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Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife releases 2023 Fishing and Boating Guide, Fishing Forecast

The new license year for fishing and hunting in Kentucky started March 1, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has the latest information to help anglers get a jump on spring fishing opportunities.

The Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide is a summary of pertinent regulations. The 2023-24 edition is now available on the department’s website band wherever fishing licenses are sold. A Spanish translation of the guide also is available online.

Jeff Ross, assistant director of Fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, suggests anglers keep a hard copy of the guide on hand.

(Click for complete guide)

“Keep one in your boat or vehicle for reference in case your phone isn’t available to view them online,” he said.

The guide details a number of new regulations, including those for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Ross explained simplification and standardization were the main reasons for pursuing the changes.

“If we had special regulations in place for black bass that were not effective at achieving the desired population management goals, we sought to change them to statewide regulations to make it simpler for our anglers,” he said.

Fisheries managers use protective slot limits to improve the bass populations in lakes and streams. For those lakes and streams with protective slot limits for black bass, the limit is now standardized at 12 to 15 inches.

Therefore, on waterbodies with the protective slot limit, only black bass under 12 inches or longer than 15 inches may be kept. Fish measuring within the protective slot length range must be immediately released.

Most daily limits for black bass are standardized to six fish and some modifications of minimum size limits for black bass are also now in effect.

Other new regulations affect muskellunge minimum size limits, trout streams, bow fishing, gigging and snagging. Check the guide for details and locations where the new regulations apply.

(Click for complete forecast)

The annual Fishing Forecast details the anticipated fishing for the coming year for popular species in the different waterbodies around Kentucky, based upon fish population sampling by fisheries biologists and other factors.

The Fishing Forecast makes a great resource to plan fishing trips in 2023 and is available on the department’s website to view and download.

This year, the rating system for the Fishing Forecast changed to stars, with five-star being the best.

“The new rating system is designed to match the species ratings in the new Fish Boat KY smartphone app,” Ross said.

Sponsored by the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and developed in partnership with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the new Fish Boat KY app is now available for download from the iTunes app store or Google Play Store.

The app will help more anglers find waterbodies, boat ramps and other water access on the fly.

“One of the best features of the new app is the ability to use lists of waterbodies and maps from your current location,” Ross said. “With the app, you can get to anything on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website with a click of a button, and even buy and display your license.”

The Fish Boat KY app also helps anglers find Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) lakes. These lakes are located near population centers and receive special stockings of trout and catfish.

Also, remember the Kentucky Fishing license year ended Feb. 28. Anglers in Kentucky must now purchase a 2023-24 fishing license. Licenses and permits can be purchased online via fw.ky.gov and in person at various locations throughout the state.​

Anglers who are required to have a fishing license and intend to keep trout must have a trout permit. Individuals who are 16 years or older fishing the Cumberland River from the Wolf Creek Dam downstream to the Tennessee state line, including tributary streams up to the first riffle and all of Hatchery Creek, must possess a state trout permit. The permit is included in the resident Sportsman’s, Senior and Disabled sportsmen’s licenses.

From Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

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