THE LAKE CUMBERLAND STRIPER FISHING REPORT 204
CAPTAIN JIM’S LAKE CUMBERLAND AND CUMBERLAND RIVER STRIPER FISHING REPORT
Provided by Captain Jim Durham
Owner StriperFun Guide Service, Dale Hollow Charters, Superbaittanks.com
Captain Jim Marine Electronics & Captain Jim Lures
Staff Writer for fishin.com
DATE OF REPORT: February 1, 2017
• Latest water temperature: 52.4 ° F surface (Main Lake): January 31st, 2017
• Latest water temperature: 52.6 ° F surface (Indian Creek): January 31st, 2017
• Latest water temperature: 49.3 ° F surface (Cumberland River): January 31st, 2017
Currently, the lake level is right at 706.66 feet above sea level. The lake is now about 19 feet below the tree line which is 725.00′ above sea level. The Cumberland River below the dam is at 559.80′ above sea level. Peak discharge of water through the power generation turbines is at 1580 cubic feet per second per hour.
THIS IS MY 204th EDITION OF MY CUMBERLAND LAKE/RIVER STRIPER FISHING REPORT!
Greetings to my readers! I hope that the world finds you and your family doing well!
KAPOW ! BAM! KAPOW! BIG FISH AND LOTS OF THEM!!!!!
THE CUMBERLAND LAKE FISHING REMAINS STRONG!
The lake fishing continues to be extremely strong, with limits caught most days (there is always a slow day in there somewhere – we hate those!!). Enjoy photos of nice February / March Stripers caught on the lake.
We hope to see you soon on Lake Cumberland! Click below to book your trip!
THE CUMBERLAND RIVER STRIPER FISHING IS SMOKING “RED HOT”!
2016 has been just a great year on the Cumberland River in Tennessee and this summer, “the beat goes on”! With 3 fish this year over 50 pounds, several 40 pounders and numerous 30 pound plus fish the Cumberland River continues to prove why she is a world class fishery! When you use big Rainbow Trout you only catch “big fish”!
Below are some photos or recent Cumberland River catches:
We hope to see you on the Cumberland River soon! Click below to book your trip!
THE CUMBERLAND RIVER WINTER WALLEYE AND SAUGER FISHING IS SIMPLY OFF THE CHART!
Walleye and Sauger trips on the Cumberland River are a blast! You are really going to love this new exciting way to fish this beautiful river!
See below an average stringer of Cumberland River winter Sauger as well as Walleye:
About StriperFun Guide Service
As a United States Air Force Veteran, U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine officer, USCG Aux Search and Rescue Coxswain and as a Firefighter, Captain Jim Durham is the owner/founder of StriperFun Guide Service. StriperFun provides charters in KY on Lake Cumberland, on Tims Ford Lake in TN and Captain Jim’s Cumberland River Adventures in TN. Jim’s businesses also include Captain Jim Lures, Superbaittanks.com and much more……
StriperFun’s fishing charter businesses are one of the largest and best known charter fishing guide services in the Cumberland Plateau region. As a former B.A.S.S. fisherman (presented a “Lifetime membership” award many years ago), Captain Jim has been fishing and/or guiding on Lake Cumberland and on the Cumberland River in TN for most of his adult life, fishing the Upper Cumberland Plateau Region 52 years since he was six years old. Captain Jim is very well known and respected by marina owners, lake area business owners and regional law enforcement.
Captain Jim personally holds multiple licenses and memberships:
- Licensed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife as a fishing guide, with privileges to take customers fishing (Kentucky License # 007).
- Licensed as well by the State of Tennessee Department of Fish and Wildlife as a fishing guide.
- Licensed as a United States Coast Guard Merchant Marine Officer, holding a Captain’s license (Coast Guard Merchant Marine Officer License # 1037731).
- United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Staff Officer, holding a “Coxswain” (Patrol Captain’s Search and Rescue) rating with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Captain Jim and his guides run hundreds of fishing charters a year. All StriperFun Captains are licensed, insured and are well trained in CPR & First Aid. StriperFun has worked to be one of the best known guide services in the Cumberland Plateau region and will work hard to deliver “big trophy fish”. You can count on the fact that your group will be treated with the utmost professional care and safety.
Different than many basic guide services, StriperFun also caters to corporate groups as well as to families (and couples). Our guide boats are covered and heated during the winter months to get clients out of inclement weather. Our trips include all equipment & tackle as well as bait. Your trip also includes the cleaning and bagging of your catch (Lake trips) as well as photos for you to remember your trip.
