South Fork Licking River

South Fork Licking River begins at the confluence of Stoner Creek and Hinkston Creek at Ruddles Mills, KY.  From there it flows downstream through the communities of Cynthiana, Robinson and Berry, KY where the majority of the river is pooled up by several low head dams.  These pooled up sections provide better fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish. From Boyd, KY downstream to Falmouth, KY the river is unimpounded and mainly comprised of shallow pools, riffles and an abundance of water willow beds. In this section anglers can find good populations of smallmouth bass, rock bass and catfish. The last low head dam is located in Falmouth, KY prior to the South Fork Licking River’s confluence with the Licking River.

 


 

 


South Fork Licking River Access Site and Pool Length

Access Site

Pool Length (miles)

Lair Ramp 1.8
Terry Dam Ramp 2.8
Cynthiana Ramp 3.4
Robinson Dam Ramp 2.0
Pendleton Co. Athletic Park Access 1.0

 

 


Recommended River Levels for Boating/Fishing*

South Fork Licking River at Cynthiana, KY
Rating Gauge Height in Feet (ft)
Low <4.0 ft
Good 4.0-5.0 ft
High >5.0 ft
South Fork Licking River at Hayes, KY
Rating Flow in cubic feet per second (cfs)
Low <150 cfs
Good 150-400 cfs
High >400 cfs

*These ratings are only recommendations. Skill and experience will dictate levels appropriate for each angler.

 

Resources for River Levels:

 

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


Current Stream Levels at Cynthiana, KY

Current Stream Levels at Hayes, KY

South Fork Licking River Public Access Site Descriptions

 

Lair Ramp: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

A single lane concrete ramp suitable for small trailered boats, canoes and kayaks is located adjacent to bridge crossing on Old Lair Road. A small graveled parking lot is located at the top of the ramp on the opposite side of the road. Bank fishing is limited from the ramp downstream to the bridge. No other amenities exist at this site.

 


 

Terry Dam Ramp: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

A single lane concrete ramp suitable for small trailered boats, canoes and kayak is located off Infirmary Lane, next to the Cynthiana/Harrison Co. Airport. A small paved parking area is located at the top of the ramp with additional parking in the grassy area directly across the road from the ramp. Bank fishing is limited to the areas directly around the ramp. Boater should be aware that a low head dam is located 2.5 miles downstream of the ramp. Anglers should use caution when fishing near low head dams due to strong currents and “boils”. No other amenities exist at this site.

 


 

Cynthiana Ramp: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

A single lane concrete ramp is located near downtown Cynthiana, KY next to the River Road Park on River Road. This site is best suited for small trailered boats, canoes and kayaks. A small gravel parking area is located at the top of the ramp. Bank fishing is limited to the area adjacent to the ramp. Please notice all posted signs and be aware that a low head dam is located 0.3 miles upstream of the ramp and other low head dam located 3.0 miles downstream. Anglers should use caution when fishing near low head dams due to strong currents and “boils”. No other amenities exist at this site.

 


 

Robinson Dam Ramp: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

A single lane concrete ramp suitable for small trailered boats, canoes and kayaks of located of Robinson Road. A large paved parking area is located at the top of the ramp. Boaters should use caution when using this ramp since it is located directly upstream of the low head dam. There are good bank fishing opportunities available both above and below the dam at this site. Anglers and boaters should use caution when fishing or boating near these dams due to strong currents and “boils”. There are no other amenities at this location.

 


 

Pendleton Co. Athletic Park Access: (Additional Information/Directions)

 

Pendleton Co. Athletic Park is located on South Fork Licking River near its confluence with the Licking River. This park provides plenty of graveled parking near river; however a short walk is required from the parking area to the river. A trail is located along the river with a tremendous amount of bank fishing opportunity above and below the low head dam. This area can also be used as a carry in for launching canoes and kayaks. Anglers and boaters should use caution when fishing or boating near these dams due to strong currents and “boils”. Restrooms are available near the parking area, no other amenities exist at this site.

 


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Fishing Tips

Smallmouth Bass
Best fishing is in the areas of the river that are not impounded. Anglers report good success targeting areas directly above and below gravel shoals and targeting rocky banks with current. Try fishing ¼ oz spinner baits and crawfish imitating crank baits. 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.
Rock Bass
Target chunk rock banks with woody debris and log jams in the slow, shallow pools. Best fishing is in areas of the river that are not impounded. Try fishing small inline spinner baits, 2 inch crawfish crank baits 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.
Bluegill
Focus around woody debris in areas that are pooled with little current. Try fishing a variety of live baits (worms, wax worms, crickets, etc.) under a bobber/cork or small tube jigs and curly-tailed grubs.
Flathead Catfish
Areas with large, chuck rock, log jams and around bridges are the best areas to target flathead catfish. Flathead fishing is best at night or during low light conditions either early or late in the day. Flathead catfish prefer live bait such as bluegill and sunfish, but can be caught on cut bait as well.
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Fisheries Overview

 

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

Smallmouth Bass length frequency graph 

 

Rock Bass length frequency graph 

 

Bluegill Length frequency graph 

 

Flathead Catfish Length frequency graph 

 

 

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