Kentucky Tourism

Fishtrap Lake History

Established in 2003

The impoundment of the waters of the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River in 1969 provided Kentucky with one of its best fishing lakes. Near the states of Virginia and West Virginia, the deep, long, narrow Fishtrap Lake is known for some of the finest fishing in the commonwealth. The highest dam (195 feet) in Kentucky contains the waters of the lake.

Fishtrap Lake is located in Pike County, seven miles south of the county seat of Pikeville. The natural beauty of eastern Kentucky enhances the lake as a popular destination for tourists. Built for flood control along Levisa Fork by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lake can hold as much as 54 billion gallons of water. Extending 16.5 miles in length, Fishtrap Lake covers 1,131 acres and is 84 feet deep. Construction of the dam began in February 1962. President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated the project on October 26, 1968. Workers moved five million cubic yards of earth and rock to construct the dam.

The Pike County area is also filled with Kentucky history. The name of the lake came from pioneers who observed the unique fish traps made by the American Indians. Archeologists discovered 33 prehistoric American Indian sites in the Fishtrap area. They found 65,000 artifacts at the Slone site at Woodside. Pike County is also known for being the site of the infamous Hatfield-McCoy Feud. The struggle between these two families lasted for decades and made headlines in national newspapers. Although not the bloodiest or longest lasting feud, the Hatfield-McCoy conflict remains the epitome of the romantic mountain feuds of the late nineteenth century. The physical facilities of the park are under the auspices of the Army Corps of Engineers.