Fishing at Lake Cumberland

Consistently ranking as one of the top vacation getaways in the Bluegrass State, Lake Cumberland is not only a fisherman’s dream, but an excellent choice to fill the family photo album with grin-filled memories. This ninth largest reservoir in America, often referred to as "The Houseboat Capital of the World," Lake Cumberland is a paradise for water babies in a landlocked state.

Fishing in Lake CumberlandConstruction began on Wolf Creek Dam in 1952 creating what would become Lake Cumberland. The reservoir now boasts 50,250 acres of waterways and 1,255 miles of shoreline in south-central Kentucky. In addition to having prevented an estimated $500 million in flood damage since it was built, the lake offers some of the best fishing Kentucky has to offer.

Often hosting national fishing tournaments and frequently netting state-record-sized fish (including a striped bass weighing in at 58 lb 4 oz!) anglers at Lake Cumberland can hope to hook several varieties of both bass and trout, sturgeon, walleye, black and white crappie, and many other species.

What Makes It Great

Lake Cumberland is rated one of the top vacation destinations in the state (if not the whole country). It’s no wonder as this lush wonderland offers dozens of reason to visit. World class fishing is at the top of the list.

As a state, Kentucky takes its fishing very seriously and there are a number of sources to help anglers plan their trips. Based on the 2016 fish population surveys, creel surveys, fish stockings, and historical knowledge of the fisheries, the state has rated Lake Cumberland with an “excellent” forecast rating for crappie, channel catfish and striped bass and “good” for bluegill, walleye, and three other varieties of bass in 2017.

With at least four species in residence, Lake Cumberland is well known as a hot-spot for bass fishing, with striped bass being the most sought after. And with many stripers in the 20 to 30 pound class there is good reason why they get most of the attention. To make the most out of a summertime jaunt, the state also issues a round of fishing tips.

Don’t be too worried if 50,250 acres of waterways feels a little bit overwhelming for a first timer. There is help available in the form of several experienced local guide companies who can show newbies and pros alike the ins and outs of this water wonderland. Hiring a guide for at least the first day is highly recommended. And if the ‘non-fisherman’ in the group decide they’d like to throw a line in the water, or some key gear gets left in the driveway by accident, fishing equipment can be checked out at the Country Store at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park year-round.

Who is Going to Love It

The endless offshoots and channels of Lake Cumberland along with the wide diversity of prey are sure to suit all tastes, types of lures, and levels of patience. Every fisherman from pro-level prize winners to three-year olds with their first pole will love dropping a line into Lake Cumberland. In addition, it’s a guilt-free fishing week (or weekend) as floating around in a houseboat relaxing, partaking in water sports, or hiking the lush shores is sure to keep the whole party entertained.

Serious fisherman will appreciate the ease of launching their own boats at the state run marina or booking a well-maintained rental, leaving time for more important things like probing the locals for what’s striking that week and stocking up on the right bait and tackle.

Directions, Parking & Regulations

Due to the size of Lake Cumberland there are multiple ways and areas to access the water and various amenities. A great place to start is with Lake Cumberland State Resort Park located at 5465 State Park Rd., Jamestown, KY. Call (270) 343-3111 or click here for more information.

The state run marina offers 100 open slips, rental fishing boats, pontoon boats, houseboats, and ski boats. Contact Lake Cumberland State Dock for more information. Open April through October.

A Kentucky fishing license is required.

Written by Lisa Collard for RootsRated in partnership with Kentucky Tourism.