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Kentucky Lake Events

By Steve McCadams


The seasonally closed roads and bays at the Tennessee and Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge will re-open as of Thursday, March 16th. These areas have been closed from November 15 – March 15 to lessen disturbance to wintering waterfowl and other migratory birds on both these refuges.

You’re encouraged to visit the refuges to enjoy a variety of wildlife-dependent recreational activities including fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, and wildlife photography. Please keep in mind that the refuge is open during daylight hours only.

Locally, popular areas reopening on the Big Sandy unit will be Swamp Creek and the Sulphur Well basin up Big Sandy River, along with Bennett’s Creek over on the Tennessee River sector.



Crappie USA returns to Kentucky and Barkley Lakes for a two-day event March 24-25. The event is billed as a super event on their tournament trail and will payout $10,000 in cash and prizes. For entry information log onto



Want to know more about the wild turkey? Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 18th when the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, located at 1371 Wildlife Dr., Springville, will host a program for the public. Hours are 1-3 p.m.

Laura French will present some past history as well as life history facts about this intelligent bird. Visitors will discuss what a “grand slam” is and look at the five different subspecies of wild turkey. Participants will get practical experience looking for and reading turkey sign as well as deciphering the different communication sounds turkeys make.

For those getting ready for turkey season, or families just wanting to know more about the wild turkey, this program will be very informative and interactive. For additional information call the refuge office 642-2091.



The March 17 deadline is nearing for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s 2017-18 photo contest. All interested photographers are invited to submit up to 10 of their best photos on fishing, hunting, boating, and wildlife species native to Tennessee.

The photos will be reviewed for publication in the annual calendar edition of Tennessee Wildlife, which is the summer issue. If a photo is selected for the calendar edition, the photographer will receive a cash stipend of $60.

Photos must be horizontal (landscape), in JPEG format, and submitted on a CD. They must be sized to print no smaller than 8-1/2x11 and resolution should be as least 300 pixels/inch.

Photographers must be sure to provide their name, address, phone number, and e-mail address with their disk. Disks cannot be returned.

Entries can be mailed to:

Tennessee Wildlife
Calendar Issue
P.O. Box 40747
Nashville, TN 37204

Tennessee Wildlife is the official magazine for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Subscription rates are $10 for one year, $17 for two years and $25 for three years.



Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area begins its 2017 season Wednesday, March 1, when Energy Lake, Hillman Ferry, and Piney campgrounds, along with Woodlands Nature Station, Homeplace 1850s Farm, and North and South Welcome stations open.

LBL honors the America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass including Senior, Access, and Military Passes. For more information on discount passes and how to get federal recreation passes, visit

To find more information about Land Between the Lakes, log on to the official website at or call 1-800-LBL-7077 or 270-924-2000.


The deadline for Turkey Quota Hunt applications at Land Between the Lakes is February 28. Hunters may apply online, 24/7, at or by phone until February 28. If applying by phone, call 270-924-2065, 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday. Application fees are $5 online and $7 by phone.

Applicants can check the quota hunt website at the end of March to see if they were drawn.


Last Saturday’s 17th Annual Big Dog Predator Hunt had a big turnout. There were 90 teams participating and several ventured to the Paris area from distant towns.

Taking first place team honors with three coyotes weighing a total of 105.4 pounds was the team of Randy Coe and Mike Catlett of Camden. Prize for the biggest coyote went to Jimmy Jackson and Shane Koch of Paris for one weighing 42.8 pounds. The small dog prize went to Jamie and Jessica Bethune of Munford for one weighing 22.2 pounds.

“This was our largest turnout ever so we were glad to see the participation level increasing,” said event spokesman Randall Bowden. “It was a windy day and that works against coyote hunters but they still managed to take 40 coyotes and one was a solid black coyote, which is unusual!”


Small game seasons open Saturday as well across Tennessee. Both quail and rabbit seasons start Saturday with a long window of opportunity as hunters will have until February 28, 2017 to pursue bobwhites and cottontails.

