work well.  Hybrids like bass have been hard to find this week. Look up creeks follow the bait and troll.
Bluegills are in pockets some good size fish are being caught on live bait.
If anyone has bass questions I will be glad to answer as long as you are not fishing the G Loomis Cup Saturday. Come out to the weigh in at Port Oliver and say “hello.”
Also, stop by Barren Outdoors Friday night and say hello and look for some good deals.

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.

Skeleton Cup Team Tournament Sept. 24

The Skeleton Cup Team Tournament, sponsored by G-Loomis, will be Sept. 24, on Barren River Lake. Take-off is set for 6 a.m., from Port Oliver Recreation Area. Weigh-in will be at 3 p.m., at Port Oliver.
Anglers must have purchased a G-Loomis rod between April 17- Sept. 22, to compete.
There will be a pre-tournament meeting with a free dinner Sept. 23, at Barren Outdoors.
For more information, contact Steve Riley at sriley0110@yahoo.com or by calling 859-533-5530.

The Narrows, Tailwater closing today

The Narrows and Tailwater campgrounds are closing for the season today, Sept. 18.
Tailwater will be available for free primitive camping the remainder of the year.
The Narrows is scheduled to reopen in May 2017.
Baileys Point Campground will close Oct. 23.
The annual Boo Bash at Baileys Point will be the second and third weekends of October.
The Barren River Lake State Park campground will close Oct. 31.

Barren River Lake Fishing Report

By Josh Morris
It has been beautiful this week on Barren River Lake. While high skies are pretty it can make fishing hard. The good news is the cooling trend in the evenings will increase feeding activity.
Crappie have really turned on this week.  Up Skaggs Creek seems to be the spot. Look for lay downs on bluffs or brush in the 8 -10 foot range. Also the brush piles around the islands on the main lake have been productive.
I wish I could say hybrids were good, but like the bass they are few and far between.
Catfish are fair up the creeks on jugs is the best chance for good numbers.
There is really not a lot to report this week beside the crappie bite.
It is time to get out and fill the freezer up!
Thank you all for reading.
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.

Barren River Lake Fishing Tournaments

Three fishing tournaments are scheduled for this weekend, Sept. 17-18, on Barren River Lake.
Barren River Fishing League, Sept. 17
The Barren River Fishing League will host an OPEN tournament Saturday, Sept. 17, from 6 a.m.- 2 p.m. Takeoff and weigh-in is scheduled from the Port Oliver Recreation Area ramps. For more information contact Ronnie Stinson at ronniestinson2003@yahoo.com or at 270-618-1436.
Kincaid Bass Masters Sept. 17-18
The Kincaid Bass Masters will host a two-day CLOSED tournament Saturday, Sept. 17, and Sunday, Sept. 18. The tournament will be from 7 a.m.- 4 p.m. on Saturday, and from 7 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Sunday. Takeoff and weigh-in is scheduled from the Barren River Lake State Park ramp.
Port Oliver Bass Club Sept. 18
The Port Oliver Bass Club will host an OPEN tournament Sunday, Sept. 18, from 6 a.m.- 1 p.m. Takeoff and weigh-in is scheduled from the Port Oliver Recreation Area ramps. Entry fee is $20 per person with a 100 percent payback. No contact information is available.

Barren River Lake’s Trashmasters Classic Lakeshore Cleanup is set this Saturday

The 29th annual Barren River Lake Trashmasters Classic Lakeshore Cleanup is this Saturday, Sept. 17, from 8- 11:30 a.m.
This year’s event is sponsored by Service Master Clean and coordinated in conjunction with The Friends of Barren River Lake & Park and Barren River Lake State Resort Park.
When, Where, and General Registration
On Saturday, Sept. 17 at 8- 9 a.m., individuals may stop by any of the following boat ramps to register: Baileys Point, The Narrows, State Park, Port Oliver and Walnut Creek.
Just check in at the registration table. Groups such as Scout troops, church and school groups are highly encouraged to attend, but MUST call us at 270-646-2055 to pre-register.
New registration procedures require a separate registration form with a parent or guardian’s signature for each child under the age of 18.
Afternoon activities start at noon at the Barren River Lake State Park Beach, where sponsors of the event will host an afternoon of food and fun for all the cleanup volunteers.
Free food and great prizes will be given away to the participants, donated by local businesses and individuals.
Register to Work a Ramp or Volunteer your Pontoon
Pontoon boats are vital to this event, as they are required to shuttle volunteers and trash back and forth along the shoreline.
Pontoon boat owners will be given a choice of a $40 gift card, courtesy of the event’s sponsor, for gas reimbursement; or two nights free camping at any Barren River Lake Corps of Engineers campground.
Tarps will be provided to line your boat for trash pick-up, and a pressure washer will be available for cleanup of your boat afterward.
To register for one of these jobs, or as a pontoon boat driver, please contact Holly Myers at 270-646-2055. You may also register online at Friends of Barren River Lake & Park.
For More Information
For more information, call Holly Myers at the Barren River Lake, Corps of Engineers Office at 270-646-2055, or visit the Friends on Facebook at Facebook.com/Fobrlp. You can also visit the Friends of Barren River Lake & Park website.

