This week on Kentucky Afield, we're headed to Rough River Lake and searching for crappie Next, we'll check in on the state's alligator gar and see what surgery on one of these fish looks like.
Then we're headed out on the water to enjoy some frog gigging.
It's all next on Kentucky Afield.
Hello and welcome to Kentucky Afield.
I'm your host, Chad Miles.
Join us as we journey the commonwealth in search of outdoor adventure.
Crappie fishing guide Tom Perkins can catch fish just about any time of year.
But recently he took me to Rough River Lake and showed me that even with the drawdown, the fishing is still good.
Well, this morning we're out here on beautiful Rough River Lake chasing crappie with Tom Perkins.
How are you doing?
I'll tell you one thing I have been looking forward to getting out here and catching crappie with you.
This will be a whole different experience today.
We're going to cast for them.
Ok, instead of straight line and they█re easier to catch when their in shallow water they█re, just not in shallow water all the time.
So we're not going to use any live bait, no live scope today.
We're doing it the old way, the old fashioned, the hard way.
But you catch fish doing it that way all the time.
So I'm super excited.
And honestly, it's a way I like fish.
So, yeah, I'm super excited to get out here and see what we can't drum up.
You're just kind of shaping the contours of the bank as it falls.
You're just letting it fall a little deeper.
So this ought to be a good year for the spawn.
Oh, that's a good crappie.
You want a net?
Yeah, Tom, that's a good that's a dandy right there now.
Pound and a quarter or so.
That is a really, really nice crappie.
I'll tell you what, you come out there and you get a few 20 of those.
Oh you got that right.
There's a sandwich, you ain't a kidding.
I've done caught enough for me to eat for supper.
Y'all are lagging behind.
Another keeper, black crappie.
And so you keep saying that and I'm will check you look at them, can tell you I can't tell.
Roughly two, three, four, five, six, seven.
This is a black crappie.
So at one count, these.
I just look at it, see if it's in bars straight up and down, or if they're sporadic like that and not in the bars.
It█s a black Crappie.
If he's got the barring on them, then they're then they're a white crappie.
Well yours is definitely.
Plenty big good fish.
You got him now.
That's a good one.
At what point in time do you change weights or is this just pretty much this is the way you throw most of the year.
If the wind's really blowing, I'll throw a 32nd.
If it gets where I can't feel a 32nd or a 16th, if it gets where I can't feel 16th.
I go home.
The wind is blowing too hard, so 32nd or 16th or stay home.
You bass fish all the time from small mouth, the lighter jigs you got a more fish you're going to catch.
Sounds like Jose.
Leave him alone.
That's a spotted bass there.
Pretty little fish.
Not what we're after today.
No, it's not.
But they are good eating.
They are good eating.
And I tell you what, if I'm out here and I get five or six crappie and now I need to make a mess, I'll keep me a couple of those.
Oh, I'm not above it.
That's for sure.
There you go.
Oh, good fish in right here.
I know you're a bass fisherman.
You hold them by the lip.
If you'll get a crappie right there, he'll quit flopping.
And I'm not.
I'm not squeezing.
Yeah, I'm just holding him tight enough to hold him, but a bass.
You grab him by lip and he quit crop.
You get him right where his gills comes together and he quit.
He settled down pretty good there are you going to beg for him?
Sit up, sit up yeah, you still cant have him.
There█s one, there you go.
That's a that's a crappie.
It might be the second biggest fish of the day so far.
You want him?
I can leave this live well open.
She'll get everyone one of these fish out of the live well, we found this, aren't we?
Found something here.
You need to back up Jose There you go.
Not quite the size of what you got, but by golly, That█s a keeper, Three pounder, anyway.
Yeah, that's a good fish.
You see it?
I think the squirrel she'll tree him if he runs up a tree.
You got yourself a squirrel dog Oh, that's a good one.
Now, that's a good fish.
Watch out Jose.
There we go.
That's a good fat fish right there.
nice, we'll take that.
Oh, this little spot here is not put out a small fish.
Yeah, it has.
I hope it keep that way.
I believe I'm indicating a strike.
