Hatchery Creek set to open May 2016
More favorable construction weather has allowed work to proceed at a brisk pace on new Hatchery Creek below Wolf Creek Dam, and May 1, 2016, has been set as the official opening date of what has been called a trout fishermen’s dream.
“They are really in there working now,” said project leader James Gray who earlier attributed delays to a cold spring and unusually wet summer. Actual construction will be completed in November, Gray projected, but official opening next May is set to allow time for vegetation to grow, he said.
EcoGrow, Lexington, is general contractor for the $1.8 million Wetland and Stream Mitigation Program that will create a mountain-like trout stream that will flow more than a mile –– 6,000 linear feet –– from Wolf Creek Dam National Fish Hatchery along and through Kendall Recreation Area and empty into Cumberland River below the dam. The new stream will replace an existing Hatchery Creek that flows out of the fish hatchery for about 400 feet and empties into the Cumberland River.
In addition to a functional stream channel, the mitigation project will remove a large amount of sediment pollution from the Cumberland River, make a high quality aquatic habitat, enhance more than five acres of forest and wetland, as well as provide a unique fishing opportunity for anglers.
The new Hatchery Creek is a cooperative effort among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. Excess dirt from stream construction is being used to cover a waste disposal area piled up during the recent rehabilitation of Wolf Creek Dam.
Hatchery Creek is being designed to look and flow like a mountain stream. It will be stocked with rainbow trout, 9 to 10 inches long. Fishing can be done on both sides of the mile-long stream, giving anglers plenty of elbow room.
Gray said there is about a 30-foot elevation difference between the streambed and the Cumberland River. A “stairstep” design will allow fish to move between Hatchery Creek and the river and anglers can expect to catch bigger fish that come up from the river than stocked trout from the fish hatchery.
“With the good habitat, we hope trout will reproduce in the creek,” Gray said. Regardless, there will be plenty of fish in the stream. Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery produces 1 million –– 275,000 pounds –– of trout each year, and the new Hatchery Creek will get its share.
Cool water for the trout hatchery and creek comes from nearby Lake Cumberland at Wolf Creek Dam. Now that the lake is full, the water flows by gravity to the hatchery.
Trout fishing is currently possible in the existing stream that flows out of the hatchery into the Cumberland River and in the Cumberland River below the dam, Gray said.
This is a conceptual video flyover of the Hatchery Creek Design Build project.