Striped Bass Fishing
Kentucky Fish and wildlife
Kentucky Striper Record
(Rockfish) 58 lbs., 4 ozs. Roger Foster
Beaver Creek, Lake Cumberland 12/11/85
Kentucky Hybrid striped Bass record
Hybrid Striped Bass 20 lbs., 8 ozs. Mark Wilson
Barren River Lake,
Kentucky Fishing Reports and forum
BARREN RIVER LAKE
Perhaps the best hybrid striper bass fishery in
Kentucky continues to be Barren River Lake. This 10,000-acre lake
located in southern Kentucky, southeast of Bowling Green, continues
to produce hybrids in great numbers and large sizes. Axon reports
that one-third of the fish samples taken from Barren River Lake measure
18 inches or longer. That is an extraordinary finding.
Anglers wishing to sample Barren's hybrid fishing are further blessed
with excellent facilities. Its high-quality launch ramps are complemented
with excellent parking facilities as well as good access roads.
Experienced Barren River Lake anglers usually fish along the old
river channel. The channel provides, in most years, consistent hybrid
action for those anglers who are willing to take the time to work
Recommended techniques include fishing the inside and outside turns
and bends of the channel with jigging spoons or blade baits. Anglers
who are looking to catch a limit of hybrids should camp over the
turns in the channel and work their spoons or blade baits with a
vertical presentation. Vary your depth and speed until you find the
magic combination for the day and time of year you're fishing.
At times, the hybrids will school and surface. For those who have
never experienced surfacing hybrids or stripers, you will know it
when you see it. Surfacing hybrids are best characterized as a large
area of boiling water with small explosions coming from underneath.
Always watch for birds. They move in for an easy meal of injured
Recommended lures for schooling fish include jigs, as well as crankbaits
and topwater plugs, such as walking sticks and poppers. Work your
jigs in a swimming manner, crankbaits just fast enough to get them
to wobble and the topwater baits as fast as possible.
The creel limits on Barren are generous. While the general rule
in Kentucky is five stripers or hybrid stripers per day, with a possession
limit of five and nothing under 15 inches in length, Barren River
Lake is quite different. Anglers may legally keep 20 temperate bass
per day - this includes white and yellow bass - with a possession
limit of 40 fish. However, no more than five in the daily limit or
10 in the possession limit may be 15 inches or longer.
Anglers should check the regulations before departing. Current rules,
regulations, creel limits, possession limits, length limits and licensing
information can be obtained from http://fw.ky.gov.
Herrington Lake, located south of Lexington, is
always a perennial favorite with hybrid striper anglers. Hybrid numbers
are expected to drop in 2004 due to environmental conditions, but
their size should be unaffected.
According to Axon, the heavy and constant rains in Herrington's
watershed, as well as along the Dix River, in 2003 resulted in a
substantial number of hybrids washing through the dam and into the
river system. He emphasizes that there are still a large number of
hybrids remaining. Therefore, anglers can still expect fine hybrid
striper bass angling in Herrington's waters.
Herrington is legendary for its steep, indeed almost vertical, rock
shorelines and deep waters. In places, your depthfinder will show
150 feet of water under your boat while you are no more than a long
cast off the bank. As a consequence, most of the fish swimming in
the lake relate in some fashion to the shoreline. Hybrids are no
Experienced anglers on this impoundment, like Chris Dornbusch with
over 40 years of fishing experience, choose heavy, brightly colored
spinnerbaits as their first weapon of choice. While he agrees that
the shoreline is important, Dornbusch points out "that doesn't mean
they are on the shore. It means they relate to the shore. In many
cases, you will find these fish out away from the bank, well off
a point or suspended over open water."
Others anglers find success with jigs. Large, heavy, white bucktails
are favored. Most anglers retrieve them with a swimming action. At
times, a steady, horizontal retrieve will produce, while on other
days, a lift-and-drop retrieve will work best.
