I had the great pleasure of hooking up with a good friend of my father's Mr. Bill Hall and fishing the Cumberland River in KY. Bill and my father have known eachother for around 12 to 15 years. The funny part about this is dad and I have been fishing for around 4 years together. Bill has been fishing for around 40 years and has a head full of knowledge. Until this past year dad dindn't know that he fly fished. Since then it's been a discussion every time he heads to my fathers salon to sharpen his shears. I usually hear about it the things discussed the night of or after and I always look forward to their discussions. I've had the pleasure of talking with Bill a handfull of times and listening to his float trips on the Cumberland. Not speaking for Bill, but he has fished several tributaries and is a fantastic wealth of knowledge!
I had called my dad on the 26th and asked for Bills number to see if he would mind my tagging along. The phone call was made and we set off the following morning around 6:30AM headed north. We reached Burkesville, KY around 10:00AM and launched the boat on the slip. Off we went on a haul somewhere up river reaching our destination!
The launch and run up river with slight spotty fog rolling off the water.
I had recently picked up a Z-Axis 9' 5wt rod from LRO and was anxious to break it in right and properly christen the rod! Bill set us up on several very nice runs and within his first two casts faught and landed a very nice brown.
As wiped the drool from my chin I thought to myself, self this is gonna be a good day. Great company, great water, and great fish! Can't get much better than that! We finished that run with Bill doing most of the fishing, because I was too busy gauking at several, 20+ inch fish running from the sight of the boat accompanied by large pods of 16 to 18 inch fish running downstream together. We had a breeze against our backs all day mild in the morning turning worse throughtout the day as a storm moved through. Fished several more nice runs after tooling back downstream eventually picking up this nice guy.
We caught sevral fish and I had several misses and a few long distance releases! We anchored off and ate some lunch coplete with fried chicken, potato salad, and oreo's. Up the anchor went and back to slaying fish we did! We went back to a spot on the river that I was fimiliar with, and we had turned the motor off to pass by a fellow fisherman and Bill requested I float and fly while we drifted past him. Just before Bill had time to crank the motor I gave one cast to a riser nestled just behind a partially submerged tree....Wait, wait, wait and bam a taker! Hardest fighting fish I've ever landed. Breaking the rod in right I said to myself! The fish turned nose down with the current in a deep run and wouldn't budge for several minutes but finally came to net around 6 to 7 minutes later! A beut she was!
I wasn't used to the set up and was still a little unsure of the rods capabilities! All I can say is if you are looking for a new rod go cast the Z-Axis. They're pricey but well worth the investment. It makes short, quick, easy work of punching flies into the wind even at 45 to 55 ft! Plenty of backbone for fighting and landing a large fish. We fished a weighted double nymph rig w/indicator all day and I might add that my arm doesn't hurt today lke it usually does after a day of fishing with the old rod! I had a hard time getting my leader to work right eventually figuring it out! I think I used over half of a brand new spool of frog hair cutting out tangled messes. It was easy to tangle your dropper nymph in the yarn and I managed to do it quite successfully about three times and lost half of my leader including the both nymphs to a submerged tree stump!
We finally tooled back down stream and back to the slip around 6PM loaded her up and called it a day.
A pic of the run back down.
Bill has a fantastic boat specifically designed for fishing this water which continually amazed me all day long! Something else that blew me out of the water, no pun intended, was Bill's knowledge of the water. Every bend, every ledge, and every hold! There seemed to be a name for every section of water that we fished. The river is chalked full of good runs and great fish. Bill said after getting back that was the absolute slowest day he had all summer long. I still had a smile on my face knowing that we netted around 20 fish and long distance released around 5.
For the story of the day though! Just after lunch Bill and I laid eyes on a striper the size of my leg and as big around.....well let's just say it looked like a torpedo moving upstream. Bill says "I'm gonna tell you a story that was told to me. I don't know see the truth in it, but it was told to me so I'll tell it to you!" He tells me of a buddy that he has that regularly fishes the Cumberland telling him a story about catching a rainbow. Well the story goes that his buddy caught a rainbow and just before landing the rainbow a striper came outta no where and ate his catch breaking him off! Good story I'm thinking to myself! We had floated a good 30 ft past where we had last seen the striper. Instead of casting below the boat I decided to cast towards the bank paralell with the boat and hung into a fish! As soon as I hooked the fish the striper came outta no where right to where I hooked the fish to catch an easy meal! I really don't know how my rainbow got off, but all I know is my fish dissapeared! So the story that Bill didn't necessarily believe bacame true with himself as a witness! It was, to say the least, IRONIC!
I had an excellent time with Bill and learned an intense, immense amount about the water and several other frequently fished waters! Something else to add is that Bill ties all of his own flies. Man! Dad got a batch of these flies around a month ago when we fished the clinch and I grabbed one of them! I've used that exact same flies around 4 times since then landing several, several nice fish on them! Bill's flies are beaut's and they are the most durable fly I have ever fished, period!
Bill's having thought about guiding the Cumberland and I hope it comes true for everyone else out there! He would make an excellent guide and great company! He certainly put us on fish and certaily hooked us up on some fish as well! If that was a slow day, I'd kill to see what it's like when it's on fire!
I can't say thanks enought for allowing me to tag along! Truly thanks! I hope dad will get to tag along soon! I had a wonderfull time, and dad will be thoroughly jelous until he get's to go! I called dad when I returned home and he said he was upset just do to the fact I got to ride in the car with someone for around 6 hours who had that much knowledge in his head! He started talking about getting mad when Bill comes to visit because he usually has a client sitting in his chair and doesn't have time to sit and pick his brain.
Thanks a million!
PS~I can't leave this report without personally thanking Daniel for hooking me up with one sweet rod! Thanks again! I love it and if you need testomony on the rod you have my number!