Cedar Creek Lake is Kentucky’s only impoundment lake managed specifically for trophy sized bass. At approximately 762 acres, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) stocked the lake with several sport fish species, including largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie and channel catfish, making Lincoln County an angler’s paradise.
The average depth of the lake is 22 feet with the deepest parts being around 60 feet. What makes Cedar Creek Lake so unique is the planning and management of the land. A 300-foot buffer zone has been established that essentially protects the lake from encroachment; no houses and no private boat docks are permitted. This allows anglers to have full access to the lake, whether it is using the three boat ramps, the dedicated bank fishing areas, or the handicap accessible fishing jetty; everyone has the opportunity to enjoy what the lake has to offer.
“It is a fishing lake, not a recreational lake,” Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Greg Hill said. “The lake was built for big bass.” In order to promote the trophy size, there is a limit of one bass per angler and the fish must be at least 20 inches in length. Hill said the lake is not open for recreational boating, however the shallow water is favorable for kayaks and canoes.
KDFWR District Biologist John Williams said that overall the size and quality of the fish coming out of the lake is as good as it gets. Williams is in charge of the Southeastern Fishery District and has been involved with the Cedar Creek project since the creation and initial stocking of the lake. The fish are continuing to grow with a small number exceeding the 20 inches. Williams understands that fisherman appreciate catching fish of any size, even if they have to throw them back. “Fisherman like quality fish and they still enjoy catching three, four, five pound fish,” Williams said.
KDFWR does an assessment rank of the lakes throughout the state, based on the numbers, growth and size of the fish. In 2003 when the lake was impounded, it ranked poor, two years later it ranked fair, then good, and for the last three years the lake has ranked excellent. “For largemouth bass, I would put the lake up against any lake in the state,” Williams said.
Visitors from outside the county are taking notice and are coming to find out just how good the fishing really is. “People come in from Tennessee, West Virginia and Indiana. Occasionally as far away as Texas and Florida,” Randy Phillips, owner of Cedar Creek Lake Outfitters Bait Shop, said.
Phillips has seen first-hand the fish that people have been catching from the lake and he expects this year to be just as good, if not better.
Due to this year’s fair weather, the fishing is getting hot earlier than usual. “Crappie is having a breakout year,” Phillips said.
In 2006 Field & Stream ranked Cedar Creek Lake thirtieth on the list of “The 35 Best Bass Fishing Waters in the U.S.” That was six years ago and the fish have continued to grow. More recently, Game & Fish magazine released a list of “Hot Spots for Kentucky Fishing In 2012.” Cedar Creek Lake was chosen as a great destination for bass fishermen, with the magazine declaring “the quality and quantity of largemouths here is superb,” further solidifying Cedar Creek as one of the premier big bass lakes in the state.
April 14, the lake hosts the USA Bassin KY Tournament, where the target species is black bass. It is an open tournament and the director of the co-ed fishing teams, Troy Daugherty, said that he believes one reason the fish get so big is because of the way the lake was created. When the lake was flooded, the KDFWR left trees and other natural habitat for the fish to hide and spawn. Daugherty said that the five pound fish that are pulled out of the lake are very good sized fish; people fish all their lives and don’t catch fish that size.
Anyone wanting more information about the April bass tournament can go to the website at www.usabassin.com.