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Cumberland River Fly Fishing Report 4-29-19

Get those fly rods out because early summer fishing on the Cumberland river is coming fast!

My apologies for not posting a fishing report for a while, but there’s been little to report regarding fishing the Cumberland river tailwater until now. During the Fall (2018) and Spring (2019), several heavy precipitation cycles hit the entire Southeast with tons of reservoir filling rain. The results were record setting lake levels, out of this world water releases from area dams, and downstream flooding. Nearly every tailwater in the Southeast experienced very high flows causing fly fisherman to seek other avenues to fish somewhere other than the Southeast. We all sat at our tying stations wondering if the rain would ever stop.

After almost 5 months of high water, the end is in sight. Generation schedules have been a constant 220 MW / (15,000 + CFS) for weeks which equates to flows too high for productive fly fishing on the Cumberland river. That is about to change.

Current Lake Cumberland levels are below 723 feet. This is the point at which the Corps of Engineers /TVA will start to think very hard about easing generation schedules on the tailwater below Wolf Creek Dam. The Corps plan does not include continuing to lower Lake Cumberland with sustained high generation, contingent upon Lake Cumberland levels staying below 723. (as long as)

Look for generation schedules to start easing sometime around May 3rd, 4th or 5th. I would imagine that there will be lower flow allowing opportunities for decent fly fishing to occur on the river starting at this time. Of course, if major precipitation hits the Cumberland river drainage basin causing Lake Cumberland to rise, this is all subject to change. I’ve had lots of anglers calling, Facebook messaging, and e-mailing me about river conditions and trip availability and I’m glad to say it’s time to clean those fly lines, stretch those leaders, dust off those fly boxes and get ready to fish.

As a result of high Cumberland river flows this spring, I’ve been guiding on the Clinch river outside of Knoxville, TN. The Clinch is a superb tailwater that offers great fishing. It’s also that time of year when recreational generation schedules start to go in to effect on the Clinch which means very structured release schedules. Getting to the Clinch will take most anglers about 30 more minutes traveling South on I-75 than getting to the Cumberland. Like the Cumberland river, there are a handful of places to wade the Clinch, but most of the river is available only by boat. I will continue to guide on the Clinch throughout the year if a trip other than drifting the Cumberland interests you. The Clinch is a fun river.

Lots of quality fish being caught on the Clinch right now.

What else has been going on? Other than tying massive amounts of flies like everyone else, I’ve picked up a new Stealthcraft Aftermath that is very roomy and comfortable. I’ve guided several clients in it and everyone loves it! I’ve developed a few new fly patterns that I’m hoping will be productive and I’ve also perfected a different, productive and super cool way of fly fishing tailwaters that no one else is using (yet). Book a trip and I'll show you.

The new ride

As a side, I think it’s worth noting that the Corps of Engineers did an unbelievable job of lowering the Lake Cumberland reservoir during the month of March. I sure didn't think The river would start to become fishable in May.

Please remember that the Kendall boat ramp is currently closed due to damage sustained during heavy generation. Not sure how long it will be out of commission, but I’ve received word that repairs will begin as soon as possible.

If you’re interested in booking a trip or have any questions about the Cumberland or Clinch river, please contact me via e-mail, cell, or text.

Fish Hard!


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