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Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky’s Green River Lake features a mixed creel of quality fisheries


Editor’s Note: This is the fourth article in a series about Kentucky’s major reservoirs.

Green River Lake is located in Taylor and Adair Counties in south-central Kentucky. (Photo from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Green River Lake is in south-central Kentucky, east of Ky. 55 between Campbellsville and Columbia, in Taylor and Adair Counties.

The dam is 26 miles upstream of Greensburg, and 305.7 miles above the mouth of Green River. Drainage area above the dam is 682 square miles.

The main access highways are Ky. 55, Ky. 551, Ky. 372, Ky. 1061, and Ky. 76. Construction began in April 1964, and the lake was completed in June 1969.

Size

At summer pool (elevation 675), the 8,210-acre lake stretches 25 miles and has 147 miles of shoreline. The average depth is about 25 feet, and at its deepest point, just above the dam, the lake is 65 feet deep.

The winter drawdown reduces the lake to 6,650 acres and an elevation of 664 feet. There is a big island in the bend of the lake below Smith Ridge.

Some embayments of the lake are shallow and filled with stumps, deadfalls and wooden debris. Anglers are reminded to carefully navigate these areas, some of which are marked by buoys, including Robinson Creek, Stone Quarry Creek, Butler Creek, White Oak Creek, Snake Creek, Casey Creek, and about 20 miles of the main river above the Ky. 551 bridge.

Open year-round, Green River Lake State Park offers miles of trails for outdoor enthusiasts (Photo from Kentucky State Parks)

State Park

Green River Lake State Park, open year-round, is south of Campbellsville, off Ky. 55 on the west shore of the lake.

The park’s 1,331 acres include 28 miles of trail for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders, a beach and picnic area. The campground, open seasonally, has 167 water and electric RV sites and 60 primitive tent sites, a grocery and three bathhouses.

For information telephone 270-465-8255.

Lake Manager’s Office

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Resource Manager’s Office, Green River Lake, 544 Lake Road, Campbellsville, KY 42718, telephone 270-465-4463. The daily lake level line is 270-465-8824.

Managing Fishery Biologist

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Southwestern Fishery District, Eric Cummins, District Biologist, 970 Bennett Lane, Bowling Green, KY 42104, telephone 270-746-7127.

Marinas

There are three marinas.

Green River Marina, open seasonally, is 8 miles south of Campbellsville, off Ky. 55. The address and telephone numbers are 2892 Lone Valley Road, Campbellsville, KY 42718, 270-465-2512 or toll-free 800-488-2512.

Holmes Bend Marina, open seasonally, is 6 miles north of Columbia, off Ky. 551. The address and telephone numbers are 5380 Holmes Bend Road, Columbia, KY 42728, 270-384-4425 or toll-free 800-801-8154.

Emerald Isle Marina, open seasonally, is 5 miles southeast of Campbellsville, off Ky. 372 (Smith Ridge Road). The address and telephone numbers are 1500 County Park Road, Campbellsville, KY 42718, (270) 465-3412 or toll-free 888-815-2000.

(Photo courtesy of Emerald Isle Marina)

Boat Launching Ramps

There are 10 boat launching ramps.

Holmes Bend boat ramp is 6 miles north of Columbia, off Ky. 551. The cost to launch is $5 per day. An annual permit may also be purchased for $40.

Smith Ridge boat ramp is 5 miles southeast of Campbellsville, off Ky. 372. The cost to launch is $5 per day. An annual permit may also be purchased for $40.

Pikes Ridge boat ramp is 8 miles southeast of Campbellsville, off Ky. 76 (Pikes Ridge Road). The cost to launch is $5 per day. An annual permit may also be purchased for $40.

Dam Recreation Area boat ramp is 6 miles south of Campbellsville, off Ky. 55. The cost to launch is $5 per day. An annual permit may also be purchased for $40.

Green River Lake State Park boat ramp is 7 miles south of Campbellsville, off Ky. 55. There is no fee to launch.

