When people think of Kentucky rarely is fishing the first attraction that comes to mind, but it should be! The reality of it is that some of the best areas of Kentucky are on water! In fact, the world record smallmouth bass was caught in this state. Kentucky is a laid back fishing state full of bass, trout, crappie, panfish, catfish, and more.
Bass are not only a popular game fish for Kentucky, but they also draw tourists for their bass fishing tournaments. Trophy bass lurk in many Kentucky waters, and the state’s largest bass record is for a thirteen plus pound largemouth out of Wood Creek Lake. Even more impressive is the nearly twelve pound smallmouth bass caught from the Dale Hollow Lake that is a world record!
Given that the Mississippi River passes through Kentucky at one corner it is no surprise that white bass are also in this state’s ample bass offerings, too. Likewise, the Tennessee River is great for bass fishing from striper to largemouth. Lake Reba is a good option for largemouth bass, along with some catfish, and seems to only get better each year! A sought after lake is Kentucky Lake, known for smallmouth bass, and depending on weather quality crappie. For bass in quantity try Barkley Lake.
Wild brown, brook and rainbow trout swim throughout Kentucky’s lakes and streams, along with an occasional lake trout. The state also runs a comprehensive trout stocking program. Areas unable to sustain wild fisheries are made fishable by these stocking programs. Laurel River Lake and Dale Hollow Lake are noteworthy, larger, trout fishing lakes. Kentucky’s allure of trophy sized brown trout brings many travelers to the state.
The Ohio River is perhaps the best known river for recreational fishing in the state of Kentucky. This river is the state’s top boundary line, and is a trophy fishing paradise responsible for the state’s records in paddlefish, longnose gar, silver carp, blue catfish, channel catfish, skipjack herring, and saugeye. The Ohio River is an unforgettable attraction for any angler passing through Kentucky.
Kentucky’s plentiful rivers and streams provide great fly fishing for trout and especially for smallmouth bass. For stocked trout you can visit the aptly named Hatchery Creek. Try Elkhorn Creek for smallmouths.
Cumberland Lake is popular for fishing solo, with friend, or for a family fishing expedition. There, anglers can cast their lines for bass, crappie, catfish, walleye, and bluegill, to name a few. Also, the Cumberland waterways boast several state trout records. At the dam below the lake you can find extensive rainbow trout in a nearby large, from a state run hatchery at Wolf Creek.
Cumberland Lake and its waterways are particularly excellent spots for smallmouth, largemouth, striped, and spotted bass, too. You can even vacation beside the lake with your family, staying at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park’s in either of two lodges, multiple cottages, or at their campgrounds.
For anyone over the age of sixteen a license is required in Kentucky, unless during their free fishing weekend. Also additional trout permits are necessary and specific restrictions (size, creel, bait, etc) must be adhered to. Residents and non-residents can purchase one day or annual licenses. Joint fishing license (married couples) are only available to residents. Fifteen day licenses can be bought by non-residents on vacation. Order by phone, in person, or best yet online and print them out for an immediate license and instant access to great fishing!
Whenever you head out fishing to a new place, it's always best to speak to local anglers. Use fishing forums to ask questions and learn about the most accurate and up to date conditions.