Are you one of Kentucky's many bass anglers? If so you'll be glad to know that Kentucky's newest lake, Yatesville (a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' lake), impounded in 1991, is being managed for black bass by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR).
This 2,300-acre lake is located in Lawrence County on Blaine Creek, about 18 miles above the mouth. The lake is situated four miles south of Yatesville and about five miles west of Louisa. (If these directions sound unfamiliar, look toward the eastern part of the state, around Ashland and the Kentucky/West Virginia border) Access to the lake is by KY 3 and KY 1185.
Yatesville Lake is already proving to be a popular recreational spot for eastern Kentuckians.
As soon as the lake was impounded, the KDFWR began stocking several species which included channel catfish and bluegill as well as largemouth bass. Last year redear sunfish were added along with more bluegill and channel catfish. According to fishery biologist Ed Carroll, the stocking program is doing well, evidenced by the fact that bass stocked in the fall of 1991 are being caught at the 15-inch keeper size. Be aware -- the minimum size limit for largemouth and smallmouth bass on Yatesville lake is 15 inches, not the regular 12-inch statewide size limit.
The 15-inch size limit is an important tool in managing Yatesville's fishery. Under a 12-inch size limit, newly impounded lakes tend to receive enough fishing pressure the first couple of years to keep the bass population below what the lake habitat can support. When this happens, there isn't enough predation on small bluegill and results in unbalanced fish populations. The special 15-inch size limit on largemouth and smallmouth bass at Yatesville Lake is expected to prevent this from happening. Bass will have a few years to grow before they reach keeper size and during this growing period they'll be effective predators, keeping bluegill numbers at tolerable levels.
The 15-inch size limit also allows the bass one or two more spawning seasons which contributes to stronger year classes in the important early years of the lake. Biologists will keep their eye on the lake to see how the bass are doing, and we'll keep you posted.
In the meantime, head on over to Yatesville Lake and see what you think of Kentucky's newest lake.
Yatesville's Long Gestation
The idea and name of Yatesville Lake has been around for 37 years, so you may wonder why it's taken so long to get the lake impounded. Well, there's a lot more to building a lake than digging a hole and filling it with water.
In 1954, the Huntington District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated a study of the Big Sandy Basin which recommended the construction of four major reservoirs. In 1964, this study was supplemented by the "Big Sandy River Basin Survey Report" which added recommendations for several other lakes, Yatesville being one of them. The Flood Control Act of 1965 authorized these projects, so Yatesville Lake came about as part of the system of flood control, water quality improvement, recreation and fish and wildlife conservation.
The next step involved the funding of the engineering and design for the Yatesville project. This came about in 1966. An environmental impact statement on Yatesville Lake was prepared and filed in 1972, and the funds to prepare a general design were approved in December the following year.
Land acquisition began in November, 1973. Then came the awarding of the initial construction contract and an access road to the spillway. The road was completed in 1974 with the contract for the dam construction being awarded in January, 1977. It looked like the lake was on its way. But, wait. The plug was pulled. As a result of President Carter's 1977 review of water projects, funds for Yatesville were not awarded. Therefore, all contracts for construction were terminated.
It wasn't until July, 1983 that both Fiscal Year '83 Supplemental and Fiscal Year '84 appropriations bills were enacted which directed the corps to place the Yatesville Lake project under construction immediately. With the awarding of a contract in March, 1984, construction finally began in April. Phase I was completed in April, 1986 while a contract for Phase II dam construction was awarded in January, 1986.
The gates of the dam were closed the last of August, 1991 and Yatesville Lake was up and running.
From: Kentucky Afield The Magazine, Subscription information
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