Barren River Lake and Dam will celebrate 50th Anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 25

The Barren River Lake and Dam are 50 years old, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is celebrating the anniversary Saturday, Oct. 25. The public is invited to the celebration, beginning at 1 p.m., at the Tailwater Stilling Basin, below the dam.
There will be free refreshments, water safety displays, speakers, and prizes (courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Friends of Barren River Lake & Park). There will also be items raffled: T-shirts, free camping coupons and gift bags. There will be games and activities for children, following the ceremony.
A special invitation is given to anyone who was involved in the dam’s construction. Photos and stories about the construction of the dam are also encouraged and will be shared during the event. People with photos and are asked to call the Corps office at 270-646-2055.
For more information, call Alicia Cannon at the Barren River Lake Corps office at 270-646-2055 or visit the Corps Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BarrenRiverLake.

Geocaching Weekend Oct. 25-26

Barren River Lake State Park will host a Geocaching weekend, Oct. 25-26.
Geocaching is considered a real-world outdoor treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices.
Special caches will be hidden throughout the park. Hidden caches will be suitable for all levels and types of “cachers.”
A beginner program will be offered, along with a chili dinner after the Saturday night cache hunt.
Registration fees apply.
For more information, contact Jamie Avery at the park, 270-646-2151, or jamie.avery@ky.gov

As fall winds blow, spotted bass school

By Lee McClellan
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
They were not even recognized as a distinctive fish species until 1927. People for many years believed these fish only existed in Kentucky.
In 1956, the Kentucky legislature designated this species the “Kentucky bass” and made them the official state fish. Many anglers, especially in the south-central portion of the United States, still call the spotted bass a Kentucky bass.
They pale in reputation to their black bass cousins, the largemouth and smallmouth bass, but the spunk shown once hooked and their abundance should raise the profile of the overlooked spotted bass. They are also aggressive and readily strike lures.
It isn’t hard to tell when a spotted bass strikes. They shake their heads violently and dive bomb toward the bottom. The larger ones 15 inches and up usually grow a pronounced belly as they mature. Spotted bass use that girth along with a powerful tail against an angler while playing the fish, producing as good a fight as any comparable largemouth bass.
Medium-light spinning rods with reels spooled with 6-pound fluorocarbon line is all you need for catching spotted bass.
Once the fall winds blow, spotted bass begin to school up. They locate along rock bluffs or they suspend over points, submerged humps or channel drops.
“At this time of year, if you catch one spotted bass, keep fishing that same spot,” said Chad Miles, administrative director of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation and dedicated spotted bass angler. “There might be 40 or 50 of them there. Spotted bass really school up in fall.”
In early to mid fall, these schools of spots often trap a cloud of shad against the surface and rip into them. Large, chrome topwater lures tossed into this melee draw vicious strikes. These same lures fished over points, humps and channel drops can draw spotted bass from a good distance below the lure, especially on our clear water lakes such as Lake Cumberland or Laurel River Lake.
John Williams, southeastern fisheries district program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, reports Lake Cumberland holds a bountiful population of spotted bass with many fish in the 14- to 16-inch range. Spotted bass make up roughly half of the black bass found in the lake.
The main lake points from Harmon Creek down to Wolf Creek Dam hold spotted bass from fall through late spring. A 4-inch black finesse worm rigged on a 3/16-ounce Shakey head and slowly fished down those points is a deadly choice.
A hammered silver jigging spoon fished along the old Cumberland River bluffs in this section of the lake also produces spotted bass. Again, if you catch one spotted bass in fall, keep fishing the same area with the same technique. You might catch a dozen or more.
Large crappie minnows fished on size 1 circle hooks with two split shot lightly clamped on the line about 18 inches above the hook make a powerful choice for the large spotted bass in Laurel River Lake. The water of Laurel River Lake is as clear as the air and live bait works best.
The upper end of the Craigs Creek arm is a spotted bass hotspot on Laurel, as are the main lake points near the dam and in the lower section of Spruce Creek.
The mid-depth reservoirs in southern Kentucky hold excellent populations of larger spotted bass. Barren River Lake and Green River Lake hold some of the largest spotted bass in Kentucky.
The channel drops along the submerged Barren River adjacent to Barren River Lake State Park and the Narrows Access Area make excellent fall spots to try for spotted bass.
In Green River Lake, rock slides and points in the lower sections of the Robinson Creek arm and Green River arm are the best fall places. Green River Lake holds an impressive number of spotted bass longer than 15 inches.
Anglers fishing for largemouth bass in Kentucky Lake often stumble across a football-sized spotted bass. The secondary points in the major bays and creek arms in the middle section of the lake hold some impressive spotted bass in fall.
Smaller profile ¼-ounce football jigs in hues of green, brown and chartreuse attract these fish on Kentucky Lake.
Spotted bass make excellent table fare, by far the best tasting of the black bass species, similar to crappie in taste and texture. There is no minimum size limit on spotted bass statewide, but they still count toward the six fish aggregate black bass daily creel limit.
Hit the water and land some hard fighting and abundant spotted bass this fall. Keeping a few medium-sized spots for the table makes a delicious and nutritious meal.

