Lake Cumberland Striper Fishing Report – January 2013
January 25, 2013 Share

Lake Cumberland Striper Fishing Report – January 2013


By Captain Jim Durham – StriperFun Guide Service
Staff Writer for

DATE OF REPORT: January 20th, 2013

• Latest water temperature: 42.2 ° F surface (Fishing Creek – Lee’s Ford) January 19th, 2013
• Latest water temperature: 42.7 ° F surface (White Oak Creek) January 18th, 2013
• Latest water temperature: 41.9 ° F surface (Main Lake) January 17th, 2013
• Current lake level is Lake Level: 694.80 feet.
Currently, the lake level is right at 694.80 feet above sea level. This is about 15 feet ABOVE the normal (working on the dam) elevation of 680.00 feet above sea level. The lake is now about 30 feet below the tree line. The tree line is normally at 725' above sea level.  
It has been 2 weeks since my last report.   Greetings to my readers! I hope the world finds you and your family doing well!
As a former United States Air Force Airman – military veteran and as a current U.S.  Merchant Marine Captain and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Patrol Coxswain (Captain), I understand the great importance that our brave service men and women play in our society. Their service is why you speak English, can vote and can enjoy the freedoms you do! 
We also cannot forget the duty and service provided by our Policemen, Fish and Wildlife Officers and Firemen.
STRIPERFUN OFFERS A 10% DISCOUNT on all charters to currently active Policemen, Fish and Wildlife Officers and Firemen as well as to all active military AND retired military veterans (with proper verification ID provided by the person booking the trip).
This is our way of saying “THANKS” to these important men and women for your service.
New Report Format
If you are a frequent reader of my Lake Cumberland Striper Fishing Report, you will notice that this report (and subsequent reports) will be designed a little differently.  Being, that I am going to be providing more of the “current fishing conditions” and techniques towards the beginning of the report, with the equipment StriperFun guides (and hundreds of our customers!) are using to catch these big fish towards the end of the report!
I have previously “sprinkled in” throughout the report “equipment suggestions” and “links” (where readers can “click on” to the StriperFun on line store!), directly with the conditions and techniques being used.  However, over the years, many of my loyal customers have already purchased the equipment being showcased in the report.  As such, they have begun to request that the report be set up with the “current” fishing conditions and techniques at the beginning of the report.  In this way, they can more quickly to get the info they want on “current” fishing conditions without having to read about equipment they already own (or are very familiar with).
At the same time, for the readers that “want” to learn about the equipment StriperFun guides and our customers / readers are using to catch these big fish, there will now be a separate “equipment section” after the “current fishing conditions” section.
Please give me some feedback and let me know if this new design for the report is working for you!  
Please also realize the time and effort that goes into these “free” (and ultra detailed!) reports and that StriperFun Guide Service and Captain Jim Lures appreciates the chance to earn your business.
The water temperature is holding steady in the low forties now.  The bait fish have been congregating in the creeks for 60 days, where they will remain until May.  The big predator Striped Bass are right here with them and here they will all stay, until spring comes around. 
The fishing is just terrific right now, with some really large fish being caught and lots of good numbers of keepers.  The bite is still in full swing and it is “Big Fish” time on Lake Cumberland! 
Check out the photo to the left of Mike Lumer who fished with Captain Larry and slammed a couple of nice Stripers!  Please also see a photo of our frequent customer Cal Redig who caught a “big” January fish with Captain Jim!
Wow!!!  It doesn’t get any better than this!
What to expect on the water
The fish are now holding on flats early in the morning and then moving to the Canyon walls in the creek turns as the day warms. 
As normal in January, we are still catching Stripers throughout the day in the back sections of the creeks.  Early in the morning, do not be afraid to fish as shallow as five to ten feet deep.  Many times, the warmest water on the lake will be flowing in to the very backs of the creeks.  The water is always warmer in shallow water and on the mud flats. 
Also, the water is always warmer on the north shore of the creek
The simple reason being, the Sun is in the southern sky this time of year and the majority of direct sunlight falls on the Northern shore line.  Always use your temperature gauge on your fish finder and hunt for the “warmest” water you can find.  There you will find the strongest concentration of bait fish (and large predators). 
There is a lot of truth to the old adage; “Find the bait fish and you find the Stripers”!
