Jim Durham


By Captain Jim Durham – StriperFun Guide Service

Staff Writer for fishin.com

DATE OF REPORT: December 17, 2006

• Latest water temperature: 51.3° F surface (Main lake at Dam) December 16, 2006

• Latest water temperature: 50.8° F surface (Mouth Otter Creek)December 15 2006

• Latest water temperature: 51.2° F surface (Mouth Beaver Creek) December 16, 2006

• Current lake level is 693.22 feet. The lake is about 30 to 32 feet below the tree line, which is about 725' above sea level. The water is extremely clear now. I will keep you posted.

Greetings to my avid readers! It has been two weeks since my last report. The bite has continued to be steady most days!

Things have began to slow down around the marinas, with most (non-fishing boats) winterized. This time of year gets quite. The pleasure boaters are done for the year and it's just the Bass fishermen and us "Monster" Striper hunters that are left.

That is OK with me.

December and January can be just terrific months to fish for Monster Stripers, with lots of numbers and major trophies caught. For some reason (most likely people getting ready for the holidays), it is sometimes slow for us guides. Maybe it is the cold weather.

Don't let the colder weather hold you back!

The big Stripers "love the colder water" and get very active. All of StriperFun's guide boats are covered and heated as well, so come see us. StriperFun guides have been catching nice limits of fish on most days, with multiple fish days almost everyday and some huge wall mount trophies as well! I am pleased to announce (based upon demand) that StriperFun has added several new guides. As always, all our guides are licensed and fully insured.

Thus, we have availability for weekend and weekday trips. Late December still has availability and January has openings as well. Come enjoy the terrific winter fishing!

We are also already filling up the prime weekend dates for March, April and May, so plan soon if you want to reserve your Spring weekend date!


I took advantage of a couple of slow booking days to spend time with Brain Wilson, the owner of Cumberland Pro lures. Brian is the Cumberland lake expert on pulling "Umbrella rigs". Trust me, this guy knows his stuff and I always relish the opportunity to spend some time fishing with the manufacturer of the Umbrella rigs.

Cumberland Pro Lures makes (in my opinion) the best Striper jigs available. My favorite is their "Cumberland Pro Striper Spinner". It is a super high quality hair jig made with a long lasting super tough powder coat finish, prism red eyes, a sea guard hook and the added flash and vibration of a short arm spinner bait Colorado blade. What a terrific idea! The bait just "pulses" with a "come get me" attitude! It is a true "secret weapon" when used down rigging or when used in combination with their unbeatable "Pro Umbrella Rig"! Feel free to call me for details!

So, we have been going out in the Striper Machine and pulling Cumberland Pro Umbrella rigs, locating and pulling through schools of suspended fish. We have been fishing 4 rigs at a time, 2 rigs with chartreuse hair - Blue Head ¾ ounce Striper Spinner jigs with blue blades chartreuse trailers, and 2 rigs with ½ ounce Striper Spinner jigs with "Shad pattern" with Pearl trailers.

This puts 36 Striper Spinner jigs in front of the fish at the same time, creating a large "artificial school" of baitfish. The fish were hanging on the canyon walls in 50 to 60 feet of water, holding about 10 feet off of the bottom.

We would see the school of bait on the 12 inch color Raymarine C 120 fish finder and when ever we saw the "telltale arches" of big Stripers hovering near the bait, we would pop the engine into neutral and let the 4 rigs slowly drop into the "hot" zone. You can also make a hard turn which will also cause the lures to drop.

It is a reaction bite that you get with the Umbrella rigs. The 36 jigs drop into the fish and then when you re-engage the boat into drive, your artificial school of jigs appears to be "fleeing" the Stripers.

"Kapowwwww!!! They absolutely "slam" these lures! We doubled up again and again.

Please find below a photo of one of the large brutes!

Jim, put the photo here

The telephone number for Cumberland Pro Lures is 606-561-5478, or click the following link to go directly to their site to purchase these terrific products! http://www.cumberlandpro.com/


The Stripers have began to run up into the creeks and reform into huge schools again for their annual "blast the shad on the surface" feeding frenzy. Do not be surprised to occasionally see fish (or catch a big Striper) near the surface chasing bait. The bait can be a lot more active now, making the Stripers more active as well. If you see a school of Stripers on the surface feeding, be sure to not run your boat directly into the school. Come down off of plane at least 150 feet away then approach by trolling motor on high speed. Be patient as well, do not throw until your lure can reach the edges of the school (that is mentally "hard" to do).

