Sam and I met up with Pam at Rock House, because the water level was down so we decided to launch at Helms Landing and pull out at Rock House. We didn’t want to add an extra 5 miles to our trip by taking out at Windfrey’s Ferry. The first mile of the trip was not very eventful, no one caught anything but I did notice a large fish dead on the bank. I figured it was a fish someone deep hooked and released.
I tried Juan’s “Kayak Fishing PA” technique 3" nose hooked Winco Baby Stickworms, without luck. Guess I need more practice with the finesse fishing. I threw a couple more different style baits nothing… I finally busted out the ole standby Rapala Fat Rap and I managed to hook a small Rainbow. Not the Smallmouth I was hoping for but a fish is a fish.
We headed down the Cumberland further and I kept smelling dead fish. A few more fish were showing up on the bank and floating in the water… Hmmm...
We stopped several times to let Sam’s dog Kitty… “Yes her dog’s name is Kitty, talk about confusing for my 2 year old”.
At the 3 mile mark I really started to notice more and more dead fish, I paddled up to one and saw that it was a nice Stripped Bass. I started to investigate all the fish I could get to and they were all Stripped Bass. We must have seen 75+ dead Stripers between Helms landing and Rock House.
I managed to catch a few more Trout, 1 small guy on a fly and 2 others on the Fat Rap.
We go to our pullout at Rock House and although beautiful I wanted to kick myself. We had an Ultimate 14.5, Hobie Outback, and Ocean Kayak Prowler Trident 11. 2 of the 3 were beasts to carry. We had to haul them through the rock arch and up a rocky embankment… I should have seen this coming this morning! Anyway about an hour later Sam, Pam and I prevailed carrying all our crap up to the vehicles. Next time I think I’ll opt to add the extra 5 miles to our trip so our pull out is at an actual ramp.
This morning I called Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and they put me in contact with John Williams. He said that a number of striped bass and walleye in Lake Cumberland have died because dissolved oxygen levels in the water have deteriorated at the temperature range preferred by these species.. He said typically the deep water fish Walleye and Stripped Bass are hit the hardest. I asked him about the Trout looking healthy and he said that the fish in the Cumberland River should be fine because the dam oxygenates the river. When I told him that the fish seemed to be dead for a while, John said that they were most likely already dead or almost dead and got sucked through the turbines of the dam. He also added that the water quality of the Cumberland tail waters was very good. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is now assembling an animation to explain this complex process and will post it later this week. Not great news about the fish die off, but I’d much rather it be because of low oxygen levels than pollution. So don't get freaked out and think the water is contaminated, the Cumberland tail-water system is fine! Get out and fish!