Quail season used to be a big deal across West Tennessee but declining bird populations have all but diminished the ranks of hunters. Hardly anyone has bird dogs anymore for hunting wild birds, although a few are holding on to the sport by hunting pen raised birds.

Rabbit hunters are doing pretty good, however. Initial reports indicated rabbits have made rebounds in many areas.

As a result there are still plenty of hunters cultivating good packs of beagle hounds throughout the year in anticipation of the approaching season.

Daily bag limit on rabbits remains at five. For quail the daily limit is six.


Want to catch and eat a few rainbow trout to start the new year off right?

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s winter trout stocking program resumes soon

and will continue at selected locations through middle portion of March. The 2016-17 program began Dec. 1 and had 27 stockings at various locations through mid-December.

The program provides numerous close to home trout fishing opportunities for anglers during the winter months. These fisheries also provide a great opportunity to introduce children or first-time anglers to fishing.

The trout will average about 10 inches in length. The daily creel limit is seven, but there is no size limit. Anglers are reminded that a trout license is needed in addition to the fishing license.

Please note that the dates and locations are subject to change. Updates can be found on TWRA’s website at

Henry County’s next stocking will occur January 11. Other areas will be stocked that same day at McKenzie’s City Park Lake and Union City’s Reelfoot Packing Plant Lake.



The National Marine Manufacturers, representing the nation’s recreational boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, says it expects unit sales of new powerboats to increase between six and seven percent in 2017, reaching an estimated 250,000 boats sold last year as consumer confidence soars and manufacturers introduce products attracting younger boaters. In addition to unit sales of new boats, recreational boating industry dollar sales are expected to rise between 10-11 percent from $8.4 billion.

In fact, as one of the few original American-made industries – 95 percent of boats sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S. – recreational boating is seeing some of its healthiest gains in nearly a decade, a trajectory the NMMA expects to continue through 2018.

“With the U.S. boating industry having one of its strongest years in the last decade, and manufacturers saying, ‘we’re back!’, it’s likely we will reflect on this period as a golden age for our economy and our industry,” notes Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “Economic indicators are working in the industry’s favor—a continuously improving housing market, strong consumer confidence, growing disposable income and consumer spending, and low interest rates all contribute to a healthy recreational boating market. Looking ahead, 2017 is likely to bring new dollar and unit sales gains on par with or better than 2016, and this trend will likely continue through 2018.”


How does a squirrel’s tail turn into a fishing tale?

Wisconsin based Sheldon’s, a lure manufacturer of the poplar Mepps spinners continues to ask hunters to save their squirrel tails. The tails are used for their hand-tied, dressed hooks of their world-famous, fish-catching lures. They've been recycling squirrel tails for over half-a-century.

“Squirrels are good eating and we can reuse their tails for making the world's #1 lure,” explains Mepps Communications Director, Josh Schwartz. “Consider harvesting squirrels for the 2016 hunting season.”

Mepps buys fox, black, grey and red squirrel tails and will pay up to 26 cents each for tails, depending on quality and quantity. Plus, the cash value is doubled if the tails are traded for Mepps lures.

Schwartz reminds everyone, "We do not advocate harvesting of squirrels solely for their tails."

For details on the Squirrel Tail Program, either visit our web site or call 800-713-3474.



    Turkey time is about over for Tennessee sportsmen, at least as far as the spring season goes.

    The statewide season began back on the first Saturday in April. Young turkey hunters got an ever earlier start when the special youth hunt allowed for a two-day hunt the last weekend in March.

    It has been a pretty good season overall according to local turkey hunters. According to Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency harvest numbers are similar to last year as the season winds down.

    Tennessee turkey hunters have surpassed the 30,000 harvest mark for the 14th consecutive year. With less than a week remaining total harvest numbers stood at 30,376 as compared to 30,002 for the same period last year. 

    According to TWRA data Maury County is on pace to be the top harvest county again this year with its current harvest at 895. Rounding out the current top 10 counties are Montgomery (828), Greene (715), Dickson (700), Sumner (653), Wilson (605), Stewart (553), Henry (548), Robertson (546), and Rutherford (506).


