Department of Fish and Wildlife
Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Although it seems unlikely now, white bass runs around the corner
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Small creeks across
Kentucky that normally run placid currently rage with brown froth. Reservoirs
now cover marina parking lots and lakeside campgrounds.
Most Kentuckians are punch drunk from the
blows of the latest salient of the Polar Vortex followed by dreary, cold rain.
Soon, anglers can
alleviate this gloom by hitting the headwaters of Nolin River Lake,
Taylorsville Lake and Herrington Lake to catch marauding white bass as they
make their annual spring spawning runs. They don’t have to own a boat to enjoy
fishing as good as any in Kentucky.
is the main driver of the white bass runs. With most waters across Kentucky
hovering in the low 40s, they are likely still several weeks away. However, a
prolonged warm front, similar to the one we are now enjoying, can bring the
gorging bands of white bass upstream fairly quickly.
“In spring, look
for that warm rain,” said Mike Hardin, assistant director of fisheries for the
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The river temperatures can
increase dramatically from warm rains. They warm up eight degrees or more
quickly. The headwaters are often much warmer than the main lake.”
Geological Survey streamflow gauges for Kentucky streams tell the story of how
much water is coming into a lake. When you click on a gauge for a particular
site on a stream, a box at the top of the page allows users to select
parameters to display such as flow rate in cubic feet per second (cfs), gauge
height and water temperature. You may access this important information at www.waterdata.us.gov.
“I try and look at
the gauges for surrounding streams to estimate what the water temperature is in
the river above a lake,” Hardin, an avid white bass angler said. “When the
water temperature gets near 50 along with the increased flow and longer days,
these factors trigger the white bass to move upstream. Soon after that comes
the peak of the run.”
aggressively strike practically anything that flashes silver in the water or
resembles a shad or other baitfish. “You can drop down to about any flashy lure
and cast it out, reel it in and catch white bass in spring,” said Jeff Ross,
assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “They are a great
fish for families, kids and beginners because they strike so aggressively.”
Hardin said an
angler can carry all they need for white bass in a shirt pocket. Buy a couple
of bags of 3-inch white or chartreuse curly-tailed grubs along with some 1/8th-ounce
leadheads and go.
White bass also
strike white, grey, pink or chartreuse in-line spinners, small silver casting
spoons and tiny shad-colored crankbaits.
Ross said another
pleasant aspect of white bass fishing is the ability to catch a slew of them
from the bank. Arguably the best white bass run in Kentucky occurs in the
headwaters of Nolin River Lake. Bank anglers have good access at Bacon Creek
Boat Ramp and at Broad Ford bridge on KY 1214.
Nolin River Lake
holds a burgeoning population of 13- to 15-inch white bass, bruisers by
The headwaters of
Taylorsville Lake in Anderson County upstream of the KY 248 bridge offer
excellent white bass fishing. These fish run as far upstream of the historic
river trading town of Glensboro in spring. Anglers may access the bank of this
stretch of Salt River that flows through the Taylorsville Lake Wildlife
Management Area (WMA) from River Road. This old road parallels the river and is
open typically from mid-March to the opening of the spring turkey season, depending on weather and road conditions.
Data from last
fall’s population sampling revealed an improving population of white bass in
Taylorsville Lake which portends good fishing this spring.
The white bass
running in the headwaters of Herrington Lake produced a clarion call for
anglers who traveled from all over the upper South in the decades following
World War II to fish the legendary runs. The fishery bottomed out in the 1990s
and early 2000s, but the white bass are beginning to shade into the status they
had back in the day. The lake contains many white bass in the 12- to 14-inch
range with some trophy fish over 15 inches possible.
excellent access to over a mile of the Dix River in Rankin Bottoms just above
Herrington Lake via the Dix River VPA, located at the end of Rankin Bottoms
Road off KY 52 in Boyle County. Rankin Bottoms was once ground zero for spring
white bass fishing during the glory days. This stretch is once again a highly
productive spot to catch numbers of fat white bass.
Get out this
spring and enjoy the fast and furious nature of white bass fishing. When white
bass are running, no other fishing offers as much action and excitement,
perfect for hooking a youngster into a lifetime of fishing.