A third choice is a simple in-line spinner. Nothing fancy here,
just a simple spinner in chartreuse, white, gray or orange. Again,
heavy weights are preferred.
Herrington's hybrids are known to inhabit deep water. That is why
heavy weights in all of these lure designs are your best option.
Hybrids are regularly caught at depths of 30 feet or deeper, sometimes
Currently the creel limits on Herrington are the same as those on
Barren River. Once again, check before you fish.
ROUGH RIVER LAKE
An emerging venue for hybrid fans is Rough River
Lake. This northwestern Kentucky impoundment was first stocked with
hybrid fingerlings in 1996. This program by the KDFWR is a resounding
Axon reports the population of hybrid stripers has exploded over
the last seven years. Stocking rates for Rough River Lake, like most
waters in Kentucky, average 20 fish per acre per year. The fingerlings
are approximately 1.5 inches in length at the time of their release.
While those numbers may sound small and few, consider this: With
a typical life span of seven or eight years, the hybrids in Rough
River are just about at their peak. Further consider that hybrids
have rapid growth rates, very rapid. Two-year-old fish frequently
measure 14 to 15 inches and 3 year olds can reach 20 inches. Do the
Fishing information on this lake is just beginning to develop, but
several anglers are reporting excellent success on the usual hybrid
lures including in-line spinners, spinnerbaits, jigs and crankbaits.
Crankbait selection centers around natural colors with some bright
chartreuse or orange on the belly of the lure. Lighter weight wood
lures in small sizes seem to work best.
PURE BRED STRIPERS
less common but no less popular. In Kentucky, these saltwater
transplants are found primarily in Lake Cumberland, the Ohio
River and in the tailrace waters below the dams at Lake Barkley
and Kentucky Lake.
purebred version, there's no place better than the 50,000- acres
Lake Cumberland. Its boasts the state record of 58 pounds 4 ounces.
Lake Cumberland is over 100 miles long and has
an average depth of 90 feet, making it one of the deepest lakes in
the Commonwealth. These waters are perfect for striper habitat. The
lake has over 1,200 miles of shoreline. That is nearly as long as
the east coast of the United States.
According to Axon, Lake Cumberland has been stocked
with 20 fingerlings per acre for many years. The stockings are paying
huge dividends. Stripers from Cumberland average above 10 pounds,
with fish to 20 pounds being relatively common as well. Fish over
20 pounds, while not common, are not unheard of either.
Various techniques are employed to catch such huge
fighters. Live bait is one of the most popular. Shad seem to be the
bait of choice for those anglers who can keep them alive. If you
have trouble keeping shad alive, here is a tip: Store them in a round
bait container or at least one with curved sides. After that, make
sure you have plenty of oxygen in the water. Invest in a quality
Rigging for live bait is largely a matter of choice.
Some anglers prefer Carolina-style rigs, while others use a variety
of techniques that employ everything from a bobber to a balloon.
Asking around and experimenting may be your best bet to see what
works best for you.
Stripers are also taken on jigging spoons and blade
baits. True stripers can be deep-water fish, so a vertical presentation
as deep as 60 feet will produce upon occasion.
When stripers school and surface, look out! The
fish exhibit behavior that would put them in an institution under
any other set of circumstances. They attack baitfish, roll, jump
and dash to and fro with reckless abandon. Topwater baits such as
walking sticks and poppers are generally successful. At times, swimming
a jig through the school is your best bet, especially for big fish.
Favorite locations on Cumberland include the deep
waters off long, sloping rock points, twists and turns in the old
channel and open water. You must look around to find these brutes.
Cumberland has very strict size and creel limits
for stripers. Only two stripers per day may be kept and there is
a minimum size limit of 24 inches. Check before you fish.
Doug Stephens, southeastern district
fisheries biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
Resources (KDFWR) reports that the best fishing is during April and
May. Surface fishing at night around the mouths of the creeks and
the main lake when the shad are coming up.
