Trout Fishing in Kentucky


I’m constantly asked why I’d want to “waste time” trout fishing anywhere other than around home.  Sure, trout fishing at home is remarkable.  But it’s not so much about the catching for me as it is the experience.  And a chance to explore a new piece of water with fly rod in hand never lets me down. 

When you scan the horizon in central Kentucky, other than some gorgeous rolling hills, a chance of a gorge and a cold water stream seems imaginary.  That’s the beauty of Boone Creek.  Boone Creek is a tributary to the Kentucky River, hidden amongst farms and hardwood forests only a short drive from John and Betty Reesor’s.  Its most fishable section is on the private property of John’s friend Chas. 

At ten this morning John, Granny and I headed to see Chas.  Chas led us in John’s truck across his 600 plus acres to a trail amongst a hibernating hardwood forest.  Sure enough, a short peak down the trail unveiled a gorge and through it flowed a small creek, Boone Creek.

I was delighted when I laid eyes on the tiny Boone Creek.  It was gin clear and cascaded from bouldery riffles into deep blue pools.  Chas told us he wasn’t sure if any trout were there.  Boone gets stocked by a neighbor upstream and hold over trout sometimes move in.  That’s when I asked about other fish and he mentioned smallmouth but was quick to tell me if I was catching hornyhead chubs I was in the trout water.

You know the rest of the story with me – I nymphed me up a few hornyhead chubs to start my day.  Actually, they were close cousins to the hornyhead, they were creek chubs.  The truth is I targeted a few good looking pieces of this tiny hidden stream and fished them methodically so by the time I was done, every fish species got an opportunity to eat my offerings.

I started with two small streamers – both of them woolly bugger style.  I was quick to land that creek chub.  There are several hornyhead chub types of fish and this one was small but colorful.  I landed a few other mysterious small chubish/dace like fish as well that I’ll look up later.

Between pools I streamered a couple deep pockets amongst boulders and lo and behold I landed my first Kentucky brown trout.  A small brown by anyone’s standards but about as pretty a brown you’ll ever see.

A few small fish rose unpredictably against a rock ledge.  I couldn’t see a bug on the water so I grabbed my smallest Chernobyl ant and made several drifts.  I was right, they weren’t just small fish they were minnows and that’s when I landed this striped shiner.  I prowled some other good looking Chernobyl spots but water temps are too cold to entice a real fish to eat off top.

During my last hour I rigged up my Polish Nymph rig.  I knew casting my multi nymph rig would be hard with all the vegetation but I had to see what was down deep moving slow.  This is when I really laid into the chubs.  But that wasn’t all.  I was quick to pick up this cute 10” rainbow followed by the same sized smallmouth bass.

I probably explored and played around Boone Creek for three hours.  Granny and John opted not to fish but rather observed and relaxed.  But I knew after that third hour they were ready to leave.

As for me, although the fish were small, I could have spent the day on Boone Creek.  I landed five different species of fish (even though a couple were like minnows) including a brown trout, rainbow and a smallie.  Just seeing that one smallie tells me that somewhere in Boone Creek there’s a big smallie that could make my day.  And this is a tributary to the Kentucky River, so perhaps a sauger or a walleye?  Who knows – and that’s the beauty of exploring.

Tomorrow brings more new water.  It’s our last day and John booked us a guide for Dale Hollow, home of the world record smallmouth bass.  It will be a tough night for sleep!

One Response to “Trout Fishing in Kentucky”

  1. Erik Moncada April 11, 2013 at 3:20 am #

    That is a cool looking fish, I wonder why they have horns.

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