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End of Summer Cumberland River Fly Fishing Report 09-10-18

Fly fishing for trout on the Cumberland river hasn't been on fire, but it's been close. Over the past 2 weeks our seasonal temperatures have changed, more leaves are transitioning to fall color, generation schedules have been mixed, and trout in the river have noticed all of this.

Fly fisherman are enjoying quality trout everywhere on the Cumberland right now.

Of importance to fly fisherman is that the Corps of Engineers and TVA have started the annual start up of sluicing. This is not a bad thing, but a good thing. Trout have been energized by the additional oxygen in the river and resulting cooler water temps from the sluice gate(s). I fished one day last week and was amazed at the difference in the pull of some of the fish caught. I think the sluice adds 2 inches to the attitude of every trout in the river. As an example, a 12" fish fights the drag like he's a 14"er and so on and so forth. I'm seeing more and more non-hesitant takes by fish. At times the bite can be a small barely noticeable 'tap,' 'tap' causing the indicator to barely move. Over the past two weeks however, I've noticed there are many more instances of indicators going under fast as a bullet. Aggressive fish make fly fishing terribly fun and exciting.

Another victim of a 'frenchie'

I want to go back to the sluice gate here. Please note that the COE / TVA have been employing a mix of using the sluice gates as well as an orifice. Note that the orifice is only a sluice gate with a restrictor plate. The plate simply reduces the flow. For instance this past Thursday and Friday there was a full slice gate open and over the weekend there was simply an orifice open. Below is an example of the orifice from the Nashville COE site. The current 520 CFS flow that an orifice provides is awesome for fly fishermen and trout definitely respond extremely well to its influence.

If you want to make the best use of your time on the Cumberland river, you need to have a very thorough knowledge of how all this sluicing and generating works. Using this knowledge wisely will place you in the position to optimize your experience on the river and your catch rate. Guides have all this dialed in. Here is a link to a report I wrote a while back that explains some of the concepts of generation from the COE / TVA: "Interpreting TVA Preschedule"

This guy was fooled by a red brassie tied on a # 16 TMC2499SP-BL

My wife and I attended the Annual Louisville TU Banquet in Louisville last week and let me tell you that there are not nicer people anywhere. If you are into fly fishing, you owe it to yourself to go to the banquet at least once and meet some of the great people that sacrifice their time for our cold water fisheries. You will make a handful of new friends.

So, what's been working on putting fish in the net? I hate to sound like a broken record, but the time tested old time standards are still the best producers. Flies that have been successful are: Frenchies (shrimp pink and red), zebra midges, PT's, egg patterns and streamers if the generation is high enough. I've not used anything less that 5x tippet over the past couple of weeks and I've been glad on several occasions.

Bigger fish seem to be making themselves more apparent and it won't be long before spawning begins and trout loose their minds about everything but one thing.

I appreciate all of you that have said hello on the river and also follow Cumberland Bottom Ticklers on social media. If you want to get out and catch some trout, get in touch with me.

Fish Hard and watch those indicators!


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