Lake Mingo, Nicholasville, KY

Lake Mingo, Nicholasville, KY

by John Kirkland

Update August 22, 2011

I fished Mingo briefly this afternoon.  I caught one small bluegill, but didn’t put much effort into fishing.  Really, my goal was to see what the renovated lake looks like.  It appears to be almost twice the size it used to be, and perhaps 4-5 feet deeper.  Gone are the deep weed banks, for the time being.  I look forward to hearing more about success at Mingo (see comment section for some good updates from other anglers).

August 2009

Urban fishing is typically a trade of quality for convenience.  Lake Mingo, which really is just a pond, is located in the middle of Nicholasville, two blocks east of Main Street on Lake Street. The lake is about two acres in total, surrounded by path, most of which is paved. Mingo Park is a wide open, grassy city park with picnic shelters and paved walking trails.  There is a parking lot adjacent to the water.

The pond is fed by urban runoff, and, at least when I fished it, was almost completely filled to the surface with algae and weeds.  There were a few openings that allowed for casting—and I did catch some bluegill and a catfish.  The fishing there is not great.  What is interesting, though, is that each spring the KY Fish and Wildlife Department stocks 8” Rainbow Trout and catfish.  With wide open areas surrounding the water, this would be an ideal spot to learn fly casting, with actual trout at the other end of the line (a rarity in Central Kentucky).

I did see some nice 12-14 inch largemouth bass tending their beds at the waters edge when I went a couple of springs ago.  They wouldn’t take anything I was throwing that day.  There is a 15 inch minimum on largemouth, though I wouldn’t keep or eat anything there, save perhaps for a freshly stocked rainbow.  Water bodies fed by urban, intense agricultural (feedlot), or golf course runoff may be fun to fish, but are all but certain to be loaded with fertilizer, lawn chemicals, and animal feces.  A small lake in heavy algal and weed bloom is well fertilized.  I couldn’t say for certain that fish caught in Lake Mingo are unsafe to eat, but I’ll let common sense and caution guide me.

The good thing, of course, is that the lake is easily accessed, a short distance from anywhere in Nicholasville, and only 15-20 minutes from much of Lexington.  As far as fishing recommendations are concerned, top water is largely necessary (poppers, bugs, floating crankbaits).  A fly rod and floating lures may offer an advantage here, as well.  Watch the KDFWR website for trout stocking dates in the spring, typically mid-April.

21 thoughts on “Lake Mingo, Nicholasville, KY”

  1. Anyone braved the waters of Lake Mingo in Nicholasville KY here recently? Just wandering what’s going on over there…anybody fishing yet? Anyone catching anything there, keep us posted, good fishing…
    …..On another note, here very recently, I’ve seen a few very nice size musky moving around in the KY river, I would put the 4 or 5 that I saw at around 48″(4′), for real, and what’s strange about it to me is that all these fish were traveling together as a group, I’ve never seen musky do that before. But then again I rarely ever see them and only catch maybe 3 or 4 a year from bank fishing, but still, I thought it was a pretty awesome sight seeing them all swimming together.

  2. Lake Mingo wouldn’t be that bad if everyone wouldn’t take 20-30 trout out when they stock it. The only real good time to fish is right after it is stocked, if you are one of the lucky ones before everyone else strikes.

    1. There is a lot of truth to that. Several of the FINS lakes do get fished out soon after stocking. Luckily, the stocking schedules are posted online at, usually 1-2 weeks in advance.

  3. I am new to the area and I live in Nicholasville. Can someone please tell me a public place to fish for catfish from the bank. I have fished at lake mingo with no luck. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi, Brian, welcome to the area.

      Mingo is a bit under-managed. There are some other options in the area for catfishing. The Kentucky River has a number of public access points where you could drop a line from the bank. Valley View Ferry runs at Tates Creek, and there is a small park there where you could fish. The locks on the river also feature public access–lock 7 is past Wilmore, and Boonesboro has a state park that runs along the river. You can check out the Kentucky River page on this site for more information on that.

      There are some parks not too far away where catfishing is possible. Jacobson in Lexington is regularly stocked, but heavily fished. Whitehall, near Richmond is a nice drive from Nicholasville, and is a very pleasant little lake that is also regularly stocked. Both of these also have information pages on this site.

      If you don’t mind a little driving, Cedar Creek Lake, in Lincoln County, is about 45-50 minutes south of Nicholasville. It is an 800 acre lake, and the entire shoreline is public (there is a 50 foot public right of way around the whole thing.) There are several spots where you can park and take a seat by the water. See the Cedar Creek page for more details.

      Under the Resources tab at the top of this page, you will find a link to KDFWR, the the KY Fish and Wildlife Department website. They have a fairly exhaustive list of public-access sites for fishing.

      Hope this is helpful for you…fishing spots in Central Kentucky exist, but they aren’t really obvious (that is why I started this website). Good luck, and let us know what you find and how it goes.

