Well folks I know it’s been a little while since the last fishing report. I extend my apologies. Life has been very busy. I’ve been busy guiding, working my regular job and spending as much time as I can with my family. I wouldn’t change a thing. I want to begin by saying 'thank you' to all of the anglers I’ve recently guided. It’s been a lot of fun. I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had to spend time with each of you on the water. It’s been a blast netting your fish!
Seasons are starting to change and the Cumberland is starting to change also. Foliage along the river is now turning colors at a serious pace. Sycamore leaves have been falling for a few weeks now and recent windy days have thrown them into the river even more. We’ve all caught leaves and mistaken it for a strike. It’s an annual rite of passage. Temperatures have started to gradually cool and it’s been very pleasant to be on water. It won’t be long before temperatures take a serious downturn. It’s a great time of year to be chasing trout.
TVA and the Corps of Engineers have been very generous with predictable and consistent flows both through the week and during the weekends. Typically, there has been one generator running for 3-4 hours in the early morning, then no generation for 3-4 hours and finally 1 generator for the remainder of the day. Of importance is that a sluice gate has been operating in conjunction with the 1 generator for some time now. The sluice is roughly 1500 CFS which is equal to about ½ of the amount of water coming from a single generator. So in reality, when TVA / COE have been letting water loose from the dam it’s really been generally equal to 1 ½ generators. I also noticed that about 3 weeks ago there was also an orifice open at the dam for a few days. Be sure to study up on 84 Reports located here: Project 84 Reports.
Being able to read these reports will help you understand the river much more than you realize. I’m planning on writing a brief overview on how to interpret the 84’s soon.
I like the current flow schedule as it affords opportunity to fish nymphs in the morning and then pound the banks with streamers in the afternoons. Be aware that with the sluice gate open, water temperatures are a bit cooler nearer the dam. Some anglers believe this has a slight effect on the bite.
Kristy with her first trout on a fly rod!
Where have we been fishing? The upper section has been fishing well. From Helms landing to Winfreys has been fishing well also, but more concentrations of fish to me seem to be closer to the dam. I’ve guided both sections several times recently and results have varied each trip. Flies that have been working have been the regulars such as pheasant tails, zebra midges, smaller hares ears, guides choice, and red and dark brown worm patterns. I tie a funny little ¾ inch long worm pattern that has been very successful.
I know that some of you purest out there might cringe at the thought of using an egg pattern, but an 1/80th oz or 1/64th oz weighted egg pattern rolled along the bottom can produce crazy results this time of year. I’ve been fishing egg patterns and egg head leeches for steelhead over ten years and Cumberland trout key in on them just like steelhead do. Be sure to fish the colors red, orange, and pink.
Don’t be afraid to switch up flies. I had a trip last week where we switched flies almost all day before we found out what they would take consistently. Switching out flies is work, but the reward is well worth it. When it comes time to break out the streamer rod, don’t forget to let it swing. The tug on a swing is very satisfying. Fish streamers that you have confidence in and expect a hit on every pull. If you fish streamers correctly, you are going to be worn out at the end of the day. Once again, It’s worth it.
With the current flows, be sure to look for seams and fish the heck out of them. Don’t be surprised if you anchor up and catch a dozen or so trout from a nice fish holding seam. These seams are everywhere and are easy to spot. Fish hold back on the far side of the seam and wait for the current to bring food right by them. They barely move while feeding in this manner. The only caveat is that you have to be able to place the fly correctly in the seam. This can be tricky for new fly rod enthusiast that aren’t yet skilled at mending in multiple currents. If you hook one get it out of there gentle yet quick so as not to spook the remaining fish in the seam. For you guys that don’t know the river well, look at the leaves in the water, they will tell you where the seams are.
Typical Fall brown trout
With cooler temperatures on the way you can expect that many anglers will be trading in their fly rods for shotguns and rifles. This means fewer anglers and boat traffic on the river. Just because cooler temperatures are imminent, don’t let that stop you from planning to go fishing. Fall and winter fishing can be great on the Cumberland. The main thing is to get out there and have fun. If you want to go, give me a call, text or e-mail. Thanks for reading and sharing the report and good luck on the water!