by Kevin Kelly
FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 16, 2017) – Spring break for many conjures thoughts of traveling somewhere warm and catnapping on a beach between rounds of golf. A staycation sounds much better if you’re a muskellunge (known at STM as big, toothy trout) angler from Kentucky. The state’s muskellunge fishery has earned a reputation that extends beyond its borders, and experienced anglers know spring is one of the can’t-miss times of the year.
“Your odds of catching a trophy are better in the spring and fall,” said Tom Timmermann, northeastern fisheries district biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “In the fall, they’re packing on that weight to get through the winter. In the spring, if you catch those females before they release their eggs, they’re full of eggs. Either way, you’re looking at a chance at some bigger fish.”
Kentucky lies within the natural range of the Ohio strain of musky, but the population in lakes and streams now is supported with stocking. Buckhorn, Cave Run, Dewey and Green River lakes are managed as trophy fisheries and there is a 36-inch minimum size limit in place on each. A 30-inch size limit for muskellunge is in effect elsewhere in the state. Cave Run Lake reaches into parts of Bath, Menifee, Morgan and Rowan counties and it produced the current state record in 2008. The 47-pound bruiser measured 54 inches.
The longer periods of daylight and water temperatures climbing past 50 degrees trigger the muskellunge’s instincts to move shallow. Many anglers do well focusing on larger embayments, secondary cuts and flats because they warm up first.
Look for areas that offer food, vegetation or timber, warmer water and close proximity to deeper water. Scotts Creek, Warix Run, Buck Creek and Leatherwood on Cave Run Lake are popular spots in spring. Start at the points and work back to the shallows, casting to the bank and any structure or sub-surface features along the way.