Elkhorn Creek, just east of Frankfort and about 1 hour from Louisville, is one of the best Smallmouth streams in Kentucky. The fishing is best after a rain with the creek on the “rise”, but worth the trip whenever the creek is “right”. A good on-line stream level gauge is the one at Peaks Mill. Best water for fishing/floating is around 3 feet plus or minus 0.5 feet on the Peaks Mill gauge. Below 2.5 feet, the creek is very clear and if you are floating, there will be lots of bottom dragging over the shoals. If you are wading, low water is not a problem! Above 3.5 feet on the Peaks Mill gauge, fishing may be OK, but the creek may get a little “pushy” while floating and you will need to use caution around bends and strainers. A worn flotation devise is always the best option!
The fish on the Elkhorn are opportunistic and will take a variety of flies, including topwater. Poppers and dry flies in white and/or yellow perform well, especially from June through August. Small Clousers in chartreuse over white or olive over yellow are good. Black or brown Wooly Buggers are always a good choice. Crawfish and Sculpin imitations are also a good bet. Best places to fish are in eddies and seams or just below the rapids. Do not fret if there is a flotilla of pleasure craft floaters coming down at you through the rapids. Fish at the bottom of the rapids after they pass and take advantage of the “canoe hatch”. Those folks banging their way through the rocks dislodge a lot of bait and the smallies waiting below know when the dinner bell rings!
There are a number of public access points on Elkhorn Creek for both wade in and floating opportunities. There are also two canoe liveries on the creek at Canoe Kentucky and Stillwaters Campground. An excellent description and map for Elkhorn Creek can be found at Kentucky Blue Water Trails.