Cougars in Tennessee you say? The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced that it has created its page on its website with information on cougars for the public.

Recent cougar sightings have been confirmed at four locations in Tennessee and the TWRA is taking a proactive stance in making information available. The cougar has not been seen in Tennessee since the early 20th century until recently. Cougars primarily inhabit the western region of the United States and extend to the east as far as the western edge of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and close to the eastern borders of Colorado and Texas.

The information can be viewed on the TWRA website (www.tnwildlife.org0 and click on the “Cougars in Tennessee” icon located on the top of the front page.


Bass just keep getting bigger here on Kentucky Lake it seems. There was a time when a 10-pound bass story was almost unheard of here on the big pond. Not so anymore.

This week’s big fish story comes courtesy of angler Bill Lawrence of Union City. While fishing in the Big Sandy last Saturday with his son Jake, Bill landed a trophy fish that tipped the scales at a whopping 11 pounds, 2 ounces!

“I was fishing muddy water in Big Sandy and tossed a spinnerbait around a shallow stakebed,” said Lawrence when asked to comment about his big fish. “Thought I was hung for a moment and then it moved a bit. Then, it felt kind of lethargic and I told my son I bet it’s a drum. Then we got a glimpse of it and saw it was a bass.”

“It didn’t fight much at first but put up a struggle once I got it close to the boat. I thought it might be a 6 or 7 pound fish but couldn’t see it good. My son netted it and once we got it in the boat we both realized just how big it was!”

“It is the biggest bass of my life,” said Lawrence.

Bass fishing is in the family as his son Jake attended Bethel University and was a member of the bass team there for four years.

A tip of the hat for landing that big bass. Very few anglers can lay claim to an 11 pound bass here on Kentucky Lake...or anywhere else for that matter!


Registration for a Tennessee Hunter Education course will be required to be made on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website at

On the TWRA website, those wishing to register for a class will click the “register for a hunter education class” link. Once clicking the link, there will be directions to search for hunter education classes closest to your area.

Registration must be completed prior to the starting date of a class to ensure a spot in a particular class. For those persons without computer access, they are encouraged to visit a local library or call a TWRA regional office for further assistance.

Advance registration provides more time for instructors to devote to students. It also provides a quicker method for the registration process.


The first Peregrine falcon has been trapped in Tennessee in more than 50 years on the banks of the Mississippi River by a Carroll County resident. Tennessee was awarded one permit by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowing the trapping of one Peregrine falcon for the use in falconry beginning in 2011 in selected West Tennessee counties.

Brian Brown, of Clarksburg, made the historic capture. He used a Dho-ghazza net and lured the Peregrine he has named “Belle.” He brought the bird to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in Nashville for the proper processing.

Peregrine falcons were the primary bird used in falconry for hunting in the 1800s. The population of Peregrine falcons, through state and federal conservation efforts, has recovered enough since their near-extinction in the early 20th century to allow for a limited take of these birds for the use in falconry. Tennessee was allowed to issue a pair of permits this year.

“This is a true mark of success in our conservation to reestablish the population of these birds,” said Walter Cook, TWRA Captive Wildlife Coordinator. “Once again, this was an effort supported and carried out by falconers.”

Belle is believed to be one of the few trapped recently in the southeast. A Peregrine was trapped in the Jonesboro, Ark. area during the prior week. Brown plans to have Belle go through a brief training period prior to her being used as his hunting bird.

Belle weighed just under two pounds on her visit to the TWRA. Peregrines have a body length of 13 to 23 inches and a wingspan ranging from 29 to 47 inches. The Peregrine is famous for reaching speeds of more than 200 mph during its characteristic high speed dive.

The Peregrine's range includes land regions from the Arctic tundra to the tropics. It is the world's most widespread raptor.

   Steve McCadams is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area. He has also contributed many outdoor oriented articles to various national publications.



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