Kentucky Afield Outdoors: With water temperatures cool, the peak of float-and-fly fishing is upon us

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward Although we’ve seen many warm fronts this winter with temperatures in the 60s just this past weekend, the water in our highland reservoirs is still cold. Water temperatures are in the high 40s in Lake Cumberland, Dale Hollow and Laurel River Lake. Once water temperatures drop below 50 degrees for extended periods, threadfin shad begin to suffer from the cold...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Don’t forget the squirrels — Kentucky hunting season’s last hurrah

A still afternoon is the ideal time to enjoy a few hours in the woods squirrel hunting. The season will be over soon, so don’t pass up the opportunity, especially when temperatures moderate. There are plenty of squirrels in Kentucky’s woodlands, and bag limits are generous. Kentucky’s fall 2016-17 squirrel season ends Feb. 28. The daily bag limit is six squirrels. There’s a higher percentage...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Be prepared when that unexpected winter fishing opportunity arises

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward Planning a fishing trip more than a couple days ahead of time can be a gamble in late winter when the weather is a mixed bag and the favorable conditions here today may be gone tomorrow. With some advance preparation, you can be ready to grab what you need and go when that friend calls at daybreak or the impulse strikes and the schedule allows for a last-minute trip. Performing...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: With the onset of February, it’s time to begin the annual search for shed antlers

Now is the time to start looking for shed antlers. By early February in Kentucky bucks have “dropped” their antlers from the past year. They weaken at the pedicle (base), and fall off the deer’s skull, usually when jarred loose by jumping a ditch (or fence), getting up from the their beds, running, or walking through thick cover. A scab forms over the pedicles and new growth won’t resume for...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: FINs lakes stocking results in excellent late season fishing for anglers

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward Five new lakes enrolled in the Fishing in Neighborhoods Program (FINs) will receive stockings of trout in February, a boon to anglers tired of being house bound as winter wears on. Flemingsburg Old Reservoir, an 11-acre lake in Fleming County, gets 900 trout while Leary Lake, a 5-acre lake on Lloyd Wildlife Management Area in Grant County, gets the same amount...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Fishing for a living, the Great Blue Heron is a model of patience in the wild

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), a tall wading bird with a distinctive profile in flight, is North America’s largest heron. A model of patience, the Great Blue Heron fishes for a living, standing silently in the shallows of a stream, farm pond, wetland or lakeshore, waiting for some hapless minnow or sunfish to swim near, then striking with a rapid thrust of its bill. The Great Blue Heron stands...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Take heart, February could be a trophy fish month for the intrepid

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward It seems to Kentuckians that someone accidentally dropped the sun down a storm drain about three weeks ago and it hasn’t been found yet. Day after day, desolate gray skies discharged rain every few hours. Although it has been warmer than usual, this January has been a long slog. February is the month tinges of hope arrive back in many anglers’ souls. Marcy...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: It’s a wrap — a quick review of Kentucky’s 2016-17 deer season

It’s a wrap. Kentucky’s 2016-17 deer season ended last week with the conclusion of archery hunting. The season will likely be remembered for unseasonable weather conditions that impacted hunter participation, a bumper crop of acorns that meant deer didn’t have to move around as much to find food, and full moons during prime hunting dates, that caused deer to move less during daylight hours. Here’s...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Driving Kentucky’s backroads reveals the aerial artistry of the American kestrel

Drive through Central Kentucky backroads and you might get to witness the aerial artistry of the American kestrel (Falco sparverius). These diminutive falcons can often be seen perched on a roadside telephone pole or wire, but what makes them so easy to spot is their signature move — hovering in mid air by rapidly beating their wings, then diving down on prey with outstretched talons. Distribution The...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Squeezing out the last waterfowl hunting of the season

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward In Kentucky, the coldest weather of the year often coincides with the best waterfowl hunting. This should prove especially true this year with the unusually warm start to the waterfowl hunting season that opened Thanksgiving Day. “Late winter seems to be our best duck and goose hunting due to the lower temperatures,” said Wes Little, migratory bird biologist...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: You may have to alter your game plan for late season bow hunting success

As Kentucky’s 136-day archery deer season draws to a close, hunters are carefully picking their hunt locations and times to go afield, based on weather conditions and available food sources. Success comes to archers who alter their game plan from how they hunted earlier in the fall. In January deer hunker down, especially when snow covers the ground and temperatures plummet. They bed up, and move...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Get to know your new hunting rifle before you head out to the range

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward Lots of hunters receive a new rifle over the holidays or take advantage of the subsequent sales to add to their collection. The impulse is to immediately dash off to the shooting range. Fighting back that urge and instead taking time to familiarize yourself with your new rifle is a good first step toward safe and responsible ownership. Because the mechanics and features...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: New Year’s Resolutions provide opportunity to address your bucket list

Most everybody makes New Year’s Resolutions. Typically, these resolutions aren’t much fun, such as lose weight, pay off a credit card bill, or clean up the “junk” in the attic, garage or the basement. Research has shown that few people accomplish these resolutions in the next 12 months, or ever, in some cases. I’m all for changing the rules and proclaiming that this year and every year, from...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Closing out 2016 with a look ahead — the possibilities for new year

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward The end of the year is a time for reflecting on the past 12 months and envisioning the possibilities for the new year. The directors of the Fisheries, Wildlife and Wildlife Diversity divisions at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources recently previewed what’s ahead in 2017. From firming-up long-range plans for the restoration of ruffed grouse in...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Singing the praises of the remarkable Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) brightens up cold winter days with visits to backyard feeders. In Kentucky, the widely used common name for this native songbird is “Redbird.” Coloration is distinctive. Both sexes sport red crests on their heads, and masks on their faces — black for the male, and gray for the female. The males’ feathers are a crimson red, while the females’...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Use your old Christmas tree to make new fish habitat in lakes across the state

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward Those who enjoy a natural pine, cedar, spruce or fir tree for Christmas often don’t know what to do with it after the holidays. Many resort to putting it out on the street or chucking it in the backyard until spring. You can dispose of your natural Christmas tree and provide habitat for fish by donating it to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Barn owl rare species in Commonwealth; inventory finds increase in nesting

The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is uncommon to rare in Kentucky, yet worldwide it’s one of the most widely distributed of all owl species. “We have been studying Barn Owls since the 1990s,” said Kate Slankard, a raptor biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “At that time the population was really low. We were only able to find about 25 nests statewide.” In 2005, the...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Three productive winter crappie fishing spots for those who enjoy solitude

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward Winter is a season of nesting for many Kentuckians. Hot cocoa and a book by the fireplace is more appealing than getting outside in the wet and cold. However, for those who enjoy solitude and having lakes completely to themselves, winter is the best time to get outside and fish. Contrary to the stubborn belief of many anglers, fish bite all winter long. “There...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Saugeye stocked in five central Kentucky lakes; new fishery blossoms

It’s a walleye, a sauger, no, a saugeye. This hybrid member of the perch family (Percidae), is a cross between female walleye (Sander vitreus), and a male sauger (Sander canadensis). It’s a new fishery that has quietly blossomed, since five Central Kentucky lakes were stocked, beginning in 2013. In the wild, in lakes and rivers with naturally reproducing populations of both walleye and sauger,...

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission calls special meeting to discuss elk regulations

The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet in Frankfort for a special called session at 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time) Jan. 6 to discuss proposed changes to the state’s elk regulations. Items on the agenda for discussion include: · Compress or reduce the elk season; · Eliminate elk hunting in January; · Establish a regulation to eliminate elk hunting during deer season; ·...