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A look back at 2011

January 12, 2012

By Chris Erwin

The year 2011 is in the history books, but it doesn’t seem possible as we head deeper into 2012. Now is a good time to take a last look back and take a sneak peak forward.

This past year was a record-setting year for rain and high water. Many of our lakes set high-water records, including Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The old record was set in 1984 at 369.9 feet but on May 4, 2011 Kentucky Lake hit 373.5 feet above sea level, officially breaking the old record.

These two lakes were not alone as the record high water spread across the state and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers flooded thousands of acres of farm land. Our own Cave Run Lake, as of 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 29, was the highest in its history at 757 feet above sea level and still rising. Alternatively, in another measure, it was nearly 30 feet above the summer pool level of 730 ft.

Anthony Orr, Cave Run project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, confirmed that the lake passed its 1978 record level of 755.05 that Wednesday and was setting a new record each hour.

With all this high water, you would think the fishing would have been poor, but just the opposite was true. Cave Run Lake produced all season and while not one sport fish record was set, three fish records were broke in 2011. The Blue Sucker, record was set at 6lbs 8oz by Tyler Jones who caught the fish at the Barkley dam. The paddle fish (spoonbill) record was set at 46 lbs. 4oz. by Tanner Collins on the Cumberland River and lastly, the sliver carp record was set at 31lbs 6oz by David Hash on the Ohio River.

The author Chris Erwin showing off one of many bass he caught on Cave Run Lake during 2011.

On a different note, two types of Asian carp, the big head and silver Asian Carp invaded Kentucky waters in 2012. They have been confirmed in the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Unconfirmed reports have also spotted these fish in the Licking River.  Asian Carp compete with all the feeder fish that eat plankton. This invasion of the food chain could threaten sport fishing species by reducing the shad and other plankton feeding food sources that sport fish need in order to have a healthy fishery.

There are also a few law changes that you should know about for the 2012 fishing season. A seven fish aggregate daily creel limit on rainbow and brown trout is now in effect on Dale Hollow Lake and Yellow Bass on the Ohio River are now under the statewide daily creel limit of 30 fish with no minimum size limit. The special fishing regulations on ponds on Taylorsville Lake WMA have been removed and anglers may take up to five soft-shell turtle’s year round, but the turtles cannot be sold.

Below locks and dams on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers waterways and the Kentucky River, boat occupants must wear a personal floatation device. Lifejackets must also be worn upstream of danger signs and open-diamond buoys or within 150 feet of the downstream lock and dam walls.

Heading into this year we plan to highlight the local lakes, rivers and streams to let you know the hot trends.The forecast for this year is a good one for the outdoors, and it all starts a long time before the grass turns green and sun is warm once again.

For now, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year!

And may all your New Year wishes come true.

Editor’s Note: This column first appeared in the Greater Ashland Beacon on January 10, 2012. 

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