Jim Durham


By Captain Jim Durham – StriperFun Guide Service

DATE OF REPORT: May 22, 2007

 Latest water temperature: 74.8° F surface (Beaver Creek) May 21, 2007

 Latest water temperature: 75.4° F surface (Main Lake) May 20, 2007

 Latest water temperature: 75.0° F surface (Greasy Creek) May 20, 2007

 Current lake level is 680.80 feet. The lake is about 43-45 feet below the tree line, which is about 725' above sea level. I will keep you posted.

Greetings to my avid readers! It has been two weeks since my last report. "Yes", we are still catching "big" Stripers!


In some years, the bite during the spawn of the Stripers can be really slow. I do not know what then "phenomenon" is this year, but we have been catching absolutely "huge" trophy Stripers in the spawn of 2007. Perhaps it is the fact that with the work on the dam and the water level still near Winter pool all the way into May, the "bite" is hotter this year during the spawn than normal.


All I know is that StriperFun clients are "reaping' the benefits by harvesting trophy after trophy! Please see below just a few of the "40 pound plus" monsters we are hitting!

The females are now swelled with eggs and the males are full of sperm (lots of clean up on the boat after landing a large fish).

Yes, the Stripers spawn. The males are full of sperm and the females are full of eggs. But they cannot reproduce because of the water temperature and lake bottom conditions. The eggs just drop to the bottom of the Lake and feed the ecosystem.

Stripers do not always eat well during the spawn. The Striper is a schooling fish. They are put into the Lake in schools and generally hang together forever. So, naturally they spawn in schools. But, not all schools spawn at the same time. Remember, spawn fishing can be "feast or famine". Catch a school just prior to beginning the spawn and they are "ravenous" and the females are huge. You could catch a trophy of a lifetime.

The same thing holds true for catching a school just coming off the spawn. Although they will also be just as ravenous, the fish will have lost some weight from being in spawn.

During the spawn, the bite can be slow. However, the night bite has begun as well, with Stripers feeding on pre-spawn shad whacking the banks. Just go out after dark, cut your motor and listen to find them (see our website for some night time photos). The month of May should be hot on the night bite as well.

The Smallmouth fishing has been just off the chart. We are still catching tremendous numbers and numerous large wall mount trophies.

Lake Cumberland is a world class Smallmouth fishery. Many people have no idea (because the lake is so well known for Stripers).

April is gone and now we are now in to May and our life cycle on the lake has welcomed in spring again! It is time to tie your strongest line onto your stoutest rods and sharpen your hooks! There are monster Stripers in Lake Cumberland and they are hungry! I remain truly "pumped"!

We are still fishing planer boards in the middle of the creeks to the creek mouths and also out on the main lake, moving quickly (you go through a lot of bait that way – but it is what it is). Once we find a school, I kill the trolling motor and let the bait "settle in" and drop on the school.

This technique works really well! "Pow" "Pow" Doubles and triples!

The fish are from the surface (weightless boards) to 30 feet (down rod bites), depending on the cloud cover and wind. The Smallmouth are killing the weightless boards right against the rock banks – close to the points.

We are also catching Stripers throwing Cumberland Pro buck tails (white on white) and Smack tackle Gizz 4 "shad pattern" crank baits. The bite on these is early and late.

The fish are no longer as scattered, but we are "hunting" to find them. The schools of Stripers are medium size now, as they begin the spawn. Sometimes they are bunched in small coves off the main creek/lake and sometimes they are moving and we just "hit a school" suddenly in the dead middle of the lake that shows up out of nowhere. When I find them, I am staying on top of the schools with my trolling motor (as best as I can on windy days). Sometimes I do "figure eight" race track patterns to keep hitting the same school over and over.

It is hard work. But you have to be patient and "just keep pulling".

Watch for typical Spring storms hitting every few days. Never go out in heavy lightning. The fish generally do not bite anyway (I thing they are afraid of it just as much as people are).

This time of year is also "high tide" for the logs, sticks and trash in the lake. Watch for "dead head" logs that are swollen with water and floating just underneath the surface. Be very careful so that you do not hit something. A bent prop or damaged lower unit can put a damper on your day.

