Welcome to full blown summer in South Central Kentucky. So far this summer has been a blast on the river. Fishing on the Cumberland River lately has been anywhere from outstanding to average. I've guided recent trips where 60 plus fish were brought to net and I've guided a couple of recent trips where we struggled to get the numbers. Every year I have a couple of days where I think I've got the river figured out and dialed in only to receive a curve ball. If that hasn't happened to you, then you haven't been fishing the Cumberland long. Summer on the Cumberland River is like that of any other tail water in that change is a constant. However, the more you are willing to adapt, the more successful you'll be. Be willing to work hard and fish smart and you will catch fish, lots of fish. By this time of year the trout have seen every assortment of flies from fly fisherman imaginable. Spin fishermen have pulled rooster tails and plopped balls of power bait into every hole imaginable. The trout have seen it all by now and some days the fish can get picky. Keep fishing.
Lots of fish this size being put in the net right now.
What has been working quite well is getting an early start in the morning. Take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures and daily fog on the river this time of year. Right now water clarity is exceptional. Once the sun approaches a position directly over the river and shade is hard to find, the bite typically slows down. But, fish can still be caught. When this happens don't hesitate to drop down to 6X-7X tippet. You might have to experiment a little with what flies they are willing to take. With super clear water, casting 10 feet to the side of the boat is not going to work in your favor. However, you don’t need a 70 foot cast on the Cumberland to catch fish either. When the sun gets directly overhead, everything casts a shadow and unnatural shadows alert fish. Place your fly out a little further or in front of the boat (you should be doing that anyway). The less you alert the fish you are there, the more success you'll have. Try to limit false casting. If you do re-cast, try and be as quite as possible. Nothing tells trout you are there more than a big plop and splash of your fly and indicator. That's the equivalent of throwing a rock on top of a fish.
Work structure. Ease up to that root wad or mass of timber and fish the closest edge. Then, fish the other side. Finally throw right into the middle of it. Sure you might get hung up and loose everything, but chances are you're going to connect and land a fish more than not. Fish moving water too. Riffles and runs are going to be very productive. Lastly, work the 'swing'. Trout love to take a fly on the swing. I can't count the number of times clients give up on a drift only to connect on the swing.
Cool mornings are killer right now on the Cumberland
Most importantly, stay hydrated. With temps on the upper end of hot, drinking plenty of water is a must. At the end of the day you can feel if you've stayed hydrated or not. Drink that water!
What flies are working? Some days the zebra midge has been productive and other days not so much. Of course PT’s, Princes, egg patterns fished in the right water, and shop vacs have all been catching fish. My last trip we were able to catch a few fish on hoppers. It’s that time of year when foam needs to be in your arsenal. If you have a couple of fish that hit your indicator, that’s your pie in the face clue to tie on a hopper/dropper combo. Don’t forget about Cicada’s either. Some bigger fish are being caught right now and that trend should only continue.
It’s a fun time to fish the Cumberland. Contact me via cell, e-mail, or text to get in on the action. As usual, thanks to all of you that follow on social media!