The biologist recommends casting topwater plugs
at the mouths of Lily and Wolf creeks, for example, starting after
dusk. Many times, the fish will become most active after midnight
into the wee hours of the morning.
"In late spring, the surface water temperatures
are still pretty comfortable for stripers, and when the sun goes
down, they have no reservations about coming to the top to feed.
"It's hard to predict exactly what time of night
that will happen, but if you can locate baitfish working the surface,
it's a pretty good bet that before the evening is over, a group of
stripers will get on that bait. That's when either a topwater or
shallow-running crankbait of some kind will produce strikes," Stephens
"When they hit, you better hold on tight and get
ready for a fight," said Stephens. "They don't give up easily once
"Once the water temperatures get up into the upper
70s, most of the surface activity will subside and stripers will
suspend in the deeper water. That usually occurs about the second
week of June or so on Cumberland," said Stephens.
After that, it gets tougher
to find fish and you may have to go to downrigging or trolling
shad or alewives down the main creek channels or out in the open
water of the main lake to find a school. Stripers are very
mobile and like the open waters to cruise.
PATOKA LAKE, Ind
A relatively new addition is the striped bass. The state began stocking
fingerling stripers in 1997 at the rate of five per acre, and by
any account the program has been a raging success.
averaged almost 10 pounds, and have been caught up to 14 pounds."
That isn't Lake Cumberland quality, but it's
remarkable for what is basically a lowland reservoir. Patoka plunges
to nearly 60 feet in some spots, but the summer thermocline depth
is 14-18 feet. At that depth the coolest water in the lake drops
only to around the mid-60s — near the upper range for striper survival.
(Many lakes and ponds stratify during the summer. The upper part
of the water column remains oxygenated, and the lower part is largely
devoid of oxygen. The zone that separates those two areas is called
The water temperature in the summer is pretty marginal for
Fishermen haven't made much of a dent in the lake's striper population,
said Patoka Lake State Park wildlife specialist Aron Showalter. Not
many anglers target stripers, and those that do are still learning
how it's done.
"They're kind of hard to catch," Showalter said. "You
usually don't just throw out a line and catch them."
Striper fishermen sahould head to the lower
lake, which is most easily accessed from the Jackson ramp.
to locate a school of shad, then troll or cast at that depth a large
(1- or 1½-ounce) bucktail jig tipped with a plastic worm.
The best striper fishing is on the main lake,And
most of the stripers will be near the shad
For striper and hybrid striper action on the same water,
try the Ohio River. It is unique and deserves special attention.
The Ohio has an excellent population of stripers and hybrids due
in large measure to increased cooperation between the states bordering
its waters. Hybrids in the 5-pound range are relatively common and
true stripers up to and exceeding 12 pounds are caught with some
For those looking for a combination striper and
hybrid striper fishing opportunity, there's only one spot to go,
but it's a dandy. The Ohio River provides about 600 miles of water
for striped bass and hybrid stripers to wander, and both fisheries
are doing pretty well.
Besides Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia are
stocking parts of the Ohio with hybrid striped bass especially
in the upper end of the river from Cincinnati on up," said Doug Henley,
an Ohio River research biologist.
"Anywhere from five to 10 fish per acre are being stocked each year
by the three agencies in the Greenup, Meldahl, Markland, McAlpine
and Cannelton pools, and Kentucky stocks stripers in Markland, McAlpine
and Cannelton at five fish per acre," said Henley.
The river runs from the northeast corner to the southwest corner
of the Commonwealth. There are countless ramps and public access
points along her path.
Perhaps the best pool on the Ohio is at the northeast corner of
the Commonwealth - the Meldahl Pool. It runs from the Greenup Dam
at mile marker 341 to the Meldahl Dam at mile marker 436.2. That's
nearly 100 miles of water.
