by John Kirkland
March 20, 2011
Over the years, I’ve researched many places where I could possibly find some decent water to fish. Louisville has always returned numerous results, boasting 22 lakes/ponds open to public fishing. I’ve always been a bit envious of anglers in Jefferson County, having so many places to go nearby, in addition to the Falls of the Ohio and other Ohio River access points. I decided that I needed to research further public fishing in the Louisville Metro area. With an interested friend who lives near Downtown, we set out to sample Louisville fishing last Sunday afternoon.
Cherokee is central and easy to access. The lake is situated in the northwest corner of the park, near I-64. Parking is available off of Grinstead and also off of Lexington Rd. A paved trail runs along the western edge of the lake past the parking areas, allowing decent access for those with limited mobility.
We arrived before two, and it was sunny and warm. A fair number of people were distributed around the shoreline, fishing a variety of methods. The shoreline is fairly clear, but weeds are a significant issue; the weedline extended out 10-40 feet from the edge, and are pretty dense in the middle.
Cherokee is part of the FINS program, and had recently received a stocking of 9-10 inch rainbow trout. I started throwing a chartreuse roostertail with a fast retrieve, keeping it above the weed beds (under 6-12 inches of water in the middle). Five minutes later, I hooked and landed a rainbow.
After I unhooked him, he decided to make a run for it and jumped back in before I could get my stringer out. Oh well. We fished another hour or so, with some hits, but no fish. I did see others catching trout, particularly one guy with a fly rod next to us. Top water and floating rigs (like dry flies) make sense here, considering the weeds. Not bad for an hour.
Take Taylorsville Road to Old Heady, turn south, and go just past the Gene Snyder, and you find Fisherman’s Park. 56 acres, five ponds/lakes, in a quiet country setting. There are a few parking areas, and some are closer to the water than others. There are some paved trails, but for the most part this is hilly and steep. There is a gentle grade and flat area next to Lake #1—get there by going left when you enter the park, follow the road to the end.
With a name like Fisherman’s Park, one could only assume that this area really is set up for fishing (it is true). Lakes 3 & 4 are stocked with trout, but we started in Lake 1, where I kept hearing bass jump. The water there is fairly clear, and I saw no significant weeds. Lots of trees and brush leave only a few spots for access, but it is possible to squeeze in and quietly drop a baited line beneath a branch (I’ve caught some fantastic bass and catfish with that method in the past). We couldn’t hook up with any thing after throwing a variety of lures and live baits in Lake 1. It is fairly early in the season; I imagine this spot would offer some promise in May and June.
We moved to Lake 3, alive with jumping (and smart) trout. This lake was ringed with a 6 foot weed bank, then filled with rows and bunches of weeds in the middle. The water was quite clear (hard to sneak up on bank-resting fish), but really not bad for casting lures. The weed beds appear to be under 12-18 inches of water in most spots, and there are wide, deep channels leading to the murky bottom in many places.
We threw numerous colors and combinations of lures, but these are smart fish, under heavy pressure (the lake was surrounded by people). I moved to a slip bobber and nightcrawler on a circle hook, and gently, slowly retrieved across the weeds. A couple of hits and misses later, I fine-tuned, opening the bail when a fish grabbed it. They started slowly, attempting to pull the worm free, then snapped it up. That’s when I set the hook, and reeled in a small trout. Not really what I hoped for, but better than skunked. I noticed others catching small ones also; it appears that the smaller (5 inch) trout are what was stocked. Maybe they’ll grow a bit over the next month or two.
Not a bad day fishing, but nothing astounding. We only got to the two parks, but there are more that a dozen others in the Metro area. I’d love to hear from others who have experiences on other Jefferson County lakes—leave a comment!
Louisville Metro Fishing Page: this is the city’s official list of lakes and access points–including maps/directions/rules.