Jim personally charters out of a 2015 new 24 foot center console Alweld Escort Bay boat. Powered by a 2015 Mercury 150 four (4) stroke outboard (I love my Mercury!). She is quiet to sneak up on big fish and fast to cover a lot of water! She has 24 mile radar, full Humminbird electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor, a 50 Gallon Super Bait Tank, a huge 7 foot long 6 foot wide Atlantic Towers T-Top (covering you from rain) and is heated and can be quickly enclosed for really cold or wet days. This rig is the ultimate guide boat! She has “tons” of for moving around and fighting big fish and also has comfortable seating for the trip.
All StriperFun guide boats have the most modern electronics, fishing gear and Coast Guard safety equipment and are covered in inclement weather for customer comfort!
StriperFun is a strong supporter of our nation’s military men and women as well as our police and firefighters, offering a 10 % discount as a “thank you” for their service!
On the River
We are catching these monster Stripers and Walleyes in TN up and down the Cumberland River, from Celina to Carthage TN in a variety of locations by pulling large Trout on planer boards and casting and trolling lures.
ON LAKE CUMBERLAND – STANDARD EARLY WINTER PATTERN
On bright days, you can find the fish in at least 40 to 50 feet of water towards the back of the creeks, with the fish holding close to the bottom. However, do not be surprised to occasionally see fish (or catch a big Striper) near the surface chasing bait. The bait can be a lot more active on the bright days, making the Stripers more active as well.
On cloudy days (or earlier and later in the day on bright days), the Stripers can be holding further back in the creeks and a lot shallower. We frequently catch Stripers in 3 to 4 feet of water on sloping red clay banks. You can be successful bottom fishing (throwing Carolina rigged live shad out on the bottom) or pulling “weightless” rigged shad on boards close to the bank.
One of my favorite techniques (I use when pulling boards in the winter) is to throw a large white and white hair jig or chartreuse and white Captain Jim special hair jig rigged with a 4 inch plastic trailer. The trick to catching these “ultra shallow” fish is to actually cast the jig “up on the shore”. The reason being, that the “splash” of the large jig in the shallow water will many times “spook” a large Striper.
If you fish shallow water in the winter often enough you will experience the sick feeling of seeing your lure hit the water and see an immediate “swirl” of a large “startled” fish fleeing for deep water! So, to combat this problem, we cast our jigs up on the shore. Then, as we take up the slack of the line to get it tight, we then “hop” the jig (with a quick raising of the rod and a slight jerk on the lure) quietly into the water. Because the jig is heavy, it will have a tendency to snag on rocks and submerged wood. As soon as you hop your jig into the water you need to raise your rod tip high and reel quickly. This will virtually eliminate most snagging of the jigs on the bottom.
This type of fishing can be really exciting!
As you hop your lure into the water and begin to quickly retrieve your jig from the edge of the shore, it will begin to smack into rocks, wood etc. This can cause a “reaction” bite (like a large mouth smacking a crank bait after it careens off of a stump). It works on Stripers too! You will many times experience the same “swirl” of a large Striper’s tail in the shallow water. The difference is that now the fish isn’t running away, it is flying to eat your lure!
You need to be ready as soon as you hop the lure in and begin the retrieve. We catch many Stripers that are hanging around eating bait fish right on the edge of the shore. A soon as you hop the lure in the Stripers will many times will slam it! This is especially true on windy days when the wind is blowing in towards the bank you are fishing. The wind blows in the bait fish that are “tired” from fight the wind. They make easy prey for the Stripers, so always pay attention to the wind direction when you chose a bank to fish.
- We are pulling planer boards with live bait fished deep Carolina rigged.
- Down lines with live bait are also getting “viciously” ripped down as we move through these big aggressive schools of Stripers! We are also catching nice smallmouth, large mouth and the occasional Walleye that are congregating with the Striper schools to tear into the huge schools of bait fish!
- We are also catching nice fish trolling Captain Jim hair jigs on slide divers 25 to 45 feet deep. Early, you can catch a limit trolling Captain Jim Umbrella rigs near red clay shores.
Muddy Water – Transition Zone Fishing
Some days you will face muddy water. The place back in the creeks where the muddy water meets the clear water is what we call a “Transition Zone”. Learning to fish the transition zone effectively can produce great results for you. This drastic difference in the water temperature in such a short stretch of creek is based solely upon the density of the water.
MUDDY WATER IS THICKER AND THUS WARMER!
So, what does this mean?
