May 30, 2013

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Hit some small waters now that summer's here


Frankfort, KY. - It is hard to believe you needed a jacket for an evening outdoor barbeque on the weekend after the Preakness Stakes, but you did this year.

This past spring was one of the coolest in memory. Now that June is around the corner with temperatures finally striking the upper 80s, it is time to hit some overlooked small lakes to catch nice bluegill, redear sunfish, also called shellcrackers, largemouth bass and sunfish.

Smaller lakes grant excellent fishing opportunities to bank-bound anglers. With Free Fishing Days coming this Saturday and Sunday, try some of these lakes with a family member, especially one who doesn't fish or has fallen out of the habit. On Free Fishing Days, anglers may fish Kentucky waters without a fishing license and keep fish if they abide by the proper minimum size and daily creel limits.

The fisheries division last week stocked several Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) lakes with 4- to 7-inch hybrid sunfish. Whitehall Park Lake in Madison County received 1,800 hybrid sunfish and Millennium Park Lake in Boyle County got 1,000 hybrid sunfish.

Lake Mingo in Jessamine County received 750 fish while Waymond Morris Park Lake and Yellow Creek Park Lake in Daviess County each received 1,500 hybrid sunfish. They stocked 660 of these fish in Lusby Lake in Scott County and 625 in Scott County Park Lake.

"These hybrid sunfish are chunky and they grow fast," said Gerry Buynak, assistant director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

The 46,429-acre Peabody Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Muhlenberg, Ohio and Hopkins counties holds dozens of small lakes and strip pits that have 77 boat ramps and 121 miles of gravel roads to access them. You'll need a $15 user permit, available wherever fishing licenses are sold, to access Peabody WMA.

"A couple of those really clear pits have nice 11- to 12-inch redear sunfish in them," said Rob Rold, northeastern fisheries district biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "Most of the clear Peabody pits are really good for redear and bluegill. There are lots of snails for them to eat and quality vegetation. Goose Lake, Musky Lake and Bottom Lake all offer quality fishing."

The Ken and Sinclair Units of Peabody WMA both have large concentrations of lakes and pits. The Homestead Unit northeast of the Cool Springs community also holds many of these waters. Consult a printable map ob Peabody WMA at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife webpage at fw.ky.gov.

Rold also said 81-acre Mauzy Lake in Union County inside Higginson-Henry WMA is an up-and-coming producer of redear sunfish with strong numbers of fish around 10 inches long. Rold said the redear sunfish are holding in 4- to 5-feet of water and just about on their spawning beds. The lake also has an excellent population of 15- to 20-inch largemouth bass.

Overlooked 38-acre Stanford City Reservoir in Lincoln County rivals its close neighbor, Cedar Creek Lake, in the size of the largemouth bass swimming in its waters. "Our recent population sampling revealed a ton of largemouth bass in Stanford Reservoir with several larger bass over 22 inches," said Marcy Anderson, assistant southeastern fisheries biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "We also saw some nice 7- to 8-inch redear sunfish in there as well."

Anderson also recommends 361-acre Lake Linville near Mt. Vernon in Rockcastle County for families. "There are a lot of bluegill in Lake Linville," she said. "Linville has excellent bank access, great for family fishing."

Cedar Creek Lake, 787 acres of water in Lincoln County, is an emerging producer of fat redear sunfish. "We saw many in the 7-to 9-inch class near the KY 1770 bridge that were chunky and large," she said. "They are about to spawn."

Get out with your family during the wonderful early summer weather and fish these overlooked waters.

The entire Spring Fishing Frenzy series will be posted at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov for future access to these articles.