Sunday, July 26, 2009
Elmer Davis Lake, Owen County KY
by John Kirkland
I’ve been looking at this lake for a long time—I’m always looking for small, easily accessible lakes that are within an hour or so from my house. It was a mostly sunny Sunday afternoon, mid-80s, light breeze. A nice day for fishing. The night before, a pretty good storm had passed through the area, quashing plans to wade the Elkhorn. I packed the kayak and headed up the road to check out this little lake.
In my research, I noted two public put-ins for the lake. A small dock with a pay ramp ($4, I think) is located on the north side of the lake, at the end of highway 1670, which runs south from Owenton. I chose to launch from the dam, which has a small, free ramp and courtesy dock. There is adjacent parking for about 5-7 trucks with boat trailers. Other vehicles were parked along the road running across the earthen dam. Elmer Davis Dam Road is a one-lane paved road that connects to US 127, 21 miles north of Frankfort.
The lake is known for quality panfish and decent channel cats. It is currently undergoing bass restoration, with a 12-15 inch slot for bass in place (all bass between 12 and 15 inches must be thrown back, the rest may be kept). There is also a 12 inch minimum on channel catfish. Boat speed is limited to slow, and idle only when passing anyone fishing.
I could see a few other small boats, and a couple of pontoons. It was very quiet, overall. I started out throwing a small creek minnow colored like a sunfish. With a few casts, I hooked a decent shellcracker, about 7-8 inches. After that, the day was more of a boat ride. I changed to a shallow fry crank bait, no dice. Thirty minutes later, a black and chartreuse rooster tail-nothing. After a couple of hours of casting around the lake, fighting with a couple of tree branches, and observing a dozen or so box turtles (lots of those in the lake), I decided to give up and tie on a hook, bobber, and garden worm. I tossed it under an overhanging branch, and quickly became distracted by something else. Then my line went taught-I figured that I was hung up. I reeled once, and the line started to dance. After a pretty good fight on my ultra light, a 14 inch cat was in the boat, grunting away. A keeper—and he bent the hook (I’ve never actually seen that happen before.)
Over the next hour, I hooked a number of small bluegill using the worm and bobber rig. At 8 PM it was time to go. I was trying to hook one more cat to make a “mess”. It didn’t happen, so I let the one on the stringer go. Other fishermen reported similar catches—a slow day in general. One fellow told me he had caught seven cats, all in the weeds on the shoreline, using chicken livers. No reports of bass.
Elmer Davis is a pretty lake—quiet, with decent access, and low traffic. There is bank access and parking at the dam, and several people were hunkered down with catfish rigs along the dam and adjacent shore. The KDFWR site has maps and more information available.