Hatchery Creek is located below Lake Cumberland immediately behind the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery. Many would not know from looking at it, but Hatchery Creek is a completely man-made stream that originates from the cold water outflow of the hatchery and flows over 6,000 feet before joining the Cumberland River. Stream flow is constant, running from between 25 cubic feet per second up to 35 cubic feet per second. Along its descent of almost 47 feet, Hatchery Creek starts as a maintained park-like fishing area for the first 400 feet from the hatchery outflow to a boulder constructed waterfall. This section is called Upper Hatchery Creek where regulations allow anglers to keep up to 5 trout, combined species and with no size limit.
The remaining stream length from the waterfall and downstream is Lower Hatchery Creek where sport fishing regulations limit anglers to artificial lures, and catch and release only. All anglers fishing either section of Hatchery Creek must have a trout permit. Lower Hatchery Creek begins as a gentle meandering stream with numerous glides and riffles underlain with over 1,800 tons of spawning gravel, logs, and numerous boulder clusters to create eddies. Deeper pools can be found along outside bends where undercut banks called ‘Lunker Bunkers’ offer hiding places for trout. Note: Lunker Bunkers provide an undercut bank approximately 4 feet into the bank and are not visible from the surface. Over 5 acres of wetlands connect with Hatchery Creek in a few places where the stream flow splits into multiple smaller channels offering refuge for both forage fish and young trout. In the final 500 feet, Hatchery Creek has a steep descent in a series of protective, boulder strewn step-pools before meeting the Cumberland River.
The stream provides healthy aquatic habitat that has attracted trout, including larger, trophy sized trout from the Cumberland River, and other wildlife. It also provides an attractive and challenging fishing opportunity for anglers with a good chance of catching larger trout. Anglers should be able to fish effectively from the bank. Those wishing to wade should expect deeper water in pools that might over top chest waders. However, most riffles are shallow enough to offer a place to cross for those with hip boots or waders or anglers that don’t mind getting wet.
Hatchery Creek was built using funds solely from the Kentucky Wetland and Stream Mitigation Fund; no state general fund tax dollars or fishing license fees were used. The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, created Hatchery Creek to replace a deeply eroding gulley that threatened downstream fisheries.
Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, 50 Kendall Road, Jamestown, Kentucky