Fishing the Cumberland River and Green River Lake

by Eric Lubrick

There are two best ways to fish the Cumberland River from a boat-- trolling or floating. I usually choose floating: turn the engine off and let the river take you. My father’s 14-foot aluminum boat travels fast on the river. The water is so cold below that condensation builds on the inside of the boat. Being pushed by the river’s constant force is liberating. There are plenty of obstacles-- large rocks, fallen trees, shallow water. It's one of the things I like best in soon as my mind begins to wander, something urgent brings me back to the present. 


cumberland river with text

When Cris told me she was going out of town for a weekend with her book club, I figured it was the perfect time for a fishing trip. Huck and I drove 4 hours south to the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

huck dog cumberland river

The last time I was able to make a trip to the Cumberland River below the Wolf Creek Dam was about 6 years ago. I am happy to report not much has changed. Here, the surrounding wilderness of the Appalachian foothills takes on the many forms of rocky cliffs, thick greenery and endless beauty. The cold water released makes this a perfect waterway for trout. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife stock the river with roughly 200,000 trout (161,000 Rainbows and 38,000 Browns) a year.

cumberland river rocks

We woke up before the sun on Saturday and attempted to hit the river before the dam began releasing much water. After struggling with the shallow water and an almost nonexistent boat ramp, I got the boat in. Huck and I were off, greeted by some intense morning fog.

Cumberland River Fog
cumberland river boat fog
morning fog cumberland river
fog fishermen cumberland river

I ended the day with only 3 small rainbows (enough for dinner), but I met some great guys and saw some huge fish.  A word of advice if you're thinking about heading down this way: bring your beer with you. Most of the southern Kentucky counties are dry.

trout from cumberland river

The next morning we woke to rain. After looking at the radar, I skipped breakfast and decided to drive north 45 miles to another beautiful body of water called Green River Lake.

Green River Lake txt

I drove through Columbia, Kentucky, close to Lincoln’s birth place. Once I arrived I pulled out my stove and made coffee and breakfast. Within 3 hours I had 2 nice bass, the largest an 18-inch 3-pounder. Late in the afternoon, Huck and I swam in a secluded cove to cool down and then headed home.

green river lake boat motor
green river lake boat
green river lake bass

Trips like this one remind me to shift my focus to important things. I came away with a clear head, and I’m wondering why all weekends can’t be like this. I think the key is finding a way to be more present in the everyday.

Maybe the key, really, is for me to do some more fishing…in the meantime, I'll be on Craigslist looking at boats.