One of my favorite tricks is to find the mud line in the creek water.  Being, this is many times an area in the creek where a strong rain or snow melt has caused the creek to muddy up.  I like to fish either side of the mud line (either going out of the creek or way back in the creek where fresh water is clearing out the mud line).  Remember that Stripers (and most large predators) have better eye sight then the bait fish.  That is how God made them (thus, one is the predator and one is the prey!). 
So, when you fish within a 1/4th of a mile from the mud line, the Stripers will be feeding in this area because they have a strategic vision advantage over the bait fish.  The muddy water also holds more heat (and is warmer). 
The fishing in January can be absolutely spectacular
You can find massive schools of Stripers that have trapped huge herds of bait fish back in this shallow water!  It can be “Kabam” and “Kapow” with rods getting yanked down hard with major number of nice Stripers and the occasional “wall mount” monster! 
Winter is “big fish” time.  The larger Stripers have a stronger metabolism than the smaller fish and the cold doesn’t bother them.  It is the best time of year to catch a real trophy (see the photo of Captain Larry holding a nice 40 pound winter fish caught on a Captain Jim Special lure!). 
Many times our customers do not initially realize that the Striper fishing is 365 days year round.  However, as the largest guide service in Kentucky, all of our boats are covered and heated and we virtually fish almost every day.  Do not let the cold weather keep you away!
We continue to catch good numbers of Stripers with some occasional 20 pound plus fish (even a few 30 pound fish this season)!   I am so very pleased to see the “big fish” bite maintaining!  On many days it is “Wham” with rods getting yanked down viscously with limits for all StriperFun guides, lots of fish overall and several huge monster Stripers to boot! 
As always, every now and then the weather will shut the bite down for a day or so. But generally, the fishing remains strong! 
Check the StriperFun website under “recent catches” for “photo after photo after photo” of nice limits StriperFun is delivering for other clients as well. 
We live for this type of fishing and you can too!
The canyon wall effect
A pattern/tactic I find very productive this time of year (later in the day) is to keep my planer boards much closer to the boat than normal as I fish sheer drop off walls near where the larger creek turns occur.  You can be in 40 to 60 feet or water when your boat is only 30 to 40 feet off of the shore. 
On such sheer drops offs and major creek turns, the current stacks up the bait fish that are gorging on plankton.  The predators are right there as well, gorging on the bait fish!  Many times, the Striper schools will be on these sheer drop ledges as they have “corralled” shad schools up against the wall where they cannot escape so they can “rip” into them. 
It is certainly a site to see Stripers feeding heavy on the surface.  However, understand clearly that this same type of “frenzied” feeding action can be occurring 30 to 40 feet deep right off the canyon wall and you would never know it!
Most major creeks have such drastic creek turns and walls within two or three miles or so of the main lake.  It is very important as you work to develop your “trophy Striper hunting skills” that you learn to read and understand the lake topographic maps and/or your GPS units so you can find the correct walls to fish.  The easiest way to learn is follow the channel banks to find the deepest walls.   
This is why I keep my boards (although still in a “classic” V pattern) close to the boat, so I can keep the boat closer to the canyon wall.  If the boards were further out, then I could not run the boat close to the wall because the outer boards would be hitting the bank and fowling/snagging. When you fish planer boards, you can develop a tendency to let the boards go “way out” from the boat.  In shallow water, this is a must.  But not when you are fishing 40 to 60 feet deep.
Keeping the boards close allows me to directly target the fish on the canyon wall with a greater concentration of live bait, many times producing multiple hook ups.  When I see a school of fish appears under the boat on my fish finder, I then stop the boat so the baits can “settle down” and drop into the feeding school. My new trolling motor also allows me to automatically “hover” over top of feeding fish automatically without having to touch the trolling motor.  This makes fishing a lot easier!
You can just imagine what happens many times. Fish on!
It is interesting to think about all the big Striper feeding action going on that you cannot see on the surface.  It makes me want to break out the rods and go hit them!  I generally find that once we are a couple of hours into daylight the schools will move out of the flats and into deeper water on these canyon walls.  So later in the morning (generally about 10 a.m.), I will switch over from the shallow flats to fishing the canyon walls, either with live bait or by using multiple “Slide Diver Lite Bite” presentations and down rigger techniques (see more about this in the equipment section below).
I also find that the very largest “older Stripers” will break away from the schools and will stay off by themselves.  Similar to how a huge buck deer will separate from the herd to live alone
This seems to be the normal life cycle of many of God’s creatures.
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! 
To do this effectively (to narrow the focus to only larger fish), I will Slide Diver and down rig larger (3/4 to 1 ounce) Captain Jim Special hair jigs with plastics trailers.  Always keep your colors consistent!  Use white trailers with white jigs and green trailers with green (chartreuse) jigs,  Do not mix colors and you should have better luck (at least, from my experience).
I troll at about 2.2 to 2.5 MPH in this cold water.  Since the fish are holding right off of the bottom, you need to keep your hair jigs directly in the strike zone.  To do this, you have to be continually moving the downrigger ball (and subsequently the trailing lure!) up and down with the bottom contour so as to not hang up your lure or down rigger ball.  It is a constantly active moving process and is better worked by having at least two people on the boat. 
Equipment section
Where “on the water” to buy Captain Jim Special StriperFun lures
You can now purchase all of the StriperFun – Captain Jim Lures and products (hair jigs, blade baits, umbrella rigs and multi lure casting rigs, DVDS and more!!) at Grider Hill Marina on the western end of Lake Cumberland (ask for Lucas or Gwen!) or for the eastern end of the lake directly at StriperFun headquarters at Lee’s Ford Resort Marina on Fishing Creek in Somerset Kentucky (ask to speak with Bobby or Hunt at the marina ship store down on the water)!
Captain Jim Lures is proud to now offer the new “Slide Diver – Lite Bite”!
I am pleased to advise that Captain Jim Lures is now selling the new “Slide Diver – Lite Bite” controlled depth trolling fishing device!  Captain Jim and the StriperFun crew have been “beta testing” this great new tool for the last several months and the results have just been terrific, with limit after limit of Stripers caught (and some huge trophy monster Stripers as well)! 
Over the years, many Lake Cumberland fishermen have had great success “down rigging” Captain Jim Special “Dominator” hair jigs.  When using a down rigger, you can control the depth at which your hair jig is running.  If you see the fish continuing to hold at a certain depth, by using a down rigger you can keep your hair jig at this depth to keep your lure in front of the fish. 
However, down riggers (both manual and electric) can be very expensive!  Many fishermen simply cannot afford to buy multiple down riggers for their boats.  Also, smaller boats (or some boat designs) do not have sufficient space to be able to mount down riggers.  Further, using down riggers can be intimidating for some fishermen, especially the need for “double stacking” to increase the number of lures being trolled.
So what is the solution?  How can fishermen inexpensively and dramatically increase the number of lures they can troll while at the same time actually “controlling the depth” at which the lures are running?
The answer is the new “Slide Diver – Lite Bite”!
The new Slide Diver – Lite Bite is a disc shaped “in line” device that utilizes water pressure against the planing surface which forces the unit to “dive both out and down” when trolling.  The difference is, that while older styled divers were permanently attached to the line (and the lure could only be back as far as the length of the rod from the diver), the new Slide Diver – Lite Bite actually “releases” and slides down the line to the lure once a fish hits.  This allows you to run your lures back as far as you want (generally 100 to 150 feet) before you lock down the Slide Diver – Lite Bite to the line. 
This is very important. 
Stripers (different for example from Lake Trout or Salmon) have very keen eye sight.  They spook very easily!  Because older styled divers were permanently attached to the line and the lure was within just a rod’s length from the disc, they were no good for Striper fishing.  The disc would spook the Stripers and scatter them and the lure would pass just a second after. The Stripers would not have the time to regroup and settle back in to their normal pattern before the lure arrived. 
However, the new Slide Diver – Lite Bite again allows the lure to be back 100 to 150 feet behind the disc.  This is very similar to how you troll a hair jig and plastic trailer 100 to 150 feet behind a down rigger ball.  This gives the needed time (once the disc passes) for the Stripers to regroup and settle back in to their normal pattern before the lure arrives.  Just like a down rigged lure yanks the line off the down rigger clip when a fish hits, the new Slide Diver – Lite Bite “releases” when the fish hits and slides down the line to the lure. 
It is just so cool how these things work!
The adjustable weight shifts the diver from the center to the far right or far left trolling positions from the boat. Based on the adjustable setting on each diver and the amount of line released, the Slide Diver will descend to a pre-selected angle and depth.  I can “dial in” the degree I want the diver to run “away from the boat and down” just like a planer boat runs away from the boat.  With a planer board, the more line you put out, the further the planer board runs out away from the boat. 