Falling water levels, fall turnover and cold fronts present fishing challenges

By Lee McClellan
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
“When they pull water through the dam, the falling water pulls the predator fish off their preferred habitat,” said John Williams, southeastern fisheries district program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Being out of their comfort zone makes them skittish.”
Falling water, along with the fall turnover and cold fronts, are challenges in decoding fall bass fishing patterns. Falling water is a common situation found in fall as many lakes across Kentucky experience significant drawdown to winter pool.
Most large reservoirs in Kentucky begin the fall drawdown in the middle of October, but others start in late September while a few begin in November.
“This puts the bass more on the move,” said Eric Cummins, southwestern fisheries district program coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “Anglers won’t pattern them as well during the drawdown.”
This pulling effect scatters the baitfish, but they relocate and suspend over long points, channel ledges or underwater humps near the mouth of coves or creek arms. The bass follow.
Shad-colored, deep-running crankbaits and suspending jerkbaits fished near these structures work well. Mentally note the location of the first bass of the day and use the same presentation in a similar area on other parts of the lake.
As the fall winds blow ever colder air over the surface of Kentucky reservoirs, the top layer of water cools and begins mixing with the chillier, denser water underneath. The thermal layering of the water column formed during the heat of summer breaks up. Eventually, the water’s surface layer is the same temperature and density as the water under it, a phenomenon commonly known as turnover.
“During the turnover, the fish are off,” Cummins explained. “The dissolved oxygen levels drop. The turnover releases gases trapped during the summer by temperature that can have a slight sulphur smell.”
Williams explained the shallower creek arms and the upper reaches of the lake turn over before the deeper main lake.
“The whole water column has to cool down to match the bottom level. In our deep lakes like Laurel River and Cumberland, the full turnover isn’t complete until November and into December,” he said.
On shallower lakes like Barren River Lake, the turnover is almost finished.
The Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ website has a graph of the dissolved oxygen profile for all of the lakes in its district including Barren River, Buckhorn, Carr Creek, Cave Run, Green River, Nolin River, Rough River and Taylorsville.
Barren River Lake Temperatures and Dissolved Oxygen Levels (also available to the right of this blog, under More Information)
“Most of the readings are taken near the dam, so if the line on the graph is nearly vertical, turnover is done,” Cummins explained. “If the graph shows a strong line at a certain depth, the thermal layers in the water column haven’t broken up yet.”
After you arrive at the water and notice off-colored water with a smell, fish another section of the lake. If you are near the dam, the upper lake and major creek arms have likely turned over. If you are in a major creek arm or upper lake, the deeper water at the dam probably hasn’t turned over yet.
“The fishing is much better where the lake isn’t turning over,” Cummins said. “If you see turnover on one of our smaller lakes, choose another lake to fish.”
Minor cold fronts actually can help fishing in early fall.
Bass feed heavily in the days leading up to the front and a small deep-running chrome crankbait draws strikes. After the minor front passes, baitfish school a bit more and settle a little deeper, but bass still hit. The drop shot technique using a 3 ½-inch soft plastic jerkbait in the sexy shad color can work wonders in this situation.
A major cold front, especially later in fall, that drops the lake temperature several degrees means tough, but not impossible, fishing. Anglers must downsize their lure size, use lighter line and fish much slower.
A 4-inch black finesse worm rigged on a 3/16-ounce small Shakey head and fished in the “dead stick” presentation may save the day. Simply cast to the point, channel ledge or hump and let the rig sink to the bottom. Reel in the slack, keep a tight line and squeeze the rod handle to impart a subtle action to the worm. Grumpy bass that passed by all other offerings often succumb to this.
Get out this fall and overcome some of these challenging situations. Fall brings great weather and deserted lakes, perfect conditions for bass fishing.

Barren River Lake State Park offering “Spookout” Weekend Oct. 17-18

Barren River Lake State Park’s annual “Spookout” Weekend will be Oct. 17-18 in the park’s campground.
There will be costume contests for all ages, pumpkin roll contest, trick-or-treating and a variety of other activities for ghouls of all sizes.
Campers will have candy for trick-or-treating.
For more information contact Jamie Avery at 1-800-325-0057 or jamie.avery@ky.gov.