Green River Marina boat ramp is 8 miles south of Campbellsville, off Ky. 55. There is no fee to launch

Emerald Isle Marina boat ramp is 5 miles southeast of Campbellsville, off Ky. 372 (Smith Ridge Road). The fee to launch is $5 per day, unless a guest at the resort.

Snake Creek boat ramp is 8 miles north of Columbia, off Ky. 551, on Snake Creek Road. There is no fee to launch.

Butler Creek boat ramp is 5 miles north of Columbia, off Ky. 682. There is no fee to launch.

Arnold’s Landing boat ramp is 12 miles north of Columbia, off Ky. 55 and Casey Creek Road, on Arnold’s Landing Road. There is no fee to launch.

There is also a boat ramp in the tailwaters below Green River Dam. There is no fee to launch.

Local Tourism Information

Taylor County Tourist Commission, 325 East Main Street, Campbellsville, KY 42718, telephone 270-465-3786.

Fishing

Green River Lake’s tailwaters support a variety of fish (Photo from KDFWR)

The wishbone-shaped impoundment has broad flats along the old river channel in the upper lake. A few embayments have stump-lined, submerged creek channels, standing timber and numerous deadfalls in the shallows.

Additionally, KDFWR has placed fish attractors — brush, pallet stacks, stake beds, plastic pallets and Christmas trees — throughout the lake. Fish attractor sites are marked by buoys.

Because of its proximity to Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow Lake, Green River Lake tends to be overlooked by some anglers. That’s a mistake considering Green River Lake’s quality and diverse fisheries. Green River Lake supports three species of black bass, muskellunge, walleye, channel catfish, crappie, white bass and sunfish (bluegill).

Threadfin shad are present in the lake but were never stocked by KDFWR.

Black Bass

The largemouth bass fishery is rated excellent with good numbers of 15-inch fish and exceptional numbers of fish 18 inches and larger. Anglers have a wide range of cover types to fish.

The smallmouth bass fishery is rated fair with a low density overall, but two good spawns in the last five years bode well for an uptick in the population. In past decades the lake produced some real lunkers, smallmouth bass weighing up to 9 pounds.

The spotted bass fishery is rated good, with better than average numbers of 12-to 15-inch fish. Fish the rocky banks in the lower lake.

Muskellunge

The muskie fishery is rated good, with fish over 40 inches possible.

While Green River Lake doesn’t have a history of producing truly large muskies like Cave Run Lake, it produces numbers of quality, robust fish. There’s a 36-inch minimum size limit.

Walleye

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

The walleye fishery is rated fair, with 20-inch plus fish possible. There was great anticipation about the fishery ever since a stocking program began in 1993 and keeper fish started being creeled in 1995. The best fishing starts early, in late February to mid-March, and anglers have a wide variety of cover types to fish throughout the year, including timbered coves, stump beds, humps and channel drop offs.

Crappie

The white crappie fishery is rated good with good numbers of harvestable-size fish available. There’s a 9-inch minimum size limit, which took effect March 1, 1995.

It takes a crappie between three and four years to reach harvestable size. May is the top month for crappie harvest, followed by June and September.

White Bass

The white bass fishery is rated fair/good with a wide range of sizes available, including some 14-inch plus fish.

Fish the upper lake in the spring, troll lower lake, and fish under the lights at night during the summer. There is sporadic jump action in the lower lake.

Sunfish

The bluegill fishery is rated fair/good with 7- to-8-inch fish possible.

Fish stump beds, the backs of coves in the spring, and deep water around standing timber in the summer.

Channel Catfish

The channel catfish fishery is rated good/excellent with a wide size range available.

Fish at night when water levels are on the rise.

Tailwater Fishing Opportunities

The tailwaters support what is generally considered a cool-water fishery of smallmouth bass, walleye, and muskie, but spotted bass, drum, catfish, sauger, largemouth bass, redear sunfish, and bluegill are also taken.

Green River Lake is somewhat overlooked. It’s a beautiful lake, offering excellent fishing, with a wide range of recreational opportunities. Visit the lake and you’ll be hooked.


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