Kentucky Lake Fishing

Fishing. It’s what has earned Kentucky Lake a reputation that few bodies of water can amass. A world-class fishery that attracts bass, crappie, smallmouth, panfish, sauger, white bass and catfish anglers from around the globe, Big Bear Resort is right in the center of the action.

Kentucky Lake itself is a 186,000 acre impoundment that boasts 2,380 miles of breathtaking shoreline. Countless bays, inlets and points with a 170,000 acre nature preserve on the Eastern shore make angling here one of the most awe-inspiring sightseeing trips you will ever fish.

Kentucky’s warmer climate means a longer growing season that results in big and aggressive bass and panfish. Huge numbers of outsized black bass and crappie are main staples of anglers that regularly harvest quality, as well as quantity, gamefish. Having a seven-pound Kentucky Lake largemouth going spastic on your line is a real treat, no matter what type of fish you normally seek – and we’ve got plenty of them!

Great fishing can be found almost anywhere on the lake, but some of the best crappie and bass can be found right around the resort in Big Bear and Malcom Creek. Big Bear Resort has participated in setting artificial cribs and fish attractors in bays around the resort. Plus, with no closed angling season on Kentucky Lake, you can enjoy Big Bear fishing year ’round.

Planning a weekend or a week-long fish-a-thon is easy at Big Bear! Everything you need to make a great fishing trip is available: from campsites and boat rentals to groceries and tackle.

Fishing Guide Service

Big Bear offers Guide Service directly out of our marina. Professional, experienced licensed Guides will escort your fishing party on a fully-rigged bass boat, providing gas, tackle and live bait.

Our guides will share technique and presentations that will produce those infamous Kentucky Lake catches. Big Bear Guide Service will provide you valuable skills that will make your fishing excursions to Kentucky Lake a profitable experience.

Professional Fisherman & Guide Service
[email protected]

Text: Rodney Hairgrove on Kentucky Lake, Guide Service, Crappie, Bass, Bluegill, Redear, Sunfish and Whitebass.

Rate Information:

1-2 Persons
Full Day (8 hours): $375.00 plus fuel
Half Day (4 hours): $275.00 plus fuel
$50.00 deposit for each day is required to hold your reservation.

Your guided trip includes all tackle, fishing gear and travel on a fully rigged bass boat, or you may bring your own favorite gear and tackle.

Please provide your own fishing license (which is available at our marina), appropriate clothing (raingear,warm outerwear) and your favorite rod, reel and confidence bait if so desired.

There may be an extra fuel fee for guided bass trips

Creel/Size Limits

  Fish Species Daily Limit Possession Limit Min. Size Limit
  Largemouth Bass 6* 12* 15″
  Smallmouth Bass 6* 12* 15″
  Kentucky (Spotted) Bass 6* 12* none
  Crappie 20 60 10″
  Yellow Bass 30 60 none
  Striped Bass 5 10 15″
  Sauger, Walleye 6* 12* 14″
  Catfish none none none
  Bluegill/Sunfish none none none
  Redear Sunfish 20 40 none

* Singly or combined; a total of these species

The season for all species of fish in Kentucky is year round
There are special fishing regulations for Kentucky and Lake Barkley lakes (and their connecting canal).
CRAPPIE: 10 inch size limit
LARGEMOUTH and SMALLMOUTH BASS: 12 inch size limit
size limit

Big Bear Marina carries the Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide free of charge for you. The guide has all the lake regulations as well as the surrounding rivers and streams.

License Fees

Fees are reasonable, with non-resident cost at $15.00 for a 1-day pass, $35.00 for 7-day pass, and $55.00 for an annual non-resident Kentucky pass. Residents of Kentucky can purchase an annual license for $20.00, a husband & wife pass for $36.00 or a combined annual hunting & fishing license for $30.00.

Angling Information

Tired of Traffic? Summer Serenity on Kentucky Lake

You can probably laugh about it now, but at the time it happens it’s nothing short of agony: Your regular fishing hole has become so crowded with pleasure boaters and weekend anglers that catching fish is nearly impossible in summer. So you plan a weekend trip to what you’ve heard is a decent lake about two hours drive from your metropolitan home. Comments from acquaintances tell you that this is a promising lake, not well-known and your hopes swell for an excellent trip where you might actually catch fish. Hot Spots maps have been studied and you have strategically planned your assaults in chronological order. So with your boat rigged and polished, your tackle, gear and coolers all stowed, you head out in the wee hours of morning, expecting to be on the water before sun-up.