The two best spots in this pool, at least in the opinion of Ohio
River expert Mike McPherson, are at the mouth of Cabin Creek (mile
402.9) and along the mouth of White Oak Creek (mile 423.9). He reports
both high numbers and big fish at these locations. As a long-time
northern Kentucky resident, and a pro team member for Plapp's Pro
Outdoors, he has decades of experience on the river. His opinions
are to be taken seriously.
McPherson opines that to be successful, striper and hybrid anglers
on the Ohio River, anglers must learn to fish barges. Yes, that's
right - barges. There is no other structure or cover that will consistently
outproduce barges when it comes to fishing for stripers and hybrids
on this massive river.
McPherson suggests that the first step toward success with barges
is analyzing current. The stronger the current, the more likely the
fish will be found under the barges. The trick is to get your bait
under the barge.
Begin by selecting the right bait. Most anglers opt for an in-line
spinner, a weighted soft-plastic jerkbait or perhaps a light, wooden
crankbait. Approach the barge from a 45-degree angle on its outside
edge. Throw your bait in front of, and across, the nose of the barge.
Retrieve it slowly. Allow the current to wash it under the barge.
Work the bait just 1 or 2 inches below the bottom of the barge.
You can easily determine how much water the barge is drawing by reading
the depth gauge painted on its side. If the water is at the 4-foot
mark, the barge is drawing 4 feet of water. Your bait should be running
just slightly deeper than that.
Stripers and hybrids, as well as a few black bass, will dart from
under the barge to attack your bait. After that, the fight is on.
A second skill is patience. In the Ohio River, it may be necessary
to work an area several times to begin catching fish. "The trick
is to just keep fishing, back and forth along an area. In most cases,
if you are fishing a good spot, you will finally catch fish," McPherson
A third skill that must be developed is an appreciation for shallow
water. River fish will hold in shallow water. Stripers and hybrids
are no exception. While these fish may suspend over deep water, or
hide in deep water, in lakes and reservoirs, this is not the case
in river systems. Hybrids and stripers are frequently found in water
as shallow as 3 feet in the Ohio River.
The Louisville area also offers excellent striper and hybrid striper
angling, either above or below the dam. This section of river is
replete with holes, humps, rock obstructions and wing dams. Most
of these areas will hold stripers and hybrids.
Fish these areas with spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwater
plugs. Many anglers say that the better fish are taken during early
morning or late evening on topwater baits. Big, fat walking sticks
with white bellies and blue or black backs are the local favorites.
Work these lures fast in order to create lots of splash.
A final location for success on the Ohio is at the lower end of
the river near Paducah. This portion of the river includes the downstream
end of the Smithland Pool, as well as the mouths of the Cumberland
and Tennessee rivers. These river mouths are legendary big-fish spots.
Paducah is commercialized with scores of barges in the area. Therefore,
it should come as no surprise that the barge pattern is especially
popular and effective. Just inside the mouth of the Tennessee River,
there is a huge repair facility. It is one of the best hybrid spots
in all of Kentucky. Fish around the barges found here, especially
when there is a little current.
Creel limits are very generous on the river. There is a 30-fish
daily limit so long as only four of these fish are 15 inches or longer.
This includes white and yellow bass. Check before you fish.
The striper and hybrid outlook is excellent for 2004. Give them
a try this year. You will be hooked once you hook one or more of
these great fighters
Lake Cumberland alewifes will spawn
when the water temp reaches 60° and the bass angling
will be white hot.
Major river Basins
outside the text box, or
the tab key.
This script converts
from celcius to farhenheit and vice versa.
Other spots where hybrid fisheries have been established include
Barren River Lake, Grayson Lake, Fishtrap Lake and Guist Creek Lake.
Contact the KDFWR for an update on these fisheries by requesting
the 2003 Kentucky Fishing Forecast from the KDFWR Information Center
at (800) 858-1549, or look online at the agency's Web address: www.kyafield.com .
All Stripers All The Time!!