Yeah, Yeah, that's a good one too.
I thought it was a bass.
That's a good one there.
Yes, it is.
Look at that pup.
It's a keeper to keep it to.
You know what, you told me, Chad?
You're done turkey hunting.
You ought to come out here and try to catch some crappie.
And I was like, Tom, this weather is going to be terrible.
And you're like, We█re only allowed to keep 20.
How long you need.
Well what it 930.
It's about 930.
I say we put this boat on the trailer so that we're not, we're not soaking wet and bailing water.
What are you thinking?
My bilge pump don█t work.
Let's load it up and get moving.
Many viewers have asked: what's going on with the alligator gar?
Well, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and Murray State University have partnered up to perform fish surgeries to gather more information.
We're here today on the banks of Elkhorn Creek, right here at Pfeiffer Fish Hatchery, and I'm here with Stephanie Brandt.
How are you doing today?
How are you?
Little rainy, little cloudy.
You know, today we're working on a really cool project.
Every time I see, you always say, Hey, how those alligator gar doing?
People ask a lot about these alligator gar.
How long has this program been going on?
How many individuals have we put in the waterways here in Kentucky?
So this has been going on since 2010, 2011.
We've been doing this for about as long as it takes for them to start spawning.
We've got over 50,000 fish out in West Kentucky.
So we're going from Paducah down the Ohio River down to Hickman Harbor.
Your Fulton, Ballard, McCracken counties.
This species is one of those- you've probably seen it on river monsters.
It's the prehistoric fish.
It's the dinosaur fish.
It's the past that's still with us.
They've made it all these years, and they're still swimming with us.
And so our goal is when they came to low enough numbers here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, our job is to make sure that those species are still here, that they don't disappear completely.
The idea here is to insert some tracking devices that will allow us to gather data to find out exactly where they're moving, how far they're moving.
So what we're doing today is we will anesthetize the fish just like you would be getting your happy juice before surgery.
They will be asleep while we do it.
We'll open them up, get the tags in as fast as possible, close it up and get them right back into the water as fast as we can.
They will stay the night overnight here at the hatchery.
And then tomorrow morning they'll get these external SAT tags turned on and off to the water they go.
If you come across one of these fish, if you do accidentally catch one of these fish, we want these fish to be immediately returned to the waterway.
I'm super excited to hear a little more about what the long term plans are with these particular fish and then seeing how you're going to do the surgery.
Let's get indoors and- let's go out these fish.
Check out these fish and I want to watch you do your work.
We█ll be here with Murray State.
They're getting ready to show up.
So, yeah, let's go see what happens.
So our Murray State crew is shown up here and it looks like we're getting our table set.
Yeah, we've got four fish over there.
What's the process?
How this going to work?
So we got the four fish there from our 2020 year class.
They came from Mississippi.
They'll go from that raceway, we█ll have this big knock out tank where they'll get anesthetized like we talked about.
As they fall asleep, they'll move over to a table.
And at that table, we'll start doing the surgeries.
This is one of the tags.
This is a little battery.
And when this battery gets topped off, this tag turns on and it starts on beeping and it'll be for four years.
So so we'll have four years of data off of this.
And this will be internal or external?
This will be the internal tag.
And then after that, we'll hook on the external tag, the SAT tag.
We'll show that as we get to that point, then we'll have them on the table once they're all sewed up, they'll go back into a recovery tank.
So they're going to be cut inserted, stitched back up, and then there will be some additional pieces that come out that are transmitter tags, right.
That'll be the satellite tag.
So these fish are pretty resilient.
They're really tough.
They can be out of water for a chunk of time and go back in and be all right because they have adapted swim bladders so they can come up to the surface and gulp air, which is why they can live in these habitats like these backwater areas that look like they wouldn't even have any dissolved oxygen.
But they do just fine because they can come up to the surface and go back down when they want.
Yeah, that is amazing.
We have to use power tools, like that's how thick they are.
So we'll be using power tools to do some of the surgery today to get through these really thick scales.
So you're literally going to be using dremels?
Dremels and any kind of inconventional things that make it to where we can get this job done as fast and as sterile as we possibly can.
