Brookville Lake Fishing: Essential Angler’s Guide

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Brookville Lake offers some of the most unique and varied fishing opportunities in Indiana. In addition to excellent warm water fishing in the lake itself, the tailwater below the dam supports one of Indiana’s premier trout fisheries. 

Built in 1974 with the creation of a dam on the East Fork Whitewater River, Brookville Lake is one of Indiana’s largest reservoirs. The lake spans 5,260 acres, with depths up to 140 feet. 

Within those depths you’ll find rocky ledges, sloping points, submerged road beds and forests of standing timber, all of which provide prime habitat for Brookville Lake’s ample populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, channel catfish, and other species. 

Brookville Lake is a long and narrow reservoir, deep and rocky at its lower end and more river-like at its upper extreme. Numerous large coves and creeks on either side also provide excellent fishing opportunities. 

Brookville Lake Bass Fishing

Many anglers consider Brookville Lake one of Indiana’s best bass lakes. It’s also unique in that it offers very good fishing for both largemouth and smallmouth bass, whereas most Indiana lakes are dominated by one of the other. 

As a general rule, smallmouth bass are most common in the lower half of the lake, while largemouths are more common in the upper half. The Fairfield Causeway serves as the dividing line. But take that division with a grain of salt. 

The lower reservoir generally has deeper, clearer water with more rocky structure, and the upper half has more vegetation, weed beds and somewhat more stained water. Even so, you’re likely to catch a mixed bag of largemouths and smallmouths anywhere on Brookville Lake. 

If you’re targeting smallmouths, look for rocks. Riprap shorelines are key areas, and some of the best fishing is right along the chunk-rock-lined banks of the Fairfield Causeway.

Spring is an especially good season to focus your efforts on riprap, and you can do well working a tube jig or jerkbait along the rocks. Try a 5″ wacky worm or Ned rig when bass demand a more subtle approach. 

In many places, the banks on the lower end of the lake are steep and almost cliff-like, dropping off steeply into deep water with lots of rocks and boulders. Try a jig or drop-shot rig in these areas in summer, when smallies often head to 30-foot depths.

Largemouths thrive in Brookville Lake’s coves, many of which have abundant timber. The Elys Creek and Hanna Creek areas are prime spots on the upper lake, and Wolf Creek is a great largemouth stronghold toward the lower end. 

Bass populations are quite stable in Brookville Lake and don’t tend to fluctuate much thanks to the lake’s size, diverse habitat, and abundance of forage.

It’s very possible to catch a 4-pound smallmouth or 6-pound largemouth here, and 3-pounders of both species are common.

Brookville Lake Walleye Fishing

Few Indiana lakes produce more or bigger walleye than Brookville Lake. It’s easily the best walleye lake in the southern half of the state, producing 10-pound fish that come close to the 30-inch mark every year. 

Walleye here are abundant enough that the Indiana DNR uses Brookville Lake as the sole source of walleye broodstock for its walleye stocking operations statewide. About 10 million walleye fry are returned to the reservoir every year to keep the population going strong. 

The best seasons for walleye fishing are spring and fall, and the best section of the lake is generally below the Fairfield Causeway, where walleye can access deep, clear, rocky habitat. 

Spring walleye action usually gets going as soon as the lake warms up a bit in March. Bank anglers catch some nice fish along the rocky face of the dam this time of year. 

Walleye head up the lake and into tributaries to spawn as waters creep up into the mid-40s. The Wolf Creek and Templeton arms of the reservoir are some of the best spring walleye spots, along with areas on either side of the causeway.

Slowly working a jig/minnow or jig/nightcrawler combo along the bottom is usually productive for spring walleye. The best bite is often right around dawn and dusk, and night fishing can also be excellent. 

Summer is a tough time to find walleye on Brookville Reservoir, but it’s possible to catch some by trolling deep structure after dark. 

Fishing picks back up again in fall, when walleye suspend along drop-offs and hunt for shad. Jigging spoons and minnow-tipped jigs are effective this time of year, with the bite shifting from the 20- to 30-foot range in early fall to 50-foot depths by the end of the season.

Though the size and number of walleye in Brookville Lake can fluctuate a bit from year to year, it tends to stay relatively stable. The majority of walleye measured in recent DNR sampling were over the 14-inch minimum legal length.

Brookville Lake Catfish Fishing

Channel catfish are the most common fish species that turn up in DNR electrofishing and trap net surveys of Brookville Lake. They’re incredibly abundant and are also well distributed throughout the reservoir. 

