The state of Kentucky manages the Cumberland River tailwater as a trophy trout fishery. Southeastern Anglers are professionally licensed Cumberland river guides, authorized by the Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The Cumberland River tailwater itself is managed by the United States Coast Guard as part of the intercoastal waterway. All commercial boats are required to be operated by a U.S.C.G. licensed captain. The guides of Southeastern Anglers are compliant to all Coast Guard regulations and have been licensed as professional captains by the U.S.C.G.
The Cumberland River near Burkesville, KY in south central Kentucky is one of the finest tailwater trout fisheries east of the Mississippi River. The tailwater begins at the foot of TVA’s Wolf Creek Dam. Lake Cumberland, which is backed up by Wolf Creek Dam, is the largest man made reservoir in the eastern United States. The waters that flow from beneath the dam are extremely cold. So cold in fact, that the tailwater trout fishery extends over 75 miles into Tennessee. Progressive fishing regulations combined with an almost endless supply of cold water has made the Cumberland River an impressive trophy class fishery. We base our Cumberland river guide service in Burkesville, Ky.
The river is full of rainbow trout and brown trout with the average fish running close to 14” inches. It’s not uncommon to run into trout in the 18” to 26” range. The river also hosts a good population of stripers (striped bass), and they too have a tendency to grow very large.
Cumberland River Insects
Tactics can vary greatly from day to on such a long tailwater. Our Cumberland river guides employ light nymphing under an indicator, high floating dries, bottom dredging nymphs and streamer fishing. The river does provide some great insect action including the mother’s day caddis, salmonflies, blue winged olives, sulphurs, and more midges than you can think of. Sow bugs and scuds are also prominent in the upper tailwater.
The Cumberland River tailwater is located just across the KY line in south central Kentucky. It’s about a 3-hour ride from Knoxville and Nashville, a little over 2 hours from Lexington, and roughly 5 hours from Atlanta. The towns near the river are Burkesville and Jamestown KY. Lodging and dining are available in both. Cumberland Lake State Park and Dale Hollow Lake State Park are both within 20 minutes of the fishery, and both offer lodging, camping, and dining.
Cumberland River update 2011 – USACE is currently performing a dam repair project at Wolf Creek dam. The project is scheduled for completion in fall of this year. Upon completion of the dam repair project, Tailwater flows will once again become predictable and dependable. Southeastern Anglers plans on being in full swing as a Cumberland river fly fishing guide service upon project completion. Between now and then we plan on guiding on the Cumberland river as flows allow.