A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Wild weather makes deciphering Spring white bass runs challenging

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward This spring seems like one long continuation of late winter. As soon as we get a warm day, the temperature plunges and we are back in February again. It even snowed on Monday of the third week of April. This up and down weather combined with cold rains has the spring fishing season behind by a few weeks. The spawning runs of white bass into the headwaters of reservoirs...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Time to scout and develop a game plan as spring turkey season approaches

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward The landscape awakens almost spontaneously from its winter slumber. Winter flocks break up into smaller groups. Innumerable turkey calls and lifelike decoys reappear at sporting goods retailers. Turkey hunters interpret these occurrences as signs that it will not be long before they are easing into their spots before dawn, filled with anticipation. In Kentucky, hunters...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Hunters post fifth-highest deer harvest on record; call for trophy deer entries

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward Looking at the total number of deer harvested by hunters in Kentucky during the 2017-18 season, it would appear nothing was out of the ordinary. The season ended earlier this month. When it did, hunters had combined to take more than 136,000 deer across the state, making it the sixth consecutive season with a harvest total greater than 130,000 and the fifth highest...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Tail waters of Lake Cumberland offer excellent winter fishing

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward Consistency is a trait all anglers love in a body of water. Most lakes and rivers in Kentucky go through seasonal temperature swings that make fishing tough during the hottest and coldest months of the year. The Cumberland River below Lake Cumberland fishes as consistently as any body of water in Kentucky. The water temperatures of the Cumberland River at Burkesville...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Conditions are ideal across the state for opening of waterfowl seasons

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward The outlook for the upcoming waterfowl hunting seasons looks as promising as any seasons in recent memory. “It is shaping up to be a phenomenal year,” said John Brunjes, migratory bird coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We are still at all-time highs for duck numbers with as many breeding ducks as we’ve ever had. It’s...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Take advantage of falling temperatures to find fall spots to bank fish for bass

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward The length of day relative to the time of year never changes. As the nights lengthen slightly with each passing day in fall, the overnight temperatures drop and pull heat from the top layers of lakes. This development is already underway, but will peak over the next month and make excellent fishing conditions for black bass. “The cooler, oxygenated water in...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Signs are positive for a better state dove hunting season this fall

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward The morning fog we’ve seen a few times lately portends that fall hunting seasons are right around the corner. For many Kentuckians, the best time of year begins on Sept. 1, the traditional opener for dove season. Dove hunting is a social event as old friends reunite while standing on the edge of a field, telling stories and keeping their eyes peeled for incoming...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Wade the Cumberland tailwater if you want to beat the summer heat

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward The dog days of late summer slow everything down. The heat and humidity along with the long days make outside work sweaty and arduous. Fishing slows during the dog days as well. Catching game fish from a lake or stream during a 90-degree plus day provides a challenge that anglers often fail to conquer. Wading the cold waters of the Cumberland River below Lake Cumberland...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Arrival of Ky. Hunting Guide an encouraging sign for anxious fall hunters

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward Fall can seem like an eternity away when the heat index soars into the triple digits and air conditioners must work overtime to meet unrelenting demand. The arrival of the new Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources provides a comforting reassurance that summer is marching closer to fall. The free guide ships...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Use the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website to find a great place to fish

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward Two employees of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources recently used the department’s website at www.fw.ky.gov to glean information on catching saugeye. They used the 5-foot contour maps on the “Find a Place to Fish” to study the bottom of Guist Creek Lake in Shelby County and determine a place to fish. They later fished those areas and caught...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Experimental stocking of fast-growing saugeye offers anglers another option

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward With every passing season, anglers are building their knowledge base about how to catch saugeye stocked in a handful of central and northern Kentucky lakes. A saugeye is a fast-growing cross between a walleye and sauger that can reach 15 to 19 inches in its second year. The hybridization is evident in the species’ physical appearance. Saugeye display the faint...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Like the summer temps, Lake Cumberland striped bass are heating up

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward Few things in the outdoors in Kentucky can top being on Lake Cumberland at daybreak on a summer morning, watching a planer board or large bobber disappear, followed by the sound of a slipping drag. Striped bass pull like no other fish in Kentucky and landing a 22-inch or longer keeper brings a rush of adrenaline that gives you the shakes. Now in the fourth year...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: A few tips on how to choose the best kayak for flat water fishing

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward A car, truck or sport utility vehicle with a couple of kayaks on the roof with fishing poles visible through the back window is an increasingly common sight on Kentucky highways. Sales data shows kayak fishing and related kayak accessories increasing in popularity. Some of this popularity has to do with many baby boomers reaching retirement age and wanting a new...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Newly published plan to bring back ruffed grouse comes into focus

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward A newly published plan developed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources offers a long-range strategy to help ruffed grouse populations rebound in eastern Kentucky after years of decline. The Ruffed Grouse and Young Forest Strategic Plan looks 10 years out and its success hinges on an array of partners working together to create the young forest...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Fun the key to encourage your young angler’s growing interest this summer

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward If free fishing weekend was a home run with your kiddos, you might be wondering about how to keep the momentum going throughout the summer. Take a cue from them: keep it fun. Does this mean they need to catch a fish or get a bite every cast? Not necessarily. Fun can be wading a creek or floating down one for the first time in a canoe or kayak. Fun can be seeing how...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Here are two excellent options for combating early summer fishing blues

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward (This is the ninth and final installment of the “Spring Fishing Fever” series of articles, detailing productive fishing techniques and opportunities across Kentucky. An archive of past articles is available on the department’s website at www.fw.ky.gov). June is one of the best months for outside activities such as fishing. However, many predator species,...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Despite challenges, state hunters posted productive spring turkey season

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward Turkey hunters in Kentucky encountered wind, rain and wild temperature swings this past spring season but did not let factors out of their control keep them from posting impressive results. The 2017 youth-only and general seasons produced a total harvest of 33,061 turkeys – a 6.5 percent increase over 2016 and the third highest on record for the state. “We were...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Memorial Day is the official kick-off for the state’s summer boating season

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward Kentucky’s lakes and streams are bound to be crowded with anglers, paddlers and pleasure boaters during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend. Boating safety officials want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable experience on the water. “On really busy holidays, the boat’s operator has to remain extremely attentive,” said Zac Campbell, boating education...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Two good state resort parks for early summer largemouth bass fishing

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward (This is the eighth installment of the “Spring Fishing Fever” series of articles, detailing productive fishing techniques and opportunities across Kentucky. The series will continue until early summer. An archive of past articles is available on the department’s website at www.fw.ky.gov). The months of May and June make for two of the best for catching largemouth...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Late spring great time of year to take the kids fishing for some bluegill

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward (This is the seventh installment of the “Spring Fishing Fever” series of articles, detailing productive fishing techniques and opportunities across Kentucky. The series will continue until early summer. An archive of past articles is available on the department’s website at www.fw.ky.gov). It is Kentucky Derby week, a fantastic time of year. Summer is around...