Brookville is generally considered to be more of a numbers lake than a big cat fishery, but you can expect lots of 2- and 3-pound channels on any given day. There are also some quality 6- to 10-pound channel catfish here, but fish bigger than that are rare.

There’s also a modest population of flathead and blue catfish here, though they’re vastly less common than channels. Anglers catch flatheads in the 10- to 15-pound range with some regularity, and blues occasionally top 50 pounds.

Channel catfish are the first to start biting in spring. Bank anglers catch a lot of them along the dam and in Brookville’s coves in April using anything from cut shad to chicken livers to nightcrawlers.

Blues start biting a little later, and flatheads are most often caught in summer.

From spring right through summer and into fall, fishing is often best after dark in Brookville Lake’s coves.

The adjoining Gar Hill and Templeton Creek coves on the east side of the lake are especially good, but virtually any of the lake’s many creeks and coves can produce catfish.

When fishing Gar Hill, Templeton and other coves, key cover to look for includes flooded timber (there’s a lot of it) as well as submerged roadbeds and bridges. 

Main lake fishing can also be excellent and often overlooked. Flats and humps on the main lake are great places to find actively feeding groups of larger catfish during daylight hours. Drift fishing is also easier here when the wind is right. 

There’s a very productive flat just outside the mouth of the Gar Hill Cove on the main lake and another just north of the Fairfield Causeway. The causeway is also a great area to fish from the bank.

Brookville Lake Crappie Fishing

Brookville Lake offers an excellent crappie fishery, with abundant populations of both black and white crappies.

Spring is the best time to catch them, as early warming trends get crappies moving out of deep water haunts and into the lake’s coves in March. 

Anglers often catch a few crappies while walleye fishing (and vice versa) in early spring, and both are likely to gobble up a minnow-tipped jig. By April, the crappie bite shifts to shallower waters in the extreme back ends of coves. 

A lot of fish can often be caught in 5 feet of water or less, though at times they’ll gravitate to 10- to 15-foot depths. Be prepared to move around until you find fish. Long-line trolling is a great way to do that. 

In coves like Templeton and Wolf Creek with a lot of stumps and timber, focus on wood.

Other excellent areas to find spring crappies include Egypt Hollow, Wolf Creek, Salt Well Creek, and around the marina docks in Kents Harbor. 

Ice fishing is also an option. The main body of Brookville Lake doesn’t typically offer safe ice in winter, but the coves usually do. Coves with deeper water, like Templeton and Wolf Creek, offer the best ice fishing for crappies.

Other Fish Species

Brookville Lake offers excellent multispecies fishing, and it’s common to catch a mixed bag any time you cast a line into the lake.

These are some of the other common fish species you might encounter:

Striped Bass

The Indiana DNR stocks striped bass in a handful of Indiana reservoirs. Brookfield Lake was among the first lakes state officials stocked with these large predators, and they’ve been planted here most years since 1974. 

That being said, stripers have yet to become truly abundant here, and relatively few anglers actively pursue them. Due to the limitations of the lake’s habitat and water quality, striped bass seldom exceed 10 pounds. 

Still, a fish that size is nothing to sneeze at. Packs of stripers mostly patrol main lake points and ledges on the lower lake, where they hunt schools of shad. They prefer deep, cool water and are generally caught in spring and fall. 

Trolling these areas is the most efficient approach. Some anglers also connect with stripers by drifting live shad or jigging spoons over deep structure.

At certain times, especially mornings and evenings, stripers feed near the surface and can be tempted by topwaters and jerkbaits. 


Brookville Lake is the site of Indiana’s longest-running muskellunge stocking program. These toothy giants have been stocked here since 1974, and the reservoir has produced multiple state-record muskies over the years. 

Muskellunge are known for being solitary predators, and as with any muskie lake, Brookville Lake demands that you put in some time on the water to catch one. There’s a reason why they’re known as the “fish of 10,000 casts.”

Of course, bass and walleye anglers are sometimes caught off-guard when a sizable muskellunge clamps down on one of their crankbaits. Typical Brookville Lake muskies measure 30 to 40 inches, but bigger individuals are out there. 

The most effective tactics are casting and trolling oversized crankbaits and swimbaits along points, deep weed edges, and in timber areas.

Muskies often use standing timber as cover, so any spot with some trees near deep water is a good target. 

Brookville Tailwater Trout Fishing

Although Brookville Lake is strictly a warm water fishery, the tailwater below its dam offers something quite different. This section of the East Fork Whitewater River is home to some of the best trout fishing in Indiana. 

