A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Spotted (Kentucky) Bass — most common in the streams of Northeastern Ky.

Editor’s note: This is the sixth article in a series about Kentucky’s native gamefish species. Once thought to be a hybrid between the Largemouth Bass and the Smallmouth Bass, the Spotted Bass is easily confused with the Largemouth Bass by inexperienced anglers. The species was first described in 1819 by French naturalist Constantine Samuel Rafinesque, who collected a specimen at the Falls...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The unofficial fish of summer, catfish abound in Kentucky’s lakes and streams

Catfish are the unofficial “fish of summer.” Summer is a prime time to seek out these heavyweight brawlers. They cruise the shallows at night until the break of dawn, before heading back to deep water during the heat of the day. Catfish are popular with anglers because they are easy to catch and are good table fare. As a word of caution, be careful when unhooking and handling catfish. They have...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Non-native mussel, aquatic vegetation have become common in Kentucky waters

A non-native mussel and three species of non-native aquatic vegetation have become established in Kentucky’s major lakes. Zebra Mussels endanger native mussel populations and affect the food chain, water clarity and spawning substrate of native gamefish species. Zebra Mussels are present in Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley, Dale Hollow Lake, Taylorsville Lake, Carr Creek Lake, Dewey Lake, and Fishtrap...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The yellow bass is a small, underappreciated species, but makes a tasty meal

This underappreciated native fish species is usually an incidental bycatch, most often taken by crappie anglers casting or drifting small jigs, or fishing live minnows around submerged wood cover. The Yellow Bass (Morone mississippiensis) is a member of the temperate bass family Moronidae, that includes the striped bass, white bass and hybrid striped bass. Some anglers fishing in Kentucky Lake and...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: A ‘big-time brawler,’ the Muskellunge is Kentucky’s top predator fish

The Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) is king of Kentucky’s major lakes and the streams they were impounded from, a voracious predator and big-time brawler on even the heaviest fishing tackle. The subspecies Esox masquinongy ohioenis, the Ohio Muskellunge, is native to Kentucky and the Ohio River valley. Muskies are members of family Esocidae, which includes pikes and pickerels. Pollution, siltation...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Hybrid striped bass in Ky. waters are result of a controlled interspecies cross

The Hybrid Striped Bass is the result of interspecific hybridization, a cross of two species that must occur in the controlled environment of a fish hatchery. It does not happen naturally in the wild, and offspring are usually sterile. The original cross is the eggs of the female Striped Bass (Morone saxatilus) mixed with the milt of the male White Bass (Morone chrysops). The so-called reciprocal cross...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: A distinctive seasonal visitor, the brown thrasher is often found along roadsides

Driving Kentucky’s rural backroads during the spring and early summer it’s not uncommon to see this distinctively-marked brown bird darting into brushy fencerows or tangles of vines and honeysuckle at the wood’s edge. An adult and juvenile brown thrasher (Photo from Wikipedia Commons) A rather large bird with long tail feathers, the Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) is a member of the family Mimidae,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky’s abundant sunfish can be caught with live bait and basic fishing tackle

They thrive in farm ponds, small lakes and tree-canopied creeks, little fish that are fun to catch and make a tasty meal when fried up with potatoes and hush puppies, and served with coleslaw. Three of the most common and widely distributed sunfish species in Kentucky — Bluegill, Longear Sunfish, and Redear Sunfish — are also found in many major reservoirs. The best fishing of the year...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: James Henshall forever remembered for introducing America to black bass

Editor’s Note: This is the last of three articles on the life and work of the father of bass fishing in America. Throughout his life, James A. Henshall vigorously praised and promoted black bass but took issue with the naming of the two most important species — the largemouth and smallmouth bass. In a trip abroad to seven countries that started in December 1886 with a 17-day voyage from...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: James Alexander Henshall is known as the father of bass fishing in America

Editor’s note: This is the first of three articles on the life and work of the father of bass fishing in America. James Alexander Henshall (1836-1925) has been called an apostle of the black bass and the father of bass fishing in America. His Book of the Black Bass, published in 1881, is still thought of today by many bass angling historians as the bible of the sport. James A. Henshall (Image...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: A look at the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on outdoor activities in Ky.

