March 6, 2010
by John Kirkland
Just north of the Red River Gorge flows Indian Creek, a tributary of the Red River. 50° and sunny, this was the first weekend of the year to really consider fishing. Some friends invited me on a trip to the East Fork of Indian Creek, so I packed my waders and pole and headed out in search of trout in the mountains.
About and hour and fifteen minutes from Lexington, the location feels very remote, but is still close enough for a day trip. Early spring offers no bugs and decent sunshine through the leafless trees. On this day, the creek was only thigh-deep in spots (with a few 4-6 foot holes). Terrain was varied, with rock ledges, boulders, gravel bottoms, sandy bottoms, muddy bottoms, and the occasional fallen trees and jams. The water was crystal clear; the holes blue-green and easily visible to the bottom. I used a short, light spinning rig, and my two friends used fly rods.
Unfortunately, the fish were on vacation. I saw a few small fingerlings, but we did not catch or see any decent trout. My friend who led the way reported catching several trout along the mile or so of creek we covered in previous years, in various seasons. Fish and Wildlife actively stocks the stream with brown and rainbow trout, and the stream is catch and release only in the winter through March 31. I will have to return in a different season to try again—the setup seems perfect; just needs a few fish.
There are a number of places where someone not planning to wade the stream could access the water, along both the main stem of Indian Creek and the East Fork. Camping is popular in the area, but signs point out that a backcountry permit is required to park a vehicle overnight. There is no cell signal there.
From Lexington: take I-64 East to the Bert Combs Mountain Pkwy, then drive to Stanton [20 minutes], go left off of the ramp, at second stoplight turn right on Hwy 15. Drive several miles to Bowen, then a (sudden) left on 613. (613 gets rougher as you go—plenty of potholes and broken pavement require caution.) Follow 613 several miles; at an unmarked fork in the road (Spaas Creek), go right, following 613. When you come to the National Forest Sign for Indian Creek, turn left. This gravel road follows Indian Creek. You’ll pass a pull-off or two that access the creek, then come to a bridge. Go right, and you’ll be following the East fork of Indian Creek. There are several spots to stop/park/camp. The road is impassable in high water, but a decent road given the remote location.