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Noble Park, Miller Park lakes get trout releases for public fishing

By STEVE VANTREESE

Early season stocking has been carried out in the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources' Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINS) program â “ and that means trout fishing right now at a couple of area public waterholes.

Noble Park Lake in Paducah and Mike Miller Park Lake at Draffenville each has received releases of 1,250 rainbow trout, according to Dan Balsman, coordinator of the FINS program. Each lake will get a dose of 2,500 more trout later this month, he said.

Both lakes also will receive multiple stockings of catchable-sized channel catfish beginning later this month.

The fishing is free and open to the public. FINS is offered as a chance for the public to have readily accessible fishing â “ productive fishing â “ that's close to home in urban/suburban areas across Kentucky. To that end, FINS stockings are carried out at 39 small lake and pond environments across the state.

A key element in FINS is that fishing is provided that can be enjoyed by people without boats. Bank fishing is the accessible method at FINS waters. It's open to all ages, and, indeed, many youngsters and seniors enjoy fishing where FINS stockings are provided.

There are some specific regulations on waters enrolled in FINS. Daily limits are five trout, four catfish, 15 bluegill or other sunfish in aggregate, and one largemouth bass. Only largemouth bass carry a minimum size, 15 inches for a "keeper." Among the other species, no minimum size is in the rule book.

Youngsters age 15 and under need no fishing license and no trout permit to fish and harvest fish including trout. Seniors (65 and older) with a resident senior fishing/hunting license do not need a separate state trout permit; it's included in the senior license.

All others fishing at FINS lakes must have a fishing license and, to keep trout, must have a Kentucky trout permit.

As an aside, FINS coordinator Balsman said both Noble Park Lake and Mike Miller Park Lake were sampled last autumn and found to be holding relative high densities of holdover channel catfish â “ catfish that remained from previous stockings.

Balsman said the older catfish should provide the basis for some even better fishing this year, including some larger fish than those released in current stockings.

n More activities are stirring in the Land Between the Lakes with today's reopening of some facilities that have been closed for the winter.

One reopening is the Woodlands Nature Station. Marking that, the Nature Station is the meeting place for a free guided hike beginning at 11 a.m. today.

The Hike into History will cover the quarter-mile Center Furnace Trail. Participants will see remnants of a community built around an iron furnace â “ remnants of limestone and iron ore mines, charcoal hearths, farms, homes and businesses. Call 270-924-2299 for directions.

A daily activity beginning again today at the Nature Station is the so-called parade of raptors at 4:30 p.m. during which barn, barred and screech owls and a red-tailed hawk are removed from their outdoors perches and taken to their indoor quarters. Meet the birds up close, free with admission, which is $5 for those 13 and older, $3 for ages 5-12 and free for children.

Also reopening today are Hillman Ferry, Energy Lake and Piney campgrounds and The Homeplace living history farm. The drive-through Elk & Bison Prairie, Golden Pond Planetarium, Turkey Bay Off-Highway Vehicle Area and Wranglers Campground remain open all year.

n Most late hunting seasons linked to the 2013-14 hunting year came to a halt Friday as did the 2013-14 licensing year. Today, the onset of March means that sporting endeavors including any sort of hunting and fishing require spanking new licenses.

Fishing, hunting, fishing/hunting combinations licenses and all related permits for the new year are on sale at Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources computer terminal outlets at county court clerk offices and many retailers across the state.

Fees for basic licenses for residents are unchanged for 2014-15: The annual fishing license is $20; the hunting license also is $20; the combination license for fishing and hunting is $30.

n It might not feel especially spring-like, but anglers in the LBL Division of the Walmart Bass Fishing League today are launching their fishing season â “ competing in a tournament on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley out of Kentucky Dam Marina.

An earlier Kentucky Lake tournament, a BFL/Music City Division event out of Paris Landing State Park, was postponed because of ice cover on the reservoir. Today's LBL Division season opener was on track with only a wintry feel and cold water temperatures challenging competitors.

FLW Outdoors tournament officials expect a hefty winning weight in today's tournament despite lingering winter conditions on the big reservoirs. Catches that go on the scale at a 2:30 p.m. weigh-in in the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park launch area will determine the top finishers.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. E-mail outdoors news items to outdoors@paducahsun.com.

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