Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cumberland River Fishing

Yesterday I went to the Cumberland River to do some Trout fishing. This is the first time I have targeted Trout since we moved to Kentucky, over three years ago. I did not know what to expect.

The fishery is on the tailwaters of Wolf Creek Dam. This is the Dam currently undergoing repairs by the Army Corp of Engineers due to cracks found in the substructure. For those that have read the sensationalized version, yes this is the dam that could cause Nashville to flood.

The fishery is among the best tailwater fisheries in the east. And with the dam repairs taking place, the water level in the reservoir is being held at 680 feet above sea level. This means that the water flow out of the dam is constant, and they are not generating power. With no power generation the river is much more accessible. There are areas that are wadeable, and you do not need to worry about sudden water level increases due to increased output at the dam. And with the constant flow, 2007 was the first year a successful trout spawn was recorded. While the trout do attempt to spawn each year, the increased output during power generation prevents those attempts from being successful.

The trip started at 5:00am. We drove to the first location we wanted to fish, about 4 miles downstream from the dam. It was a boat ramp, with a large, wadeable area. We arrived at first light and suited up. While the day was plenty warm, the water was cold. Fleece was a definite plus underneath the waders. As we put on our waders several other vehicles arrived, some with boats. We walked down to the frigid water and started casting. We could see fish rising around us, but could not entice them to the fly. We had a couple light hits, but no hook ups. We were not the only ones as we only witnessed one fish caught in four hours. We finally packed up and headed further downstream.

The next access point was at Creelsboro Natural Bridge. The bridge was an impressive natural wonder, the largest arch I have seen. It was a short walk to the water, where we once again wet our lines. There was very little current, and no fish wanted our offerings. By this time it was about 70 degrees outside. Fish or no fish, it was a beautiful day away from work, standing on the water. After an hour and a half of no strikes, we headed further downstream to the next accessible spot.

The next spot was at another boat ramp. There were some fish rising, and I could see several in the water. I had on a small Caddis dry fly, with a nymph tied below that. I cast out into the current a few times when suddenly there was a splash at my fly, and the line went tight. As the fish fought it appeared to be sideways. I thought my line was probably wrapped around the tail. I worked him to the net, where I found the nymph hooked to his fin. I removed the hook and took a photo. It was a 12 inch Brown Trout. He had beautiful coloring, and it was nice to see a trout for the first time in a couple years. I gently put him back in the water and watched him slowly swim away.

We fished a while more with no more hook ups. We decided to go back to the first boat ramp, where we saw a lot of fish in the water. But once again, could not get them to take. So we drove to the dam. By this time it was starting to get dark. We had a few casts, but did not really expect anything. It had been a nice day, and with darkness upon us we headed home.

I would fish the Cumberland again. I know there are some large trout in the system. Next time, however, I would either hire a guide, or use a boat. Without a boat there were only a few accessible points along the river. This limited our ability to cover the water. And it never hurts to hire a guide when fishing new water to show you the water and techniques.

Of course, as one gentleman put it, we should have been there the day before. Is that not always the case?


John Ruberto said...

Great post. Good luck on your return.


John said...

Nice update Ryan. I wish it were 70 degrees here!
I have received your flies. We're waiting on a famous blowfish fisherman. When I get his they will be sent out.

David Knapp said...

Nice report! The Cumberland is an amazing river with some nice fish. Some days are just tough... Next time try some deep nymph rigs with midges and copper johns...

Chris said...

So the fish can smell the danger below the dam, eh?