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Kentucky

One of the best things about fly fishing in Kentucky, is the effort that the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR)  puts in to their stocking program. This helps create fisheries that are both sustainable and enjoyable by anglers of all skill levels. Combined, the Bluegrass State is stocked with rainbows, browns and brook trout in hundreds of different places. Both the KDFWR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) release fish into these various waters. Most of the USFWS fish are placed in streams in the Daniel Boone National Forest, where habitat is suitable for long term survival. The KDFWR handles trucking fish to the rest of the creeks, rivers and lakes. The additional Kentucky waters receive 925,000 rainbow trout each year, starting in early April. The brown trout figure is around 35,000, with 30,000 of those being poured into the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam. There are five catch-and-release-only brook trout streams that are stocked annually as well. Combined, these three fishery resources are being supplied with almost one million trout each year, all of which are raised at the Wolf Creek Hatchery operated by the USFWS at Lake Cumberland. 

Although hundreds of locations and nearly one million fish sounds like a lot, not every lake or stream has an established trout fishery. There are some requirements a waterway must have in order for trout to survive and then grow as well. Very little natural reproduction takes place in Kentucky, nor are there native fish, so the health of the fishery is dependent on selecting waters where stocked fish can make it through all year long.  Waters that get too warm in summer would wipe out any trout, that would be placed there in spring, so it’s not a worthwhile effort to add them to the stocking list. The KDFWR has ranked trout streams based on the quality of habitat, water temperatures and other factors.

One other key factor in deciding where to release trout, is whether or not anglers have access to the water. There are some streams that are cold enough, but private landowners aren’t agreeable to letting the public access them. This is one reason why so many trout streams lie in the Daniel Boone National Forest. People can get to these streams and benefit from the stockings.

Some creeks, though, do have what it takes for trout to do well year ’round. These are often selected for different management, either where a size limit, delayed harvest approach, or artificial lure restriction is used to protect them longer. It’s an attempt to provide fishermen with some spots where they are able encounter holdover fish, and have a higher quality experience and better chance of catching fish of greater sizes. One way to recognize which streams do better than others, is to look for those with special regulations, creeks getting larger numbers of rainbows, and those receiving brown trout in addition to rainbows. Click the links on the left, to see some of our favorite places to fish in this state.

 

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