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Fishing In Lake Cumberland
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    Posted: November 23, 2015

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Lake Cumberland is a renowned fishing spot, which draws eager anglers from far and wide. The lake is particularly famed for the quantity and quality of its striped bass, or ‘striper’. Stripers are excellent sports fish, as they offer a challenge and can grow to an impressive size. However, it’s not only stripers which swim in the lake’s clear waters. The lake is also teeming with walleye, rainbow trout, sauger, brown trout, lake trout, and much more. Beneath the lake itself, the Cumberland River is one of Kentucky’s greatest trout fishing destinations. All in all, a keen fisher could do a lot worse than to pack their gear and head for Lake Cumberland. Here is a quick guide for those who wish to pit their wits against the piscene population of our lake.

Things To Consider

Of course, before casting your line into the lake, there are a few things you would do well to think about. For a start, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the regulations regarding fishing in Kentucky and Lake Cumberland, and to get a general fishing licence. If you wish to fish for trout on certain sections of the Cumberland River, you will require a trout permit, and there are various rules about taking trout on the river which you can find here. The hatchery visitor center near Wolf Creek Dam will sell you a trout permit, and give you some good advice regarding fishing regulations. Within the lake, crappie have a 10 inch minimum size limit, largemouth bass have a 15 inch minimum size limit, smallmouth bass have an 18 inch minimum, and stripers must be a minimum of 22 inches. Lake sturgeon can be fished for on a catch-and-release basis only, and there is a 2 creel limit per day on stripers. If you’re planning to take a boat out, you’ll also have to make sure that it complies with state regulations, and that it is well insured. However, once you’ve done your homework, you’re ready to hit the lake!


The lake is full of bass of many varieties – smallmouth, largemouth, and striped. The small bays and inlets which nibble into the lake’s coastline are a favorite haunt of smallmouth and largemouth bass through April, as they like to feed and spawn in these shallower waters. As summer progresses, they tend to move into deeper waters as the sun starts to warm the shallows to levels which they find uncomfortable. Stripers are particularly fond of deeper points protected by rocks – which can make reaching a promising striper spot by boat a little challenging! During the winter, many of the bass move out into the creeks – following large schools of prey – but they return to the lake as the season turns and the waters warm up. If you’re after stripers and other bass between February and May, wait for a day when the water level is high, and then fish around the mouths of Cumberland’s creeks. It’s worth noting that, as a manmade reservoir, the water levels in Lake Cumberland fluctuate considerably, resulting in a good deal of fish movement as they seek out deeper or shallower waters. If you can’t reach the stripers one day, therefore, it’s likely that they’ll be more accessible later in the week!


The river beneath the Wolf Creek Dam offers some of the best trout fishing in the state, if not in the entire nation. You’ll mostly find rainbow trout here, but there is the odd large, brown trout lurking in the depths! The deeper, cooler areas of the river hold trout for the entire year, but the river is most amply stocked during the spring and the fall. During the summer, the trout tend to head for the river’s cold spots. Do be careful, though – the waters immediately beneath the dam can be turbulent, so be sure that you’re adept at handling your craft if you’re planning to fish from a boat here!

Other Fish

The lake is also abundant in crappie, walleye, and sauger. You’ll find crappie flitting around brushy, woody coves in the springtime, and the waters directly beneath the dam are a real hotspot for walleye. Kendall Park (below the dam) is also fantastic for sauger fishing. If you’re unsure of what’s biting where, local fishermen are generally pretty knowledgeable, and will be happy to help you out!