Outside with Chris: Cave Run and Licking River Slow but Improving



Chris Erwin

The Ashland Beacon


   After spending the last two weekends on Cave Run Lake, I thought I would share my experience with you. Fishing from my pontoon boat, I set out each evening fishing the areas I felt would be holding fish. This time of year, the fish are usually starting to move back in the coves to capitalize on the colder water that is washing in nutrients and attracting the baitfish.

   Three weeks ago, the water temperature was 90 degrees, and the good fish were nowhere to be found. Once I got on the water two weeks ago, the water temps had dropped 10 degrees. While this drop was still hot, it was encouraging, and we did manage to catch a few fish, none worthy of the camera; however, it was fun just the same.

   These fish were in the heads of the coves that had creeks feeding them. The fish were lying in the channel in water only about three feet deep. Once it got late in the day and the sun was falling from the sky, the fish became the most active. The slick-water also brought the baitfish to the surface, parading in clustered schools as they skimmed across the top of the water. The quiet period was as peaceful as anything you can experience. Out of the blue, you would hear a rush on the top of the water as the baitfish scattered, and a predator would catch a meal. If you were lucky enough to be nearby a quick cast to the schooling shad, it would produce a fish. Still small, however, they would breathe new life and purpose into our hunt to find fish.

   The water was blue-green, and at summer pool, weed beds were growing out of the water on the flats that will become big fish magnets as the water continues to cool.

   My second week on the lake started by again checking the water temperature; it had dropped another eight degrees making the water about 72 degrees in the early morning before the sun had a chance to heat it back into the high 70s. We also got about three inches of rain. That didn’t make the water muddy; however, it did change the blue-green to a dingy color and raised the water level about a foot.

   We tried every kind of fishing bait in our box from topwater to bottom dragging baits. The most productive lures were spinnerbaits and crankbaits. We continued to catch enough fish that we had a fun trip; however, not one fish even made it in the slot (13-16 inches). This result is scarce for us, but the lake needs a little more time with water falling into the high 60s for the fish to get turned on for fall.

   All in all, it was a fun two weekends fishing with my son and grandson. I find it to be some of my best days to be with them. With this pandemic going on, I haven’t gone out much at all. I haven’t even been to get my hair cut in five months. So this time was special to me.

    Just a note, I will be spending two weeks on the water in October fishing Cave Run where, for the last eight years, KOPA (the Kentucky Outdoor Press Association) has had its yearly writers conference. However, the Marina has sold all of its houseboats. Since that is where we have been staying, we will be heading to Yatesville Lake in November for that meeting. I usually guide the out-of-the-area writers; I’m not sure in this current climate just how many writers will attend.

   Stay safe, and may God bless you.

   Chris Erwin is the founder and publisher of Kentucky Angling News, an online magazine available at www.kentuckyangling.com/magazine Chris can be reached by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..