If you catch some nice fish, try "Captain Jim's Cajun Style Fried Fish Recipe":

Per 2 pounds of filets use:

One half cup of flower

One quarter cup of corn meal

One quarter cup of corn starch

One quarter cup of ground (dry – in the green can) parmesan cheese

2 table spoons of celery salt

2 table spoons of garlic power

1 table spoon of black pepper

1 table spoon of crushed red pepper

1 half cup of olive oil

Combine all the ingredients together except for the crushed red pepper in a one gallon zip lock bag. Shake well to mix

Pour the oil in a skillet, add the 1 table spoon of crushed red pepper and heat over medium heat stirring a couple of times to "spread the heat of the red peppers" until a drop of water sizzles in the skillet

Dip the filets in an egg & milk wash, shake once and then toss them in the bag. I do about a pound at a time (4 to 6 filets). Shake well

Place carefully in the hot grease and cook about 4 minutes per side (a little longer if your filets are thick). Drain the filets on napkins and enjoy with tartar sauce and hot pickles. This works great for onion rings and shrimp as well. Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you want to see more photos of recent catches, including some huge stringers of large Stripers, go to the StriperFun website!

Stripers will sometimes eat their body weight in shad, then not eat for a day or so. As the water continues to warm up, the fishing will continue to improve and these schools will begin to yield even more large trophies!

Only the freshest shad will work. The Stripers have a lot of bait to eat (millions of alewive and gizzard shad per square mile) and slow "worn out" bait does not work well (if at all). Customers tell me all the time that the two main reasons they hire a guide is that we always have the freshest bait and we know where to go to catch the big ones!


Be sure to listen in to the "Outdoors with Jim Strader" show that airs weekly on Sunday Evenings from 6-8 pm on 84WHAS-AM, a 50,000 watt Clear Channel radio station in Louisville Kentucky (you can listen in on line!). Tune in and catch Captain Jim's Lake Cumberland Striper Fishing Report on Sunday night to see how the prior week's fishing went!


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. You will catch Catfish, Largemouth, Walleyes and huge Stripers as well.


The following is a follow up to the Special Report of a week ago I sent out regarding a formal press release from the U.S. Corp of Engineers (COE) on January 22, 2007 regarding Lake Cumberland, a leak that was found near the dam (a couple of years back) and how the Corp is now going to deal with it starting immediately. I continue to receive calls and emails from my readers and clients regarding concerns over a variety of issues.

As the press release indicates (and as we lake people have known for nearly three years), Lake Cumberland has a leak that was found near the dam (a couple of years back) and the COE is finally going to fix it starting immediately.

As I have taught fishing at the Louisville and Cincinnati Bass Pro Shops (thanks to all StriperFun clients and friends who came by to say hello!) and at other fishing locations, I got the same question / statement from literally hundreds of people. What people told me again and again was:

"I heard they drained Lake Cumberland"!

I politely told everyone that "No", they did not drain the lake!

The bottom line is that, "No, the sky is not falling" (there is no great emergency)!

Although the dam needs to be fixed and the water will be a little lower than winter pool for a while (they are lowering the lake slightly from 690 to 680 feet by February 12), there will still be plenty of water! Lake Cumberland will still be larger than Dale Hollow by over 10,000 acres, larger than Norris Lake by about 5000 acres and will still be the third largest lake in Kentucky! I firmly believe that the fishing should remain steady (and good!). When the Corp lowered the lake in the mid seventies for dam repair, the fishing was terrific. It should be again!

The wintertime average for the lake is about 690 feet. The overall consensus from the COE is that "The pool restrictions at 680 feet could be in place for 5-7 years".

From my 40 plus years coming to the lake, it has been my experience that this winter level (690) remains constant (many years) for 90 or so days between late November through mid February. So, we are already accustomed to this lower water level for about a ¼ of the year as it is!

Lowering the lake to 680 feet (ten feet less than winter normal) will have a slight but negligible effect on boating and fishing during the winter months. There may be certain coves you are used to going into that you can no longer go into because they are too shallow, etc.