Brett Graham, Brent Clark win two-day BFL tournament on Barren River Lake

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Brett Graham of Cold Spring, Ky., won the Boaters Division, and Brent Clark of Bowling Green, Ky., won the Co-Angler Division of the Bass Fishing League two-day tournament on Barren River Lake.

Brett Graham of Cold Spring, Kentucky, won the Boaters Division, and Brent Clark of Bowling Green, Kentucky, won the Co-Anglers Division in the two-day Bass Fishing League tournament on Barren River Lake this weekend.
Graham added to his first day lead by catching another five fish limit, weighing 16 lbs., 6 ozs., on Sunday to claim the title. His total weight for the weekend was 31 lbs. 5 ozs.
Clark improved on his Saturday second place finish with a five fish limit, weighing 12 lbs. 3 ozs., to move into first place in the Co-Angler Division. His total weight for the tournament was 22 lbs. 8 ozs., with nine fish.
For the win, Graham received $5,329, plus $682 for the Big Bass on the Boaters’ side.
Clark collected $2,664 for the Co-Angler win.
After Saturday, the 91 Boaters and Co-Anglers’ field was narrowed to the top 18 in each division to compete on Sunday.
Boaters Division (two-day total)
1. Brett Graham, Cold Spring, Ky., 10 fish, 31 lbs. 5 ozs., $5,329.
2. Randall Christopher, Irvine, Ky., 10, 25-14, $2,664.
3. John Daniel, Bowling Green, Ky., 10, 21-9, $1,777.
4. Charles Morrison, Georgetown, Ky., 10, 21-1, $1,243.
5. Adam Wagner, Cookeville, Tenn., 9, 19-1, $1,066.
6. Michael E. Blanton, Richmond, Ky., 9, 18-1, $977.
7. Robert Reagan, Byrdstown, Tenn., 8, 17-12, $888.
8. Michael Bean, Bowling Green, Ky., 6, 16-11, $799.
9. Tom Hill, Lexington, Ky., 6, 15-15, $710.
10. Ryan Davidson, Branchland, WV, 9, 15-4, $622.
11. Jason Cooper, Shelbyville, Tenn., 5, 15-1, $562.
12. Shane Winchester, Glasgow, Ky., 7, 14-9, $515.
13. Mark Neal, Livingston, Tenn., 7, 13-14, $497.
14. William Campbell, Middlesboro, Ky., 6, 13-4, $474.
15. Jason Gibson, Byrdstown, Tenn., 5, 13-1, $444.
16. Vernon Sowers, Richmond, Ky., 6, 12-8, $426.
17. Tom Hunley, Stamping Ground, Ky., 6, 11-11, $409.
18. Dwight Fox, Gainesboro, Tenn., 6, 10-1, $391.
C0-Anglers Division (two-day total)
1. Brent Clark, Bowling Green, Ky., 9 fish, 22 lbs. 8 ozs., $2,664.
2. Drew Campbell, Cookeville, Tenn., 8, 16-5, $1,332.
3. Cody Loveless, Somerset, Ky., 6, 14-15, $889.
4. Josh Boone, London, Ky., 6, 14-9, $622.
5. Bart Vaughn, Lexington, Ky., 5, 11-10, $533.
6. Levi Neathery, Albany, Ky., 3, 8-12, $488.
7. Bryan Drury, Lexington, Ky., 3, 7-13, $444.
8. Andrew Haunert, Batavia, Ohio, 4, 7-8, $400.
9. Brenton Clemons, Somerset, Ky., 5, 7-8, $355.
10. Tyler Sheffield, Dry Ridge, Ky., 3, 7-5, $311.
11. Gene Nornhold Jr., Mt. Sterling, Ky., 4, 7-3, $281.
12. Mike Morrison, Prestonsburg, Ky., 3, 7-3, $258.
13. Steven Brown, Bowling Green, Ky., 4, 7-0, $249.
14. LJ Turner, Hyden, Ky., 3, 6-15, $237.
15. Tony Callahan, Vine Grove, Ky., 2, 6-14, $222.
16. Ray Boles, Celina, Tenn., 3, 6-4, $213.
17. Travis Puckett, Monroe, Tenn., 3, 5-11, $204.
18. Dale Eads, Somerset, Ky., 2, 5-5, $195.