The same thing happens with the Slide Diver – Lite Bite!
For example, I can put the Captain Jim Special “Dominator” hair jig and plastic trailer out 100 feet and then lock in the Slide Diver – Lite Bite.  If I tune the diver in at a 6 degrees setting and let the diver itself out another 100 feet, at this setting the diver will be running at an angle (like a planer board) about 15 feet “away” from the boat and at a depth of about 28 feet.   Then I will put out a second Captain Jim Special “Dominator” hair jig 75 feet out lock in the Slide Diver – Lite Bite.  If I tune in the second diver at a 3 degrees setting and let the diver itself out another 75 feet, then the second diver will be running at an angle (like a planer board) about 7 feet “away” from the boat and at a depth of about 32 feet.  The second diver at a 3 degrees setting (less severe) is running at a more “downward” angle.
You can tune the Slide Diver – Lite Bites either right or left –either way!  As such, I generally run both a 6 degree “and” a 3 degree diver off each side of the boat (right and left) at the aforementioned settings.  Once set, I then also double stack Captain Jim Special “Dominator” hair jig and plastic trailers on my Cannon down riggers.
This allows me to easily troll 8 Captain Jim Special “Dominator” hair jig and plastic trailers at the same time.  The fish catching results are simply phenomenal!
You can buy the new Slide Diver – Lite Bites directly on the StriperFun website store!  Just click the link below to go the StriperFun site
 For early 2013, look for new videos from StriperFun Lures demonstrating the powerful fishing tools of the new Slide Diver – Lite Bite trolling devices!
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 respectful of other boaters as well.  Unfortunately, you will rarely 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 the Stripers are still all over the surface, we are absolutely hammering them throwing my Captain Jim “Little Friend” blade baits and my “Dominator” hair jigs, as well as the Kentucky and Tennessee “Thumper” rigs and the new “Striper Mugger” rig (multi lure casting rigs)! 
Captain Jim Lures, a Division of, sells the top of the line the “Striper Mugger”, the "Kentucky Thumper" 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! 
The “Striper Mugger”, the "Kentucky Thumper", the “Tennessee Thumper” and the “Walleye Dazzler lures are all “higher quality” products that sells for much less than the competition AND THEY COME FULLY RIGGED where the competition’s rigs do not!  They are tougher than any other multi lure casting rig and they will deliver for you!
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 putting in key words:
“Striper Mugger” – "Kentucky Thumper" – “Tennessee Thumper” – “Walleye Dazzler”
I also demonstrate these techniques on my “STRIPER FISH LIKE A PRO” instructional DVDs.  You can buy the DVDs and umbrella rig lures on line off of the StriperFun website, or at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Lexington and at Grider Hill Marina or at Lee’s Ford Marina (StriperFun Headquarters!) in the ship store. 
Come book a charter with me and get in on the fun surface casting action!!!
The gift of a weekend package trip (or even a one day Striper fishing trip) with StriperFun makes a great Father’s day 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 catching “trophy Stripers” or giving the perfect gift to that special someone, order a StriperFun Guide Service gift certificate today! 
StriperFun also offers an extensive variety of products that make great gifts, including numerous types of fishing lures, Super bait tanks, Hydro Glow bait lights and much more!
We take VISA and MASTERCARD credit cards!
Call me for details toll free at 866-575-3770 or click my photo above to go to the StriperFun website to send me an email! 
I get lots of calls about catching bait.  For years I have been using the “Hydro Glow Bait Light” to catch bait and so should you!  It allows me to be “mobile” and catch bait on the main lake as well as at the dock!
The "NEW" Hydro Glow Fish Light (JUST RELEASED!) is actually an "LED".  IT IS TWICE AS BRIGHT BUT IS HALF THE SIZE (and is less expensive than the older models!). It is designed to use 12 vdc low amperage fluorescents to produce a green glow similar to that emitted by chemical light sticks in widespread use by divers to lure fish. It will work all night on one battery! 
The patented design utilizes the green light technology for improving your fishing activities during the night time hours. The light is designed to vertically submerge with only the top 3 to 5 inches of the light above the water level. This insures the entire illumination of the light is in the water where to fish are, not the bugs!
Boy, does it ever draw in the bait fish!
Click to go to the StriperFun store to order:
All StriperFun fishing products are carried by Sportsman’s Warehouse!  Sportsman’s Warehouse is America’s fastest growing “Premier Outfitter” national chain of sporting goods stores! They carry everything you need for your hunting and fishing needs!