The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has reached into the outdoors, where we practice social distancing on purpose. Fishing and hunting are open in Kentucky but there have been some changes enacted because of the health emergency. Here’s some news and observations about fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities in Kentucky during the COVID-19 outbreak. On its website the Kentucky Department of...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Warm temps bring out ticks early, and these bloodsuckers don’t social distance

When temperatures spiked into the upper 70s in early April, grasses and clover hit a growth spurt, flowers bloomed and trees began to bud out. Our early spring was welcomed during this mentally challenging time, but the fast warm-up brought ticks out a little earlier than normal. While doing yard work, bank fishing around ponds and streams, gardening, hunting wild turkeys or just taking the dog for...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky’s 23-day spring wild turkey season getting a late start in 2020

Due to calendar shift Kentucky’s 2020 spring wild turkey season is starting five days later than last year and two weeks after the youth-only season, which was held last weekend, April 4-5. By regulation, the 23-day general statewide season opens on the Saturday closest to April 15 each year. This year’s season dates are Saturday, April 18, through Sunday, May 10. Fields are greening up fast because...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Let’s go fishing which is best in Spring; we’re blessed with abundance of lakes and streams

We are blessed here in Kentucky with an abundance of streams and lakes, excellent fishing and no closed seasons. While the unofficial start to spring fishing begins with the new license year on March 1, we can fish year-round, weather permitting. Quality crappie is the name of the game at Taylorsville Lake, 3,050 acres in Spencer, Anderson and Nelson counties. (US Army Corps of Engineers photo) If...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The .357 Magnum, an American classic, for both security and hunting

Author’s note: This is the first article in an occasional series about modern rifle and pistol cartridges and their uses in hunting. A revolver chambered in .357 Magnum is an American Classic. This venerable “muscle” cartridge was embraced by law enforcement for decades, has been proven to be efficient on deer at a reasonable range and has given many a homeowner a sense of security in being...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Bobcat is a secretive carnivore found in forests across Commonwealth

Bobcats (Photo by Summer M. Tribble, Wikipedia Commons) Editor’s Note: This is the fourth article in an occasional series about furbearers in Kentucky. The Kentucky Wildcat, the mascot of University of Kentucky (UK) sports teams, is a party animal on the sidelines who encourages cheering crowds at games and thrives in the limelight. But its namesake, the Bobcat (Lynx rufus), is quite the opposite....

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Although rare at backyard bird feeders, the Eastern Towhee is common in Ky.

Eastern Towhee (Photo by Brian Kushner, Audubon Society) Editor’s Note: This is the tenth article in an occasional series about backyard birds. The Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) is an infrequent visitor to backyard bird feeders. Consider yourself lucky to see this large sparrow, with distinctive plumage, feeding on the ground beneath one of your hanging feeders during the late winter...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Squirrel hunting for both food and sport has a long history in Kentucky

The fox squirrel, one of Kentucky’s two native species, is abundant in the park-like savannas of the state’s interior. (Photo by Gary Eslinger, US Fish and Wildlife Service) Hunting squirrels for food and sport is a tradition deeply embedded in Kentucky’s hunting culture. In early Kentucky, squirrels were present in our woodlands in startling numbers. Dave Baker, editor of Kentucky Afield...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The muskrat is a native furbearer found in a variety of Kentucky waters

The Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) is a native furbearer found in farm ponds, slow-moving rivers, lakes and wetlands, wherever aquatic vegetation is present. They can be hunted or trapped during a 111-day season, which began November 11 and runs through February 29, in Kentucky. Muskrats are trapped for their fur pelts, which are used to make hats, jackets and coats. (Photo from Wikipedia Commons) Demand...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky hunters post another big harvest as deer season comes to close

Kentucky’s 2019-20 hunting season for white-tailed deer ended Monday and hunters posted another big harvest, inching closer to the all-time record. Last season’s deer harvest of 145,753 was the second-highest ever, but that number was surpassed this season. Hunters reported taking 148,356 deer, 53 percent antlered and 47 percent antlerless, according to harvest data posted on the Kentucky Department...