Lake Cumberland - Kentucky
Fishing Report - Lake Cumberland - Kentucky - 28/05/2008
THE LAKE CUMBERLAND STRIPER FISHING REPORT
DATE OF REPORT: May 28, 2008
• Latest water temperature: 66.2° F surface (Wolf Creek) May 22nd, 2008
• Latest water temperature: 66.0° F surface (Main Lake) May 23rd, 2008
• Latest water temperature: 65.9° F surface (Beaver Creek) May 22nd, 2008
• Current lake level is 681.11 feet.
Currently, the lake level is about one foot higher than the target 680 above sea level (working on the dam) elevation. It is about 42-44 feet below the tree line, which is about 725' above sea level. I will keep you posted.
ACTIVITY / CURRENT REPORT
Since my last report, the fishing has remained steady but not fantastic. The cooler water is to blame mostly. Also, it is full “Striper” spawn time now. It should be over in another week or two. We are still not catching as many huge females as we were several weeks back although we did catch a big female yesterday (see below). On most days we are still catching more males than females. We are catching some absolutely tremendous Smallmouth and some really nice Walleye! We are also catching a few nice fish at night.
The spring pattern has fallen a few weeks behind schedule. The bottom line is that the water is almost a full 10 degrees colder this May as compared to May 2007. Not only has the air been colder this spring, all the rain has also kept the water colder.
All through April, the fish had come out of the creek and gone out to the main lake and were on the surface. Now in May, the fish have moved off the main and are a mile or more back up into the creeks. Always remember, where the shad run so do the Striper! You may have to hunt with your fish finder for a while. Do not be afraid to spend some time doing this before putting your lines out. Pay close attention to your fish finder to watch for large schools of shad. Once you locate large schools of shad, the Stripers will be close by (even if you do not mark them).
What this means sports fans is that June will be a really great month. Things will “explode” all at once here shortly!
On most days we are pulling planer boards (on mild/windless days) in 30 to 75 feet of water with the live bait set on the boards and corks out the back from the surface to 30 feet deep. Go back in the creeks about ¾ of a mile and hunt until you find them.
On low pressure (cold/windy) days the fish move out deeper. On these days, we are pulling the middle of the creeks using planer boards and using down lines in 45 to 90 feet of water with the live bait set on the boards and corks from the 20 feet deep to 45 feet deep.
This time of year (as the spawn is in full swing), bottom fishing can also work very well. You can hit some big female Stripers this way. The trick is to beach your boat (or tie up) and throw Carolina rigged live (3 to 4 inch) Alewive or Threadfin shad out on the bottom. Be patient! Remember, the fish will need to “see”, “smell” and “sense” your shad. Look for red clay banks near deep water drop offs or deep points.
If you want to also hit the big smallmouth, then the bottom fishing with live shad is the hot ticket for the next 2 to 3 months. You can also throw small fat body crank baits on main lake and secondary main lake points as well.
The fish are now averaging about 12 pounds (males versus females is why the drop in weight) but are all still fat and healthy! On some days, you may not catch as many “numbers” of Stripers this time of year. But you can catch some nice quality trophies. Just stay focused! If you get a big hit, be sure to let him run at least 5 to 7 seconds to get the bait hooked solid.
If you catch a Striper less than 24 inches, try to keep it in the water, get the hook out of it and release it ASAP to give it the best chance to live (if you do not do this, the fish will likely die).
The water temperature is now hovering in the mid 60 degree area, depending on the weather. The surface Striper fishing is slow again, except for at night between 2:00 am until day break. The artificial surface bite will be really improving as the Striper’s metabolism gradually speeds up. There have been some nice fish caught on hair jigs. The surface action can “still really get turned on” in brief spurts! Keep a Red Fin or Lucky Craft Pointer tied on, or a small jigging spoon as well as a ¾ ounce Cumberland Pro Jig or ½ ounce Cumberland Pro Little Pal and stay ready! A good trick is to watch the gulls. If they are diving in a “Tornado” looking vortex, then you can bet the Stripers are under them driving the bait fish to the surface. You may also catch a monster in the jumps, so have plenty of fresh line on your reel!
If you find a school, you may have to position the boat over them and try to stay on them. On a windy day, you may be better off not using planer boards, but rather just use all "down lines" as it is easier to stay positioned over top of the fish this way.
We also still jigging hammered spoons and Cumberland Pro hair jigs when these big “waves” of fish come through.
I demonstrate these techniques on “Striper Fish like a Pro” Volume # 2.