I think he might be ready try to keep it on this.
I mean in here.
Where the color change is?
Yep, give or take.
So these are ganoid scales.
So they're very thick scales.
That's why we're using the Dremel to get through those scales.
We've been experimenting through the years in a couple of different ways to do this, and this seems to be the fastest and least damaging way.
Obviously he█s being very careful, you don't want to damage any other organs in there.
So he just got through the bone and then made a snip.
So here we're going to test one of our pit tags.
In this little keychain is a little tester tag.
It's about as wide as my fingernail is wide.
Just like at the vet clinic.
When you find that lost dog or that lost cat, we do that, and it gives us an individual number.
And that's a unique number to that fish.
So from here on in it's life we'll always be able to wand it and know exactly who that fish is.
And that's the size of the pit tag.
It's pretty small.
So we've got two tags inside now.
Now we've got to sew these things back together.
So you can't just take a needle and poke it through, you literally have to drill a hole.
So next, we're going to go for the external satellite tag.
That's what's going next.
It'll go in that tail.
So when it's in the water, you'll have this little thing that bobs out on the backside of the fish.
Man, their scales are so incredibly tough, huh?
We want to make sure that this does come off.
The SAT tags are only going to give us a couple of months worth of data.
So we don't want that just sticking on there.
We don't want metal sticking out that's going to cause any kind of injury, disease, all that.
So we've chosen to do it this way.
It worked great for us last year.
So we're going to do the same thing with this nylon for this year.
So this is this nylon rope after a period of time will rot away and the tag will release and Yep, and that'll be that.
There we go.
We got it.
Oh, yeah, that took some work.
Well, the surgeries are complete.
Surgeries are complete.
We got all of the internal stuff done, and then all we have left now is an external part of the project.
So tomorrow our hatchery folks will load them up.
They'll go out to West Kentucky.
So they're going to go into Clarks River as well as Ballard and Boatwright WMAs.
And then when they get out there, this is the external set tag.
So the line that you saw us leave off the fish will get tied to this.
So if you see this floating around around any gar or just kind of popped on the surface, that's an alligator gar that's below it underneath.
So the fish, this is supposed to be on there?
It█s supposed to be there.
Don't take it off.
This is the little thing that transmits up to the satellite.
So a lot of technology.
So we know for sure these fish are going to western Kentucky tomorrow.
But from where they go from there is the million dollar question.
That's just it.
We had fish last year that did 90 miles in two days.
We had fish that stayed in the WMA so they can be anywhere.
Yeah, it█s great information.
This is just technology showing us how to do better science.
So you know what?
And these young students, they got to come out here today and learn something really cool.
Hopefully they're going to be helping manage fish populations across the country, investing in our younger generation.
Because they're the ones that are going to be taking our places.
There's a good chance these fish will outlive all of us.
They will outlive us and our children.
These fish can live for 150 years old.
Generations to come again, just like with the lake sturgeon- generations to come.
Well, the next time you and I work together on these fish, hopefully we'll be out in the boat.
We'll get to see what a big giant looks like.
Maybe we can break the world record like the Kentucky fishermen did maybe this last week.
It's very cool work that you do, and I appreciate you letting us come in and check this out.
Hopefully the next time we're working together will be on the front of a boat somewhere, checking in on these things, getting some additional data, seeing how much they've grown, how far they've moved, all that other great information, all the good stuff.
Thank you so much.
Thanks for being with us today.
Frog gigging season is now in, and there's a lot of ways to try to catch a frog.
But one of the more unique ways is from a kayak.
We're sitting out here waiting for it to get dark.
The anticipation is getting pretty serious.
So what are we doing tonight?
We are frog gigging Geaver Lake tonight.
We are here at Beaver Lake.
Now, this is a state owned lake, and I don't know how big Beaver Lake is, probably 100 acres or so.
It's it's round 150.
Something like that.
And the best way to access this lake is by kayak.
I think so.
Now, there's a couple other ways you can get around this lake because the department of Fish Wildlife, like many of the state owned lakes, has a buffer.
So you need to check your local rules and regulations.
