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Art Lander’s Outdoors: Easy access and great fishing make Guist Creek Lake a solid option for anglers

Editor’s note: This is the fourth article in a series on small lakes in central Kentucky.

Guist Creek Marina (Photo courtesy guistcreek.com)

Guist Creek Lake is in Shelby County, about five miles east of Shelbyville.

The lake is visible from U.S. 60, but its facilities are on the lake’s north shore, reached via Ky. 1779 (Benson Pike).

The lake was formed by impounding Guist Creek, a tributary to the Salt River. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) built the lake in 1961 and it opened to public fishing in 1963.

Guist Creek Lake (Graphic from KDFWR; click for larger image)

Guist Creek Lake is 317 surface acres, with 27.4 miles of shoreline. The lake’s average depth is 15 feet, with a maximum depth of 47 feet.

Guist Creek Lake is one of seven small lakes in central Kentucky with lakefront residential housing on private lands that share a boundary with KDFWR-owned lands.

Private landowners must get a permit to construct a floating or fixed boat dock to moor a boat on KDFWR property, and a metal boat dock tag, provided by KDFWR, must be permanently affixed to the boat dock so that it is visible from the lake.

Fish Species / Special Fishing Regulations

Bluegill: Statewide regulations apply. The fishery is rated fair. Bluegill are abundant, but most fish are less than six inches long.

Catfish: There’s a 12-inch minimum size limit for all catfish species. The catfish fishery is rated excellent. There are good very numbers of channel catfish with potential for trophy fish (28 inches), and an expanding population of flathead catfish.

A third species of catfish present in the lake is the white catfish (Ameiurus catus). The non-native species, sourced from commercial hatcheries, has been introduced into private waters across Kentucky.

It’s believed that the white catfish in Guist Creek Lake escaped from farm ponds or small lakes in the watershed during periods of high water. White catfish were never stocked in Guist Creek Lake by KDFWR. Ethen Vest caught the current state record white catfish from Guist Creek Lake, a 5.27-pounder, on October 11, 2016.

Crappie: Statewide regulations apply. Both white crappie and black crappie are present. The fishery is rated good. Most crappie are in the seven to 10-inch range, with larger fish possible.

Largemouth Bass: Statewide regulations apply. The fishery is rated good/excellent. There are very good numbers of largemouth bass over 12 inches, with excellent potential for quality-sized fish, up to and over 20 inches.

(Photo by Art Lander, Jr.)

Saugeye: There’s a 14 inch minimum size limit, and a daily creel limit of six fish. The fishery is rated fair. It’s a limited population, but quality-sized saugeye are present, and fish up to 25 inches are possible. Saugeye have been stocked since 2013.

Hybrid Striped Bass: Statewide regulations apply. The fishery is rated fair/good. There’s a limited population, with most hybrid striped bass in the 16 to 22-inch range, with potential for trophy-sized fish (23 inches).

Yellow bass have also become established in the lake, but a majority of the fish are five to seven-inches long, with a few larger fish possible. It’s unknown how yellow bass found their way into the lake.

An angler attitude survey conducted in conjunction with a creel survey in 2020 found that the large majority of anglers, 41.1 percent, fish for largemouth bass. Other fish species pursued by anglers were: crappie, 16.9 percent; bluegill, 15.4 percent; channel catfish, 8.6 percent; saugeye, 3.1 percent, and hybrid striped bass, 2.6 percent.

Cover types include private boat docks, downed timber, weed beds, shelf rock, and gently-sloping gravel points. There are extensive shallow flats in the upper lake. The main forage fish is gizzard shad.

Recent Fish Stockings

In 2018, 19,046 hybrid striped bass, 3,171 largemouth bass, and 28,810 saugeye were stocked.

In 2019, 3,170 channel catfish, 22,190 saugeye, 19,054 hybrid striped bass, and 1,537 largemouth bass were stocked.

In 2020, 9,502 hybrid striped bass were stocked.

In 2021, 3,170 channel catfish, 31,726 saugeye, 9,566 hybrid striped bass, and 5,255 largemouth bass were stocked.

Fish Attractors

Brush piles and pallet stacks have been placed in about 15 places in the lower lake. View a map of Guist Creek Lake fish attractors.

Boating Access

Guist Creek Marina is at the end of Boat Dock Road (Ky 1667), off Ky. 1779. The fee to launch is $6. For information telephone (502) 647-5359. There are no other public boat launching ramps on the lake.

Bank Access and Fishing Piers

There is five-acre bank access area, off Ky. 1779 (Benson Pike) at the bridge over the lake.

There are no fishing piers.

Guist Creek Lake supports quality fisheries, with good potential for bragging-size largemouth bass, catfish and saugeye. The hybrid striped bass fishery doesn’t get the attention from anglers that it deserves.

With easy access off Interstate-64, good facilities, heavy annual stockings, and great fishing opportunities, the lake should not be overlooked.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. 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.

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