Cave Run Lake Fish Habitat Improvement Project


2016 Update! 

The 2016 version of the Cave Run Lake Fish Habitat Project focused on the Ramey’s Creek and Warix Coves of the lake.  Once again thousands of structures were added to the lake creating 10 new habitat sites.  These sites should be large enough for multiple boats to fish on them at once and congregates the habitat a little more than the reef structures.  Additionally, we were also able to add a couple of new sites that should be fishable from the bank: both are focused around the Windy Bay access area.

Just click on this link Cave Run Lake Attractor Map for the latest version of the Cave Run Lake Fish Habitat Map. A brief note about the GPS coordinates: these coordinates are provided in a decimal degree format and your unit may not use this as a standard format.  You can usually change these under the settings of your unit and as a last resort there are many free online converters.  The converted coordinates are also available on the Google version of this map.  It can be accessed from here. Cave Run Lake Fish Attractors in Google Maps!

We also have a PDF version of the habitat coordinate tables in 3 different formats.  It has Decimal Degrees (DD), Degrees Decimal Minutes (DDM) and Degrees Minutes Seconds (DMS) for GPS units that prefer a certain format.  It can be found here:

Cave Run Lake Fish Attractor Coordinate Table

We have one more year on this project. Please stay tuned to this website and the KDFWR Cave Run Area Twitter account (@kyfisheriesne) for updates on this project!


Cave Run Lake, like most flood control reservoirs, has been losing natural fish habitat since its impoundment in the 1960’s.  In 2013, KDFWR established the “Cave Run Lake Fish Habitat Project”; a multi-year large scale habitat project aimed at create new fish habitat in the lower portions of the lake.  This will serve to give anglers places to target their fishing as well as potentially increase food sources for fishes.



Pallet structures are basically 2 shipping pallets nailed together in a cube.  Some of these were stacked and nailed together.
A view of the material used on the Adam’s Point site from the dam.  The trucks in this picture should give a good scale to the amount of material sunk in this location.
A view of the material used on the Zilpo Flats sites


Goals for the Cave Run Lake Fish Habitat Project

1. Establish partnerships between government agencies and private users to achieve the goals of the habitat project.
2. Complete a large scale habitat project on several portions of the lake.
3. Monitor and evaluate the habitat placed into the lake.
Department boats heading out with material to be sunk, while several more load up at the Adam’s Point site.
The habitat barge is loading up with large cedar trees.  Most of these were dropped in bundles around 16-20 feet, depending on the size of the bundles.



2014 Accomplishments

  • Established a Committee to coordinate the efforts of the habitat project.
  • Completed the Adams Point Site in July with around 500 individual units of habitat.
  • Completed the Clay Lick Site in August with over 500 individual units of habitat.
In total for 2014, over 1,000 Christmas trees, around 800 pallets, 200 bucket stake attractors, around 100 large cedar trees, around 50 large cable spools and 50 plastic pallet trees were added to Cave Run Lake. 

2015 Accomplishments

  • Completed the Zilpo Flats site in July creating 11 new large sites with around 500 units of structure.
  • Completed the Scott’s Creek Site in August with over 600 individual units of habitat. This created one - ½ mile long reef and 4 new large sites in and around Scott’s Creek.
In total for 2015, around 1,200 Christmas and cedar trees, 800 pallets, 150 bucket stake attractors, 50 large stumps, 50 concrete culverts and 25 wooden cable spools were added to Cave Run Lake. 
Fish and Wildlife employees prep a load of stumps and culverts to head out on the barge in the Zilpo Flats Area.
Members of the Rowan County High School FFA Chapter assist with loading boats at the staging area for the Zilpo Flats.
Fish and Wildlife employees load up trees and pallet structures on Cave Run Lake.

2016 Accomplishments 

  • Completed the Ramey’s Creek Sites in July creating 6 larges sites with around 500 units of structure
  • Completed the Warix sites in July with over 500 individual units of habitat that created 4 new large scale habitat sites.
  • In total for 2016, around 1,000 Christmas and cedar trees, 500 pallets, 150 bucket stake attractors, 10 wooden cable spools and 50 plastic pipe trees were added to Cave Run Lake.


Excess gas line was used to create smaller bucket attractors placed around 8 to 10 feet deep.


Excess gas line was also used to create these tree structures (affectionately called “Dr. Seuss” Trees) that stand much taller around 10-15 feet and were placed much deeper in the lake.
The link below is to a PDF map of all the brush attractors KDFWR maintains on Cave Run Lake, (including the new habitat reefs at Stoney Cove/Adams Point and at Clay Lick) and some fishing information, lake information, as well as the GPS locations for all habitat sites.
A note about GPS coordinates: Please keep in mind that these GPS coordinates should get you close to the structure, but you still may have to look a little depending on the model of your GPS and the weather on the day you are looking.


Department boats heading out with brush to be sunk at the Clay Lick site.


Fish and wildlife boat loaded up with stake buckets.



Looking towards the future

In Summer 2017 we wrap up the Cave Run Fish Habitat project by completing the Cassidy’s and Poppin Rock Habitat sites.


Material is needed!  If you have massive amounts of environmentally friendly material you wish to donate to the project give us a call.  We can coordinate figuring out if it meets our needs and delivery.  Examples include: wooden pallets, tree stumps, cedar trees or plastic pallets; but we are not limited to that!  If you think it could work give us a call, if it is concrete, wood or a safe plastic we usually can come up with a purpose.  Please note: we are not accepting pressure treated lumber for this project.
Volunteers are needed!  If you are interested in assisting with this project, we have a place for you.  Please give us a call to be added to the list-serve for the Cave Run Lake Habitat Project, through that you will be able to keep up with our project and when or where volunteers are needed.
Suggest a site!  These 8 locations we have picked are intentionally general, but if they are near a spot you know has pretty healthy numbers of fish but not much habitat, let us know.  We are looking for fairly flat areas that are 8 – 20 feet deep at summer pool, near ledges or drop offs and without natural cover.
Contact Information:
Tom Timmermann
Northeastern Fishery District 
Joseph Zimmerman
KDFWR Environmental Section

Thank You’s

United States Army Corps of Engineers at Cave Run Lake
United States Forest Service, Daniel Boone National Forest Morehead Ranger District
Muskie’s Inc: Scott Smalley and Scott Sallchi
Friends of Cave Run Lake: Billy Hough and Mike Combs
Volunteers from the Department of Juvenile Justice at Woods Bend, Ashland and Frenchburg Group Homes.
Volunteers from the Frenchburg Job Corps and Brad Adkins.
The many local businesses who allowed us to pick up their trash and turn it into valuable fish habitat.
Atmos Energy for the pipe used in the structures.
Blackwater Marine, West Liberty for emergency repairs to the habitat barge in 2016.
Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, West Liberty for excess pallets and buckets
KDFWR Fisheries staff including: Northeastern Fishery District, Northwest Fishery District, the Central Fishery District, the Eastern Fishery District, Lake Fisheries Investigations, Stream Fisheries Investigations, the Urban Fisheries Program, the Environmental Section, the FILO program, Minor Clark Fish Hatchery, the Forks of Elkhorn Transportation Section, our statewide Fisheries Coordination office and the Fisheries Directors Office. 
KDFWR Wildlife staff from the Northeastern Region.