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 Forecast for 2015 calls for fishing  



MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (12/30/2014) – At about the time when the winter boat show season starts to crank up, the annual fishing forecast for Kentucky’s major fisheries arrives as another welcome diversion from the winter doldrums.

Produced by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, it’s a valuable resource for anglers who want to be in the know and plan ahead. The forecast is available online at fw.ky.gov.

The 2015 edition highlights new and expanding fisheries and late winter and early spring hot spots. A special section makes it easy to identify where the best fishing can be expected for each species while the new up-and-comers section spotlights lakes and rivers that showed improvement last year. For instance: the forecast for crappie has improved from good to excellent at Lake Cumberland, Cave Run and Fishtrap lakes in 2015.

Here are a few other fisheries-related items to follow in 2015.

Hatchery Creek restoration: Anglers know the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam as a world-class trout fishery. An improved Hatchery Creek will be another reason to visit the area. Fed by the outflow from Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, located at the base of the dam, the creek is being transformed through a project undertaken by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It includes construction of a new channel to divert the creek away from a heavily-eroded ravine that deposits sediment into the Cumberland River below Lake Cumberland. The new channel will meander for more than a mile below the upper rip-rap area of the creek through riffles and pools before emptying into the river. One of the goals is to create stream conditions that foster natural reproduction of trout. Construction began in August. “I would say we’re doing very well and making good progress,” said Mike Hardin, Assistant Fisheries Director for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “Ideally, we’ll finish up most of the work by spring or summer and hopefully have enough of a growing season that we can let some vegetation get established and grow to stabilize the site before turning water loose in it.” Stocking will be dependent upon the natural migration of trout from the river into the new creek from the time the project is completed to the time the new channel opens to the public. Anglers can track the progress of the Hatchery Creek Stream and Wetland Restoration Project by visiting Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website. On the homepage, click the “Fish” tab and choose “Hatchery Creek Stream Project” from the dropdown menu.

Improving fish habitat at Cave Run: The project to improve fishing at Cave Run Lake by increasing the amount of habitat available for fish will see two more areas completed by the summer of 2015. Much of the work will be similar to this past year with cedar trees, cable spools, stake buckets and other structure being placed in the water to attract fish. “We also have a few new things including large concrete culverts and hardwood stumps,” said Tom Timmermann, northeastern fisheries district biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “We really hope to increase the size of the materials we’re using now that we know some of the limitations of the habitat barge and our crews.” The first phase of the large-scale habitat project created two nearly mile-long reefs from Stoney Cove near the dam to Adam’s Point and in the Clay Lick area in 2014. Scott’s Creek, Warix Run and Zilpo Flats are potential sites for the 2015 work, which will improve another roughly two miles of shoreline. Project leaders will take angler preference into consideration before making a final decision. More information about the Cave Run Lake habitat project, including a map that includes GPS coordinates for fish attracting structures, is available on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website.

New mentoring program: Learning to fish can be an intimidating and frustrating experience when you have little or no experience, and no one to coach you along. A new mentoring program developed by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will strive to help accelerate the learning curve. The Angler’s Legacy program is slated to launch this spring and will be geared toward people ages 16 and older with limited or no previous fishing experience. Skill-building courses will range from basic to complex. Information about the program will be available online at fw.ky.gov. “Our hope is that those who participate will gain the technical skills and confidence to adopt a lifelong fishing tradition,” said John Gutzeit, Aquatics Education Administrator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “In the long term, the goal of the program is to develop into a self-sustaining mentor program for new anglers.”

Author Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Kelly and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.