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Cumberland Report Feb 14, 2024

It's so true that the only constant in life is change.  Our beloved Cumberland River is following that same idea with change being the norm instead of the exception.  There was a lot going on at Wolf Creek Dam and on the river itself in 2023 and 2024 looks to be even busier. 


I’ll start this report by saying “Thank You” to all of you that came out to support the Derby City Fly Fishers and the 17th Annual Kentuckiana Fly Fishing Show on January 20th.  The weather outside was absolutely freezing, but the temperature in the Oasis Conference center was toasty as vendors and patrons enjoyed a full day of everything fishy.  I really enjoyed seeing lots of familiar faces as well as some new ones too.  I’m already looking forward to next year's show.  The BUFF show on February 2nd was also a success and I want to say thank you to all of you that stopped to say hello or ask about the Cumberland.

I guess an update on the boat ramp at Wolf Creek Dam is up next.  We all know that the boat ramp at the dam was crumpled and rendered unusable due to flooding in 2019.  Bluegrass Contracting started working on repairs in 2022.  The ramp closure forced anglers to launch from Ray Mann Road or Helms Landing.  This did cause some occasional crowding and aggravation as well as entertainment.  We all waited with bated breath for completion which finally occurred in the fall of 2023.  An announcement was made on social media on October 6, 2023 and it didn't take long for the news to travel.  The ramp and parking lot look great.  Bluegrass Contracting did some nice work. There are still some guardrails to be installed, but the ramp is better than ever. I've included a handful of pictures depicting several recent physical stages of the ramp.

Before 2019 damage from flood waters

After 2019 damage from flood waters

Ramp under construction in April 2023

Reconstructed ramp fall 2024

Reconstructed ramp fall 2024

There's been a steel ramp usage fee collection box at the top of the ramp for years. In February there will be a concrete pad poured and a credit card machine installed that will also allow anglers to pay ramp use fees via credit card.

The new machine will look similar to the machine located at Halcomb's Landing and will be up and running sometime this spring.

There is still some riverbank stabilization repair work ongoing just further down river from the Wolf Creek Dam boat ramp on the right descending bank. This is from flood erosion which threatened several campsites at Kendall Campground in 2019. This work will hopefully reach completion before the 2024 camping season. The road will be paved when temperatures reach sustained 50 degrees, allowing easy access once again to those campsites.

Bank stabilization at Kendal Campground.

Another item worth mentioning is the bridge being built at Black Fish Creek up above Helms Landing. There's been staging activity on both sides of the river with heavy equipment and a crane on site on the right descending side of the river and more equipment and road access down to the river on the left descending bank.

Aerial view of bridge site at Black Fish Creek

Staging activity on left descending bank at Black Fish Creek

Staging activity on right descending bank at Black Fish Creek

From what I understand, environmental permitting processes are still underway that require input from USCG / COE and approval before further construction begins in the river. This is a really interesting project that will affect the river in a huge way during and after construction.

The cryogenic facility in the works at the intersection of Dam Road and Ray Mann Road is slowly starting to come together. Here are a couple of links that will give you the latest on that project:

The fishing was excellent in 2023 as usual, and I stayed busy guiding wonderful clients from mid-April through December. Below are a few images from the 2023 season.

What does 2024 have in store for the Cumberland? Well, Cicadas.... cicadas... cicadas seem to be on everyone's mind. The Cumberland always has annual cicadas. In fact, you can almost set your watch on when you will start to hear their chorus every day once they show up. I've been getting more and more questions about the forecasted periodic cicada hatch this year and its obvious cicada mania has settled in. Will a periodic brood hit the Cumberland? Exactly where and when is to still to be determined. There are tons of maps and hatch zones on-line and you can spend plenty of time researching the different brood hatches and their geographic emergence zones. The link below will direct you to Cicada Mania, one of the better online resources for everything cicada.

What is the current condition of the Cumberland? Well, recent rains have finally produced enough precipitation flow into Lake Cumberland that the COE / TVA are starting a pretty healthy routine of generation around the clock seven days a week starting today. If you look at the lake levels over the past couple of years, you can see that mother nature is right on time with weather patterns and precipitation.

I'm hopeful that the spring fishing season on the Cumberland starts earlier as opposed to later. Right now, it's a waiting game to see how much precipitation is received this spring which will determine when good generation schedules for fly fishing are normalized.

I want to thank all of you that have continued to ask about my mom who's been going through an intense health battle over the past year. It's been a difficult year for my family with all types of ups and downs that are still ongoing but seem to be settling. It's been a big part of why I've been absent from social media for most of the year. 2024 will be much different.

Lastly, I hope that 2024 is your best year yet. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the Cumberland or if you want to get out and fish. Please be kind and if you see me on the river be sure to say hello.

Thank you and fish hard!



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