FRANKFORT, Ky. – Back in the time when
Elvis swept through the nation like a prairie fire and cars had fins, the
Watterson Expressway in Louisville was a two-lane bypass and possessed
Floyd’s Fork Creek
seemed way out in the country then, surrounded by pasture lands with a working
distillery along its banks. The ensuing decades saw suburban development creep
ever outward toward the creek. By the time the Gene Snyder Freeway completed
its loop around Louisville in the late 1980s, Floyd’s Fork wasn’t out in the
behind the 21st Century Parks wanted to save the unique beauty and
character of Floyd’s Fork Creek. They raised private funds to acquire property
along its flow and protect it for future Kentuckians to enjoy.
Their creation is
the Parklands of Floyd’s Fork, a series of five parks encompassing roughly
4,000 acres that will open 27 miles of floating water when construction ends in
2015. Paddlers can enjoy about 11 miles of water through three different floats
through the section of Floyd’s Fork now open to public use.
Floyd’s Fork rises
in Henry County and flows for 62 miles through Jefferson and Bullitt counties
over a rocky bottom with small rapids, flowing shoals and long, deep pools,
providing made-to-order habitat for all three black bass species in Kentucky:
the smallmouth, largemouth and spotted (Kentucky) bass.
From U.S. 60
downstream to U.S. 150, there is a one-fish daily creel limit and 15-inch
minimum size limit for largemouth and smallmouth bass on the stream.
The best floating
levels for fishing and recreation are 35 cubic feet per second (cfs) up to 500
cfs. Higher levels are for experienced paddlers only. The Parklands of Floyd’s
Fork website shows the current flow level in the upper right corner of its
homepage at www.theparklands.org.
The first two-mile
float begins at North Beckley Paddling Access in Beckley Creek Park, off U.S.
60 in Eastwood, and ends at Creekside Paddling Access. This float is perfect
for a weekday float after work in summer. Each of the paddling accesses in the
Parklands of Floyd’s Fork possess lockable structures where boaters can lock a
bike or boat while they retrieve their vehicle, allowing paddlers to self
This stretch flows
small and intimate and holds good numbers of smallmouth, spotted and rock bass
along with some largemouth bass. After launching, Floyd’s Fork makes a long,
gentle bend to the right. Downed timber in this section holds largemouth and
The creek then
bends hard right and almost back on itself again as the Fork flows around The
Oxbow. The boulder-strewn left-hand bank holds smallmouth bass. A green-pumpkin
tube bait rigged on a 1/8-ounce leadhead is a great summer choice for these
fish. Chugger-style topwater baits work well on summer evenings just before
dusk. Stay in the main current and avoid the small channel on the left while
floating this bend.
As the creek
leaves The Oxbow, the rumbling of I-64 hits the ears of paddlers and the first
of the new “leaping deer” designed bridges on Beckley Creek Parkway comes into
view. This bridge and the North Beckley Access are the two stocking spots for
rainbow trout on Floyd’s Fork.
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources stocks a total of 3,600 rainbow trout
in October, March and April. These fish provide fishing opportunity and table
fare until early summer, but are
under seasonal catch and release regulations from Oct. 1 through March 31. All
trout caught must be immediately released and only artificial baits may be used
during this time.
under the I-64 bridge, Floyd’s Fork braids into a series of water willow-lined
chutes and gravel bars that require some dragging in summer. At the end of
these chutes, the creek plunges into deeper holes that hold smallmouth bass.
At the end of the
bend, the next of the new bridges comes into view. The take-out is on the right
(looking downstream) just past the Gheens Foundation Lodge. Look for stairs
made of large tan-colored stones that lead to the parking area.
The next float
begins at Creekside Paddling Access and ends about 4 ½ miles downstream at the
Fisherville Paddling Access. Beckley Creek enters Floyd’s Fork just downstream
of this access on the right. Anglers should work the root wads and woody cover
in the mouth of Beckley Creek with a 3-inch soft plastic jerkbait rigged weightless.
Pearl and Albino Shad are productive colors.
Let this bait
slowly sink near the cover and gently jerk the rod tip to repeat the process.
Any of the three black bass species nearby cannot resist this presentation,
especially in early summer. It looks just like a struggling baitfish.
Floyd’s Fork flows
around a bend to the right and then over gravel shoals that paddlers need to
walk through at low water. After the shallower section, the creek then enters
one of its most picturesque sections as Floyd’s Fork cuts down into a more
The beginning and
ends of the deeper holes through this section make an excellent spot to throw a
4-inch black finesse worm rigged on a 1/8-ounce leadhead for smallmouth bass.
The creek then passes under another of the new bridges and flows against the
gorgeous bluff of Distillery Bend.
draws its name from the Grosscurth Distillery once located here that produced
the Kentucky Supreme label. In April of 1968, an explosion rocked the distillery
and witnesses said the flames from the resulting fire could be seen in
Louisville. This episode ended production at the distillery.
The water runs
deeper here, a hydrological remainder of the old distillery dam. A soft plastic
jerkbait slowly worked along undercut banks, root wads or downed tree limbs
attracts largemouth and spotted bass.
The creek flows
over some shallow bars and under the high bridge on Echo Trail. Long Run enters
Floyd’s Fork on the left and adds more water volume to the creek. Anglers
should probe the flowing water before and below riffles for smallmouth bass in
summer through here.
The creek makes a
long bend to the right and under the Norfolk Southern Railroad Trestle and the
Taylorsville Road (KY 148) bridge. The deeper holes in this section hold
float past the once vibrant community of Fisherville and through a straight
stretch before passing under the KY 155 bridge. The take-out at Fisherville
Paddling Access is on the right, just after the bridge.
The next float
begins at Fisherville Paddling Access and ends at Cane Run Paddling Access 4 ½
miles downstream. Just after launching, paddlers should stay to the right
through a braided section before reaching a hard left bend. Pope Lick enters
Floyd’s Fork in this bend and adds more water.
The remainder of
this float gives the paddler a good impression of what Floyd’s Fork looked like
50 years ago. The creek grows deeper and more riverine in this stretch, with
deep holes interspersed by drops. Channel catfish lurk in the undercut banks of
these deeper holes.
Cast a piece of
sponge soaked in dip bait rigged on a 3/0 circle hook along these undercut
banks. Let the scent flow downstream. Catfish will follow the scent plume back
to the source and eat it. Stream channel cats fight harder than their
lake-bound cousins and make excellent table fare. Wads of nightcrawlers also
work well for stream catfish.
prospect fallen tree limbs and root wads in the deeper holes for largemouth and
spotted bass in this stretch, while smallmouth bass hang in the flowing water
just above and below stream drops.
Floyd’s Fork makes
a sharp right hand bend after a relatively long straight stretch, then flows
straight before another right turn. Cane Run enters the creek on the left in
the middle of the second right bend. The take-out is about 50 yards upstream in
Cane Run on the right. Look for signs along the creek to direct you.
Paddlers may now
rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards for floating Floyd’s Fork from a vendor.
Check the Parklands of Floyd’s Fork website for more information.
The Blue Water
Trails series supports Gov. Steve Beshear’s Adventure Tourism Initiative. Log
on to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s Blue Water Trails webpage at fw.ky.gov for a detailed map.
The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork: