Most people associate summer vacations with starting the day with hot coffee on the deck of a lakeside cabin while watching the early morning mist melt into a balmy summer day that’s perfect for fishing.  Evening picnics on the banks of the lake provide an ideal finishing touch to a day like this, especially if dinner consists of freshly caught fish fried to perfection over an open fire. Most people also associate winter vacations with crowded tourists traps in so-called tropical paradises — and if you’re like many of them, you secretly long for the tranquility of your favorite cabin under the trees while trying to enjoy yourself on a cruise ship or some packed-the-gills theme park. But just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the lake is closed. Following is just four of the many reasons to put a midwinter lakeside vacation on your bucket list.

The Fish

Fish don’t make like bears and head for cozy dens during winter — you can fish all year round at Lake Barkley. Some of the biggest bass are caught during winter, and the crappie are always biting. As an added bonus, there’s ample evidence that fish harvested from cold waters simply taste better than their summer-caught counterparts.

The Fires

While summer evening campfires are certainly delightful, nothing beats the feeling of the warmth generated by a wood stove or fireplace, especially after a good session of fishing or a walk through the woods in winter.

The Magic

Winter at the lake is quiet, mystical, and magic. The mists often hang around for more than just a few fleeting moments in the morning, providing a ghostly ambiance that’s ideal for reading by the fire, simply sitting in silent reflection, or enjoying a romantic dinner with your loved one.

The Stargazing

Stargazing is another pastime often believed to belong to summer, but like the fish, the stars don’t hibernate in winter either. Thanks to longer nights, there’s more time for sipping something delicious while staying warm around a blazing campfire while watching the stars.