This unique opportunity exists thanks to consistent annual stocking by the Indiana DNR and to cold, well-oxygenated water discharged from below the Brookville Dam. Brown trout are the more common trout species and trout anglers catch individual browns over 20 inches are caught every year. 

There are some beautiful rainbow trout here too.

Trout fishing is available for about 2 miles below the dam, down to where the East Fork Whitewater River merges with the West Fork. 

Anglers employ a wide variety of methods to catch these trout. Spinning anglers find success using spoons, spinners, and a variety of live baits, including minnows and nightcrawlers.

The tailwater is also one of Indiana’s premier fly fishing streams.

Nymphing is the go-to tactic for fly anglers, with Hare’s Ear and Pheasant Tail nymphs accounting for a lot of nice fish. Scuds and sowbugs are also a big part of the trout diet here, and sporadic caddis fly hatches provide opportunities to toss some dry flies.

Trout fishing in the Brookville Tailwater is available year-round, but the best fishing is in spring and fall.

Smallmouth bass and walleye are available in the river as well. Fly fishing with Wooly Buggers and crayfish flies often nabs a few smallmouths as well as big brown trout.

As a courtesy, it’s generally best to avoid trout fishing in the Brookville Tailwater when water temperatures approach 70 degrees in summer, as sometimes happens in July and August. Temperatures in this range put a lot of stress on trout, resulting in a higher mortality rate.

Planning Your Trip

Brookville Lake offers four-season angling opportunities. The best time to visit depends on what you want to catch, but there’s no wrong time to fish here.

State lands mostly surround the lake, with two state recreation areas that provide ample access. 

There are also several bait shops and marinas in the area. The town of Brookville, located just south of the lake, is a good-sized town that offers a range of options for lodging, shopping and dining.

Getting to Brookville Lake

Located close to the Ohio state line, part of Brookville Lake’s popularity is due to its proximity to two major cities: Indianapolis and Cincinnati. The lake is about 90 minutes from Indianapolis via I-74, State Route 244 and US-52. Cincinnati is less than an hour away. 

Bank & Boat Access

The primary access to Brookville Lake is through Mounds State Recreation Area (on the lower end of the lake) and Quakertown State Recreation Area (on the upper end of the lake). The official Brookville Lake brochure from the Indiana DNR has good information on both. 

Within these two state recreation areas, anglers can choose among 10 different boat launch sites, most of which also offer quality bank fishing opportunities. Some of the best places to get on the water include: 

  • Overlook Ramp: The closest launch site to the Brookville Dam, the Overlook Ramp is sometimes referred to as the Bonwell Hill Boat Ramp. There’s ample parking and good bank access here. Bank fishing is also possible nearby along the face of the dam.
  • Garr Hill & Templeton Ramps: On the east side of the lower lake, the forked coves formed by Garr Hill and Templeton Creek each have their own boat ramps. These are some of the more popular ramps on the lake due to their proximity to the campground and beach within Mounds State Recreation Area.
  • Fairfield Causeway: Though not an “official” access site, trailheads at either end of the Fairfield Causeway provide angler parking and an opportunity to walk out along the riprap on either side of the bridge. 
  • Fairfield Marina: This state-operated marina offers docking and launch facilities on the west side of the lake, just north of the causeway.
  • Kent’s Harbor: A privately-owned marina operated in conjunction with the Sagamore Resort, Kent’s Harbor Marina provides boat rentals and over 400 docking slips on a small cove on the east side of the lake.
  • Egypt Hollow & Fairfield Ramps: These two state-owned launch ramps are almost directly across from one another on the main lake, Egypt Hollow on the west side and Fairfield on the east. Egypt Hollow has the better bank fishing access of the two. 
  • Hannah Creek Ramp: With excellent launch facilities on its namesake cove on Brookville Lake’s east side, the Hannah Creek Ramp offers a large parking area, a multi-lane ramp, ample bank access, and docking.
  • Quakertown Marina: The Quakertown Marina is a popular launch site toward the upper end of the lake on its west side. This spot is a short drive from the Quakertown Recreation Area campground and includes a fishing pier, launch ramps, boat docks and rentals.
  • Dunlapsville Boat Ramp: This modest launch site is often one of the less crowded spots to launch on Brookville Lake, located toward the upper end of the reservoir on the east side.

In addition to the aforementioned access sites on the main lake, fishing access to the Brookville Tailwater section of the East Fork Whitewater River is available through the Corps of Engineers-operated Dam Overlook area and at Brookville Town Park