Smallmouth fishing warms with weather

By Kevin Kelly
Staff Writer – Kentucky Afield magazine
A stretch of mild weather that loosens winter’s grip is an alarm bell for stream smallmouth anglers fed up with being stuck indoors.
For them, wade fishing a cold stream for bronzebacks is a surefire way to melt away the winter doldrums.
This is a laborious style of fishing. Hours spent casting and retrieving at a painstakingly slow pace may produce just a few bites. Soldier through and the payoff could be your biggest stream smallmouth of the year.
“This is probably one of your better times to catch some quality or trophy-sized fish in these streams,” said David Baker, assistant Central Fisheries District biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “They’re not overly active because they’re not feeding a bunch, but it’s a quality time of year. It’s not a numbers game.”
It pays to act swiftly and decisively when a mid or late winter warm-up settles in and persists for a few days. That means having the necessities – rod, reel, waders, lures, a valid fishing license – ready to grab and go.
Since stream conditions can change with little notice, particularly after a heavy rain or snow, it pays to pick out a few potential destinations. The statewide streamflow table and Barren River near Finney streamflow table are available on the U.S. Geological Survey’s website at is the next best thing to laying eyes on a stream to determine if it’s high and muddy or clear and fishable.
Seek out areas with prime winter habitat, typically defined as deep holes with undercut banks, logs or boulders, in close proximity to feeding shoals or stream drops. The deeper water concentrates smallmouth and other fish.
“When we say deep water, it’s relative to that stream,” Baker said. “In a lot of these winter spots, these fish will school up because it suits all of their needs as far as food and refuge and shelter from the current. If you find these spots you have the ability to catch quite a few fish.”
Subtle lures tied to 4- or 6-pound test line are good bets.
A three-inch Senko style soft plastic stick bait rigged on a 1/16- to 1/8-ounce lead head produces year-round. Plastic tubes in green pumpkin or watermelon with red flake and weighted similarly also deserve a spot in your stowaway box. Hair jigs are a tried-and-true producer of big winter smallmouth. Try one in 1/8-ounce adorned with purple or black craft hair or bucktail or rabbit fur dyed black or a combination of brown and orange.
“You can still catch them on the lures that you would throw during the summer but know that they’re not going to chase as much,” Baker said. “You need to get the bait down to them.
“I think repeated casts also are very important this time of year. Even though you think you’re throwing to the same spot, you’re going to be hitting different nooks and crannies because of the current. It may just take that bait coming by them before deciding it’s worth expending energy to go get it.”
Cold water calls for slow retrieves to entice lethargic smallmouth.
Cast upstream and toward the opposite bank and let the current help the lure along while imparting action with the occasional gentle flick of the rod tip. Don’t allow too much slack in the line. Strikes may be faint and can easily fool an angler into thinking the lure simply nicked a rock or brushed against a submerged log.
A positive mental outlook and reasonable expectations help an angler maintain focus, but so does knowing that you’re fishing in a good spot. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website leads you to them. It features a list of Kentucky’s smallmouth streams and an abundance of maps and mapping tools.
Anglers may also purchase a fishing license online while perusing the website. The new license year starts March 1.
Until then, squeeze some more value out of a 2015-16 fishing license by taking advantage of the next nice winter day to pursue one of Kentucky’s most prized game fish species.

Tennessee Boat and Fishing Expo at Tennessee State Fairgrounds Feb. 12-14

The Tennessee Boat and Fishing Expo will be at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds Feb. 12-14.
Hours are Friday, noon- 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.- 8 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
This annual event will offer visitors a variety of exhibitors and seminars.
Attendees will be able to see a fleet of new boats with dealer  incentives, along with discounted tackle, and an antique lure display, plus hourly door prizes.
Each day will also include a variety of seminars on:
– crank baits,
– winter bassin’,
– top water and weedline fishing,
– finding bass,
– sonar and gps,
– kayak fishing,
– and knowing your bait for the water you’re fishing.
Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for youth (6-14), free for children 5 and under.

