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Mid Summer Cumberland River Fly Fishing Report 07-17-18

Nymphing is the name of the game on the Cumberland.

Slightly higher than average temperatures and great trout fishing have been the trend over the past few weeks on the Cumberland River. Summer is in full swing and cool, foggy mornings on the river have been consistent and a blast to fish in. Speaking of fog, slow it down if it's a foggy morning while driving around the river. There are dogs, deer, chickens, and the occasional pedestrian that can be on or near the road. A split second is all it takes for something to suddenly appear out of the fog and ruin your day, or worse.

On a lighter note, I've heard some of the most humorous ramp talk while floating down the river under the veil of fog this year than I've heard in a long while. Sound carries a very long way on the river. And hats off to the stand up kayaker we saw last month fly fishing in speedos only. Sir, if you're reading this, I thank you for the chuckle.

As usual, generation schedules have been sporadic and a little unpredictable. It's been that way for years. Weekend water generation schedules have been steady in as typically what water generation occurs on Saturday will occur on Sunday. However, be sure to check the Corps of Engineers and TVA websites as there have been a couple of exceptions to the rule recently. If you can go during the week as opposed to the weekend, you will experience less crowd at the ramps as well as on the river. I've guided several days during the week this summer where I've seen only one or two other boats on the river all day.

A decent rainbow caught in the top of the fourth quarter before the end of the day.

Since it's full blast summer, there are a few things that might prove helpful to put fish in the net. First, if the generation allows, be on the water first thing in the morning. Take advantage of morning fog and cooler temperatures. Fishing gets tougher as the fog dissipates and turns tougher when the sun gets directly overhead.

If the water is super clear and low, you're going to have to throw smaller tippet and flies. I've seldom fished anything larger than a size 16 for a while now. It's that time of year where there is a gradual change in what the fish are hitting. Don't be afraid to change flies.

It's also that time of year where you might have a bang up fantastic day and have the next day simply be average. For example, last week I guided a client a couple of times through a run where we picked off 17 fish. Two days later with a different client in the same run and same conditions, we netted two.

A nice section with flow for nymphing

So, what's been working? Clients have been having lots of success with a variety of flies including the age old standard zebra midges, pheasant tails, brassies, copper johns, etc, etc. I've been using 6X tippet for a while now with high water clarity. The biggest pieces of advice I can offer is to fish moving water, watch your drifts, and stay focused on your indicator.

A little bit of brown on a blue bird day.

It's that time of year when you might start having a few more strikes on your indicator. I haven't started fishing foam hoppers yet, but it's getting very close. Fishing the hopper dropper set-up is a ton of fun. There's nothing like a topside blow up to get your blood flow going.

Have you noticed that cicadas are all over the state of Kentucky right now? If you've got a cicada pattern you need to try it.


With the temps as high as they've been lately, it's important to keep hydrated. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water, gatorade, or whatever you brought along. I'll also throw in a spot for sunscreen here. Put it on, you won't be sorry.

In all, the Cumberland is fishing well and plenty of fish are being netted. All sizes are being caught with plenty of slot fish and the occasional 20 + incher.

If you have any questions about fishing conditions or generation schedules, shoot me an e-mail. If you want to want to get out on the water, text, call, or e-mail as well.

Thanks for all of you that follow on social media. It's been really fun hearing from all of you!

Fish Hard!


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