A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Often overlooked by anglers, Lake Malone offers excellent largemouth bass fishing

This is the 15th article in an ongoing series about Kentucky’s major reservoirs.

Lake Malone is 18 miles north of Russellville, in Muhlenberg, Todd, and Logan Counties.

The lake opened in 1963 and was impounded from Rocky Creek, a tributary to the Mud River. It was built by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, in cooperation with the U.S. Soil Conservation Service.

Lake Malone (Image from Bing Maps)

The main access highways are U.S. 431, Ky. 973, and Ky. 1293.


The 10-mile-long, steep-sided reservoir has 767 surface acres and 34 miles of shoreline.

A deep, flat-bottomed lake, Lake Malone has an average depth of about 21 feet, with a maximum depth of about 35 feet.

There is very little fluctuation in the lake’s level. Excess water simply spills over an earthen and concrete dam.

State Park

Lake Malone State Park is on the north shore of the lake west of Dunmor, KY, off Ky 973, in Muhlenberg County.

Lake Malone State Park (Image from Kentucky State Parks)(Click for larger image)

Established in 1962, the park encompasses 338 acres.

Facilities include a campground, open seasonally, with 34 primitive sites for tent campers, 25 sites for RVs, with water and electric hookups, and a central service building. There’s also a beach, and three easy trails along the lakeshore where hikers can see soaring hardwood forests, diverse stands of wild flowers, rock shelters used by Native Americans, and 50-foot sandstone cliffs.

The park and its facilities are open seasonally. For information telephone (270) 657-2111.

Managing Fishery Biologist

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Northwestern Fishery District, Jeremy Shiflet, District Biologist, 1398 Highway 81 North, Calhoun, KY 42327, telephone (270) 273-3117.

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.


There are two marinas.

Lake Malone State Park Marina, open seasonally, is west of Dunmor, Ky, near the dam, off Ky. 973. For information telephone (270) 657-2111.

Shady Cliff Marina, open seasonally, is southwest of Dunmor, KY, off Ky. 1293 at the Lake Malone Road bridge. For information telephone (270) 657-9580.

Boat Launching Ramps

There are three boat launching ramps.

There’s no fee to launch at the ramp adjacent to the Lake Malone State Park Marina.

There’s a $5 fee to launch at the ramp adjacent to the Shady Cliff Marina. The ramp is closed during the night.

The Sherwood Point boat ramp is on the north shore of the lake, off Ky. 973, at the end of Sherwood Point Lane. There is no fee to launch.

Local Tourism Information

Logan County Tourism, 200 West 4th Street. Russellville, KY 42276, telephone (270) 726-1678.


Lake Malone is a eutrophic lake of high productivity.

Cover types include steep rock walls, flooded timber, and scattered beds of rooted aquatic vegetation.

Lake Malone supports two species of sunfish (bluegill and redear sunfish), largemouth bass, two species of catfish (channel catfish and flathead catfish), and two species of crappie (white crappie and black crappie).

The main forage fish is gizzard shad.

Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass fishery is rated excellent.

Largemouth bass. (Photo from KDFWR)

There are good number of fish 15 to 20 inches, and over 20 inches.

Fish the gravel shorelines where water willow is submerged during the spring, and at night during summer.

Standing timber, submerged trees and brush along deeper banks hold bass during the summer. Fish spinnerbaits and jigs.

When shad school up in early summer, into the fall, fish open water with Alabama rigs and swim baits.

In the fall when bass are feeding heavily on crayfish, fish rocky banks.


The bluegill fishery is rated fair.

Most fish are 4 to 6-inchers, but larger fish are caught during the peak of spawn.

Anglers should target flats in the upper reaches of the lake and the heads of coves.

Redear Sunfish

The redear sunfish fishery is rated fair to good.

There are low numbers of redear sunfish in the lake, but 9 to 11-inch fish are present.

During the spring and early summer fish deep edges of the shoreline where water willow is present. In upper lake flats and coves, redear sunfish will be holding in water that’s more than four feet deep.

Fish deeper submerged structure as the water warms during summer.

Fishing on Lake Malone (Photo from Kentucky State Parks)


The crappie fishery is rated fair to good.

There are moderate numbers of 9 to 10-inch fish.

Fish brush piles and fallen trees along some of the steeper banks or flats upstream of Shady Cliff and towards Sherwood Point.

Both white and black crappie are present, with a lower density of white crappie.

Channel Catfish

The channel catfish fishery is rated good.

The population is sustained by natural reproduction and periodic stockings, every other year, in the odd numbered years. There are good numbers of 14 to 16-inch fish, with some fish over 20 inches present.

Tailwater Fishing Opportunities

The tailwaters is a very small creek.

Special Regulations / Minimum Size Limits and Daily Creel Limits

Largemouth Bass: 12 to 15-inch protective slot limit. All largemouth bass between 12 and 15 inches in length must be immediately released.

Catfish: 12 inch minimum size limit for all catfish species.

Invasive Plants and Animals

There are no non-native plant or animal species in Lake Malone, but there are scattered beds of American water willow (Justicia americana).

This native aquatic plant, rooted in shoreline sediments, cracks in rock and gravel shoals, grows partially submerged. Its rhizomes and roots provide important spawning sites for fish and habitat for invertebrates, which are fed upon by baitfish, ultimately drawing largemouth bass and other game fish into the shallows.

Fish Attractors

There is a large concentration of pallet stacks on the north shore of the lake just down from the Sherwood Point boat ramp.

Click here for the fish attractor map.

Bank Access and Fishing Piers

There’s good bank access at Lake Malone State Park.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment