RE: NANFA-L-- Introduction--clean streams in Eastern Kentucky?

Dave Neely (
Mon, 09 Jan 2006 13:00:04 -0600

Hi Ben,

Welcome to the list!

I've spent a fair amount of time collecting fishes in the area. There's some
beautiful and relatively clean streams not too horribly far away, but I'm
sure you already know that getting anywhere in that part of KY takes a
while. Parts of the Russell Fork (just to your southeast on the VA/KY
border) are nice, but depending on flow levels the mainstem can be serious
whitewater - definately "advanced" snorkelling. The fish fauna was recently
surveyed (Powers & Ceas 2000), and has some neat stuff despite a big
reservoir upstream in VA. The gorge-in-the Breaks is worth the drive just
for the scenery. Parts of the Kentucky River system (especially the South
Fk, to your southwest) are in good shape, and have some unique critters
(frecklebelly darters, emerald darters, arrow darters, etc.). The mainstem
Licking R, a couple of hours north of you, is pretty nice and has good
populations of a bunch of things that are spotty across much of the rest of
the upper Ohio drainage. You're only a couple hours of north of the Clinch,
one of the most awesome rivers in the country for diversity. Middle and
lower parts of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland are worth the drive, and
if you're down that way anyway, the Rockcastle is worth a stop and gander...

That said, the really fun part is in just getting out and looking - track
down a used copy of Burr & Warren (1986) or other local fish books, get a
Delorme gazetteer and then just get out and snorkel around. For me, the
little discoveries I make myself are a whole lot more special than having
someone tell me "go to this spot, and you'll see..." Plus, it's the bonus
finds that keep me fired up about being out there - the mink that doesn't
see me until I could almost grab it, the awe and wonder of mussel mantle
displays, backwoods BBQ, intricately sculptured freshwater sponges, having
wood ducks think I'm a floating log, crayfish with attitudes three times
their size, etc.

along the Big Muddy, St. Louis, MO

Burr, B.M. and M.L. Warren, Jr. 1986. A distributional atlas of Kentucky
fishes. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission Scientific and Technical Series
No. 4. 398 pp.

Powers, S.L. & P.A. Ceas. 2000. Ichthyofauna and biogeography of Russell
Fork (Big Sandy River - Ohio River). Southeastern Fishes Council
Proceedings. 41:1-12.
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