Please understand we FULLY support paylake's that ONLY stock farm raised catfish.
Exposing Paylakes
The "Stocking" Truth Revealed

Kentucky Catfish Regulations Overview

New Kentucky Catfish Regulations

In the fall of 2017 a group of Concerned Sportsman and Exposing Paylakes submitted a 38 page proposal to KDFWR. This proposal aimed to close loopholes in existing catfishing regulations, introduce new regulations, and sought to better govern commercial fisherman, as well as, paylakes that stock river catfish.

Below is a rundown of the new regulations, the general time frames for when you can expect to see regulations become official and a timeline detailing the process to procure these regulations.

Commercial Fishing Regulations

Kentucky will soon have some new/enhanced regulations regarding commercial fishing. Below is a breakdown of the regulations and an idea of when these regulations will become official.

New CF Regulations:

- The permit allowing 50 Commercial Fisherman to harvest 4 large catfish a day (over 40" inches), has been reduced from 50 Commercial Fisherman to only 15. (Enhanced CF Reg)

- Commercial Fisherman shall not have more than one daily harvest limit of trophy catfish in their possession - on the water or at the boat ramp. (New CF Reg)

- Limit of two licensed commercial fisherman - per boat. (New CF Reg)

-Still up in the air is the "No Transport of Live Catfish" proposal.

Timetable for CF Regulations:

According to Kentucky Fisheries Director, Ron Brooks, the NEW Commercial Fishing Regulations will go into effect in the spring of 2019.

"The commercial fishing regulations have been submitted to the LRC, the ARRS has approved of the proposed amendments, and they will be in effect as soon as the full legislative committee approves the subcommittee’s recommendations. Possibly in March, no later than April."

Paylake Regulations

Regulation of paylakes Stocking River Catfish have been long overdue. Over the last few years Exposing Paylakes and a team of articulate, well-knowledged individuals, worked diligently to help finally secure some basic regulations regarding Kentucky paylakes. Below is a description of the new regs & timetable for enforcement.

New Regulations for Paylakes:

- Limit stocking of trophy river catfish to 750 lbs, per surface acre, three times a year. (New Paylake Reg)

- Limit of 35 paylakes offering trophy river catfish. If more than 35 existed prior to the regulation, all will be grandfathered in - until they fail to purchase a paylake license for one year. (New Paylake Reg)

- Paylakes must have receipts for all fish stocked, including trophy river catfish. Receipts must include name of commercial fisherman and/or driver purchased from, origin of the fish, date and quantity, as well as, the catfish species. This info must be retained for 3 years. (New Paylake Reg)

- Paylakes stocking some or all river catfish must pay a $600 annual fee. If the paylake has more than two surface acres, then an additional $50 dollars per acre will be added on. (New Paylake Reg)

- Visible signage of the catfish origin and any consumption warnings will be required. (New Paylake Reg)

- Paylakes with a "catch and release" policy(usually because stocked fish are trophy river catfish), must have fish handling polices placed in a manner of which all patrons will be aware. (New Paylake Reg)

- First Official definition of a paylake was created. (New Paylake Reg)

Timetable for Paylake Regulations:

These NEW paylake Regulations will take effect on January 1, 2020. Below, Ron Brooks, the Kentucky Fisheries Director gives his reasoning for the delayed start.

[Regulations] "were passed through the KDFWR Commission in September 2018. It takes at least 5 months to pass the regulations through the legislative process. Once passed through the KDFWR Commission and prior to submitting them to the LRC, it also takes time to draft the regulation proposals in the manner of which the LRC will accept. KDFWR has one staffer to construct and edit regulations for the entire Department, so that means priorities are set as to when the regulations are submitted. Those priorities are structured as to the timing significance in terms of our ability to enforce them."

[These] "regulations were submitted after September 2018, because the regulations could not be passed through the legislature prior to January 2019, the new regulations will not be in effect prior to January 2020. Licenses are sold in January so the increased revenue the department will realize from fee increase will not be received until 2020. Without those fees, KDFWR has no funds to dedicate staff for oversight on the pay lakes. These facts put submitting and passing the pay lakes on an extended timeline, understanding that they will be in place at the earliest time when they could be enforced. The pay lake regulations will be in effect on 1/1/20"
-Ron Brooks, Kentucky Fisheries Director

Remember Mr. Brooks wording here, as opposition & KDFWR delays played a major role in timing.

Sport Angler Regulations

Until the latest push by concerned catfish anglers and Exposing Paylakes, Kentucky had ZERO statewide regulations regarding catfish. This will soon change. Below are the upcoming sport angler regulations and a timetable for their approval/enforcement.

New Regulations for Sport Anglers:

No "gifting" of catfish to businesses(i.e. giving river caught catfish to paylakes). (New Angler Reg)

- Statewide possession limit of trophy catfish; two daily harvest limits. (New Angler Reg)

- Current Ohio River Catfish Regulations will be applied Statewide(1 over 35" per day). (New Angler Reg)

Noodling will be regulated to 1 over 35", or water body specific regulations. (New Reg)

Timetable for Angler Regulations:

Expect to see tightened regulations regarding catfish in the 2020 Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide. Below, Ron Brooks, the Kentucky Fisheries Director breaks down why these regulations, which passed in 2018, didn't make the 2019 Fishing and Boating Guide.

"In order for angler regulations to become effective in the next calendar year after they are proposed, the amendment proposals must be passed through the Commission in June and submitted to the LRC no later than July. This is because the legislature must pass the regulations before our next year’s fishing and boating guide is sent out to the printer; usually in November or early December. Our anglers rely on the guides for regulation information, and citations issued where the regulations were not available to anglers in the guide will not be prosecuted in the courts. Therefore, any angler regulations that pass through the Commission after July will be submitted the following June or July, depending on the timing of the Commission meetings. We normally, purposely wait to propose angler regulation changes until the May Committee and June Commission meetings understanding that the regulation proposals that are passed will have gone through the entire regulation processes in time for the following fishing year’s guide to be amended and printed."
-Ron Brooks, Kentucky Fisheries Director

Again, remember Mr. Brooks wording here, as delays played a major role in timing.

To see a list of proposals we pushed for that didn't get passed click here.


It should be noted, numerous delays occurred during the process for new regulations. These delays were brought about by opposing sides(paylakes/commercial fisherman), as well as, KDFWR. Exposing Paylakes and company were on time with our responses and requested deadlines. A more detailed rundown of these delays can be found below. These delays not only affected our ability to rally the troops for regulation meetings, but they also negatively affected when these regulations could be made official.

Catfish Regulations Timeline:

September 2017
Mr. Aaron Wheatley - tournament director of "Monster on the Ohio" secured an agenda item on the November 6th, 2017 Kentucky Fisheries Committee meeting. 

September 18th, 2017
Exposing Paylakes organized a private Facebook group and worked with roughly 80 other concerned anglers to get a general idea of needed regulations.

October 5th, 2017
Chris DebowJustin Browning and Chris Lee have a 6 hour meeting discussing how to close loopholes and what new regulations are needed/viable. Chris Debow would later use this information to draft a 38 page proposal to submit to KDFWR and the Fisheries Committee on October 26th, 2017.

October 13th/14th 2017
Chris Lee, Justin Browning, Chris Debow and Vic Shepherd work a booth at the 2017 Monsters on the Ohio Captain's Meeting, courtesy of Aaron Wheatley. During the meeting & tournament, we gathered 1000's of signatures on our "Comment Cards" showing support for better regulations. These signatures were later sent to KDFWR commissioners.

October 26th, 2017
Steve Douglas, Chris Debow, Rob Benningfield and Aaron Wheatley attend a meeting with four of the KDFWR commissioners, as well as, members of KDFWR. In this meeting our 38 page proposal is officially submitted to KDFWR.

1ST DELAY - October 27th, 2017
A day after submitting our 38 page proposal - KDFWR has a knee-jerk reaction and moves the Nov 2017 meeting - to February 2018. KDFWR cited additional time needed to consider all viewpoints, including those of commercial fisherman and paylakes.

Nov 6th, 2017 meeting
Catfish were NOT to be on the agenda(since KDFWR & the Wildlife Commission opted to move the item to the Feb, 2018 agenda). This wasn't the case though, as catfish issues were discussed. Thankfully, we had a rep at the meeting anyway. 
In the meeting the Kentucky Fisheries Director prepped the commissioners on the paylake issues & proceeded to mention irrelevant out of state catfish issues, regarding Ohio paylakes and Virginia/Maryland waterways. Our representative documented the meeting, and when asked if anyone was there regarding catfish. A well spoken, concerned angler from Ohio(who wasn't aware of the meeting date change) pleaded our case nicely and drove home the paylake issue. Commissioner Carloss moved to table any further discussion and gave KDFWR orders to come back with rock solid data.

