The first 400 feet of stream is a put-and-take fishery. Below that is a mile of catch and release (artificial lures only) stream. I fished the upper section, hoping to take home some trout (five trout limit).
To reach the area, park at the visitor center (unless you have a handicap tag). Walk between the Visitor Center and the Hatchery Building, then walk left around a bend and down the hill. It’s a couple hundred yards from the parking area to the fishing area, though bikes are allowed. The road is paved, and the trail system is covered in gravel. As you can see from the pictures on this page, the stream is about 15 feet wide, and appears to be up to five or six feet deep, with boulders and chutes. The entire bank of this upper section is covered in gravel, save for a concrete section which allows access for wheelchairs or others who have mobility issues. There are picnic tables and a couple of shelters. It is a nice, park-like setting.
The interesting fact for me was that this little stream is heavily stocked with a variety of trout, including some very large fish. They are quite visible. Unfortunately, they can see you as well. And they have seen everything from anglers, all day long, every day. These are smart trout, and hard to catch.
I fished for three hours, and threw probably 15 different lures, organic baits, nightcrawlers, canned corn…I tried everything. A few hits, no fish. There were probably 20 other anglers there, and I’d say five of those caught fish while I was there. A couple of them strolled in, dropped a line, and pulled out their five fish limit in a few minutes. the rest of us tried everything, but saw no results. Red Salmon eggs seemed to be the bait of choice. I found a few on the ground, and hooked them on a small hook, no weight, drifting them in the current. The hits that I did have came from this method, but I couldn’t get a connection. A teenage boy was throwing a hot pink, 2-inch powerbait worm, wacky-rigged (hook through the middle of the worm). He fished for about an hour, and eventually did catch a nice 14-15 inch brown trout.
I didn’t venture to the catch and release area. No organic baits are allowed; that would have meant hiking back to the car, unloading the power bait and nightcrawlers, then hiking back. I was trying to catch dinner, so my focus was on reeling in a nice fish or two to keep. It appeared to be a very nice area, with naturalized banks, boulders, and deep holes.
Hatchery Creek is a neat concept, and challenging, even though you step right up to huge numbers of nice fish. If you happen to be in the State Dock/Jamestown area of Cumberland, it is about 5 minutes from the turn toward Lake Cumberland State Park off 127.