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North Fork Kentucky River

The North Fork Kentucky River headwaters are located in Letcher County. From here the river flows 168 miles northwest through the communities of Whitesburg, Hazard and Jackson before reaching Beattyville, where it joins with the South Fork to form the Kentucky River. The North Fork Kentucky River provides anglers with the opportunity to fish for a wide variety of species such as: muskellunge, spotted bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish and rock bass. The North Fork Kentucky River will leave quite an impression based on its natural beauty from its start in the Appalachians through its winding journey across the Cumberland Plateau.

 

 

 

 

 


 

North Fork Kentucky River Access Site to Site Mileages

Put In Access Site

Take Out Access Site

Total River Miles

Watts Ramp Hazard City Ramp 22.2
Hazard City Ramp Perry County Park Ramp 4.8
Perry County Park Ramp Douthitt Park Ramp 55.0
Douthitt Park Ramp Roy Spencer Ramp 10.4
Roy Spencer Ramp Beattyville Ramp 34.0

 

 


Recommended River Levels for Boating/Fishing*

North Fork Kentucky River @ Hazard, KY
Rating Gauge Height in Feet (ft)
Low <4.25 ft
Good 4.25-5.0 ft
High >5.0 ft
North Fork Kentucky River @ Jackson, KY
Rating Gauge Height in Feet (ft)
Low <1.6 ft
Good 1.6-2.5 ft
High >2.5 ft
North Fork Kentucky River @ Jackson, KY
Rating Flow in cubic feet per second (cfs)
Low <200 cfs
Good 200-500 cfs
High >500 cfs

 

Resources for River Levels:

 

 

U.S. Geological Survey
(Provides real time stream flows on rivers and stream around the state)

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Fork Kentucky River Public Access Site Descriptions

 

Watts Ramp: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

A single lane concrete ramp is located off KY 7 directly upstream of the PVT Clifford Campbell/Wagoner Cooley Campbell Memorial Bridge in Ulvah, KY. A large, gravel parking area is located at the top of the ramp with no other amenities available. The section of the river is best suited for canoes, kayaks and small john boats due to the relatively shallow water and numerous riffles.

 


 

Hazard City Ramp and Fishing Pier: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

A single lane, concrete boat ramp is located in downtown Hazard behind city hall. This ramp is located directly upstream from a low head dam. Boaters and anglers should beware of strong currents and “boils” associated with low head dams. There is also an ADA accessible concrete fishing pier adjacent to the boat ramp which provides excellent bank fishing. A paved parking lot, restrooms, picnic shelter, picnic tables, park benches and security lights are available at this location.

 


 

Perry County Park Ramp: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

A single lane concrete ramp is located in the Perry County Park next to the basketball and tennis courts. Paved parking is available at the top of the ramp. This site is best suited for canoes, kayaks and small john boats. Bank fishing is limited to the area around the ramp due to steep banks throughout most of the park. This area is great for anglers and their families based on the wide variety of activities available within the park. Security lights, restroom facilities, playground, basketball and tennis courts, miniature golf, walking track and pool are available but some facilities may only be available seasonally.

 


 

Douthitt Park Ramp: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

 

A single lane concrete ramp is located in Douthitt Park in Jackson, KY. This section of the river is best suited for canoes, kayaks and small john boats. Boaters should be aware that the ramp does not extent all the way into the water during low flows, typical during late summer and fall. A large rapid/waterfall is located 0.9 miles upstream from the ramp. Bank fishing is limited to the area around the ramp due to steep banks throughout most of the park. Along with opportunities for boating and fishing this park has many other activity to offer such as: playgrounds, park benches, picnic shelters, skate park, basketball courts, softball fields, volley ball courts, soccer fields, splash park, walking trail, security lights and paved parking. Some of these facilities may only be available seasonally and the park closes daily at 10:00 pm.

 


 

Roy Spencer Ramp: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

A single lane concrete ramp is located below the KY 541 bridge crossing on North Fork Kentucky River. This site is suitable for canoes, kayaks and small john boats. Bank fishing is available from the ramp upstream to the bridge. A small paved parking area is available at the top of the ramp along with a picnic shelter. No other amenities exist at this site.

 


 

Beattyville Ramp: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

A two lane concrete ramp is located off East Main Street in Beattyville, KY. A large paved parking area makes this site suitable for trailered boats. From this site boaters can travel 3.4 miles up the North Fork to the confluence of the Middle Fork or travel downstream 0.5 miles to the confluence with the South Fork. Lock and Dam 14 is located 5.8 miles downstream of the confluence of the North and South Fork. A large fishing pier provides an excellent opportunity for bank fishing. Picnic tables, charcoal grills, security lights and trash cans are also available at this site.

 

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Fishing Tips

Smallmouth Bass
Anglers report good success targeting areas directly above and below gravel/sandy shoals and targeting rocky banks with current. Try fishing ¼ oz spinner baits and crawfish imitating crankbaits. Texas-rigged 3 inch craws and 3 ½ inch tube jigs work well for a slower presentation. When the bite gets tough don’t overlook a 3 inch white or motor-oil colored curly-tailed grub.
Spotted Bass
Best densities are located in the slower pools, especially in areas with large chunk rock or woody debris. Anglers have good luck fishing crawfish imitating soft plastic baits Texas-rigged, medium running crank baits, spinners and a variety of top water baits. Match bait colors to the water conditions: natural patterns work best in clearer water (white, watermelon seed), while in muddier conditions use dark (black) or very bright (chartreuse) colored baits that produce vibration.
Rock Bass
Target chunk rock banks with woody debris and log jams in the slow, shallow pools. Try fishing small inline spinner baits, 2 inch crawfish crankbaits or 2 inch black grubs over the rocks. Rock bass can also be taken on live bait fished near or on the bottom. Try fishing minnows, red worms and small crayfish.
Channel Catfish
Target deeper pools with log jams with slow to moderate current. Fish baits like chicken livers, worms, cut bait and stink baits on the bottom. Best luck would be around dusk and dawn or low light conditions when catfish are more active.
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Fisheries Overview

 

The following length frequencies are representative of the top 4 species sampled in North Fork Kentucky River.

Smallmouth Bass length frequency graph 

 

Kentucky Spotted Bass length frequency graph 

 

Rock Bass Length frequency graph 

 

Channel Catfish Length frequency graph 

  

 

 

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