Dec 8, 2017 Commission Meeting
Again, catfish are NOT an agenda item for this meeting. And yet again, catfish items were discussed anyway. Thankfully, we had the same rep attending and documenting the meeting again. The KDFWR Fisheries Director had invited the vice president of the commercial fisherman's association to speak. The commercial fishing rep opposed regulations and insisted the commission needed to listen to informed lobbyist and biologists with solid data, instead of "hobbyist" catfisherman.

January 17th, 2018
Jeremy Coe
, Chris Debow, Scott Cress and Rob Benningfield meet with several key members of the Kentucky Legislature and Department of Fish and Wildlife. Our side was asked to join a work-group comprised of representatives from:
-Commercial Fishing Industry
-State Legislatures
-Fish & Wildlife
-KDFWR Commissioners.
 To appease KDFWR, we agreed to join this work-group.

2ND DELAY - January 23, 2018
KDFWR sends out an email moving the Feb meeting.

Because of an agreement to form an Ohio River Catfish Workgroup, KDFWR is not putting this issue on our February 2018 agenda. Therefore, Ohio River catfish issues will not be discussed at the Fisheries Committee or Commission in February."

"This Workgroup will ensure that, along with the 3 interest groups, several legislators and KDFWR Commissioners will be present to directly hear each group’s perspective of Ohio River catfish and KDFWR’s assessments of the three catfish populations. Members of the Workgroup will hear and hopefully understand all aspects of this issue, and at the very least, our Commonwealth’s lawmakers will be informed to the extent that any regulations emanating from our meetings will be well vetted by them."


"The compilation of workgroup members has begun, and following a KDFWR meeting with pay lake owners in early February, the list of Workgroup representatives should be complete and scheduling will commence. We intend to complete this Workgroup task of round-table discussions in time to put this issue on the May 2018 Fisheries Committee Agenda as either an update item, or if necessary, as one or more discussion items of which would result in regulation proposals made to the Fisheries Committee."

 -Ron Brooks, Kentucky Fisheries Director

January 30th, 2018

Chris Debow makes an appearance on Catfish Weekly  to promote regulations. This video is a great description of our efforts - video link here.

Feb 9th, 2018 Fisheries Meeting

This meeting was initially supposed to be our first important meeting, but was pushed back to May. We had attendees at the meeting regardless, as did the other sides involved. Catfish issues were not discussed.

February 2018

We reach out to surrounding states and received support/information from them and their respective agencies.

February 24-25, 2018
Steve Douglas kindly provides us with a booth at the 2018 Catfish Conference. Chris Lee, Justin Browning, Chris Debow, Vic Shepherd and Dave Cox gather over 2500 signatures for our "Enhanced Regulations" petition. These signatures were later provided to KDFWR Wildlife Commissioners.

March, 2018

Meetings between the newly formed workgroup begin. These meetings included Anglers, State Legislatures, Fish & Wildlife, KDFWR Commissioners & Paylake / Commercial Fishing Reps. Ideas and topics are discussed as the Department considers drafting changes/enhancements to existing regulations. Discussions involved - closing loopholes to better enforce existing regulations, enhancing current regulation enforcement and tackling the issues with paylakes.

March, 2018

Catfish regulation items officially show on KDFWR's website - scheduled for the May Fisheries Committee Meeting, to be held in Frankfort, Ky.

April, 2018

Exposing Paylakes makes post and runs ads on Facebook promoting the May meeting. Several days later the KDFWR website calendar shows a venue change, from Frankfort to Western Kentucky. Our party was not notified of the venue change.

April 13th, 2018

We email KDFWR to verify the venue change & meeting date:

"Lastly, can you confirm the venue for the May 18th Fisheries Committee Meeting.  We understand it has been moved to western Kentucky.  We will be notifying our stakeholders of the meeting, just wanted to confirm the venue." 

No immediate response is received.

April 15th, 2018

Based on the venue change posted on KDFWR's website event calendar, Exposing Paylakes makes a post changing their Facebook event venue from Frankfort to western Kentucky. Again our party was not notified of the venue change.

3RD DELAY - April 17th, 2018

KDFWR responds to our email & informs us that the May meeting has been moved to July. This delay officially ensures most of the new regs won't be available till 2020.

