The East and West forks of Indian Creek wind their way through the remote woodlands of Menifee County, Ky., before joining at a pretty spot to form the main stem of Indian Creek, which continues south to its confluence with the Red River.
This area will be of interest to trout fishermen because the East Fork of Indian Creek is managed as one of Kentucky’s 13 delayed harvest trout streams.
The creek is relatively small (photo at right is the pool below the low water bridge) and the banks brushy. But the East Fork cuts an impressive path through the woods and is marked with several deep, trout holding holes. There’s also plenty of woody cover. And while trout are a cold water species and don’t school like some fish they tend to gravitate toward deeper holes during the winter. Trout typically won’t aggressively chase a fly when the weather – and water – are cold but will battle aggressively when hooked.
I fished the East Fork one sunny afternoon in December when the air temperature barely hit 50 following a night when the temperature had dropped to the mid 20s.
I started where the East and West forks join to form the main stem and worked my way upstream, leapfrogging from pool to pool to the low-water concrete bridge, a distance of about three miles.
I as using an 8-foot 4-weight fly rod with a 7-½ foot tapered leader/5x tippet and a No. 16 weighted gold flecked no name (hand tied) nymph. It was more than enough tackle as most fishing was done at close range using a roll cast or simply dropping the fly into seam water and where it could be floated through a pool. A 5-foot ultralight spinning rig would have been an equally effective tool.
At five stops I hook six fish and landed four – all rainbow trout, each in the 10 to 12 inch range. The fish in the photo was typical. The creek had been stocked in late fall so these hatchery trout had somewhat acclimated to their surroundings. They were brightly colored and although they struck lightly each fought with spirit. Two came from the pool below the low-water bridge.
Access to East Fork of Indian Creek is via forest service road 9B, which roughly follows the stream.
During the Kentucky’s delayed harvest trout season anglers are restricted to artificial lures and flies. All trout must be returned to the stream.
The delayed harvest season continues through March 31 except at Swift Camp Creek, where the artificial only; catch-and-release season runs through May. 31.
GETTING THERE: East Fork of Indian Creek is located within the Daniel Boone National Forest and is flanked by forest service road 9B. Take the Bert Combs Mountain Parkway to exit 33 (this is also the exit for Natural Bridge State Park). From exit 33, take highway 11/15 north to route 77. Turn right (East) onto road 77. This is a narrow, winding road that passes through the Nada Tunnel. Proceed on road 77 to where it intersects road 23 at the Steel Bridge. Turn left (north) onto 23, which follows the Red River. Proceed on 23 to forest service road 9. Turn right (north) onto 9. Travel about 2 miles to where the road splits to 9A and 9B. Bear right onto 9B.This follows the East Fork of Indian Creek. The delayed harvest trout section of the East Fork extends for about 5 miles upstream from the 9A/9B split. FSR 9B is a well-maintained, two-wheel-drive accessible graveled road. A primitive campground is located off 9B. This is a fairly remote area with spotty cell service.
I lodged at Natural Bridge State Park, which is located about two miles from Combs Parkway exit 33 and is about 30 minutes from East Fork of Indian Creek. The Natural Bridge SP campground is closed until April but the lodge and restaurant are open. The delayed harvest section of the Middle Fork of the Red River also flows through the state park.
Go to http://parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/natural-bridge/default.aspx for details or contact the park office at 1-800-325-1710. For more information about Kentucky’s delayed harvest trout program go to www.fw.ky.gov.