Barren River Lake State Park offering Bed & Breakfast Getaway Package thru Dec. 1

Barren River Lake State Park is offering a Bed & Breakfast Getaway package through Dec. 1.
The Getaway includes one night lodging in the Louie B. Nunn Lodge and breakfast for two at the park’s Driftwood Restaurant.
The package is available Sunday through Thursday.
The cost is $79.99 plus tax and resort fee.
Subject to availability.
Not valid during special events or holiday weekends, and may not be combined with other offers.
To make reservations, call 1-800-325-0057 or click Bed & Breakfast Reservations and include the promo code BB14 for the Bed and Breakfast package.

Colorfall provides autumn updates

By Beth Holbrook
Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism

Fall has arrived, and with it the 2014 edition of the ColorFall program touting peak foliage viewing areas and exciting autumn events around Kentucky. ColorFall is designed to aid public enjoyment and media coverage of autumn in the Bluegrass State.
Coordinated by the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism and the Kentucky Department of Parks, ColorFall is now in its 29th year. ColorFall features a website (www.kentuckytourism.com/seasons) that provides a variety of information about the state’s beauty at this time of year, including reports on stages of leaf changes from naturalists at parks throughout the Commonwealth.Besides tips on timing trips to parks, forests and arboretums for peak color, ColorFall website visitors will also find listings of special fall events and an Instagram hashtag for uploading digital photos of your own fall travels. The program, including the website, runs Oct.1-Nov. 9.
Dean Henson, the park manager at Big Bone Lick State Historic Site and a former naturalist, says that many variables contribute to the degree of foliage color in any given fall season.
“The greater the frequency of crisp, sunny days with no evening frost, the more brilliant our colors,” notes Henson, a popular contributor to ColorFall with his blog posts on foliage stages. “For those seasons when the fickle mix of environmental factors is just right, waiting eyes are rewarded with a beaming display of color.”

Day use fees waived Saturday, Sept. 27

This Saturday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will waive its day use fees at all of its boat launch ramps and swimming beaches, including those at Barren River Lake.
Fees will be waived at ramps at Baileys Point, Beaver Creek, Peninsula, the Narrows, Browns Ford, and Port Oliver, as will the day use fee at the Quarry Road Beach.
The Corps is waiving its fees nationwide in recognition of National Public Lands Day this Saturday, Sept. 27.
However, the waiver does not apply to the Corps campgrounds.
For more information, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Barren River Lake by calling 270-646-2055.

Barren River Lake State Park to host PhotoScenic Weekend Oct. 10-11

The 2014 edition of the PhotoScenic Kentucky Weekend will be at Barren River Lake State Resort Park Oct. 10-11.
This is the 52nd year of PhotoScenic Weekend, conducted in cooperation with Kentucky State Parks. The all-digital photography workshop will cost $10 for adults; children under 12 are free.
This year’s featured speaker is Jack Corn, noted documentary photographer and former director of photography at the Chicago Tribune.
An open critique and competition made up of photos shot during the past year and submitted by those attending will be conducted Friday evening. Those photos must be turned in by 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Photographing by the participants will take place all day Saturday. The Saturday night session will be an open critique and competition of the photographs made during the weekend.
The weekend is coordinated by Bill Luster, a retired photographer for The Courier-Journal in Louisville and by Tom Hardin, former Courier-Journal director photography. For registration contact Bill Luster at:bluster@twc.com.
The park is offering a special lodging rate for participants. Call the park at 270-646-2151.

Barren River Lake Trashmasters Classic scheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 20

The Barren River Lake Trashmasters Classic Lakeshore Cleanup is this Saturday, Sept. 20, from 8 a.m. to noon.
Volunteers are needed to pick up trash along the shoreline, as well as pontoon boats and drivers to help transport people and trash.
Volunteers can gather at the boat ramps at Port Oliver Recreation Area, Bailey’s Point, Walnut Creek, the Barren River Lake State Park, and the Narrows,  at 8 a.m. to be shuttled by boat to various shorelines around the lake.
Boat volunteers will receive either a $40 fuel card or two nights free camping and a power wash of their pontoon.
At noon, all volunteers will gather at the Barren River Lake State Park former beach for the beach party, complete with a cookout, live music and door prizes.
The Trashmasters Classic is hosted by the Friends of Barren River Lake & Park and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Barren River Lake.
For more information, call the Corps office at 270-646-2055