Spring may be approaching, but time remains for sauger fishing below dams
There’s still time to try your fishing luck for sauger and walleye. But, if you decide to try your luck, don’t wait too long or it will be a wait until next year.
Sauger and walleye gather below river dams during winter before they spawn, but once the water begins to warm in April, they disperse. They still are in the river, but catching them is another issue. You may catch one of two if you work at it, and the walleye are more likely to hit later than the sauger.
Sauger are cousins to the walleye, and generally run a bit smaller. Both are members of the Percidae (perch) family. Walleye sometime are called walleye pike, but they are not pike, they are perch.
Sauger and walleye are difficult to tell apart. Walleye have a black splotch on their first dorsal fins. Their coloration is dark green on the back and their yellowish sides have faint markings. Sauger usually are darker and have brown saddlelike markings across their back and sides. Even with info, it can be tough to tell them apart.
The Ohio River has become well-known for its winter sauger fishing below its dams. In Kentucky, sauger also gather below dams on the Mississippi, Kentucky, lower Green, and lower Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.
Walleye can be found in six central and eastern Kentucky Lakes, including Green River, Cumberland, Laurel, Carr Fork Lake, Nolin River Lake, and Paintsville.
These lake walleye populations have been developed by stockings and management over the years. Some of the fish escape through dam spillways into the streams below and during winter, many of these walleye gather below the dams, creating a good fishery.
The walleye fishing below the Green River dam south of Campbellsville and the Cumberland dam are two of the fish spots to try your luck.
Sauger will be found near the bottom. They will look up and dart for a jig or minnow. They often are found along walls below dams. A jig or minnow worked just a foot or so off the bottom often works. The bite usually is a tap-tap-tap bite rather than a hard strike.
The limit is six sauger or walleye, and both are equally good eating. There is a limit of six combined sauger, walleye and hybrids, and also a 15 inch size minimum on Kentucky walleye, but none on sauger, which can make identification important. In Indiana, the walleye size limit is 14. However, the main stem of the Ohio River has a 10 fish limit and no size limit. The state regs apply anytime an angler is out of the main steam into tributaries.
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RARE TOURNEY -- Kentucky is hosting a rare--if not unique--commercial fishing tournament March 12-13 at Kentucky and Barkley lakes in an effort to attract commercial anglers to catch Asian carp.
These Asian carp have made their way into streams throughout Kentucky and Indiana and are depriving game fish of food. The Asian carp species of concern include bighead carp, silver carp and black carp. These fish were brought to the U. S. by fish farmers, escaped into the Mississippi and are spreading throughout the Midwest.
Not only are these fish impacting the habitat of game fish, they have injured boaters and anglers as the jump into the air and hit people in passing boats.
The carp have very little commercial value and are not susceptible to being caught with bait on a hook. Netting is the most effective way to harvest large number of the fish.
The tournament is being held midweek to avoid conflict with recreational anglers and in mid-March so that fish can be removed before they have a chance to spawn.
Five teams that bring in the highest poundage of Asian carp will split $20,000 with the top prize being $10,000.
Hopefully, some process can be used to remove more of the troublesome fish.