If you see a school of Stripers on the surface feeding, be sure to not run your boat directly into the school. Come down off of plane at least 150 feet away then approach by trolling motor on high speed. Be patient as well, do not throw until your lure can reach the edges of the school (that is mentally “hard” to do).
Be respective of other boaters as well. Unfortunately, you may not always get the same treatment.
The reality is that the fish usually will not stay up long. However, check the time on your watch and stay in the general area. My experience this time of year is that they re-surface every 6 to 8 minutes as they “herd” the large schools of shad to the surface (like any predators herd their pray). Many times, I find that if I “run” over towards them when I see them come up, by the time I get there they are “back down”! Then, when I look over, they are coming up “right where I just came from”! This is a technique you just have to learn (to be at the right place at the right time). Truthfully, sometimes it is just “luck”.
If you do see fish feeding on the surface (watch with your binoculars as you are moving around), you can cast them:
1. Large Cumberland Pro Lures “Little Pals” (just burn it as fast as you can)
2. Large “hammered spoons” and painted spoons (I like the “Dangerous Dick” or the “Crocodile”). I fish these with a “herky – jerky” style fast (letting them then fall).
3. Big “walking baits” (Zara Spooks – white bottom with a silver top), the “Sammy 100” from Lucky Craft (silver side – blue back) or the Smithwick “Devils Horse” (Silver shiner). You “walk the dog” with these lures.
4. Large “split back” minnows (I prefer the largest “Bomber Long A” – Silver with blue/black back) or the largest ‘Rattlin Rouge” by Smithwick (Clown color) or the old faithful 5 inch Cotton Cordell “Red Fin” (Silver – Blue back). You fish these lures “stop and go” very fast.
5. And of course the old “standby” Cumberland Pro Striper Spinner jig with a white or chartreuse Cumberland Pro 6 inch Striper grub trailer
Striper fishing at its best!
StriperFun Guide Service now has (4) guides to serve your charter needs. We can handle large group and corporate outings!
If you want to catch Monster Stripers this spring and summer (when we catch major trophies), then you better book soon! All of StriperFun’s guide boats are covered and heated as well, so come see us. As always, all our guides are federally and State licensed and fully insured.
Being that it is spring time, we are booking heavy. However, we still have some availability for weekend and weekday trips in June (but call soon). Come enjoy the terrific spring fishing! The prime July dates are booking up as well, so do not wait too long to lock in your weekend trip!
The down rig bite is right around the corner! When I am downrigging, I am pulling Cumberland Pro “U 9” umbrella rigs and “Captain Jim Specials” staying in the creek channels. On the down riggers I am pulling Cumberland Pro ½ ounce white on white and chartreuse on chartreuse jigs, naturalized (rainbow trout colored) spoons and 6 inch pearl swim baits. I am pulling between 2.4 to 3.3 mph on the GPS with triple stacked riggers between 10 to 45 feet deep. Call me or email me to learn about the new “Captain Jim Special” multi-lure down rig setup that is really producing! You can order these great lures through StriperFun and purchase them with a nice discount! These catch big Walleyes as well.
ATTENTION ALL LAKE CUMBERLAND STRIPER FISHERMEN!
StriperFun Guide Service is the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Lake Cumberland area “exclusive dealer” for the Super Bait Tanks by Livewell Systems Inc.!
To really hit the “monster” Stripers, you need to use the freshest live shad. Not only can catching fresh shad be tough, keeping them alive used to be virtually impossible! That is, until the invention of the Super Bait Tanks by Livewell Systems Inc!
These tanks are very popular and each tank is custom hand made using only the finest products. Call me for details and special pricing (Striperfun clients get priority delivery on the waiting list)!
We are now into a new spring season. Winter has come and gone. Thus, the days are getting longer again as “twilight” rolls around just a little later now each night. The fishing is breathtaking! It is great to welcome in another new year, and exhilarating at the same time! Count your blessings each day and live “in the moment”, not in the future.
Our life cycle welcomes in this pattern/ change again with these trophy fish! It is time to tie your strongest line onto your stoutest rods and sharpen your hooks! There are monster Stripers in Lake Cumberland and they are hungry! I remain truly “pumped”!
Remember to “clean” your line after each deployment (and check for nicks in the line).
I have lots of great recipes on the striperfun.com website. Click on to check it out!
If you want to see more photos of recent catches, including some huge stringers of large Stripers, go to the StriperFun website for this as well!
