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Land Between The Lakes
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Fishing in Land Between The Lakes

The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area has no shortage of fishing holes, including more than 300 miles of undeveloped lake shoreline on Kentucky and Barkley lands and the many smaller lakes and ponds that weave their way through these 170,000 acres of lush, recreational lands. Fishing is typically at its finest in the spring, yet anglers have had lots of success during the summer, fall and winter months, as well.

Types of Fish

The lakes and ponds at Land Between the Lakes are teaming with fish. Some of the most common species found here include bass, crappie, sauger, catfish and bluegill. These waters provide some of the best locations for sport fishing in this area of the country, offering visitors access to a world-class fishery.

Before casting your line into these waters, educate yourself on the size and creel limits that the recreation area requires. In some cases they will differ from state regulations. Sport fishing requirements can be found online.

Hematite Lake

The fish abound at Hematite Lake. Anglers are likely to bring home catfish, bream and bluegills. They may also find a fair number of largemouth bass.

Hematite Lake has been around for quite some time, having been established before the creation of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area. It was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

This 83.6-acre lake is open to bank fishing and boats without gasoline motors. Fishing is open on Hematite Lake from mid-March through October. There is also a picnic area located near the lake and public restrooms are available near the entrance.

Other nearby attractions include a two-mile hiking trail around the lake, the Woodlands Nature Station, as well as iron furnace ruins. Hematite Lake is located in Trigg County, Kentucky.

Honker Lake

Honker Lake covers approximately 180-acres and is a sub-impoundment of Lake Barkley. A variety of fish species and other water critters make their homes in these waters. Those who wish to picnic will find adequate picnic grounds located nearby.

Honker Lake is open mid-March to October. Appropriate boats include any light recreational boats which can be hauled on a trailer and launched in shallow water.

This fishing lake is located in Trigg County, near Cadiz, Kentucky. Other nearby attractions include the Woodlands Nature Station and a five-mile hiking trail around the lake. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at the Nature Station, as well.

Bards Lake

Bards Lake is a 320-acre sub-impoundment of Lake Barkley located in Stewart County, Tennessee, near Dover. Anglers generally catch largemouth bass, bream, bluegill and crappie here. The lake is open year-round.

Energy Lake

Energy Lake is a 370-acre sub-impoundment of Lake Barkley located near Energy Lake Campground, a popular camping site for scouts, school groups, team building and reunions. The lake is separated from Lake Barkley by an earthen dam and offers fishing, canoeing and kayaking opportunities for visitors to Land Between the Lakes.

Energy Lake is a “no wake” zone. The lake is open year-round with the exception of a western portion of the lake being open only mid-March through October.

Learn more about water trails that can be explored around the recreation area at https://landbetweenthelakes.us/paddlers-unite/.

Golden Pond  

While there are a number of small ponds located throughout the lakes region, one special fishing hole is located at The Golden Pond Visitors’ Center. Golden Pond is a wonderful spot in which to teach kids to fish from the banks. It’s stocked with plenty of catfish and a picnic area is located nearby for families who wish to make a day of fishing along the banks.

This one and a half-acre pond is located at the entrance of Golden Pond Visitor Center and Planetarium.

Special Guidelines & Regulations

Because you’ll be fishing in a designated national recreation area there are specific rules and guidelines you’ll want to familiarize yourself with before throwing in your line. Here are just a few to consider.

  • Note the difference between the states’ possession limits and those of Land Between the Lakes.
  • Visitors to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area are asked to place discarded fishing line in the recycling stations located near many of the boat ramps. You are also responsible for any other trash your fishing trip may generate, including bait containers and other used items.
  • Those who enjoy bowfishing are permitted to do so along the shorelines of Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. You can also do this at Honker Lake, Energy Lake and Bards Lake. However, it is only allowed for nongame fish species.
  • Frog gigging is also permitted in the interior ponds and Bards, Energy and Honker Lakes from mid-May to August. It must be done using only a gig (firearms are prohibited). Be sure to have the proper license required by the state in which you will be gigging.
  • While the Land Between the Lakes does not require a special fishing license, those anglers 16 years and older who plan to fish in Kentucky will need to purchase a Kentucky fishing license. (In Tennessee, those 13 years and older are required to have a fishing license). Generally, you must have a license issued by the state in which you are fishing. However, there is a reciprocal agreement between Kentucky and Tennessee for some portions of Kentucky Lake. You can contact the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department for more information.

Purchase Fishing Licenses

Fishing licenses can be purchased at many of the resorts surrounding the Land Between the Lakes and at local businesses. Be sure to make note of the creel and size limits for each of the fish you might be trying to hook. These limits will vary by location.

Plan a Relaxing Fishing Retreat

Now that you have a good idea of where to fish around the Land Between the Lakes, be sure to book a comfortable Kentucky Lake cabin or a lodge nestled along the shores of Lake Barkley. With so many delightful attractions and natural wonders located near this national recreation area, you and your family will have no shortage of good times and memories to talk about for years to come.

Further Fishing Information

Lodging Options for Land Between The Lakes

While you can select from several campgrounds within Land Between The Lakes, there are several marinas, resorts, hotels and other types of lodging located just outside LBL.  You can use the links below to help find the perfect place to stay.

Note:  ExploreKentuckyLake.com is not the official site of the Land Between The Lakes. You can access their official site here.


Take A Kid Fishing
Photo by Shawn Dunnaway

These boys had a blast bank fishing on Kentucky Lake. Take your kids on a fishing trip to Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley!