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KY Afield Outdoors: FINs Lakes Stockings Begin This Month

By Lee McClellan

Frankfort, KY - Five new lakes enrolled in the Fishing in Neighborhoods Program (FINs) will receive stockings of trout in February, a boon to anglers tired of being house bound.

Flemingsburg Old Reservoir, an 11-acre lake in Fleming County, gets 900 trout while Leary Lake, a 5-acre lake on Lloyd Wildlife Management Area in Grant County, gets the same amount of trout. The 9-acre Logan-Hubble Park Lake just south of Lancaster in Garrard County will receive 900 trout as well.

The 2-acre Kess Creek Park Lake in Mayfield in Graves County will get 500 trout as will the Clinton Rotary Park Lake in Clinton in Hickman County. Both of these lakes are in the Purchase Region.

"We are stocking a larger-sized trout in all of our FINs lakes for 2017," said Dane Balsman, coordinator of the FINs program for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "The larger trout now average about 10 to 11 inches long and one-half pound in weight."

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife formerly stocked its traditional "stocker" trout of 9 to 10 inches in the FINs lakes. "We wanted to improve angler satisfaction and utilization as well as reducing hooking and handling mortality. These fish won't be caught as many times and anglers are more likely to harvest a larger trout."

Balsman cautions anglers fishing on a FINs lake to practice beneficial catch and release tactics when they catch a trout, especially as the water warms. Anglers can purchase inexpensive fish grabbers to prevent touching or squeezing a trout when removing the hook. These devices prove valuable when handling fish that may cause injury, such as a catfish or fish with teeth, such as a muskellunge.

Forty-three lakes across Kentucky are in the FINs program. They offer fantastic fishing for trout, but also excellent fishing for catfish and largemouth bass.

"We will start in March with the catfish stockings in FINs lakes," Balsman said. "Due to hatchery expansion, we now have the capabilities to raise all of the FINs catfish in house. We will stock about 125,000 catfish in our FINs lakes." Largemouth bass anglers usually turn to waters such as Kentucky Lake, Barren River Lake or state-owned lakes, such as Lake Malone or Lake Kincaid, for a chance at a trophy fish.

"We see exceptional largemouth bass in the FINs lakes, many of them big bass," Balsman said. "We saw a 9.7-pound largemouth bass from Mike Miller Park Lake this past year, my personal best I've seen in a FINs lake. We routinely see 6- to 8-pound bass in the spring." Four-acre Mike Miller Park Lake lies near Draffenville in Marshall County.

Balsman recommends early spring as the time to catch these bruisers. "We stock these lakes with trout and the bass eat them and grow big," he said. A white spinnerbait with a silver Colorado blade works well for trophy pre-spawn largemouth bass in small lakes, especially when rains colored the water a touch. A large soft-plastic swimbait in trout colors may also work well in these lakes.

Many anglers flock to Kentucky Lake or Lake Barkley each May for the redear sunfish spawn. Anglers do not need to go that far.

"Some of these lakes have really good redear sunfish in them," Balsman said. "Three Springs Park Lake near Bowling Green and Madisonville City Park Lake South have great populations of redear sunfish. Both lakes offer trophy potential of 10-inch and longer redear sunfish."

Lake Mingo in Nicholasville, just south of Lexington has moderate numbers of redear sunfish, commonly called shellcrackers. However, Balsman said some of them are true trophies, running 12 inches or more.

"The trout and catfish are for put and take fishing," Balsman said. "There is trophy potential for redear sunfish and some of these lakes are great bluegill lakes as well."

The main point of the FINs program is providing a place close to home for folks to go and have a reasonable expectation of catching fish.

"We want people to be able to go fish the FINs lakes after work in spring and summer or take the kids and fish for an hour or two on the weekends and catch fish," Balsman said. "The convenience factor is whole point of the FINs program."

Remember, current fishing licenses expire Feb. 28. It is a good idea to buy your fishing license soon.

Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

This story was posted on 2017-02-02 15:03:17
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KY Afield Outdoors: FINs Lakes Stockings Begin This Month

2017-02-02 - Lexington, KY - Photo by Lee McClellan. Carson Kelly, 8, of Versailles holds a nice group of trout he caught last spring from Rolex Lake at the Kentucky Horse Park, one of the lakes in the Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) program. The FINs lakes receive stockings of trout this month, but provide excellent fishing for largemouth bass, catfish and sunfish as well.
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