National Wild Turkey Federation Convention and Sportshow Feb. 11-14

The 40th annual National Wild Turkey Federation Convention and Sport Show will be at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville Feb. 11-14. It is sponsored by RAM.
The NWTF convention celebrates “Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.” initiative achievements and plan for the future of hunting heritage and wildlife and habitat conservation.
“We are quite fond of Nashville and excited to be returning,” said George Thornton, NWTF CEO. “Tens of thousands of turkey hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts are expected to attend our annual convention at the Opryland Resort. We’ve found a great partnership with the staff there, who are committed to helping us carry out our mission.”
The NWTF Convention and Sport Show will have booths for attendees to browse in the exhibit hall, featuring vendors showcasing some of the hottest gear in the hunting industry.
Visitors can attend educational seminars with outdoor personalities and the Grand National Turkey Calling Championships, sponsored by Lynch Calls, Cabela’s and Mossy Oak.
The Family Adventure Village, sponsored by Mossy Oak, will also be in the exhibit hall and is a one-stop shop for family fun. Visitors can take part in many free activities, such as Daisy target archery and airgun shooting, USAYESS clay target simulator, USDA Forest Service games and giveaways, meeting Smokey Bear, Woodsy the Owl and Camo the Clown and much more.
NWTF members and active military personnel receive free admission to the sport show with their membership card or ID.
For more information about the NWTF Convention and Sport Show or to purchase tickets, visit TICKETS.

Kentucky Sportsman’s Show will be at Owensboro Convention Center Feb. 5-7

The Kentucky Sportsman Show will be at the Owensboro Convention Center this weekend, Feb. 5-7.
The show will offer visitors exhibits, seminars, entertainment, and contests.
Visitors will find booths and information on hunting, fishing, archery, boating, scuba, food and cooking, guns and knives, ATVs, and more.
Seminars will be presented each day.
Hours for the show are Friday, Feb. 5, from 4-8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 6, from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 7, from noon- 4 p.m.
Admission is $8.

Valentine Weekend at Barren River Lake State Park includes dinner, dance, room

Don’t forget Valentine’s Day is Feb. 14!
Barren River Lake State Park has a Valentine’s Weekend, Feb. 12-14, with a variety of packages available for the love of your life.
Friday night, the lodge will host a Masquerade Ball, with dancing and karaoke provided by Big Joe’s Karaoke.
Saturday will include the Not So Newlywed Game, for couples and dancing to music from DJ Cindy Cossey.
Packages include combinations for Friday night and/or Saturday night, dinner, breakfast, and lodging.
For reservations, call 1-800-325-0057.
* Honey 1 Package– $169 (for 2) one night room in the Louie B. Nunn Lodge, Saturday dinner at the lodge’s Driftwood Restaurant, Saturday dance, Sunday breakfast, also at the Driftwood Restaurant.
* Honey 2 Package– $299 (for two) two nights lodge room, Friday and Saturday dine, Saturday and Sunday breakfast, karaoke and dance.
* Honey 3 Package– $629 (for two couples) or $439.95 for one couple includes Friday and Saturday night villa for four people. Dinner for 4 Friday and Saturday nights, breakfast for four Saturday and Sunday mornings, four tickets to karaoke and four dance tickets.
* Dinner and Dance– $84.95 per couple. includes dinner buffet Saturday night and dance tickets.
* Karaoke– $10 per person
* Dance– $30 per person.
*does not include tax and resort fee, and cannot be combined with other discounts.

Use fast speed reels for worm, jig fishing

By Josh Morris
Why fast speed reels for worm and jig fishing?
A few years ago I met an angler from Tennessee, and as we talked about set ups we used, I told him I liked a 7-1 ratio reel for my jigs and soft plastics.
He looked at me like I had an ear on my forehead. He said man that’s crazy you have to fish those slow. I smiled and said well yeah, but you do that with the rod, not the reel.
The explanation is simple.
If you use a higher speed reel you can fish the desired area and then get your bait back to the boat quick. That results in the bait being in the “hot zone” for a longer period of time as you can retrieve and get another cast in quicker.  That is where we want the bait to be is the “hot zone” where the active fish seem to be holding.
Over an 8-hour day, a few seconds every cast can add up.
My main reason for the higher speed, however is to get the fish out of the cover and in the boat quicker.
Now, I am not saying “hoss” the fish in but the quicker you can get your thumb in its mouth the lower the chances of losing him.
You have to be conscious of how effective you are at using time when in a tournament.  You want to run like a well oiled machine.
In closing, I think most folks have jumped on the fast reel ship when worm or jig fishing, even the angler from Tennessee I mentioned earlier.
If you have not I urge you to give it a shot.
Even if you are fishing on Sunday afternoon with the family, it will help you put more fish in the boat.
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, Psycho Fishing Lures, Blob Fish, Snack Daddy Lures, and Freddie’s Dugout.