It means that the bait fish prefer the warmer water and will “stack up” right in or within a half a mile from the “transition zone” (either back into the really muddy water or back towards the clear water where the temperature transition is beginning). As always, find the bait and the Stripers will be nearby to their food! Use your temperature gauge and fish finder, hunt around and you can strike pay dirt!
Do not be afraid to fish the muddy water. Many times you can “sneak up” on some big Stripers in the muddy water. Throw large noisy shad imitators or large Striper jigs as well to produce.
“BLOOD RED” CLAY BANKS
For whatever reason, the food chain in the winter tends to “bunch up” at the depth of the thermocline directly out from these “blood red” clay banks. Such banks may only be 50 to 100 feet long. I would have to believe that this “rich earth” somehow holds a little more heat or provides an extra dose of nutrients that the plankton like. The bait fish eat the plankton and the entire process of life and death occurs etc. (“Find the bait fish and you find the Stripers”)!
All I can tell you is that this technique works!
STRIPERS ON THE SURFACE
The Stripers are up into the creeks and reform into huge schools again for their annual “blast the shad on the surface” feeding frenzy. Do not be surprised to occasionally see fish (or catch a big Striper) near the surface chasing bait. 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:
- Captain Jim’s “Little Friend” blade baits (just burn it as fast as you can)
- Large “hammered spoons” (I like the Bass Pro shop 1.5 ounce model with a white buck tail on the treble and the “Dangerous Dick”). I fish these with a “herky – jerky” style fast.
- Big “walking baits”
- Large “split back” minnows (I prefer the largest old faithful Cotton Cordell “Red Fin” Silver – Blue back). You fish these lures “stop and go” very fast.
- And of course the old “standby” Captain Jim Special hair jig white or chartreuse with a 4 inch Striper grub trailer
Striper fishing at its best!
Trolling Captain Jim Hair Jigs on Slide Divers!
We are now also starting to troll and catch them good on Slide Divers trolling my Captain Jim Special hair jigs! You can read about this and watch an instructional video at:
I also find that most of these larger older Stripers (really big targets on the fish finder!) will “strategically hold” on underwater current break points (within a few feet off the bottom) waiting to ambush prey.
Using high quality fish finders, I search out and locate where there are channel swings in the creek bottom forming ledges (which the current washes nutrient rich water across!) or where there are sharp mud to rock transitional areas (nature’s “party zones” for the algae, plankton and bait fish!).
It is in these areas I like to target these largest of fish and usually will find them!
CAPTAIN JIM ON THE RADIO!
I did a fishing radio talk show recently on WHAS 840 out of Louisville on the “Jim Strader” Great Outdoors show. It is broadcast to 17 States. I had the pleasure of being on the air with Jim Strader for almost 2 hours, covering fishing on Lake Cumberland and the Cumberland River.
You can listen to the radio show by clicking: http://whas.iheart.com/media/play/27193712/
I hope you enjoy it! I am generally on Sunday nights at 6:30 pm eastern.
CAPTAIN JIM LOVES HIS MERCURY 4 STROKE AND SO WILL YOU!
I love my Mercury PRO XS 150 four stroke! It has unbeatable gas mileage, trolls slow for me when I need it to and gets me to the fish when I am in a hurry! It is dependable, virtually no maintenance and starts every time!
For people who demand speed and acceleration from their outboards, the OptiMax Pro XS is the only choice!
CLICK BELOW THE PHOTO TO GO TO THE MERCURY SITE!
We are casting Captain Jim lures to the occasional (this time of year) surfacing fish:
LINE UP OF LURES
Captain Jim Lures, a Division of Striperfun.com, sells the top of the line hair jigs (captain Jim Specials) and blade baits (Little Friends), as well as the “Striper Mugger”, the “Tennessee Thumper” and the “Walleye Dazzler”! These lures have been heavily field tested, are super easy to cast (or troll) and besides being Striper magnets, they also absolutely wear out the Large Mouth, Spots, Walleye and Small Mouth!
Click the link below to go to the StriperFun website and watch the new lures as their photos will appear (a new photo “pops in” every few seconds) in the middle of the top of the screen on the first page. Click any photo of any lure that to go in and read more about the newly designed lures and to see enhanced photos!
