Catfish

Catfish of all species avail themselves more around shallower, shoreline spawning habitats in late spring.

Fish of the whiskered variety warrant a little more consideration nowadays if only because of their accessibility.

Based on water temperatures, catfish presently may be found around riprap or rocky shores with deeper water nearby in our big lakes and similar habitats along major rivers. The shallows of small waters like farm ponds may get some of the same attentions.

The motivating event here is the annual spawn of various catfish species found in local waters — blue, channel and flathead catfish in many of the rivers and lakes, and even smaller bullheads in some ponds and river habitats.

What happens with a spawning movement of catfish to the appropriate rocky and shoreline habitats is the fish make themselves more available to all sorts of anglers. Boaters have an advantage on big waters, of course, but the spawn brings plenty of fish accessible to those who lack boats or who simply want to do their fishing from somewhere on terra firma.

Fishing shoreline habitat is not a limitation to small fish, either. During the spawn, catfish that are long as your leg or larger can be reached with an easy cast from the bank. Nice channel catfish may be found spawning along the shore in all kinds of waters.

Blue cats and flatheads grow to relative giant sizes in our major impoundments and rivers. Amid the spawning season, plenty of 20-pound-plus are to be found within reach of the lawn chair anglers who perch along the right banks.

Catfish are prospering nowadays, and older veteran fish of sizes approaching triple digits are not beyond the realm of possibility.

Anglers interested in some of this whiskered fish action would do well to seek out some of the appropriate habitats these days and present baits on the bottom or suspended along rocky edges under bobbers — or both.

A wide variety of baits could entice catfish. Live minnows, nightcrawlers, chicken livers, cut baits like shad, skipjacks or chunked Asian carp, commercial or homemade “stink baits” — all sort of revolting stuff can appeal to predator/scavenger catfish with their highly-tuned olfactory senses.

Night fishing is often an edge for catfish anglers, but the disadvantage of daylight fishing is a good deal offset by the catfish’s attraction to shoreline habitats during the spawning season.

Catfishing during the spawn is one of the best opportunities for shoreline and boat anglers both to catch some of their biggest fish of a lifetime. It’s a great pursuit for producing fish for the table. It is a good introductory fishing method that does not require a wealth of special equipment or deep experience.

And even for those times when the bite isn’t that good, it is still a good excuse to perch on the shore and watch the current flow past.

The five-week spring squirrel season concludes Friday, June 19, the last day of spring. Summer this year clicks in officially on June 20. Recent Kentucky weather would argue that summer has been here for a while, but that was just hot, sultry spring.

Closure of the spring squirrel season will leave Kentuckians without an ongoing small game hunting period. The next on the sportsman’s calendar to arrive will be for squirrels again, but this one will be the traditional “fall” season that opens routinely on the third Saturday in August (Aug. 15 this year) and runs all the way through Feb. 28.

Following shutdowns for precautions related to the coronavirus, things are working their way back to normal for people recreating in the Land Between the Lakes.

After a long idle period, last week the LBL reopened their popular developed campgrounds. Hillman Ferry, Energy Lake, Turkey Bay Off-Highway Vehicle Area, and Piney campground all reopened on Tuesday.

As of this writing, there was yet no word of the reopening of Colson Hollow Group Camping Area.

Dispersed backcountry camping has been allowed all along, while basic and self-service camping areas have since reopened to the public.

Another major operational change came last Wednesday with the reopening of popular attractions and destinations in the federal recreation area. The Woodlands Nature Station, the Homeplace 1850s working farm, the Golden Pond Planetarium & Observatory, and the Hillman Heritage Trails accessible from Hillman Ferry Campground also opened again on that date.

Perhaps the most popular single feature in the LBL, the Elk & Bison Prairie remains closed. However, the drive-through wildlife viewing area remains closed to allow repair work, including culvert replacement, on the looping roadway over which critter-watching visitors travel through the 700-acre enclosure.

Camping again is allowed in Kentucky’s state parks with the passing of the set date for resumption after the coronavirus shutdown. Parks across Kentucky were allowed to accept campers beginning last Thursday as the June 11 date for the graduated reopenings arrived.

Even so, in state resort park campgrounds, only self-contained camping units are yet allowed. Tenting is generally prohibited as are pop-up units for now. Guidelines say only one tent is allowed along with each self-contained camper if both are set up at the same time.

Likewise precautionary, bathhouses, pools, beaches and playgrounds in the parks remain closed. Social distancing and adherence to CD guidelines are called for, and that includes a prohibition against visitors at campsites.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. Email outdoors news items to outdoors@paducahsun.com or phone 270-575-8650.