But here, getting in a kayak and moving around and navigating it with with a gig pole is probably the way to go.
I think it's ideal.
And one of the other things like you talking about it being thick.
If you're respecting people's property and not climbing over everything, you can slide right up and pick up the frogs.
A lot of fun.
Yeah, I tell you what.
So I have frog gigged, hundreds of times.
I mean, when I was a kid, it was anywhere I could walk to to potentially get a frog.
That's what I was in for.
Never from a kayak.
This is new to me, so I don't know why I've never went with a kayak, but a lake this size where you can kind of get in and navigate the lake its tailor made for it is perfect for it.
It really is.
It's almost kind of lazy.
You're not walking through the tall grass, getting ticks on you and fighting willow bushes.
I really enjoy it.
I think you're going to like it.
I'm excited that you reached out to us and said, Hey, man, I got an opportunity.
Let's go give it a try.
The frogs are here, aren't they?
Oh, they are absolutely.
We've already heard them.
Yeah, they're right over here right now.
I'll tell you what.
Let's get on the water and kind of get out of the way a little bit where we can hear and see if we can start finding some.
Let's do it.
Let me help you get your kayak and you can help me.
We'll get rolling.
One right underneath the walkway.
Yeah, I see that one.
Oh, yes, we got one.
Boy he's barely on there.
Well Ryan we finally got one I, I didn't- I wasn't too sure in this moss we were going to be able to ever get close enough without pushing the moss and scaring them under.
But it's a pretty good frog.
Man the bugs are out, that's for sure.
Oop, there's one.
Is he on there?
We're just pushing them under water.
I'm acting like a rookie.
I got a big one right here.
Oh, my goodness.
Man, I about threw myself out of the kayak.
You had a good jab on him.
Oh, there's a big bullfrog right there.
That raccoon would eat that bullfrog Given the chance.
You got that one.
I'm sorry, Mr. Raccoon, but that was mine.
You see him?.
Yeah, yeah, I see him.
That sounds pretty promising.
You get him?
Oh, no, come off the end.
Went through all that and grabbed his leg and he jumped off.
I poked him right under.
That right there, is a gig.
What do you know?
We'll take it.
Well, Ryan, this was definitely a lot of fun.
It was a learning experience.
It was a lot of fun.
This is one of those things where, you know what?
The debris and the algae in the water can definitely make this much more difficult.
Yeah, but, you know, we saw a good number of frogs maybe on a little warmer night, a little sharper gigs, and wait till the department comes out.
They're going to spray this lake really soon and makes it a little more navigable.
The frogs are here.
They are absolutely here.
The frogs are here.
And you know what?
Going by kayak is a really good way to get at them because you can cover so much water, you really can you slip right up to them.
Just unfortunately tonight we had some obstacles.
Hey, you know what?
You got enough frogs to fill a skillet.
We sure do.
So you're going to be, we're in good shape.
And, hey, thank you so much for showing me this.
Yeah, thank you for having me on.
I appreciate it.
Definitely a lot of fun.
Now let's check in and see who else has been out having fun and this week's Ones That Didn't Get away.
Check out this beautiful largemouth bass that was caught by Zeth Morris in Warrick County, Indiana.
This fish was caught and released.
Check out this trophy Muskie that was caught by Kevin Willoughby in the barren river.
This fish was 50 inches long.
Here we have Timmy Gray with a nice 24lbs turkey taken in Fleming County on the last day of the turkey season.
Here we have a nice large mouth bass that was caught on Green River Lake by Christian Warren.
Here we have eight year old Gunner Karnes with his first turkey.
This turkey was taken in Knox County.
Mark Hall got this beautiful largemouth bass that weight over 7 lbs in a watershed lake in central Kentucky.
Memorial Day weekend is next weekend, and many of you will be hitting the lake.
The number one reason that boats get pulled over is because their tags have expired and they have the wrong decal.
Make sure you have all that in order and have a safe weekend.
And remember, hunting and fishing on private property is a privilege.
Always ask permission and thank the landowner.
Until next week, I'm your host, Chad Miles, and I hope to see you in the woods or on the water.