Barkley 0008_edited-2

Crappie anglers on Lake Barkley in the fall often get more than they bargained for in the form of a finny fight.

Like its sister lake, Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley is well known for panfish action in the form of bluegills and crappie.  But another “pan” fish prowls these waters.  He is the whiskered wonder.

While fishing for crappie many anglers catch catfish in the places where crappie are expected.  Catfish are catfish are probably the ultimate “pan fish”.  In many sectors they are the most popular eating fish and millions of Americans enjoy them.

The damming of the Cumberland River forms Lake Barkley.  The 40 mile long lake runs parallel to Kentucky Lake and a few miles east of it.   The lake itself is about 80,000 acres with little development along the shoreline.  Much of the shoreline is the property of the TVA or the State of Kentucky.  The water levels generally reach a maximum in late spring and early summer.   They decline until late fall and then level off for the winter months.

Crappie fishermen use a jigging pole.  It is a 12 foot, very light rod, (some people use fly rods) that has an ultra-light open face spinning reel.  It is possible to catch them with light jigs and plastic grubs in dark colors.  However, more traditional baits are recommended for catfish action.

The ultra-light gear can work well and provides excellent action that is both challenging and productive.  Unlike the usual summer pattern of fishing early a.m. and late p.m., fall fishing requires action during the mid-day.  The fish seem to be more active during the late morning and early afternoon warm up.  If one can find live green weeds near deep water, which is a good location.  The green weeds provide oxygen which in turn attracts baitfish.  The catfish are attracted to the baitfish.

Catfish action is usually good throughout the lake, but in the fall more fish seem to be closer to shore.  In most of the lake, catching catfish is more of an underwater structure game.  Most locals look to the downstream points of islands, creek intersections and the main channel ledge.  Along the main channel one can try vertical jigging in about 15 feet of water with such tasty items as chicken livers, cut bait and stink baits.  With the current of the lake, the scent given off by stink baits covers a large area and attracts catfish from a long way away.

The catfish taken from this lake are very clean and make excellent meals for the table.

Barkley is a TVA lake formed by the damming of the Cumberland River.  It runs parallel to the Tennessee River as it forms Kentucky Lake.  At the north end of both lakes they converge to empty into the Ohio River in western Kentucky near the town of Paducah.  It is easily accessible from St. Louis via Interstate 63 to Interstate 57 and then south to Interstate 24.  For more information about the lake, its fishing and surrounding area, check out the Lake Barkley website at:



Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pingback: LAKE BARKLEY’S OTHER FALL PANFISH | Don Gasaway's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: