Barkley Lake Fishing Report Guide

Barkley Lake Fishing Guide

Hello there, fishing friends! If you’re looking for a fantastic fishing spot in Kentucky and Tennessee, Barkley Lake is a top choice. This beautiful lake spans multiple counties, offering excellent fishing opportunities and stunning natural scenery. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, Barkley Lake has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about fishing at Barkley Lake, from lake details and types of fish to the best fishing spots, tips, and more. Let’s dive in!

Barkley Lake Fishing Summary

Barkley Lake, named after former Vice President Alben W. Barkley, is a massive reservoir located in both Kentucky and Tennessee. Created by the Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River, this lake is known for its excellent fishing, boating, and outdoor recreation. With its vast water surface and scenic surroundings, Barkley Lake is a popular destination for anglers and nature lovers alike. Whether you’re fishing from a boat or the shore, you’re in for an unforgettable experience at Barkley Lake.

Barkley Lake Fishing Details

Here are some key details about Barkley Lake:

  • Water Surface: Approximately 58,000 acres
  • Shoreline: 1,004 miles
  • Average Depth: 12 feet
  • Max Depth: 68 feet
  • Surface Elevation: 359 feet
  • Location: Livingston, Lyon, and Trigg Counties in Kentucky; Stewart and Houston Counties in Tennessee
  • Coordinates: 36.8506° N, 87.9356° W
  • Accessibility: Easily accessible by car, with numerous boat ramps, marinas, and fishing piers
  • Type of Lake: Reservoir
  • Lake Amenities: Boat ramps, marinas, fishing piers, picnic areas, campgrounds, hiking trails, and restrooms

Types of Fish in Barkley Lake

Barkley Lake is home to a diverse range of fish species, making it a prime destination for anglers. Here are some of the most common types of fish you can catch:

  • Largemouth Bass: These popular game fish are often found near submerged structures, such as fallen trees and rock formations. They are abundant throughout the lake and are especially active during the spring and fall.
  • Smallmouth Bass: Preferring rocky areas and clear waters, smallmouth bass are typically found near the dam and along the rocky shorelines.
  • Crappie: Both black and white crappie thrive in Barkley Lake. They are usually found around brush piles, submerged timber, and artificial fish attractors.
  • Bluegill: These panfish are abundant in the lake and can be found in shallow waters near vegetation and submerged structures.
  • Catfish: Channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish are common in the deeper parts of the lake. Look for them near the dam and in deeper channels.
  • Striped Bass: Known for their strong fight, striped bass are often found in the deeper, cooler waters of the lake, especially near the dam.
  • Sauger: These fish are typically found in the deeper channels and near the dam, especially during the cooler months.

Best Fishing Baits, Lures, and Tackle for Barkley Lake Fishing

Choosing the right bait and tackle is crucial for a successful fishing trip. Here are some recommendations for the best baits, lures, and tackle to use at Barkley Lake:

  • Largemouth Bass:
    • Baits: Live shiners, nightcrawlers, and plastic worms
    • Lures: Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and topwater lures
    • Tackle: Medium-heavy rod with 10-20 lb test line
  • Smallmouth Bass:
    • Baits: Live minnows, crayfish, and leeches
    • Lures: Jigs, tube baits, and jerkbaits
    • Tackle: Medium rod with 8-15 lb test line
  • Crappie:
    • Baits: Minnows, waxworms, and small jigs
    • Lures: Crappie jigs, curly tail grubs, and small spinners
    • Tackle: Light rod with 4-8 lb test line
  • Bluegill:
    • Baits: Worms, crickets, and small pieces of bread
    • Lures: Small spinners, jigs, and flies
    • Tackle: Ultralight rod with 2-6 lb test line
  • Catfish:
    • Baits: Chicken liver, stink bait, and cut bait
    • Lures: Catfish dough balls and dip baits
    • Tackle: Heavy rod with 15-30 lb test line
  • Striped Bass:
    • Baits: Live shad, herring, and large minnows
    • Lures: Large crankbaits, swimbaits, and topwater plugs
    • Tackle: Medium-heavy rod with 15-30 lb test line
  • Sauger:
    • Baits: Live minnows, nightcrawlers, and leeches
    • Lures: Jigs, crankbaits, and spinners
    • Tackle: Medium rod with 8-15 lb test line
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  • ✅ Purpose and Size: These grubs for fishing attract a wide variety of fish including trout, crappie, panfish, bluegill, bream, roach, carp and more. Using grub fishing lures that imitate worms offers many advantages over live worms or minnows. These crappie lures are equipped with an optimal size hook and a rubber grub. The hook dimensions are 10 mm wide and 25 mm long, and the length of the larva itself is 22 mm.

Best Fishing Spot Locations at Barkley Lake Fishing

Finding the right fishing spot can make all the difference. Here are some of the best fishing spots at Barkley Lake:

  1. Barkley Dam Tailwater: The area below the Barkley Dam is excellent for catching striped bass, catfish, and sauger. The fast-moving water and deep channels provide an ideal habitat for these species.
  2. Little River: This area is known for its excellent crappie fishing. Look for brush piles and submerged timber to find these fish.
  3. Eddy Creek: This area is a hotspot for largemouth bass and bluegill. The shallow coves and vegetation provide perfect hiding spots for these fish.
  4. Blood River: Known for its diverse fish population, Blood River is a great spot for catching largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish. The area features numerous coves, channels, and submerged structures.
  5. North End of the Lake: The rocky shorelines and deeper waters near the north end of the lake are ideal for smallmouth bass and striped bass. Use your fish finder to locate these deeper areas.

Fishing Tips and Recommendations for Barkley Lake Fishing

To make the most of your fishing trip to Barkley Lake, here are some helpful tips and recommendations:

  1. Use a Fish Finder: A fish finder can help you locate fish and underwater structures, making your fishing experience more productive.
  2. Time of Day: Early morning and late afternoon are generally the best times to fish. Fish are more active during these cooler parts of the day.
  3. Seasonal Patterns: Understanding the seasonal patterns of the fish can improve your chances of success. For example, in the spring, fish are more likely to be found in shallow waters near the shoreline.
  4. Weather Conditions: Pay attention to the weather conditions. Fish are often more active during overcast days and after a rainstorm.
  5. Be Patient: Fishing requires patience. If you’re not having luck in one spot, try moving to a different location or changing your bait.
  6. Local Regulations: Always check the local fishing regulations before heading out. This includes knowing the size and bag limits for each species.

Barkley Lake Fishing Reviews

Here are some positive reviews from anglers who have enjoyed fishing at Barkley Lake:

  1. John D.: “Barkley Lake is my favorite spot for bass fishing. The scenery is beautiful, and the fishing is always productive. I’ve caught some of my biggest largemouth bass here.”
  2. Sarah M.: “I love fishing at Barkley Lake with my family. The kids have a blast catching bluegill and crappie, and we always have a great time. The facilities are well-maintained, and the lake is gorgeous.”
  3. Mike S.: “I’ve been fishing at Barkley Lake for years, and it never disappoints. The variety of fish species is impressive, and the fishing is always good. Highly recommend!”
  4. Emily R.: “Barkley Lake is a hidden gem. The fishing is fantastic, and the surroundings are peaceful and beautiful. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy nature.”
  5. Dave T.: “I’ve had some of my best fishing days at Barkley Lake. The bass fishing is top-notch, and the lake is well-stocked. It’s a great spot for both beginners and experienced anglers.”

Top-Rated RV Parks, RV Resorts, and Campgrounds for Barkley Lake Fishing

If you’re planning to stay overnight or for a few days, here are five top-rated RV parks, RV resorts, and campgrounds near Barkley Lake:

  1. Lake Barkley State Resort Park:
    • Features: 78 campsites, swimming pool, marina, golf course
    • Amenities: Water and electric hookups, restrooms, showers, playground, boat ramp
    • Distance to Lake: On the lake
  2. Kenlake State Resort Park:
    • Features: 90 campsites, swimming pool, marina, tennis courts
    • Amenities: Water and electric hookups, restrooms, showers, playground, boat ramp
    • Distance to Lake: Adjacent to Kentucky Lake, close to Barkley Lake
  3. Hillman Ferry Campground:
    • Features: 374 campsites, hiking trails, swimming beach, marina
    • Amenities: Water and electric hookups, restrooms, showers, playground, boat ramp
    • Distance to Lake: 10 miles
  4. Paris Landing State Park:
    • Features: 45 campsites, swimming pool, marina, golf course
    • Amenities: Water and electric hookups, restrooms, showers, playground, boat ramp
    • Distance to Lake: 20 miles
  5. Prizer Point Marina & Resort:
    • Features: 74 campsites, water park, boat rentals, marina
    • Amenities: Full hookups, restrooms, showers, playground, boat ramp
    • Distance to Lake: On the lake

Barkley Lake Fishing Summary

Barkley Lake is a fantastic fishing destination spanning both Kentucky and Tennessee. With its vast water surface, diverse fish population, and excellent amenities, it’s no wonder that anglers flock to this beautiful lake. Whether you’re targeting largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, or striped bass, Barkley Lake offers endless fishing opportunities. Remember to use the right baits and lures, find the best fishing spots, and follow our tips for a successful and enjoyable fishing trip. And if you’re planning to stay overnight, there are plenty of great RV parks and campgrounds nearby. Happy fishing!

Frequently Asked Questions for Barkley Lake Fishing

  1. Q: Do I need a fishing license to fish at Barkley Lake?
    • A: Yes, a valid fishing license is required for all anglers age 16 and older in both Kentucky and Tennessee.
  2. Q: Are there any boat rental services available at Barkley Lake?
    • A: Yes, there are several boat rental services available at various marinas around the lake.
  3. Q: Can I fish from the shore at Barkley Lake?
    • A: Yes, there are several fishing piers and accessible shoreline areas where you can fish from the shore.
  4. Q: What is the best time of year to fish at Barkley Lake?
    • A: Spring and fall are generally the best times to fish, as the fish are more active during these cooler months.
  5. Q: Are there any restrictions on the types of baits and lures I can use?
    • A: There are no specific restrictions on baits and lures, but it’s always a good idea to check the fishing regulations for both Kentucky and Tennessee for any updates or changes.

We hope this guide helps you have a fantastic fishing experience at Barkley Lake. Tight lines and happy fishing!


With this detailed guide, you should have all the information you need to enjoy a successful fishing trip to Barkley Lake. Whether you’re targeting largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, or striped bass, this lake offers excellent opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. Don’t forget to check out the nearby RV parks and campgrounds for a comfortable stay, and always follow local fishing regulations to help preserve this beautiful fishing destination for future generations. Happy fishing, everyone!

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Best Fishing Bait, Lures & Tackle

Here’s some of the best fishing bait, fishing lures and fishing tackle Barkley Lake Fishing Report Guide: