On The Fly Freshwater
Article and photos by Jimmy Jacobs.
For anglers used to pursuing delayed-harvest trout in big water settings, Kentucky’s Clear Creek presents a different angling experience. This smaller stream provides a much more nuanced fishing, when approaching its riffles and rocky shoals.
Located in northwest Bell County and just south of Pineville, Clear Creek originates on the slopes of Pine Mountain, runs through the Kentucky Ridge State Forest, then flows northwest to join the Cumberland River.
Along this course the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources lists the stream as having 4.6 miles of trout water from the KY 190 bridge down to the mouth of the creek. However, only 1.4 miles of this stretch are easily accessed and of interest to the general angling public. Besides crossing through some private, posted lands, the lower part of the creek runs through the property of the Wasioto Winds GolfCourse, where it is impounded in a small lake. Below the lake the creek flows sluggishly under US 25E and down to the Cumberland with no public access.
The part of Clear Creek that does offer a viable angling option can be approached at the KY 1491 bridge crossing. From a parking area near the span, the Clear Creek Hollow Trail, which is marked on some maps as the Clear Creek Fitness Trail, follows an old railroad grade both up and
downstream. This railbed is the remains of a spur off the Louisville & Nashville Railroad that once serviced coal-mining operations in the area. There also is an old rail tunnel along this pathway. In the mid 1980s the rails were removed and the trail, which is entirely flat and easily traversed, was converted to foot travel.
Downstream of the KY 1491 bridge, the creek is 50 to 60 feet wide, filled with rock ledges, and can be easily waded. Access to the water from the trail is easy. At 300 yards downstream of the parking area the trail crosses an old railroad trestle over the creek, then at 0.4 mile there is signage warning of private land, which requires you to stay on the trail.
To the west of the KY 1491 bridge, the trail also parallels the creek upstream. At first the path crosses the campus of the Clear Creek Bible College. Along the entrance drive to the school, the main branch of the creek is joined by Little Clear Creek. The trail next crosses a small trestle and emerges onto a maintenance drive. At 0.3 mile upstream of the KY 1491bridge, the path crosses another trestle and enters the Kentucky Ridge State Forest lands.
For 0.7 mile upstream from that point up to the KY 190 bridge, Clear Creek averages 20 to 30 feet in width, has a rocky bed, and can be waded, though getting in and out of the stream is not easy due to high banks through this section. At the first bend below the KY 190 bridge there is one deep pool that must be skirted. There is also a parking area at the KY 190 span.
Clear Creek presently is stocked with trout in April and again in October annually. These releases total 1,200 rainbow trout, with fish planted in the creek at the Bible College property.
The stream is open to fishing under delayed-harvest rules. From October 1 to March 31 only artificial baits may be used and all fish must be immediately released. Beginning the first of April, general trout regulations and harvest rules apply to the creek.
To reach Clear Creek and the KY 1491 bridge, travel south from Pineville on US 25E. After passing Wasioto Winds Golf Course on the west side of the highway, turn right onto KY 190. A right turn onto KY 1491 takes you to its stream crossing and parking area, while continuing west on KY 190 leads to the upstream crossing on that road.