View Full Version : kentucky brook trout vacation

08-31-2008, 11:40 PM
i took a few vacation days and tried to catch a kentucky brook trout. with no luck, but i did have fun. the first place was shillalah creek. the water was real low at the place i was told by a game warden to go. all i found was water striders, a few crawdads, and one big frog. i did my best to stay hidden and watch my cast but i had no takers anywhere. i was using a sz. 20 para adams. the water was 58F. i saw no fish at all, not even chubs or minnows. when my fly would hit the water the striders would attack it. i just can't imagine any fish being there with the amount of striders on the small pools? looks like brookies would keep them thinned out?


most of the creek going up




the biggest pool i found. thought for sure one would be here.


the second place i tried was the poor fork of the cumberland. atleast they was some chubs to catch, and i caught plenty. the water was around 60F. i tried prince nymphs, EHC, stimis. everything i had. still no brookie.




all and all both trips was great and lots of fun, good exercise to with all the hiking.

Ky Tim
09-02-2008, 07:36 PM
I have wanted to fish Shillalah Creek, but have not gotten around to it yet. The only place I have fished for brookies in Kentucky was Parched Corn Creek in the Red River Gorge Area and didn't have any luck.

09-04-2008, 10:43 AM
where is shillalah creek?Have fished patched corn creek and dog fork in the red river gorge--no luck at all--never saw a fish--lots of trash--wonder if there are really brook trout in these streams--shallow water--dog fork has lots of structure--old tires and a stove--very depressing

09-04-2008, 06:05 PM
Have caught Brookies in Parched Corn- 1 small one every 2nd or 3 rd trip. Supposedly they are Michigan fish planted by a bucket biologist years ago. a fisheries biologist asked me all sorts of questions about them and the browns. I've seen Browns planted over the hill digging redds several years ago, but its very hard fishing. I started fishing the gorge almost 40 years ago. The main stream has really silted in. I used to catch redeyes and smallies all over the place.Hikers and campers completely trashed things years ago. With the fee charge, and moving the ranger station to Gladie things seem to have gotten better. A word of warning- the Gorge is full of copperheads- ENJOY but watch your hands and feet.
I wish the State would cut back on the cold water fishery there- very marginal once the hatchery truck leaves and improve the "cool water". This area has been degraded by silting too much

Randall Sale

09-04-2008, 11:50 PM
bad news.....

should have sent email before trip. here is the reply about the brook trout around here close to home....

i geuss i will have to head back to the smokies this year if i am going to catch a brookie. i kind'a wished i could have caught one here. an episode of kyafield where they took a governor fishing in shillalah creek and caught brook trout gave me my interest in fly fishing, especially with the creek so close to home.

For brook trout in this area or Southeast corner of state, past history would include Shillalah Crk (Bell Co), Martins Fork Crk (Bell/Harlan Co), and Poor Fork (Letcher Co).

This summer/fall we are conducting some sampling for brook trout when we can fit it into schedule. During the 1980's brook trout were stocked in the head of Shillalah Creek and Martins Fork Creek in Cumberland Gap Natural Historic Park. Shillalah Creek (Bell Co) is actually in the Southeastern Fisheries District, John Williams. Martins Fork Creek starts in Bell Co. and then flows into Harlan County, which I work. Both streams require a lot of hiking to get into them. There is no road access. Sampling we have done so far in Martins Fork during 2008 has not found any brook trout. There are some severe pH declines at times with pH near 4.0 (during low rainfall). Presume the brook trout population be very low number or gone possibly in Martins Fork or Shillalah.

During 2008 we have sampled some brook trout in a tributary of Poor Fork (3.5 - 11.8 inch, 4 fish). This stream was Bad Branch of Poor Fork and was in State Nature Preserve property, which means no fishing (bummer). We have not finished sampling in Poor Fork, but have not seen any brook trout in other locations. I would believe that some would be in main stem of Poor Fork upstream of Bad Branch. This would be along RT932. I think in spring with increased water flow, the brook trout would spread out their territory some. If you thought you would want to try go to Whitesburg take RT119 over Pine Mtn and turn left onto RT932. Bad Branch Nature Preseverve is marked for reference. To get to the very start of Poor Fork follow RT 932 into Virginia and take Green Valley Drive to left. This road will cut you back into Kentucky and onto the upper part of Poor Fork. At this location the stream is not really brook trout habitat, but it is low gradient and does furnish some pools with good depth for survial of trout in dry times. Also, this area used to be farmed and has had beaver in it periodically (during 2000 we sampled one brook trout at 12.0 inches here at the upper end of a beaver pond while stream was very low flow). This area off Green Valley Road will be farm property. To get to the very start of Poor Fork in Jefferson National Forest you have to walk through private property from Green Valley Road. The section of stream in Jefferson National Forest is very small and often of insufficient size for brook trout and we have not sampled any there. Note, the best looking habitat is generally along RT 932 and is best bet for locating one. At present I would predict brook trout are in main stem of Poor Fork, but in very low number.

Good luck with your fishing.

Kevin Frey, Eastern Fisheries District Biologist
2744 Lake Road
Prestonsburg, KY 41653

09-11-2008, 07:45 PM
To make matters worse, Cumberland River Coal is applying for a strip mining permit upstream from Poor Fork. There a very few brook trout in Poor Fork but are there and many succumb to the worm and corn dunkers.