Dix River Tailwater of Harrington Lake

The Dix River below the Harrington Lake Dam potentially offers year around trout fishing in a visually scenic location.  The Dam is owned and operated by LG&E/KU to generate electricity; it is in the audio shadow of the Brown Generating Station.  Getting to the tailwater is somewhat of a challenge unless you know someone who can gain access through the LG&E/KU private property that envelopes the tailwater.   Access for the general public starts at the Voluntary Public Access (VPA) launch site just upstream of  the Kentucky River Dam #7, West of Wilmore Kentucky at High Bridge. Once you get to High Bridge drive to the right down the hill.  Stay straight and pass through the pillars doing downhill toward Kentucky River Dam #7 – the VPA site with parking is on the left.

Fishing under the Dix River Palisades
Fishing under the Dix River Palisades

After launching your small watercraft, you navigate upstream on the Kentucky River (left if you are facing the river) under the High Bridge.  The Dix River enters the Kentucky on the right bank, just upstream of the High Bridge.  Navigate up the Dix with caution due to underwater logs, stumps, rocks, and shoals upstream to the rapids.  At the rapids, you can pull your small watercraft through to gain access to the tailwater below the Harrington Lake Dam.  The trout water extends from the Dam to almost 1 mile below the rapids, so you can fish for trout without pulling through the rapids.  It is about 4.5 river miles from the boat launch to the Dam.

George pulling through the Dix Rapids
George pulling through the Dix Rapids

To effectively navigate and fish the Dix, you need to know when the water is right, just like any other watershed.  With the Dix, however, you need to know the water conditions on three bodies of water:

  1. First off, there is the Kentucky River Pool #7 at High Bridge where you will launch.  The USGS gauge will give you the information you need.  Pool stage is about 9.5 feet.  Higher gauge readings means more current and debris in the Kentucky River.  At 13.5 feet, the Kentucky starts to back up over the rapids into the Dix Tailwater of the Harrington Lake Dam.
  2. Second, you need to know the water level conditions on Harrington Lake.  Kentucky Utilities (KU) does not provide a generation schedule to the public, but you can expect them to run the generators at any time that Harrington Lake is 1 foot above pool stage and there is elecrcital demand.  The Winter Pool stage is 725 feet; the Summer Pool stage is 740 feet.
  3. Finally, there is the Dix River below the Dam near Burgin, KY.  With no generation, flow is about 20 cfs with little current in the river.  With generation, flow is about 1000 cfs with heavy current and the river is basically not fishable.

The KDFWR routinely stocks the Dix River with both Brown and Rainbow Trout.  Fishing is best from the Dam all the way into the rapids.  Topwater action can be very good, especially with terrestrial imitations during the summer.  Wooly Bugger steamers imitating small minnows work well.  Dead drifted egg and worm patterns are effective.  At times, zebra midge fishing is fantastic.

Fly fishing in and around Louisville Kentucky