"The commercial folks let me know today that they will have their comments to me on the 27th April. Unfortunately, this process is taking longer than I had hoped, so new regulation proposals will not be able to be introduced prior to the July 2018 Fisheries Committee meeting (instead of May). Therefore, Ohio River catfish will not be a part of the May 2018 Fisheries Committee meeting in western Kentucky." 
-Ron Brooks, Kentucky Fisheries Director

April 23rd, 2018

Exposing Paylakes issues a date change notice & apology for anglers who scheduled a day off to attend the meeting. Venue is now changed back to Frankfort, Ky.

May/June, 2018
Discussions between Anglers, Commercial Fisherman, Paylakes and KDFWR continue, but deliberations ultimately end in a stalemate, with very few compromises.

4TH DELAY - July 2018
The tentatively scheduled July regulations meeting is once again moved - now to August.

July 29th through Aug 6th, 2018
Exposing Paylakes ramps up efforts to promote the upcoming Aug regulations meeting:


-July 29th - "Profile Frame" post.
-Aug 2nd - "Dead Paylake Fish" post.
-Aug 5th -  "Your State Record" post.
-Aug 6th - Our "Meeting Poll".

Aug 6th, 2018
KDFWR issues their final recommendations. In this email, the department has the meeting slated for Aug 17th and the venue at 100 Airport Rd, Frankfort, Ky

Aug 7th, 2108
Exposing Paylakes runs an ad on Facebook promoting the Aug 17th meeting and with the venue listed as 100 Airport Rd, Frankfort, Ky.

Aug, 2018
The KDFWR website calendar shows a venue change for the Aug 17th Meeting. The new address for the meeting is 1 Sportsman's Ln, Frankfort, Ky.  Once again, our side was not notified of the venue change. We make the necessary changes to our Facebook event.

Aug 9th, though Aug 17th 2018
Exposing Paylakes continues to promote the upcoming Aug 17th regulations meeting:

-Aug 11th - "Nets on the River" post.
-Aug 12th - "Attend the Meeting" post.
-Aug 13th - Wheatley Radio Interview
-Aug 16th - Pregame video from KDFWR Headquarters.

Aug 17th - First of Two Regulations Meetings/Votes
Over 150 Catfish Anglers show for the meeting, making it one of the biggest, if not the biggest turnout, for a KDFWR committee meeting. Regulations are presented, discussed and voted on.

-A few pre-meeting pictures.
-Interview with Lex18 News here.
-Shorten Video of the Meeting here.
-Full 2 hr Video of the meeting can be seen here.

Aug 21st, 2018
Exposing Paylakes starts promoting the final meeting/vote slated for Sept 7th.

Aug 26th, 2018
In preparation for the upcoming final vote on Sept 28th. Exposing Paylakes creates a petition to show KDFWR officials & Wildlife Commissioners, that there is support for a "No Transport of Live Catfish" regulation. In less than a month, this petition generated over 2000 signatures. Officials & commissioners were made aware of this petition and it's results.

Aug 28th, 2018
The Governor of Kentucky chooses to NOT reappoint two of the voting commissioners. A third voting commissioner decides to resign. The committee chairman would also resign several days later. You can read the chairman's resignation letter here.

FIFTH DELAY - Sept 4th, 2018
The KDFWR website calendar shows a new meeting date of Sept, 21st. We send an email asking for confirmation of the new date.

Sept 5th, 2018
The KDFWR website calendar shows another date change, this time for Sept, 28th. Later that day the KDFWR Fisheries Director responds to our email from the day before, and confirms the Sept, 28th date.

Sept 13th, 2018
The KDFWR website calendar shows a venue change for the meeting. The new address is listed as 702 Capital Ave, Frankfort, Ky.

Sept, 2018
Meeting Venue is changed again, now back to 1 Sportsman's Ln, Frankfort, Ky.

Sept 21st, 2018
Exposing Paylakes informs our followers that Tennessee has passed regulations to curtail paylake stocking. See the video post here.

Sept 25th, 2018
Exposing Paylakes sends the following email to each of the voting commissioners:

"Dear Commissioner, 

The catfish sport anglers would greatly appreciate if we could please have five minutes of your time.

The following link is a YouTube video we composed specifically for you.

Thank you very much!"

Sept 26th, 2018
Expsoing Paylakes runs a video promoting the upcoming final meeting/vote for catfish regulations on Sept 28th. See the video here.

Sept 28th - Second Regulation Meetings/Votes
-Live video of the hour and 10 minute final meeting/vote can be seen here.

Oct 1st, 2018 - Meeting Breakdown
Exposing Paylakes posts a video breakdown of the meeting. This video covers most of what is already mentioned above.

This Journey has just Begun.
Thanks to all who support our efforts!
More to Come...

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