You can also watch them demonstrated on YouTube by clicking the links below:
“Tennessee Thumper”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba8uN6NYhk8
To buy this lure click: http://www.striperfun.com/store/tennessee-thumper-p-42.html?%3CosCsid%3E
“Walleye Dazzler”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfuizmHF9r0
To buy this lure click: http://www.striperfun.com/store/wall…zler-p-43.html
“Striper Mugger”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46aVV…e=results_main
To buy this lure click: http://www.striperfun.com/store/stri…gger-p-46.html
“Captain Jim Hair Jigs and Blade Baits”: http://www.striperfun.com/store/stri…b2964914829f7a
YOU CAN BUY ALL OF THESE LURES AT THE GRIDER HILL MARINA SHIP STORE!
As a reminder to all my Lake Cumberland fishing friends and clients, my Captain Jim Special line of fishing lures are for sale at Grider Hill Marina. We just delivered a huge order of my “Dominator” Umbrella rigs, “Little Friend” blade baits, my hand tied (real deer hair) Striper jigs as well as my TN and KY “Thumper” and “Striper Mugger” multi lure casting and trolling rigs!
Come visit Grider Hill Marina and get them while they are hot!
SUPER BAIT TANKS
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! Not any longer!
The SUPER BAIT TANK has a triple filtration system, a built in oxygen infuser, a built in light for night use and is insulated. This system has been tested to hold gizzard shad & blue black herring for up to one week.
I use only the SUPER BAIT TANK. Every guide I know uses it and so should you! StriperFun is the exclusive NATIONAL “on line” dealer of the SUPER BAIT TANK.
For “new” Super Bait Tank orders – call me or click:
When it’s time to go boating and fishing, you want to make sure your boat is ready to hit the water with all the equipment you need to have a great time!
StriperFun and its related companies can help!
With a full line up of the most modern marine electronics (fish finders, GPS, radar and more..) at “way below” national chain store prices, you need to let us get you the most modern marine electronics you have really been wanting! StriperFun also sells Captain Jim fishing lures, Striper Fish like a Pro “how to” DVDs, Super Bait Tanks, Hydro Glow Fish lights, Fitech bait nets and more. Captain Jim and StriperFun have everything you need to have a safe and fun year!
As a new service, we are also providing a “bow to stern” approach of helping boaters and fishermen “update” the equipment on their boat. This includes outfitting brand both new boats as well as upgrading older boats (where the owners want to upgrade equipment). This also includes full installation of all electronic and mechanical equipment (installing marine electronics, trolling motors, down riggers, radar units, battery chargers and more!).
StriperFun and Captain Jim is a “one stop shop” for your boating and fishing upgrade needs or to outfit your new boat! Give me a call at 931-403-2501 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
HUMMINBIRD COMBO GPS AND FISH FINDER UNITS
All StriperFun Captains use Humminbird Side and Down Imaging units. Humminbird Fish Finder / GPS units are simply the best on the market! When you have to depend on your marine electronics to navigate safely at night and in the fog, as well as help you find fish, it is one of your most valuable tools!
My Humminbird HD unit is simply great! When trolling artificial lures or live bait, I just don’t troll “hoping” to run in to a school of fish. I am scanning up to 240 feet per each side of the boat, looking for schools of bait and fish. When I see them (example: 3 o’clock to the starboard or 9 o’clock to port!), I can then “turn” my boat towards the schools of bait and fish to “get in to the strike zone”.
Once arriving on the schools of bait and fish, I can switch over to the “Down Imaging”, “Quadrabeam Plus” or “Switch Fire” sonar systems to let me see with great clarity (each technology providing a different yet important view!) exactly where the fish are and how they are orientating.
Why troll “blind” when you can scan surrounding water to see where the “big ones” are!!
It makes all the difference in the world, turning a slow fishing day into a great catching day!
My Humminbird Fish Finder is a guide’s best friend. As a Field Staff member of Johnson Outdoors, I strongly recommend this product to any open water fishermen. To be successful, you need to learn to use your marine electronics. If you are looking for new marine electronics, feel free to call me and I can make some solid suggestions on HUMMINBIRD COMBO GPS AND FISH FINDER UNITS.
MINN KOTA TROLLING MOTORS FROM JOHNSON OUTDOORS
I only use the Minn Kota “Rip Tide” trolling motors from Johnson Marine and so should you! As a professional fishing charter Captain, my livelihood depends on my trolling motor working every time – every day! For 15 years I have used Minn Kota trolling motors and my “Rip Tide” trolling motor never lets me down!
With “cool” features like the hands free “Auto Pilot and “I” Pilot functions, I can set my motor to go a specific direction and turn my back to deploy lines and have full confidence it will stay on course no matter the weather conditions!
