By: Johnny Rush

After a few slower seasons trout fishing has picked up this year on the Cumberland River and the good news is that this pattern should remain until the leaves start to fall. I think the trout have been around the last few years, but high and off-color water has made it tough to catch them in recent years. Fortunately, and thanks for the Army Corp of Engineers, we’ve had better water conditions this year. The water isn’t as high as it’s been the last few summers. The water is down, it’s clearer and the trout are biting now.

I’ve been doing a lot of striper fishing in the same sections of the Cumberland that harbor trout, but the phone has been ringing from trout anglers recently and we’ve been able to get out on several trout trips. This last week was excellent. We caught roughly 20-30 trout a day, and these trips have been done before midday. There’s no reason the trout bite should slow down anytime soon.

Trout fishing has been automatic. We’ve caught a lot of quality fish because the water has been down. The lower flows make it easier for us to fish. Almost all the trout we’ve caught have been rainbows. Three years ago we started to catch brook trout here, but we haven’t caught any brook trout this year and very few the year before. We’ve only seen a few browns, too. Most of the fish have been 17-18 inch rainbows.

The Cumberland is heavily stocked and loaded with trout. Trout are scattered from Wolf Creek Dam to the Burkesville. That’s almost 35 miles of river water that has trout right now. Most of the trout we are catching are close to the bank or in the holes. As always, the biggest holes harbor the most trout. Time of day hasn’t mattered this summer. We’ve been catching them all day long.

Trout haven’t been too picky with my bait this summer. We’ve been side drifting three baits and get bit every time the baits drift near the bottom of the hole. It’s unreal how aggressive they are on these baits. I’ve been using Rainbow and Orange Fire Bait, Pink Shrimp Fire Balls and Pink Shrimp salmon eggs. Kentucky trout are big fans of shrimp and anything pink. To be honest, any pink bait we put in the water gets eaten.

Editor’s Note: Johnny Rush operates Rainbow Guide Service. For more info on his Cumberland River trout trips please visit