Fishing Spots We Recommend

Elkhorn Creek – Frankfort Kentucky

by Joe Panfalone

Elkhorn Creek – Frankfort Kentucky

by Joe Panfalone

Christy Van Arnum is a research biologist for the Kentucky Division Fish and Wildlife Resources. In June of 2002 she completed her thesis on Elkhorn Creek Smallmouth Bass. Christy says she has plans to rewrite her thesis in “terms more interesting to fishermen” and will make it available to the public sometime in the future. The following is a brief summarization of her work.

In the years 2000 and 2001 the KDFR initiated a  tagging and tracking program. The objective was to track the movement, behavior, and habitat use of smallmouth bass (12-16″). 


Forty fish were collected in 2000 from Elkhorn Creek, radio tagged, and returned to where they were collected from. In 2001 thirty fish were collected, 15 were returned to Elkhorn Creek where they were collected and 15 were moved to the Kentucky River to evaluate their homing ability.

Fishermen please note that if you catch a tagged fish, there will be an obvious wire antenna sticking out their sides, please return it to the river so that they can continue their study.

Findings were that 30% stayed put after the spawn. The others would move on an average of 3 miles and as much as 19 miles. Evidence though is that they will move back upstream to spawn in the spring. Those that went to the Kentucky river found cover and stayed there not straying far from their sanctuary but would return in the spring to spawn. Good fish populations of smallmouth remained in the Elkhorn and were concentrated from Knights bridge down to the hatchery.

Other long standing data showed that the quality of the fishery was declining. The fish were getting smaller and fewer were being caught. An experimental  slot limit of 12″ – 16″ was imposed and data collected. The KDFR encouraged the taking of smaller fish to minimize competition for resources in the creek and those between the sizes of 12″16″ be returned. The fishery has improved dramatically with more and larger fish. Today Elkhorn Creek is considered one of Kentucky’s premier smallmouth bass streams.

Public access is getting better as cooperation between courteous anglers and property owners improve. Please respect the rights of landowners and only fish areas that display the small mouth bass signs posted by the Natural Resources Department.  All other areas you need to ask permission to trespass. If you carry a garbage bag with you and pick up trash while you fish, securing permission will be a lot easier.

If anyone has any further questions on Elkhorn Creek please direct them to Jeff Ross, Black Bass Research Biologist, KDFWR

Public Access Points

  • Knights Bridge from road north side of bridge
  • The Fish Hatchery – gates open a 7 A.M. and CLOSES at 3 P.M. Monday through Friday. Park outside the gates on the weekends and if you plan on staying after 3 PM. otherwise you will be sleeping in your car until they open up next.
  • Peak’s Mills – Canoe Kentucky canoe livery will let you park in their lot if you ask permission. It is recommend that you float the creek with a canoe rented from them or Stillwater’s Campground (at the mouth of the Creek at the KY River). This is a great way to get familiar with the creek and to get access to good pools that are land locked with no access by foot.
  • US HWY 127 Bridge
  • T. N. Sullivan Wildlife Management Area on Sullivan Lane (RT.1262)

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