A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Eastern Kentucky’s Dewey Lake, a mountain reservoir with a mix of fish species

Editor’s Note: This is the eighth article in a series about Kentucky’s major reservoirs.

Dewey Lake is a mountain reservoir located near Prestonsburg in Floyd County. (Photo from Kentucky State Parks)

Dewey Lake is in eastern Kentucky’s Floyd County. The dam is about 4 miles northeast of Prestonsburg, off Ky. 3.

Impounded from John’s Creek, a tributary to the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River, Dewey Lake opened in the spring of 1951. The cost of the project was $7.8 million.

The main access highways are U.S. 23. Ky. 302, Ky. 3, and Ky. 194.


The lake is 1,100 acres at summer pool (elevation 650), and 900 acres at winter pool (elevation 645). At the summer pool there are 52 miles of shoreline and the lake is 18.5 miles long. Its maximum depth is 50 feet, just above the dam.

State Park

The 1771-acre Jenny Wiley State Resort Park is located on the south shore of Dewey Lake (Photo from Kentucky State Parks)

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park is on the south shore of the lake, about 5 miles northeast of Prestonsburg, off Ky. 302. The 1,771-acre park was created in 1954.

Facilities include a 49-room lodge, 18 cottages, a 121-site campground, restaurant, lounge, hiking and mountain biking trails, and outdoor theater.

For information telephone 606-889-1790.

Lake Manager’s Office

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Dewey Lake, Resource Manager’s Office, 9278 Lake Road, Van Lear, KY 41265, telephone 606-886-6709.

Managing Fishery Biologist

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Eastern Fishery District, Kevin Frey, District Biologist, 2744 Lake Road, Prestonsburg, KY 41653, telephone 606-889-1705.


There is one marina.

The Jenny Wiley State Resort Park Marina, open seasonally, is within walking distance of the May Lodge.

Telephone 606-889-1790 and follow the prompts to be connected to the marina.

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park Marina (Photo from Flickr)

Boat Launching Ramps

There are five boat launching ramps on the lake.

There is no fee to launch a boat at any ramp on the lake.

Four of the boat launching ramps are on the west shore of the lake, reached via Ky. 302. This includes the Terry boat launching ramp, the Gobel boat launching ramp (in the campground), the boat launching ramp at the Jenny Wiley State Resort Park Marina, and the Stratton branch boat launching ramp.

The German Bridge boat launching ramp is 22 miles east of the dam at the head of the lake, off Ky. 194.

Local Tourism Information

Prestonsburg Tourism, 50 Hal Rogers Drive, Prestonsburg, KY 41653, telephone 606-886-1341 or toll-free (00-844-4704.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.


Dewey Lake is a eutrophic lake of high productivity.

Populations of catfish (three species), largemouth bass, muskellunge, sunfish (two species), crappie and white bass are present in the lake.

The main forage fish is the gizzard shad.


Dewey Lake is one of the top catfish lakes in eastern Kentucky. Three species of catfish are present and there are good numbers of quality fish.

The channel catfish fishery is rated excellent, and good numbers are found in the lower lake during the winter months. Fish the upper lake during the summer.

The flathead catfish fishery is rated good, with a good size range and large fish, 20 to 40 pounds possible. During the late spring and early summer, this species is a popular target for tickling/noodling. In the fall, try fishing shallow with live shad for small sunfish.

The blue catfish fishery is rated excellent, with 30-to-36-inch fish present. A popular target of jug fishermen on the main lake.

Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass fishery is rated good, with improving numbers of fish in the 15-to-20-inch range. Beginning in March, fish shallow, murky water with plastic baits in the upper lake.


For ten years, beginning in 1975, the tiger muskie, a sterile cross between the male northern pike (Esox lucius) and female silver muskellunge (Esox masquinongy ohioenis), was stocked in Dewey Lake.

The stockings were discontinued in 1985 because project goals were never met. There was poor growth and survival of adult fish, and angler success was low.

Beginning in 2014 silver muskellunge (Esox masquinongy ohioenis) began being stocked.

The muskie fishery is rated fair. Legal-sized fish are present, but numbers are low.

Muskie were also stocked in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and annual stockings will continue.

Dewey Lake offers anglers a mix of catfish, largemouth bass, muskellunge, sunfish crappie and white bass (Photo from Flickr)


There are two species of sunfish in Dewey Lake.

The bluegill fishery is rated fair. The population is stable, with fish up to 7 inches present.

The redear sunfish fishery is rated poor but fish up to 12 inches are present. Fish on the bottom, in 4-to-6-feet of water, near aquatic vegetation.


The crappie fishery is rated good.

The population is composed mostly of white crappie, with good number of 9-to-13-inch fish. Black crappie numbers are much lower, most fish are 7-to-9-inches.

White Bass

The white bass fishery is rated fair, with a stable population.

In the spring, in March and April, fish in John’s Creek, at the head of the lake, for spawning fish.

Beginning in September, fish in the heads of coves on the main lake, where crappie will be feeding on shad.

Tailwater Fishing Opportunities

The tailwaters are stocked with rainbow trout periodically. View schedule at fw.ky.gov/Monthly-Trout-Stocking

Non-Native Invasive Plants and Animals

Zebra mussels and Hydrilla are present in Dewey Lake.

Anglers are asked to take steps to prevent the spread of the non-native aquatic invasive species. For complete information, visit fw.ky.gov/Nuisance-Species-Plans

Fish Attractors

Christmas trees, stake beds, brush piles and hinge cut trees have been placed in more than 10 locations, in coves, in the lower half of the lake. Click here to view a map of Dewey Lake.

Winter fishing is good on this mountain lake. On warm days, go fishing.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment