Kentucky’s Hatchery Creek Loaded with Holiday Trout

By: Chris Shaffer

Finding quality trout fishing in Kentucky during the heat of summer can be a chore. Meanwhile, for anglers looking to catch trout without having a boat Hatchery Creek remains a viable option. A short walk from the parking area, Hatchery Creek is the ideal place to take kids fishing and perfect for anglers who want to enjoy a small, heavily stocked section of trout water that combines easy access.

Located feet from the raceways at the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, Upper Hatchery Creek is roughly a 400-foot section of water that’s stocked every other day year-round by the hatchery. It receives roughly 33,000 trout annually. The good news is even when temperatures soar the water here remains cool enough to support trout. Most of the trout are catchable size, but we’ve found many rainbows in the 12-16 inch range every time we’ve fished it.

No one will deny the popular of the creek. Because of accessibility, heavy stocking and the consistency of the fishery it’s popular with anglers. However, that pressure also makes the bite tough at times. To overcome stubborn trout try fishing early and late in the day when fewer anglers are targeting them. Weekends are crowded, too, but frequent trout stockings keep anglers happy. Another factor is the sun. The creek is almost entirely exposed and the bite oftentimes slows on bright days. Lowlight fishing is best.

We are a bait company. Naturally, we used bait here even though we released all the trout we caught. The key was employing a small float. The float kept our eggs floating just off the bottom and also indicated the second the bite came. This allowed us to set the hook immediately, keeping the trout from swallowing the hook. We’ve used this technique each time and always released fish safely. Another important item is downsizing. Most of the trout are catchables. This means using a small size 10-12 Eagle Claw single salmon egg hook, one BB Water Gremlin split shot and two-or-four-pound test is ideal. Anything heavier is too much and will decrease the number of interests you get from the trout.

Whether you are tossing bait, spoons or spinners it’s important to have an assortment of options/colors. We used Gold Garlic & Red Fire Balls and Silver Label and Natural Deluxe salmon eggs. The key to success was switching up baits. After the trout in one hole became conditioned to one of the colors we switched to another to maintain success. This will likely hold true for whatever type of bait you choose. Once you catch a trout or two on one bait it will likely be time to switch baits/lures and try a different scent/color.

(Left) Red Fire Balls (Right) Gold Garlic Fire Balls

Editor’s Note: For more on Hatchery Creek please click the link below to watch an episode of Pautzke Outdoors we filmed here: