Don Williams with a fat 22 1/2 inch rainbow from a recent Cumberland river trip.
Let's see, exactly where to begin? It's been a little while since I've put out an updated fishing report. Quite simply, for the past several months there's been little to report. Our fall and spring were filled with record breaking rains. Since October 2018 much of the Southeast received one storm system after another. For months heavy rainfall filled reservoirs to capacity while dams released massive amounts of water in a mad rush to ease pressure on dams. We all held our breath as spring and most of summer came and went as the Cumberland rolled on, too high to fish successfully. Late spring of this year there were a handful of opportunities to chase trout on the Cumberland, but they were few and far between. Anglers called and e-mailed wanting to know about river conditions and inquiring when the Corps of Engineers and TVA would ease generation schedules enough to allow fishing.
After months of tying flies, watching fishing videos, and excessive whining, generation schedules are finally looking good. Not only are the schedules looking good, but lots of fish (and high quality fish at that) are being caught. I had reservations about what the river would be like after so much high generation for such a long period. I heard rumors that ranged from the absurd to plain weird. A few of them were (1) there are no more fish in the river as they had all been washed downstream (2) There are no small to medium fish in the river as the flow over the past (9) months was too much for them and they perished (3) Only big fish survived the 9 month high water event as they were the only ones able to find food (4) all insect and vegetation has been scoured from the bottom and the Cumberland would not recover (5) The State had abandoned all stocking of the Cumberland river, and (6) public ramps would be closed for years until they were repaired. I'm happy to report that all the fore mentioned are false, untrue, unfounded, and incorrect. The Cumberland river is back in a big way.
Releasing another 20 incher to grow some more!
I've been on the river several times over the past few days and can report that fishing is actually pretty good. No, let me rephrase that, fishing has been very good. Numbers have been high and fish quality has been very good. Plenty of 15-18 inch fish are being netted and their spunk is high.
Lots of 15-18 inch fish being brought to the net right now.
The Corps has been sluicing for the past several days. The colder and highly oxygenated water from the sluice increases the fight in fish once they are hooked. The sluice also provides a perfect drift for presenting flies. Speaking of flies, the old standards are working and working well. Beadhead princes, sow bug patterns, pheasant tails and smaller jigged wooly buggers are producing exceptionally well and placing lots of fish in the net. I hear that egg patterns are fooling lots of fish too. The standard seams, shoals, pockets, and wood have been producing.
Water clarity is not good yet, but it's not bad either. I guess it's somewhere in the middle. The ramp at the dam, Helms Landing ramp, and Winfrey's Ferry ramp are all open and useable. I was impressed earlier this summer at how quickly the Corps repaired the ramp at the dam. Of course with the extended high water, there were a few changes to the river. Mostly, there are a handful of trees that made their way into the river from softened river banks and a few root wads that have been re-located downriver, but for the most part it's the same river as before the sustained high water events of the past several months.
Fish quality has been very good and 4x-5x leaders and tippet have stayed on reels all day. Once again, if you find a pod of fish, pick em apart. Be sure to strive for good placement of casts and get those nymphs down on the bottom. The mornings have been the time to get on the river before water hits in the afternoon. Watch for the generation schedules to possibly change up a bit once the Lake hits 710'. If you're looking to wade, please be aware that the sluice is running probably eliminating wading opportunities.
If you want to get in on the action and experience catching trout on the Cumberland, please get in touch with me via phone, text, e-mail, messenger, etc. My schedule is not full just yet, but the calendar is filling up.
Thanks to all of you that follow Cumberland Bottom Ticklers on social media.