Kentucky Lake Fishing Tips

Disbelief has suddenly changed your entire hopeful outlook. Brake lights from trailers standing end to end to end stretch for over a mile to the entrance of the launch site, all waiting for their turn at the ramp. It seems those acquaintances of yours told two friends the same thing they told you, and then they told two friends, and so on, and so on…..

So now with everyone having the same idea you had, you wait quietly fuming for your turn to launch. Finally after watching a boat sink, a trailer jackknife, and a van stall after backing up too far, you are all set to dump your boat in the drink. Suddenly money is demanded from you for a lake sticker, inspection tag and launch fee before you put in, the costs draining most of the cash you have on hand. Shaking your head in disgust, you put the boat in and pull out, hunting for a parking spot. Two miles away you find the only place to park: a vacant lot you have to pay for.

By the time you get back to your boat, and motor out from the launch site the sun is well-up. The main lake looks like an assault of the Spanish Armada, and you find that all the spots you marked on your map are beset with a flotilla of anglers fighting over a single brush pile.

After a couple hours of fruitless casts, line snags, and boat nudging, the situation suddenly worsens when a fleet of Sea Doos, ski boats and power yachts begin a counter-clockwise circular run around the lake. Huge swells from racing boats and deep V hulls, nearly swamp your craft into shore timber. You watch in horror as your line is run over by a hot shot waverunner punk intent on doing water-wheelies over the grass-bed. A water-skier drenches you in a blasting spray of roostertail art after nearly slamming into your side. You stare in disbelief at the aluminum launch with six anglers pulling alongside you, hauling in fish after fish using Zebcos and nets, while your livewell remains empty. You leave the lake that day sunburned, drenched, and without so much as nary a bite. A true story that many can tell.

If you live near a heavily populated area, this story has probably happened to you on your attempts to fish nearby water. The surging popularity of angling has created fishing pressure on lakes and rivers near metropolitan areas.

But there is a solution to your frustration. If you want some peaceful serenity, space, and excellent fishing opportunities, plan a trip to Kentucky Lake. It’s really not that far a drive, and great resorts on this 160,000 acre impoundment cater to the angler. Fishing pressure is light due to the sheer size of Kentucky Lake alone. Finding secluded bays near deep water off primary points is easy; they’re everywhere. There’s no closed angling season, licenses are affordable, public launches are free and the resorts and parks have fantastic concrete ramp sites. The natural state preserve that is Land Between The Lakes is breathtaking in it’s wooded scenery, and the fish are big and nasty.

Summer offers a variety of fishing opportunities: bass, catfish, sauger and white bass “stripes” feed aggressively in the warming water. Early morning and late evenings are key to great largemouth fishing in the timber cover and sunken brush along shoreline from bass that come shallow to feed. Good topwater time is right before dawn and twilight after sunset. During the day, fishing drop offs along creek channels and flats off deeper water using diving shad colored crankbaits, Texas-rigged lizards and worms in chartreuse or dark blues bounced off the ledges to the deeper pockets can produce large and generous largemouth catches.

Some minnow and crappie rigs can be bounced off the bottom to snag sauger and crappie, catfish baits fished in the deeper feeder creeks generally will produce hot catfish action. Finding river channels during hot sunny days and popping jigs, lead tailspinners, Roadrunner twister-tails and orange spinner-baits can produce large catches of white “stripes” bass. Minnow spins are good tools to use when surface water is filled with herded minnows being fed upon by stripers that grow to double digits on the main lake.

Opportunities and presentations are virtually limitless. Many guides offer a variety of techniques and presentations that will all produce fish. Putting a pattern together may only take an hour or two if conditions are right.

When the traffic and fishing pressure of your local fishing holes has you fed-up, plan a trip to the wonderful waters that make Kentucky Lake an absolute gem to fish this season. You will never look at your local lake the same way again. Beep. Beep


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Kentucky Lake & Lake Barkley Lake Levels

Kentucky Lake: 362.3′ Lake Barkley: 362.3′
Water Temp: 82°

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