Alternative Fishing Methods

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Alternative Fishing Methods

Sport Fishing Trotlines, Jugging and Set Lines (Limb Lines)

(301 KAR 1:410; KRS 150.010) A sport fishing trotline is a line with no more than 50 single or multibarbed baited hooks that must be at least 18 inches apart. A sport fishing trotline must be set at least three feet below the water's surface. Jugging is fishing with a single baited line attached to any floating object. A jug line may have no more than one single or multi-barbed hook. A set line is a line with one single or multi-barbed hook. It may be attached to a tree limb, tree trunk, bank pole or other stationary object on the bank of a stream or impoundment.

One person may use no more than two sport fishing trotlines or 50 jug lines or 25 set lines at any one time. Each boat may not use more than 50 jug lines, but each occupant may use two sportfishing trotlines or 25 set lines. Each sport fishing trotline, jug line or set line must be: 1) permanently labeled with the name and address of the user; 2) baited, checked and all fish removed at least once every 24 hours; 3) removed from water, bank or tree when fishing ceases.

Prohibited Areas: Sport fishing trotlines, jug lines or set lines may not be used within 200 yards below any dam. Sport fishing trotlines, jug lines or set lines are not allowed in Department owned/managed lakes having less than 500 surface acres, except those located on Ballard and Boatwright WMAs. No sport fishing trotlines are allowed within 700 yards below Kentucky Dam, the area between Barkley Dam and U.S. 62 bridge, or below the following Ohio River dams from the face of the dam to the end of the outer lock wall: Smithland, Newburgh, Cannelton, Markland, Meldahl and Greenup; McAlpine downstream to the K&I railroad bridge; J.T. Meyers (Uniontown) to the end of the outer lock wall and that portion of the split channel around the southern part of Wabash Island from the fixed weir dam to the first dike.

Gigging and Snagging Fish

(301 KAR 1:410, 1:082; KRS 150.010) Gigging means spearing or impaling fish on any pronged or barbed instrument attached to the end of any rigid object. Snagging means taking fish or other aquatic animals by a rapid drawing motion (rather than enticement by bait) using a hand-held pole and attached line with a single or one multiple fish hook. Only one single or treble hook may be attached to the line. Except, in Green River, Rolling Fork River and their tributaries, up to five single or treble hooks may be used for snagging. A rod legal for snagging must be equipped with line, guides and a reel. The rod length restriction is now removed.

The statewide season for gigging and/or snagging rough fish is from February 1 through May 10. It is illegal to possess a gig on a stream or lake or in a boat from November 1 through January 31. A person may gig or snag fish from the bank of a stream during the day or night. Gigging and snagging is not legal from a platform, except that gigging is legal from a boat on lakes 500 surface acres or larger and only during daylight hours.

There is a statewide limit of 2 paddlefish for either gigging or snagging. All gigged or snagged paddlefish must be taken into possession and cannot be culled or released. Snagging anglers must cease gigging or snagging once they attain the 2 paddlefish daily creel limit. It is illegal to sell paddlefish or their roe taken by sportfish snagging methods. No daily limits on any other rough fish. Regardless of condition, all sport fish taken by gigging and snagging must be immediately returned to the water.

Persons may gig rough fish through the ice any time the surface is frozen thick enough to stand upon. The gigger must gig while supported by the ice.

Gigging and snagging are prohibited in the following waters or areas:

TENNESSEE RIVER from Kentucky Lake Dam downstream to confluence with Ohio River

The area from Kentucky Dam to the new U.S. 62 bridge will be open to snagging 24 hours per day from January 1 through May 31. From June 1 through December 31, the area is open to snagging from sunset to sunrise. The area of the Tennessee River from the new U.S. 62 bridge to the I-24 bridge is closed to snagging year round. The area from the I-24 bridge to the confluence with the Ohio River is open to snagging year round. There is now a daily creel limit of 8 fish in aggregate and shall not exceed the daily creel limit for any sport fish in which the creel limit is under 8 fish per day. Snagging must cease if any sport fish daily creel limit is attained. All fish snagged including paddlefish, except shad, herring or Asian carp, must be taken into possession and not culled. Snagged fish must not be disposed on the bank. This action is littering and subject to a fine. Snagged paddlefish or their roe cannot be sold. Gigging is prohibited in the Tennessee River below Kentucky Dam.  See the Gigging and Snagging section for more information.

Tickling & Noodling

(301 KAR 1:410; KRS 150.010) The tickling and noodling (hand grabbing) season for rough fish is June 1 through August 31, during daylight hours only. Tickling and noodling means taking fish directly by hand, or with the aid of a handled hook. These methods are permitted in all waters. The daily creel limit is 15 rough fish, no more than 5 of which can be catfish.


Rough fish (except alligator gar) may be taken year-round by longbow, crossbow, compound bow, recurve bow or pneumatic air arrow launching device. Sport fish may not be taken with this gear. Arrows must have a barbed or retractable style point that has a line attached for retrieval. Catfish have a daily creel limit of 5 (in aggregate) and paddlefish have a daily creel limit of 2. There is no limit on other rough fish.

Bow fisherman may fish within 200 yards of a dam, except by boat in boat restricted areas. Bow fishing is prohibited on the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam downstream to the Tennessee line, including Hatchery Creek and all tributaries for 1/2 mile upstream of their confluence with the Cumberland River

Persons using a bow and arrow for fishing must have the appropriate fishing license and may take rough fish from bank or boat.  Bow anglers cannot sell paddlefish or their roe taken by bow and arrow. Paddlefish and catfish taken by bow and arrow must be taken into immediate possession and cannot be culled. Fish taken by bow must not be discarded on the bank. Bank disposal is littering and subject to a fine.

Read more on's Bowfishing section.

Spear Fishing

(301 KAR 1:410) Underwater spearing of rough fish with hand-held or mechanically propelled spear is permitted year-round, but only in lakes having 1,000 surface acres or more. All participants in this sport must be submerged while spear fishing. Only rough fish may be taken and the appropriate fishing license is required. The daily limit is 15 fish of which only 5 may be catfish.