Stellar fishing and mixed bags expected at Lake Cumberland College event


Brenden Kanies

A look back at the 2020 Carhartt College Series event on Lake Cumberland. The event in 2020 was won by Nolan Minor and Casey Lanier of West Virginia University.

Lake Cumberland in Russell County, Kentucky, will be this week’s playing field for the second stop of the 2021 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series. After talking to locals as well as some college anglers who have already been on the water, I’m going to say that the college anglers are going to have a great time this week. The College Series visited Lake Cumberland in September of 2020 as the final stop of the season. That event was extremely tough, with a daily average of 13 pounds over three days winning the event. It took less than 9 pounds a day to make the Top 12 cut. This time around, Cumberland should be an entirely different fishery.

Cumberland, a 65,000-acre mountain reservoir, is a diverse fishery with many options for the anglers. The main summary I can give is there is a lower end with cleaner water and more smallmouth, a lot of big creeks where anglers can target any of the three species of bass, and the upper (river) end that generally has more stained water and is largemouth oriented, although it is still extremely steep with plenty of deep water. That being said, you could easily catch a 5-pound largemouth at the dam, or a 5-pound smallmouth way up the river. That’s part of what makes the lake so cool.

Most anglers will be able to find something they are comfortable with and due to it being a good time of year; a wide range of techniques should be successful. The main lake is made up of many bluff walls, steep rocky banks, both gravel and rocky points and an abundance of pockets. Creeks on Cumberland are pretty unique compared to other lakes. The banks are mostly steep, and once you get away from the bank, they have extremely deep water — sometimes over 100 feet deep. If you head all the way to the back of the creeks, they start to flatten out. Some of the creeks take 10 to 20 minutes to reach the back due to idle zones, so that is another factor the anglers will have to manage this week.