Green River in Mammoth Cave National Park
Upper Stretches of the Green River
9/16/2018 (10.2 Feet and dropping)
I went with a group of friends to Mammoth Cave National Park for an overnight paddle & fishing trip on the Green River. The five of us were in two canoes and one kayak. We rented the canoes from a local outfitter, who shuttled us to the Dennison Public Use area where we put-in. Our take out was 7.5 miles downstream at Green River Ferry.
It was hot for September, about 86° during the day and sunny. Fishing was slow, but our kayaker managed to reel in a largemouth, a smallmouth, and a panfish on our paddle to the campsite. I fished most of the way there, about two hours, with only a single strike that missed.
About five miles downstream, we beached at a hollow that, during very high water, would be a channel between an island and the shore. However, at lower levels, perhaps under 20′, the channel bed is high and dry, and covered in fine grain sand. This made for an ideal spot to pitch our tents–laying on sand is a bit of a luxury the typical roots, rocks and sticks I usually sleep on when camping.
After setting up camp, I fished from the bank. The sun dropping cast shadows on the water, and I figured there may be more activity. I tied on a rainbow trout sparkly roostertail, and on my second cast, hooked and landed a 12 inch smallmouth. He put up a good fight. We took a picture, and I let him go.
The next morning, we woke up to sprinkling rain. After striking camp, we paddled the last few miles. We hit a couple of spots requiring some maneuvering, and one spot in particular around mile 199 that was somewhat technical: a shallow, fast moving shoal heading into a 90 degree hard right turn, facing into a wall with logs sticking out. The difficulty was the shoal could grab the front of the canoe, spinning the boat sideways into a swirl, where a log could grab the boat and tip it in the fast current. The other canoe in our group was ahead of mine, and they paddled past the shoal, but got caught on a log, tipping the boat completely over. The two guys went for a swim, and scramble to collect dry bags and gear that went over, also. They lost two fishing poles and a folding camp chair. We beached our canoe on the shoal before the turn, and portaged over the shoal beyond the turn.
Also noteworthy–a bald eagle was perched on a limb next to the river, and swooped down a time or two as we made our way down the river. The other canoe, ahead of us, said the eagle swooped down in front of them, catching a fish. They shot video and some good stills. Pretty impressive watching a bald eagle fishing in the wild.
Overall, it was a good trip. The scenery was beautiful, the weather cooperative. The fishing was okay–the group reported that they did this trip the same time last year, and caught smallmouth left and right. I wasn’t skunked, so I felt pretty good about it.
Smallmouth on the Green River
The Green River runs from east to west through south central Kentucky. There are a number of public access points for fishing and boating. In Liberty, KY (Casey County), one such access can be found at the Central KY Ag/Expo Center. From 127, just south of town, you cross the Green River and the Ag Center is the second right. Drive down the road a bit, and you’ll see a picnic shelter across the field to the right. The access I found was behind the shelter. There’s a bridge across the river, part of a walking trail system. Upstream (to the right) of the bridge, a trail was cleared to the edge of the river bank. In wet weather, this would be slick, but it was no problem today.
I didn’t spend long, as I was on my way down the road to Hatchery Creek. No fish caught, but it looked like a decent hole under the bridge. In any case, it would make a decent put-in or take-out spot for a paddling trip.
Footbridge near Central KY Ag Center, over the Green River