  4. Over the last two days I have caught 5 small trout (from the January stocking) and 4 13-15″ largemouth bass from Lake Mingo. I was impressed at the number of fish in this public pond. The renovation should help a lot. This is a good place to fish if you can avoid the ducks and geese!

    1. What did u catch the bass on? And is the bass fishing really good or slow, because Im only 16 and just recently got back into bass fishing, I used to fish willgreen lake in richmond in my dads boat but now he’s gone and the boat. So I’ve been stuck fishing Jacobson park and I’m lucky to catch one bass every couple of weeks . So are the bass hitting good and on what lures ?

  5. Had a great time at Mingo this weekend. Rainbow trout were flying out of the lake (from the Oct stocking). My son (age 9) caught his first trout and about a dozen more and was happy to return them to the lake. They ranged from 8-10″ and were a good fight for him on his lightweight rod and reel and a change from bas and panfish he usually catches. Hopefully people will not get too greedy and take 10-20 fish home as I have seen in the past so close after the trout have been stocked.

  6. Have been there about 3-4 times over the past month since reading about it via the Urban Fishing program. Nice little lake close by (we live near Lowes). Great little pond for the young ones. I take my 9 year old and he has a blast with his trusty Zebco. Generally have good action for him with a lot of bluegills nibbling away at your line, although they are tricky becasue so many people fishing there they seldom make a hard strike at the hook, rather virtually nibble yur worm away. We have caught quite a few small-mid bluegill, small catfish (6-8″ – assume these are the ones they stocked in August), and even an occasional bass on simple nightcrawlers with bobber and slipshot. Certainly not the best lake for any type of hard-core fisherman but great time with novices and the kids for a day of relaxation. Good Luck!!

  7. I went there labor day morning. Got there at 10am in the rain started with the fly rod caught a few small sun fish. There where some other people fishing they caught a small catfish. Before I left around 2:30pm I whipped out the bass rod with a jig and landed a 3lb largemouth with black spots all over it. All in all nice little park things for the wife and kids to do if you want to get your line wet,

  8. This may be a stupid question but I caught a nice largemouth at mingo last nite.Then i caught another soon after that appeared to be largemouth.fat 12 inch fish but had the mouth of a largemouth bass but the eyes and top of the head looked like something else.almost catfish like but no whiskers.could this be some type of strange hybrid fish?I’ll try to catch another one tonite and get pictures.never seen anything like it.And I’ve been fishing for 30 years plus.Thanks

  9. Thanks for the kincaid info.I may try it out,I’m kind of torn between cumberland,kincaid and barkley lakes so I left it up to my brother for the next trip.His turn to pay lol.Hope I’m not overposting on mingo but I went there again last nite and got a ten inch trout.Really fat like it had been eating well.maybe the duck bread?But I saw a huge channel cat.I swear it was nearly as long as my arm.Lots of activity.Jumping and splashing.It’s just cool for me to have a fishing spot within walking distance of my residence.Goin back to mingo after work tonight.The fish there really seem to like the artificial worms and spinners.

  10. From what i read,fish and wildlife stocked keeper size channel cats in Mingo this month.I am tempted to fry up some of those catfish.Since it was recently stocked,I thought they may be safe to eat.Spent 300 bucks at herrington last weekend and caught one largemouth.I want to find a new lake to explore.Does anyone know much about lake kincaid?How is the fishing there?

    1. Thanks for confirming that.
      I used to go to Kincaid, and the last time was about three years ago. Not too exciting, then. I rented a boat, and caught some bluegill and an undersized largemouth in four hours of fishing.

      I definitely hear you about trying out new water. If you have a boat with an electric motor, or a canoe or kayak, you could try Lake Reba, in the back third of the lake. It is about 3 feet deep, and full of weeds, but I’ve had good luck there pulling out nice bass in the summer heat. The Lake Reba page has more info. Fish the bottom, in the middle.

      Honestly, I’ve had more action on the Elkhorn around Georgetown than anywhere else, wading it on foot. Nice on hot summer days, but only when the levels aren’t too high.

      Good luck–I’m going to have to try Mingo again soon.

  11. yes they made it a bit deeper and longer.The concrete structure on the end near the road is under water now.And I used to fish off of it.Got a 14 inch catfish another large carp and large trout there last night.Seems that if I use live bait i only catch small bluegill.But using artificial after dark.I almost always catch a large fish.Got the catfish on a spinner bait.A first for me

  12. I spent dawn til dusk fishing big cedar creek lake.Caught a 6 inch bass and a nine or ten inch bass.I was dissapointed,so came back to nicholasville and fished from 9 pm to 3am in lake mingo park waters.I caught five keeper size largemouth bass and a large carp.Threw them all back but some people say you can’t catch anything in there and I’ve found out otherwise.nice little pond.good thing for the town.

    1. Thanks for the update. I heard that Mingo was expanded last year–do you know if it was? I know that the FINs lakes have been managed pretty well, so it is not too surprising that Mingo is improving.

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