Graham, Campbell lead Barren River Lake BFL after first day; field reduced to 36

Brett Graham of Cold Spring, Kentucky, has the first day lead on the Boater side of the Barren River Lake Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mountain Division. He weighed in five fish, with a combined weight of 14 lbs. 15 ozs.
Drew Campbell of Cookeville, Tennessee, holds the lead on the Co-Angler side. He delivered five fish, weighing 11 lbs. 2 ozs.
Graham also had the Big Bass of the Day on the Boater side with a catch weighing 5 lb. 3 oz. He received $682.
Bryan Drury of Lexington, Kentucky, caught the Big Bass of the Day on the C0-Angler side with a bass weighing 5 lb. 6 oz. bass.  He received $341.
Saturday’s competitors numbered 91 Boaters and 91 Co-Anglers.
Sunday’s field was narrowed to the top 18 Boaters and 18 Co-Anglers, following Saturday’s weigh-in.
Sunday takeoff and weigh-in will be at Port Oliver Recreation Area ramps. Takeoff is set for first safe light (6:30-7 a.m.) with weigh-in scheduled for 3 p.m. at Port Oliver.
Top 18 Boaters competing Sunday
1. Brett Graham, Cookeville, Tenn., 5 fish, weighing 14 lbs. 15 ozs.
2. Michael Bean, Bowling Green, Ky., 5, 14-12.
3. Randall Christopher, Irvine, Ky., 5, 12-15.
4. Jason Gibson, Byrdstown, Tenn., 4, 11-8.
5. Jason Cooper, Shelbyville, Tenn., 4, 11-7.
6. John Daniel, Bowling Green, Ky., 5, 10-11.
7. Charles Morrison, Georgetown, Ky., 4, 10-5.
8. Tom Hunley, Stamping Ground, Ky., 5, 9-15.
9. Robert Reagan, Byrdstown, Tenn., 5, 9-11.
10. Ryan Davidson, Branchland, WV, 5, 9-10.
11. Tom Hill, Lexington, Ky., 3, 9-7.
12. Shane Winchester, Glasgow, Ky., 4, 9-2.
13. Adam Wagner, Cookeville, Tenn., 4, 8-14.
14. Vernon Sowers, Richmond, Ky., 4, 8-10.
15. Dwight Fox, Gainesboro, Tenn., 5, 8-8.
16. Michael E. Blanton, Richmond, Ky., 4, 8-8.
17. William Campbell, Middlesboro, Ky., 4, 8-1.
18. Mark Neal, Livingston, Tenn., 5, 7-11.
Local Boater finishers (did not advance)
25. Timothy Minton, Smiths Grove, Ky., 3 fish, 6 lbs. 1 oz.
26. Steve Whitaker, Scottsville, Ky., 3, 5-14.
30. Randy Walden, Tompkinsville, Ky., 2, 4-11.
39. Ralph Riley, Glasgow, Ky., 2, 3-15.
81. James Copeland, Bowling Green, Ky., 1, 1-6.
86. Bennie Mutter, Glasgow, Ky., 0,0-0.
Top 18 Co-Anglers competing Sunday
1. Drew Campbell, Cookeville, Tenn., 5 fish, 11 lbs. 7 ozs.
2. Brent Clark, Bowling Green, Ky., 4, 10-5.
3. Bart Vaughn, Lexington, Ky., 4, 10-4.
4. Josh Boone, London, Ky., 4, 9-10.
5. Ray Boles, Celina, Tenn., 3, 6-4.
6. Cody Loveless, Somerset, Ky., 2, 5-14.
7. Andrew Haunert, Batavia, Ohio, 3, 5-12.
8. Gene Nornhold, Jr., Mt. Sterling, Ky., 3, 5-10.
9. Mike Morrison, Prestonsburg, Ky., 2, 5-7.
10. Bryan Drury, Lexington, Ky., 1, 5-6.
11. Dale Eads, Somerset, Ky., 2, 5-5.
12. Steven Brown, Bowling Green, Ky., 3, 5-4.
13. Tyler Sheffield, Dry Ridge, Ky., 2, 5-3.
14. LJ Turner, Hyden, Ky., 2, 5-2.
15. Tony Callahan, Vine Grove, Ky., 1, 4-8.
16. Travis Puckett, Monroe, Tenn., 2, 4-0.
17. Brenton Clemons, Somerset, Ky., 2, 3-15.
18. Levi Neathery, Albany, Ky., 1, 3-8.
Local Co-Angler finishers (did not advance)
20. Chris Rushing, Gamaliel, Ky., 1 fish, 3 lbs. 8 ozs.
24. Barry Graves, Adolphus, Ky., 2, 2-15.
38. Ed Bennington, Scottsville, Ky., 1, 1-12.
40. Charles Bennington, Scottsville, Ky., 1, 1-12.
72. Corey Mahaney, Smiths Grove, Ky., 1, 1-2.
90. Chris Houchin, Smiths Grove, Ky., 0, 0-0.

Barren River Lake dam testing will monitor groundwater levels in dam

The work currently taking place on Barren River Lake Dam is for installation of instruments to monitor the groundwater levels within the dam, according to the Army Corps of Engineers at Barren River Lake.
The work involves a drill rig that will advance augers down to target depths and zones within the dam and install instruments for monitoring purposes.
The work will last for several weeks and will take place on various locations on the dam.
The dam is operating as designed and this work is for routine monitoring and is not in response to any issues with the dam itself.
If you have any questions about the work being completed feel free to call our office at 270-646-2055.