Muskie Fishing at Cave Run Lake in Kentucky

NE-and-beyond-Blue-Grass-rods-and-Shimano-reels

My adventure started about six months ago. Other business was taking me to Kentucky at the end of June, so I figured I would try to get some fishing in while I was there. My base of operations while in northeastern Kentucky was Blue Lick’s Battlefield State Resort Park in the town of Carlisle. About an hour east of Carlisle, in the town of Morehead, Kentucky is what is said to be the “Muskie Capitol of the South”; Cave Run Lake. As I have never fished for muskie, I figured this would be a great opportunity.

Early morning on Cave Run Lake Kentucky

Early morning on Cave Run Lake Kentucky

I started making calls and ended up booking a fishing trip with Crash’s Landing Guide Service. Crash Mullins, besides running a guide service, just so happens to be a fellow outdoor writer and hosts a television program on the Sportsman’s Channel called “See Ya’all in the Bluegrass”. He is also a member of the Muskie Anglers Hall of Fame. I figured if anyone could put me on the fish, it would be Crash.

Brian Jenkins working some structure on Cave Run Lake.

Brian Jenkins working some structure on Cave Run Lake.

The night before my fishing trip I received a call from Crash’s son Justin Mullins. He informed me that Crash wouldn’t be able to take me out due to illness, but my trip was still on and he would have one of their other guides meet me at the store at 6:00AM. I hung up the phone and began preparing for the next day. The weatherman was saying that there was a 60 percent chance of rain, so I made sure I packed my rain gear. I also made sure I packed a little bit of New England and took it with me to the lake; a bunch of New England’s own Weedless Turbo Spinners. It sure would be nice to catch a southern muskie on a New England made lure.

I arrived at Crash’s Landing at about 5:30AM. The air temperature was 74 degrees. No way of telling what the water temperature would be until we hit the water. That figure would dictate how we would end up fishing. Not knowing what to expect, I left my fate in the hands of my guide. Brian Jenkins was my guide for the day and he picked me up right at 6:00AM. As we made our way into the Daniel Boone National Forest and the boat ramp for Cave Run Lake, Brian and I discussed tactics. First thing we would try both in-line spinners and large #10 bladed spinnerbaits. The water might still be cool enough for the fish to strike. You just never know. Brian went on to tell me that summer is when most muskie fishermen either switch over to bass or head north to continue pursuing muskies in the Great Lakes or Canada.

Submerged timber on Cave Run Lake

Submerged timber on Cave Run Lake

Using the spinners we set up in about 10 feet of water and started casting to the shore and then retrieving the baits through deeper water, back to the coat. We decided for one of us to fish the shallow water and the other person would fish the other side of the boat, casting into deeper water. Both of us kept trying different things, using different baits, trying to pattern the fish. The one thing we both did was something that all muskie, and pike, anglers need to do; figure eight at the side of the boat. Many times this move will trigger a following muskie or pike. My equipment on this day was a 7 foot, 10 inch medium/heavy Blue Grass fishing rod, which was designed by Crash Mullins for muskie fishing. Onto the rod was mounted a Shimano Calcutta 400 baitcasting reel spooled with Cortland 80 pound test Superbraid line. Onto the line was a nine to ten inch 150 pound test leader.

Big Billed Bill Norman Crankbait

Big Billed Bill Norman Crankbait

We tried this tactic for the better part of three hours, but nothing we did triggered anything. We moved a couple of times, but it was more of the same. It was time to change tactics. The fish were in deeper water and we needed to get our offerings down to them. We moved to an area where the water was 18 to 20 feet on average that had plenty of submerged trees, many of whose tops were sticking above the water’s surface. In this area our goal was to fish in the nine to ten foot zone using large billed Big Bill Bill Norman crankbaits. Muskies feed up so the game plan was to bounce these crankbaits off of the timber and hopefully to get a muskie to come up and get it.

We did this for another few hours with nothing to show for it except one largemouth bass. Both Brian and I both came to the conclusion that we were fighting a hopeless battle. The muskies simply were not here. They had moved to much deeper water. By now it was close to noon, the sun was high in the sky and to be honest, it was hot. Air temperatures were in the 90 degree range. We decided to call it a day and go do something else.

We didn’t catch any muskie, but that is fine. I had a good time; sharing a great place with a person I can call my friend. Kentucky is not that far away, so I highly recommend you folks visit Cave Run Lake and get in touch with the people at Crash’s Landing. Just make sure you visit anytime other than summer.

Crash’s Landing Inc.

1170 Ky Hwy 801 South

Morehead, KY 40351

(606) 780-4260

 

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