By Janet Level
While eastern Kentucky has its mountains and northern Kentucky touts its bluegrass, Western Kentucky boasts about its water.
Home to the two largest lakes in the state as well as a plethora of watershed lakes, streams and rivers, people from all over the Pennyrile region spend countless hours in boats and on docks just waiting for taut lines and disappearing bobbers.Each season presents unique challenges and rewards for amateur anglers, and autumn means more than just changing leaves and fewer daylight hours.
Jeremy Mathis, one of the region’s local fishing fans, grew up in Christian County and spends a lot of his time working at the Wood Shed Bar-B-Q and Restaurant. He married his wife, Julia, last December, and they are expecting their first child in a few months. He was also named interim pastor at Gracey West Union Baptist Church. This past year has been packed with wonderful changes, but one thing that hasn’t changed is his love for fishing.
Mathis has been fishing in the area for the past 19 years. He enjoys fishing almost year-round, only taking off in December, January and February. He particularly likes fishing for crappie in cooler temperatures. He also prefers using crankbait and says he “never throws plastic bait in the fall.”
While he didn’t name a particular favorite fishing spot, he does a lot of fall fishing in a smaller boat on the local watershed lakes when possible. The quieter setting is attractive to him and he named Lakes Blythe and Morris as his personal picks. He described both as peaceful and calm.
Many local anglers share Mathis’ point of view about the peaceful watershed lakes. In addition to the scenic views, these smaller lakes have been known to produce record-setting fish. According to records available on explorekentuckylake.com, Christian County watershed lakes produced Kentucky record holders for black crappie and white crappie.
Watershed fishing moves at a gentler pace due in large part to the rules governing these lakelets. In addition to the fact that fishing licenses are required, no gasoline motors on boats and no all-terrain vehicles are allowed. Among the rules are restrictions that don’t allow camping, swimming or hunting on the grounds near watershed lakes. Visitors to these monitored wetlands should be mindful that littering is prohibited too.
All of the established rules are enforced to preserve the pristine conditions. In fact, maintaining the environment is so important that fishing at Lake Tandy is restricted to only members of the Hopkinsville Fishing Club in order to ensure that area remains uncorrupted.
The Hopkinsville Fishing Club leased Lake Tandy from the Hopkinsville Water Environment Authority in 2005, and they have been responsible for overseeing the property for the last nine years.
Membership in the club is open to the public and anyone can view the club’s Facebook page for more information about Lake Tandy and the club’s efforts to maintain the lake’s natural beauty — along with the bountiful fishing.
While crappie is abundant in watersheds, the big lakes offer a different set of challenges and any fisherman with a valid license will find fall fishing at its finest. In Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, the variety of fish and optimum depths change somewhat. For instance, as water temperatures cool in the fall and sunlight decreases, bass move into the bays on the big lakes to feed on shad, and bluegill swim closer to the surface to soak up elusive heat. Fall and winter offer the best chance for sauger, who have moved to secondary channels, and, of course, catfish are always willing to give fishermen a run for their money.
Regardless of the particular species or venue, fishermen will find themselves just as satisfied on the water in the fall as they are during the spring and summer. After all, fishing isn’t just about the fish.
Make fishing fun for kids
Many times, today’s adult anglers started out as yesterday’s curious children. Fishing is a great family sport, and being there when a child catches their first fish is a lifetime memory for both the parent and the child. Here are a few basic fishing tips to get a child started:
- A lightweight, 4’ rod and a reel with 4 – 8 pound test line is best for younger fishermen.
n Smaller hooks work well for smaller hands.
n A live earthworm cut to the size of the hook is a good first bait. Adults will want to bait the hooks until children are old enough to avoid sticking themselves.
- Take something along for the child to do during downtime between fish. Snacks are always a good distraction for impatient novices.
- Plan the first few trips to a fishing spot close to home and avoid marathon fishing to keep the child interested.
- Expect mistakes. No one starts out like a pro. Patience is key to keeping things fun.
- Kentucky does not require a fishing license for anyone under 16, but all young fishermen should wear a life vest on the bank and in a boat.
For more great tips and information on fishing with
children, visit www.takemefishing.org.