For using a “drop shot” on the fish, once I locate a nice an active school I simply push a button on “I” Pilot functions control and it “electronically anchors me” directly over the fish. If the winds blows me off the spot, the “I” Pilot brings me right back and again “electronically anchors” me back over the fish.
Man, is that cool or what? I would never consider using anything else but a Minn Kota trolling motor!
GIVE THE BEST GIFT OF ALL, A FISHING TRIP WITH CAPTAIN JIM AND STRIPERFUN GUIDE SERVICE!
The gift of a weekend package deal (or even a one day fishing trip) with StriperFun Guide Service makes a great Christmas or birthday present for Dad, a brother or for the family and kids, or can make a great bonus for an employee or a promotion for a customer! We fish year round and our trips are very popular and our booking dates fill up fast!
Fishing is family friendly and wholesome. So if you are interested in giving the perfect gift to that special someone, order a fishing gift certificate today!
Call me at 931-403-2501 or email me at: email@example.com
SPECIAL NOTICE – STRIPER FISHING TRAINING WITH CAPTAIN JIM!
For years, as I have done radio and TV shows as well as outdoors and boat show seminars on Striper fishing, I have been approached by the “nicest” people who have a true desire to learn more about the great sport of Striper fishing. There are always lots of questions asked regarding the numerous different techniques involved in our great sport.
Unfortunately, many times, it is hard to explain things and answer questions when you are not out on the water (to be able to physically demonstrate what you are talking about!). Initially, this is why I created my (hot selling!) “Striper Fish like a Pro” instructional 3 DVD “Trilogy”. This gave new (and even experienced!) fishermen a lot of good solid data on how we “Pros” do what we do, etc.
But from the constant feedback I get I have learned that more information and training is wanted! Because of this continual strong request and demand for more information and Striper fishing training, I now offer “hands on and personalized” Striper fishing technique training with “on the water” instructional trips! These will be trips on my new Alweld that will allow customers to “narrow down and focus in on” a large and diverse group of specific areas of Striper fishing they want to learn more about. It will also allow me to provide very precise and detailed training in a direct on the water “one on one” teaching environment!
The Striper fishing technique training subjects will include (but not be limited to):
MULTI SKILL TROLLING SECRETS INCLUDING UMBRELLA RIG – DOWN RIGGING AND SLIDE DIVERS TROLLING;
HOW TO SET YOUR BOAT UP CORRECTLY FOR BIG GAME FISHING TO BE SUCCESSFUL;
HOW TO READ MARINE ELECTRONICS WITH AN EMPHASIS ON THE GREAT NEW LINE OF HUMMINBIRD FISH FINDER / GPS UNITS;
LIVE BAIT TECHNIQUES (EVERY POSSIBLE SCENARIO HOW TO FISH LIVE BAIT, AS WELL AS TRICKS FOR KEEPING YOUR BAIT FRISKY!);
CASTING AND RETRIEVING TECHNIQUES AND WHAT LURES TO USE IN VARIOUS SITUATIONS.
And dozens of more subjects!!!
Training trips are $75.00 an hour with a 4 hour minimum and are held afternoons beginning at noon. I suggest you book at least 30 days in advance as they are already getting popular and I am booking up.
By the way, you might even catch a trophy Striper while we are training!
Please call me at 931-403-2501 if you would like more information. I hope to see you soon!
To get in on the great fishing action, you can book a Striper fishing adventure with StriperFun! Click the following link: www.striperfun.com/pages/bookacharter.php
AVAILABILITY FOR TRIPS WITH STRIPERFUN GUIDES
Many of our customers do not initially realize that the Striper fishing is 365 days year round. However, all of our boats are covered and we virtually fish almost every day.
We live for this type of fishing and you can too! Come see us!
Do not be afraid however to call last minute if you want a trip as we have numerous guides and can accommodate your schedule!
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 are moving quickly through winter. Dawn rolls around a little earlier each morning and “Twilight” now rolls around just a little later each night as the winter solstice has come and gone.
It is great to be alive and be a “free” American! I look forward to seeing all of you this year on the water.
Count your blessings each day and live “in the moment”, not in the future and always remember to stop and shake the hand of a person in uniform or wearing garb that shows they are a veteran! Their service is why you speak English, can vote and can enjoy the freedoms you do!
Remember also to always obey all KY fishing regulations while on Lake Cumberland or any waterway. Following the rules is a must! It is important that we all be good stewards of our fishing resources. If you have any questions about fishing regulations or to report poachers, call Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at 800-858-1549.
Until next time, blue skies and tight lines!