Stripers will sometimes eat their body weight in shad, then not eat for a day or so. Some days, you may hit a school the day “after” it fed. Be patient, you cannot slay them everyday (or at all times of the day). Eventually, these schools will begin to yield large trophies!
If you are going to fish live bait, only the freshest bait will work. The Stripers have a lot of bait to eat (millions of alewives and gizzard shad per square mile) and slow “worn out” bait does not work well (if at all). Customers tell me all the time that the two main reasons they hire a guide is that we always have the freshest bait and we know where to go to catch the big ones!
StriperFun’s “how to” DVD series “Striper Fish like a Pro” instructional video “trilogy” is now complete! This includes Volume # One “The Basics” (which covers a little bit of everything), Volume # Two “Enhanced Live Bait techniques” (everything live bait you can imagine plus “catching shad”) and Volume # 3 “Advanced Umbrella rigs” (which also includes how to rig your boat and how to read your electronics)! You can buy Volume # One, Two or Three separately, or you can order all three “Striper Fish like a Pro” instructional videos packaged together in a “group discount” package. You can click the link at the beginning of this report to go to the StriperFun website and get my email or just call me. The website is now updated so you can purchase any or all three of the DVDs directly on line via Google checkout!
You will see some great action shots (and massive fish caught) and you can learn all the proven techniques we pros live by! If you are a serious Striper fisherman, this will help you!
JIM STRADER RADIO SHOW
Be sure to listen in to the "Outdoors with Jim Strader" show that airs weekly on Sunday Evenings from 6-8 pm on 84 WHAS-AM, a 50,000 watt Clear Channel radio station in Louisville Kentucky (you can listen in on line!). Tune in and catch Captain Jim’s Lake Cumberland Striper Fishing Report on Sunday night to see how the prior week’s fishing went!
The following is a follow up to the Special Report regarding Lake Cumberland, a leak that was found near the dam (a couple of years back) and how the Corp is now dealing with it.
As the press release indicates (and as we lake people have known for years), Lake Cumberland has a leak near the dam and the COE is fix it.
As I have taught fishing at the Louisville and Cincinnati Bass Pro Shops (thanks to all StriperFun clients and friends who came by to say hello!) and at other fishing locations, I got the same question / statement from literally hundreds of people. What people told me again and again was:
“I heard they drained Lake Cumberland”!
I politely told everyone that “No”, they did not drain the lake!
The bottom line is that, “No, the sky is not falling” (there is no great emergency)!
Although the dam needs to be fixed and the water is and will be a little lower than winter pool for a while (they have lowered the lake slightly to 680 feet), there is be plenty of water! Lake Cumberland is still larger than Dale Hollow by over 10,000 acres, larger than Norris Lake by about 5000 acres and is still be the third largest lake in Kentucky! The fishing should remain steady (and good!). When the Corp lowered the lake in the mid seventies for dam repair, the fishing was terrific and it is again!
The overall consensus from the COE is that “The pool restrictions at 680 feet could be in place for 5-7 years”.
From my 40 plus years coming to the lake, it has been my experience that this winter level (690) remains constant (many years) for 90 or so days between late November through mid February. So, we are already accustomed to this lower water level for about a ¼ of the year as it is!
Lowering the lake to 680 feet (ten feet less than winter normal) has had but negligible effect on boating and fishing. There may be certain coves you are used to going into that you can no longer go into because they are too shallow, etc.
What was affected, at least for a short while, was boat launching access to the lake. However, the U.S. Corp of Engineers has now extended boat ramps to allow additional access to the lake at this lower level.
The bottom line is that, for now, it will be business as usual at the Lake!
StriperFun Guide Service will keep putting our clients on big fish and nothing will change. In fact, we have less logs and trash in the water!
If you have any other ideas techniques or subjects you want me to write about, drop me a line!
I am many times asked “What are the advantages to hiring a guide”? In essence, you hire a guide to utilize the guide’s many years of experience and lake knowledge, to learn new tactics and techniques to increase your chance of “landing the big one!” Guides use top of the line equipment and the freshest live bait. Also, if you cannot afford your own boat, it is a very cost effective way for you or your group to fish (cost per fisherman). Even professional fishermen hire guides to learn a lake and new techniques!
We hope to see you on the lake! Good fishin!!
Captain Jim Durham
Toll free 866-575-3770
United States Coast Guard
Merchant Marine Officer License No. 1037731
Kentucky State Guide License # 007
By Captain Jim Durham – StriperFun Guide Service
Captain Jim Durham