Buffalo Night Buffet is scheduled Feb. 6 for the Barren River Lake State Park

Barren River Lake State Park will host its annual Buffalo Night at the Driftwood Restaurant on Saturday, Feb. 6, from 5-8 p.m. CT.
The buffalo buffet is $22.95 plus drink, tax, & tip for adults, and $12.95 plus drink, tax, & tip for children.
The menu for Buffalo night is:
– Hand Carved Buffalo Steamship Round
– Buffalo Meat Loaf with Hunter’s Sauce
– Grilled Buffalo Sirloin with Roasted Tomato and Poblano Sauce
– Rustic Duck Alfredo with Wild Mushrooms
– Buffalo Burgoo
– Buffalo Chili
– Fried Catfish
– Loaded Mashed Potatoes
– Green Beans
– Hoppin’ John
– Grilled Corn on the Cob with Smoked Paprika and Lime Butter
– Roasted Fresh Vegetables
– White Northern Bean Soup
– Soup, Salad, and Dessert Bar
– Baked Alaska
– Banana Pudding
– Cobblers and more.

WBKO reports car falls into Barren River

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) — This scene of a car in the Barren River is raising many questions around Bowling Green. The biggest one, is the driver okay?
Police said the car made it’s way off the road in between two walls, before falling dozens of feet into the river, leaving the driver injured.
According to her family said that 22 year old Misty Talley was driving home from school Thursday night when her car fell down the hill into the water.
Friday she was in the Skyline Medical Center in Nashville in stable condition.


Louisville Boat, RV and Sportshow will be Jan. 27-31 at Kentucky Exposition Center

Summer may be a few months away, but warm-weather activities are coming to Louisville!
The 2016 Progressive® Insurance Louisville Boat, RV & Sportshow, Jan. 27-31, at the Kentucky Exposition Center, will feature hundreds of new boats and RVs, along with boating, outdoor and fishing accessories, educational seminars, interactive features and more.
Admission is $12 for adults; $10 for senior citizens; free for children 15 and under. Also, admission is free for active military with military ID.
New this year, attendees can watch professionals “surf the sky” during Flyboard demonstrations,  test their own boating skills on the United States Power Squadrons Boating Skills Virtual Trainer or explore the latest in marine electronics technology at the Marine Electronics University. Adventurous attendees will have the opportunity to learn new watersport tricks by watching expert demos on the wakeboard trampoline wall. Returning again is the popular Paddlefest area, where those willing can get in the water to give stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking a try.
Kids under 12 can fish for free at the catch-and-release Trout Pond and create their own crankbait using balsa wood bodies and stick-on lure eyes. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife will be back again this year, along with animals native to Kentucky, for outdoor loving kids who want to get up close to creepy crawlers.
Between the demonstrations and seminars, outdoor enthusiasts can browse through hundreds of the newest boats, RVs, gadgets, gear and adventure destinations. The event features the most competitive deals in the region.
Show Times
Wednesday, Jan. 27, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 28, from noon to 9 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 29, from noon to 9 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 30, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 31, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Barren River Lake Fishing Report

By Josh Morris
Cold temperatures should push the water temperature down on Barren River Lake. This is not a bad thing as it will make the fish school tighter.
The water color is surprisingly good for this time of year.
I would suggest fishing sunny banks and bluffs if you have a clear day. Also, if you have a slow trickle of water running in off a warmed up bank look there for fish.
Crappie are being caught on laydowns on channel bluffs.
Blue Gills are the same.
Below the dam, the Sauger fishing should fire up in the river.
Look for eddies and seams and cast in there with a Crappie Jig tipped with a live minnow.  This can also work on Hybrids.
Fish become more active during and after high flow from the spillway.
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, Psycho Fishing Lures, Blob Fish, Snack Daddy Lures, and Freddie’s Dugout.