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Our Top 5 Kentucky Fishing Holes

Kentucky Lake

Fishing. It’s what has earned Kentucky Lake a reputation that few bodies of water can amass. A world-class fishery that attracts bass, crappie, smallmouth, panfish, sauger, white bass and catfish anglers from around the globe, Big Bear Resort is right in the center of the action.

Kentucky Lake itself is a 186,000 acre impoundment that boasts 2,380 miles of breathtaking shoreline. Countless bays, inlets and points with a 170,000 acre nature preserve on the Eastern shore make angling here one of the most awe-inspiring sightseeing trips you will ever fish.

Kentucky’s warmer climate means a longer growing season that results in big and aggressive bass and panfish. Huge numbers of outsized black bass and crappie are main staples of anglers that regularly harvest quality, as well as quantity, gamefish. Having a seven-pound Kentucky Lake largemouth going spastic on your line is a real treat, no matter what type of fish you normally seek – and we’ve got plenty of them!

Lake Barkley

Lake Barkley offers just about everything someone fishing in Kentucky could want. There are bluegill, sauger, catfish, white bass, largemouth bass, and crappie stocked in this lake. Lake Barkley is 58,000 acres of reservoir that impounds from the Cumberland River. Lake Barkley also connects to the Kentucky Lake through its dam.


Dale Hollow Lake

If you are more of a smallie chaser than Dale Hollow Lake is a fantastic lake to check out. While more of the 6,614 acre reservoir resides in Tennessee than Kentucky, it is still a must fish.

Smallmouth average in the 3 pound range and put up a great fight. This lake is also home to the current smallmouth world record that hasn’t been broken since 1955.

These smallmouth aren’t going to make it easy on you though. Dale Hollow is well known for its clear waters, so natural colored baits and finesse fishing is king here. Taking that into account hiring a guide is highly recommended to get the most success and fun out of a weekend trip.

If you are set to tackle it on your own, most anglers have success working small jigs or floating flies on lighter tackle.

Bass Fishing Kentucky (3)

Image Source: Field & Stream

The current world record smallmouth bass from Dale Hollow Lake, caught by David Hayes. This beast weighed in at 11 pounds and 15 ounces.

Elkhorn Creek

If you are looking for a relaxing trip with the family to catch some smallmouth and do a little camping out of state, then check out Elkhorn Creek. Whether you want to wade your way through the shallows or rent a kayak to glide down the lake while casting, it is a beautiful place to be.

Elk Horn Creek is 17 miles long and has a lot of deep, slow moving holes to target smallmouth or other fish species. Crawfish lures and soft plastics are the go-to while fishing the rocky creek bottoms. It is also a great place to bust out that old fly rod and have at them.

Kentucky is a fantastic place to check out, not only for the fishing, but for the beautiful scenery it holds. If the fish aren’t biting there are numerous places close by all the lakes on this list for a quick hike or other outdoor activities.

If it’s prize winning trophy catches you’re looking for, Lake Cumberland is the best fishing spot for you!  The 11 lb 15 oz. world record small mouth bass, a 58 lb. 4 oz rockfish, a 22 lb. 7 oz. walleye, a 208 lb catfish, and the national record 26 lb 10 ounce brown trout, all came out of these waters!

Lake Cumberland

Lake Cumberland fishing is phenomenal and the variety is awesome.  Lake Cumberland is famous for having great Crappie, Bream, Walleye, Trout, and Catfish, plus five species of bass – Largemouth, Smallmouth, White, Kentucky and Rock.  These species have given Lake Cumberland fishing undisputed honors as one of the top fishing spots in the country.  One of the most awesome features of Lake Cumberland fishing is that the fishing season is all year long and the fish are biting every single day!

If BASS is what you like to fish for, Lake Cumberland is the place to be.  Fishermen agree that the next record Smallmouth Bass will be caught on Lake Cumberland!  The Smallmouth and the Kentucky Bass both like rocky or gravel shoals and there are plenty on Lake Cumberland!  Be sure to look for Largemouth Bass around stumps and mudbanks.  Deep trolling is the way to take Bass during the hot days of summer.  During the cool early mornings and early evenings you will find the fish foraging near the surface and you can even make a great catch during the dead of night!

Lake Cumberland is nationally famous for its spring run of White Bass.  The White Bass of Lake Cumberland spawn in the tributaries.  In the spring, the White Bass are very hungry and will bite just about at anything, but 2″-3″ Minnows may be your best bet.  After spring, the next best time to get White Bass is when they’re in the jumps, in late summer and early fall.  This is when they are chasing shad minnows, up near the surface.  Use an artificial lure with streamers.

TROUT – The National Record Brown Trout and State Records for Rainbow and Brown Trout came out of these waters.  Trout Fishing is best below Wolf Creek Dam.  The fishing is good any time of year since the temperature of the water below the dam remains fairly constant year round.  The baits used for trout fishing on the Cumberland River range from corn or salmon eggs to spinner baits or spoons depending on the season.  Ask a local bait dealer around the Lake Cumberland area which bait is best at the time of year you plan to be fishing.  Trout fishing is good both above and below Wolf Creek Dam.  Off the points where some of the tributaries run into the lake are good spots also.

STRIPER FISHING on Lake Cumberland is awesome! The best Striper fishing on Lake Cumberland is the lower reaches of the lake during late April and the first half of May.  Stripers (also called Rockfish) can be taken on top water baits at dawn.  From mid May through summer however, the water becomes warmer and the fish are feeding deeper – that is the time that trolling or live bait tactics can be used.  From mid September , the waters of Lake Cumberland begin to cool and Stripers are taken at depths around 20 – 30 ‘.  Live baiting with Shad is fairly popular and productive.  The current freshwater world record is 60 lb. 5 oz. and most people feel that the next World Record Striper will come from the deep recesses of Lake Cumberland where already a 58 lb. 4 oz. Striper was caught.

WALLEYE FISHING – Lake Cumberland has great Walleye fishing in late winter and early spring.  The Walleye looks for swift water and enjoy water temperatures around 50 degrees.  Walleye can be found on the Cumberland River and in smaller tributaries of Lake Cumberland.  Fishing for Walleye on Lake Cumberland is best when using lures laid carefully on the bottom.

CRAPPIE FISHING – There are loads of Crappie in Lake Cumberland and Crappie Fishing is superb! Minnows are the best bait to use for Crappie fishing on Lake Cumberland.  You can find Crappie around fallen trees and driftwood, and near boat harbors and docks.

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