Be respective of other boaters as well. Unfortunately, you may not always get the same treatment.

The reality is that the fish usually will not stay up long. However, check the time on your watch and stay in the general area. My experience this time of year is that they re-surface every 6 to 8 minutes as they "herd" the large schools of shad to the surface (like any predators herd their pray). Many times, I find that if I "run" over towards them when I see them come up, by the time I get there they are "back down"! Then, when I look over, they are coming up "right where I just came from"! This is a technique you just have to learn (to be at the right place at the right time). Truthfully, sometimes it is just "luck".

If you do see fish feeding on the surface (watch with your binoculars as you are moving around), you can cast them:

1. Large "Silver Buddies" or "Silver Pals" (just burn it as fast as you can)

2. Smack Tackle "Gizz 4" and "Crankblade" baits. These are "killer".

3. Large "hammered spoons" (I like the Bass Pro shop 1.5 ounce model with a white buck tail on the treble and the "Dangerous Dick"). I fish these with a "herky – jerky" style fast.

4. Big "walking baits" (Zara Spooks – white bottom with a silver top), the "Sammy 100" from Lucky Craft (silver side – blue back) or the Smithwick "Devils Horse" (Silver shiner). You "walk the dog" with these lures.

5. Large "split back" minnows (I prefer the largest "Bomber Long A" – Silver with blue/black back) or the largest ‘Rattlin Rouge" by Smithwick (Clown color) or the old faithful Cotton Cordell "Red Fin" (Silver – Blue back). You fish these lures "stop and go" very fast.

6. And of course the old "standby" Cumberland Pro Striper Spinner jig with a white or chartreuse "Lakeside" 4 inch Striper grub trailer

Striper fishing at its best!


We continue to catch really nice Smallmouth while Striper fishing live bait. If you want to "concentrate" on the smallmouth, then the bottom fishing with live bait is the hot ticket for the next 3 to 4 months. The trick is to beach your boat (or tie up) and throw Carolina rigged live (3 to 4 inch) Alewive / Threadfin shad or shiners out on the bottom. Be patient! Remember, the fish will need to "see", "smell" and "sense" your bait. Look for red clay banks near deep water drop offs or deep points. Use no more than 12 pound line with an 8 pound leader and small bass hook. You will catch Catfish, Largemouth and Walleyes as well.

StriperFun has a lot planned for the near future, including a new book and some "how to" videos. Stay tuned to fishin.com for more! If you have any other ideas techniques or subjects you want me to write about, drop me a line!

I am many times asked "What are the advantages to hiring a guide"? In essence, you hire a guide to utilize the guide's many years of experience and lake knowledge, to learn new tactics and techniques to increase your chance of "landing the big one!" Guides use top of the line equipment and the freshest live bait. Also, if you cannot afford your own boat, it is a very cost effective way for you or your group to fish (cost per fisherman). Even professional fishermen hire guides to learn a lake and new techniques!

If you need help with artificial or live bait concepts, or for techniques "reading" fish finders, feel free to call me for more information. We hope to see you on the lake! Good fishin!!


Captain Jim Durham

Toll free 866-575-3770

United States Coast Guard

Merchant Marine Officer License No. 1037731

Kentucky State Guide License # 007



Fish Species: Stripers
Bait Used:
Tackle Used:
Method Used:
Water Depth:
Water Temperature:
Wind Direction:
Wind Speed:

Do you want to leave a comment? Login or register now to leave a comment.

No comments so far

Jim Durham

About The Author: Captain Jim Durham

Company: StriperFun™ Fishing Guide Service

Area Reporting: Lake Cumberland

Bio: Specializing in "Trophy" Striper Fishing, Captain Jim Durham is a Kentucky State licensed guide who has fished Lake Cumberland year round for over 40 years. As a former B.A.S.S. tournament circuit winner, Captain Jim also holds a U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine Captain's License. Captain Jim and all his StriperFun Guides are fully insured.  Fully insured, let Captain Jim and StriperFun Guide Service take you on safe, fun and unforgettable fishing trip to catch a "Trophy Striper"of a lifetime!

Click Here For Past Fishing Reports by Captain Jim Durham