Kentucky Lake & Lake Barkley Fishing
If you're new to Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, take a look at our Fishing Overview and discover how fun and exciting fishing these big lakes can be! You can also check out Fishing 101 to learn about our species and seasonal patterns.
Our traditional fishing reports are now complimented by fishing features, articles and news pertaining to Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. You can check out our Fishing Reports Summary to see all the regular reports and contributors. Let's go fishing!
Most Recent Fishing Reports & Articles
- January Fishing Off To Good Start
January 18, 2023 - Steve McCadams
- Getting Ready for the 2023 Fishing Season
January 11, 2023 - Doug Wynn
- End of Year Kick'n Bass Update
December 14, 2022 - Rich Bay
- Fall Fishing Has Arrived on Kentucky & Barkley Lakes
October 5, 2022 - Scott McGlinchey
- White Bass Elusive When Current Is Non-Existent
August 24, 2022 - Eric Ashley
- Spring Fishing Update
March 23, 2022 - John Morgan
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Kentucky Lake Stage: 354.78'
You can now access 17 years' worth of Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley fishing reports. The archive is growing as we continue to add more reports. Over 1,300 can be accessed going back to 2001. It's a great reference tool for finding fishing patterns during certain seasons and reading about historical events such as floods. Access the fishing report archives.
Want to go fishing but just don't know where to start? Or do you want to improve your fishing skills with knowledge and advice from an expert? No sweat! We're proud to present Fishing 101, a comprehensive guide to fishing Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. Fishing 101 was written by professional guides Doug Wynn and Brandon Hunter.
The waters of Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley are teeming with a diverse variety of freshwater fish that make this the perfect setting for an ideal fishing experience. The crown jewels of the lakes are bass and crappie. Both crappie fishing and bass fishing really ramp up in the late winter and early spring months. However, because of the region's warm climate, anglers can come away with a lot of other great catches throughout the year. Other popular fish you'll find in these waters include catfish, bluegill, redear, and sauger.
Great fishing can be found almost anywhere on these lakes, but some of the best spots are found right around the resorts and lodges that fill the region. This makes planning a week-long fish-a-thon to Western Kentucky and Northwest Tennessee very easy.
About Kentucky Lake
This 160,000-acre impound includes 2,380 miles of astonishing shoreline. It attracts some of the most renowned bass and crappie anglers in the world. In fact, experienced anglers come to Kentucky Lake to enjoy the many tournaments and recreational fishing opportunities available to fishermen of all skill levels at various times of the year.
The lake is home to countless bays, inlets and points to explore, including a 170,000-acre nature preserve which can be found on the eastern shore of Kentucky Lake. The waters are home to white bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass, sauger, catfish, bluegill and red-ear sunfish, a species of fish which are growing increasingly stout in the waters of Kentucky Lake.
Kentucky Lake stays busy most of the year between its recreational boat traffic and the commercial barges and tugs which use the waterway as a passage to more southern destinations. So watch for these vessels and use proper boating etiquette when you encounter them.
While the populations of fish in these waters are spectacular in and of themselves, Kentucky Lake also creates the perfect backdrop for anglers to enjoy breathtaking views, which surround one of the most alluring fisheries in the country.
About Lake Barkley
Much like Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley is filled with a pleasing array of crappie, largemouth bass, white bass, catfish, sauger and bluegill. It is 134 miles long and boasts 1,004 miles of shoreline. It is, no doubt, an angler's paradise, especially during spring spawn when those shallow waters are rich in some of the largest catches on the lakes. If out on a boat in these shallow waters, make sure to pay close attention to any unseen obstacles that might be hiding under the water's surface.
In addition to being one of the best fishing lakes in Western Kentucky and Northwest Tennessee, Lake Barkley is also a waterway for commercial barges that enter and depart through the region's locks. So use proper boating etiquette when encountering one of these large vessels.
Things to Know Before You Plan Your Fishing Trip
Of course, seasoned fishermen will already be familiar with the various species of fish, fishing licenses, fees and regulations by which anglers in Kentucky and Tennessee must abide. However, for those who may be latecomers to the natural and man-made wonders that make Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley such great places to cast a line, this guide offers some basic information you will need to plan a productive fishing trip on these two lakes.
From the deep waters of the secondary creek channels where anglers can find plentiful schools of crappie during the late winter months, to the shallow waters that become populated by this star species from April to May, the crappie fishing experience in Western Kentucky and Northwest Tennessee is rich and rewarding. As the warmer days of winter creep in, you'll find anglers lining the shores of Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. In early spring, the crappie move into shallow waters to spawn. These shallow waters range from six inches to six feet deep. It's been suggested by the locals that crappie fishing is at its finest when the dogwoods are in bloom. (We'll let you test that theory on your own!)
While crappie fishermen are seeking to feast on their catch, bass fishermen generally are out to catch bass as a sport. Many of their finest catches are thrown back into the rich waters of Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. That's not to say that bass fish cannot be eaten, because they most certainly can be. However, fishermen will need to limit the number of bass they keep to meet Kentucky Fish and Wildlife guidelines, and those of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Around April, fishermen seeking trophy fish can be found in abundance around Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. In July and August, you'll find white bass along the river drops and flats of Lake Barkley. Because the largemouth bass travels in the same schools to feed, an angler might also hook one of these beauties while searching the waters for white bass.
Those looking to hook largemouth bass will have the most luck during the early spring just before they begin to spawn. But even into summer anglers have been known to catch a few lurking in mid-range water depths and along the ledges.
Freshwater Fishing Guides
It helps to know where to find the best fish on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. That can easily be accomplished by hiring an experienced and licensed fishing guide. Whether you're new to bass fishing or simply want to pick up some bass or crappie fishing tips and techniques from the experts, hiring a fishing guide can be a wise investment. Half-day and full-day fishing guide packages can be purchased from the various guide services. Some resorts offer fishing guide services of their own, so check with your lodge to see what's available there. Fishing guides make fishing trips to Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley productive and are often worth the investment.
Plan Your Fishing Trip
Because of the warm climate in Kentucky and Tennessee, the fishing season is a bit longer than what you'll find in other parts of the country. That leaves you and your fishing buddies plenty of time to plan your next fishing trip to Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.
Start exploring all that these breathtaking fishing lakes have to offer to anglers during the various times of year.