What may be affected, at least for a short while, is boat launching access to the lake. However, the U.S. Corp of Engineers press release said they were going to have "extension of boat ramps to allow additional access to the lake at this lower level". This has now been confirmed, with Corp personnel already in process of inspecting and measuring various ramps. The word is they are taking bids from contractors with "pre fabricated ramp extensions" that can be quickly put in place.

The Corp has already put in the ramp at Grider Hill and Beaver creek's ramp should be finished by the 15th of May.

The bottom line is that, for now, it will be business as usual at the Lake!

StriperFun Guide Service will keep putting our clients on big fish and nothing will change. In fact, we should have less logs and trash in the water during the spring months!

StriperFun's new "how to" DVD video "Striper Fish like a Pro"! Our new and exciting Striper fishing "Pro Tips" video DVD is now for sale. You can click the link at the beginning of this report to go to the StriperFun website and then click the new "view the StriperFun video trailer" link to see some great action shots and all the proven techniques you can learn from the instructional video. We continue taking numerous orders for the video and look forward to hearing from you! YOU CAN NOW PURCHASE DIRECTLY ON LINE VIA GOOGLE CHECKOUT!

If you want to catch Monster Stripers in late Spring or Summer (when we catch lots of numbers and major trophies, then you better book soon! All of StriperFun's guide boats are covered and heated as well, so come see us. I am pleased to announce (based upon demand) that StriperFun has added another new guide (four of us now!). As always, all our guides are licensed and fully insured.

Thus, we have availability for weekend and weekday trips. May still has some availability. Come enjoy the terrific Spring fishing!

We are also already filling up the prime weekend dates for June, July and August (the "deep" water Summer bite!) so plan soon if you want to reserve your late Spring – Summer date!


One of my favorite techniques (I use when pulling boards) is to throw a large white and white hair jig or chartreuse and white hair jig (see types below) rigged with a 4 inch plastic trailer. The trick to catching these "ultra shallow" fish is to actually cast the jig "up on the shore". The reason being, that the "splash" of the large jig in the shallow water will many times "spook" a large Striper. If you fish shallow water in the winter often enough you will experience the sick feeling of seeing your lure hit the water and see an immediate "swirl" of a large "startled" fish fleeing for deep water! So, to combat this problem, we cast our jigs up on the shore. Then, as we take up the slack of the line to get it tight, we then "hop" the jig (with a quick raising of the rod and a slight jerk on the lure) quietly into the water. Because the jig is heavy, it will have a tendency to snag on rocks and submerged wood. As soon as you hop your jig into the water you need to raise your rod tip high and reel quickly. This will virtually eliminate most snagging of the jigs on the bottom.

This type of fishing can be really exciting!

As you hop your lure into the water and begin to quickly retrieve your jig from the edge of the shore, it will begin to smack into rocks, wood etc. This can cause a "reaction" bite (like a large mouth smacking a crank bait after it careens off of a stump). It works on Stripers too! You will many times experience the same "swirl" of a large Striper's tail in the shallow water. The difference is that now the fish isn't running away, it is flying to eat your lure! You need to be ready as soon as you hop the lure in and begin the retrieve. We catch many Stripers that are hanging around eating bait fish right on the edge of the shore. A soon as you hop the lure in they many times will slam it! This is especially true on windy days when the wind is blowing in towards the bank you are fishing. The wind blows in the bait fish that are "tired" from fight the wind. They make easy prey for the Stripers, so always pay attention to the wind direction when you chose a bank to fish.


On bright days, you can find the fish in at least 40 to 50 feet of water from the middle to the mouths of the creeks and in the main lake, with the fish taking weightless planer boards with shad or shad 8 to 15 feet deep. 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, making the Stripers more active as well.

On cloudy days (or earlier and later in the day on bright days), the Stripers can be holding further back in the creeks and a lot shallower. Especially as May progresses. We frequently catch Stripers in 3 to 4 feet of water on sloping red clay banks.

The Stripers are coming out of the creeks and will soon 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 Cumberland Pro Lures "Silver Pals" (just burn it as fast as you can)

2. Smack Tackle "Gizz 4". This is a Striper "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!

StriperFun has a lot planned for the near future, including a new book and more "How To" videos (click the link at the top of the report to see the newest video trailer). 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
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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