A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: A fall fishing festival, the reservoir smallmouth bass season is in full swing

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward Reservoir smallmouth anglers are a weird lot. They dangle tiny little hair jigs under bobbers in air so cold ice forms in the guides of their rods. They think the best late fall fishing days feature leaden, low skies, light rain and highs in the 40s. The record heatwave of early October is now a memory. The bracing morning air and cooler, longer nights signal to...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: During early to mid-fall spotted bass schooling makes for good fishing

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward They were not even recognized as a distinctive fish species until 1927. People for many years believed these fish only existed in Kentucky. In 1956, the Kentucky legislature designated this species the “Kentucky bass” and made them the official state fish. Many anglers, especially in the south-central portion of the United States, still call the spotted bass...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Reviewing proper boating safety procedures in advance of Labor Day holiday

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward The sun sets earlier each day and the kids are back in school. Summer is all but over. This inevitability prompts many to visit lakes, rivers and streams to get in that last weekend of the summer boating season during the Labor Day holiday weekend. “Our busiest weekend of the year,” said Maj. Shane Carrier, assistant director of law enforcement for the Kentucky...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Find the thermocline for productive bass fishing during dog days of summer

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward The constant heavy rain systems that plagued Kentucky all spring and early summer finally abated over the past few weeks. For the first time in two years, the brown, withered grass of late summer is a common sight in Kentucky. Usually, cracked ground and crunchy grass signal potential drought and bring angst. However, after record rainfall last year and extremely...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: New fishing regulations to take affect across Kentucky beginning March 1

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward An old blues song “High Water Everywhere” lamented the damage caused by the great 1927 Mississippi River flood. Kentuckians so far this winter can empathize with those sentiments. Many rivers still run high, Lake Cumberland is at summer pool in January and other reservoirs are well above winter pool. The weather forecast calls for more rain, followed by wicked...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Colds temperatures mean optimistic outlook for upcoming waterfowl season

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward The first snippets of snow fell last week, making most people frown, but put a smile on the faces of Kentucky waterfowl hunters. The cold weather the week before the waterfowl season opener on Thanksgiving Day is a good sign. “Waterfowl hunting in Kentucky is nearly 100 percent weather dependent,” said Wes Little, migratory bird biologist for the Kentucky Department...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: 2018 deer season update, early muzzleloader season opens this weekend

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward Many deer hunters rejoiced this past weekend over a break in a weather pattern that had been alternating between stifling heat and soaking rains. A cool down coincided with the two-day gun season for youth deer hunters. It also excited archery and crossbow hunters getting into the woods, blinds and tree stands. Difficult hunting conditions defined the first month...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Ideal habitat conditions should make for a productive dove season

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward For the middle of August, much of Kentucky looks as green as late May. Corn is high and robust, pastures are green and streams run bank full. The lush conditions should translate into productive hunting when the dove season opens Sept. 1. “Sunflowers look great overall,” said Wes Little, migratory bird biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Stick it to dangerous currents and uneven terrain with a wading staff

Those of us who wade rocky streams for smallmouth or tailwaters for trout sometimes bite off more than we can chew. An eddy on the other side of the stream looks inviting and the more you stare at it, the more you want to cast there. The only problem is a waist-deep run with strong current lies between you and the enticing water. You begin crossing the stream, but about halfway, the current begins...

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...