The closest Sportsman’s Warehouse to Lake Cumberland is in Lexington KY off of Interstate 75 – exit # 10.  Their address is:


You can also get Captain Jim lures in Columbia South Carolina and in Roanoke Virginia!

You will not find better Striper lures than the Captain Jim Special brand! Captain Jim gets all of his equipment at Sportsman’s Warehouse and so should you! 
StriperFun Guide Service now has six (6) guides to serve your charter needs. We can handle large group and corporate outings!

My Captains and I are all Federal Coast Guard Certified and State licensed, insured and are well trained with well over 160 years of combined experience! If you want to catch Monster Stripers this fall and winter, then you better book soon! The prime late fall and early winter dates are already booking up, so do not wait too long to lock in your weekend trip! All of StriperFun’s guide boats are covered as well.
Lee’s Ford Resort Marina is StriperFun Guide Service “Headquarters”!
As one of the most comprehensive recreation, entertainment and dining experiences on Lake Cumberland, Lee’s Ford Resort Marina offers fantastic dining at the Harbor Restaurant, great lodging in beautiful cottages, condos and rentals on boat slips, personal watercraft and boats of various sizes.  It is also the closest marina to visitors from Lexington and Ohio!
Regulations that govern hunting, fishing, and habitat are formed by both the Kentucky Wildlife Commission and the legislative process. The League of Kentucky Sportsmen (League) helps keep the hunters and fishermen on top of today’s issues.  The combined voices of sportsmen are a powerful tool used to more effectively influence the decision making so that sportsmen can actually have a say in how the resources are managed.
The League works with individuals, Government Agencies, and Club Affiliates to constantly support the use of scientific wildlife management practices on public lands, private lands, and corporate lands. The League also supports the Kentucky heritage of hunting, trapping, fishing, and the right to keep and bear arms. The League also provides assistance with organizing events to bring kids and adults together in the great outdoors.
No single individual or organization can do it alone. The League needs your help. Become a member today.
Contact the LKS office and order your membership over the phone at (859) 858-0135.  Or click on to their website.

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 now moving into the mid winter season.  The winter solstice has come and gone (and we are still here!) and “Twilight” now rolls around just a little later each night.  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 Kentucky fishing regulations while on Lake Cumberland or any Kentucky 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!
 Captain Jim Durham
Toll Free 866-575-3770
United States Coast Guard
Merchant Marine Officer license No. 1037731
Kentucky State License # 007

Specializing in "Trophy" Striper fishing as the owner of StriperFun Fishing Guide Service and Captain Jim Marine Electronics, Captain Jim Durham is a Kentucky State licensed guide who has fished Lake Cumberland year round for over 48 years. Captain Jim is a U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine Captain and is the creator of the “Striper Fish like a Pro” instructional DVD series as well as his own line of fishing lures.  Licensed and insured, Captain Jim and Striperfun Guide Service can take you on a safe, fun and unforgettable fishing trip to catch a "Trophy Striper" of a lifetime!  Check out the StriperFun Guide Service website at:, or call Captain Jim toll free 1-866-575-3770 or email Captain Jim at: