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A Trout Vacation

Gas is so expensive nowadays that many families are reconsidering their traditional two-week summer vacations to distant places. Instead, they are finding that mini-vacations closer to home are much more practical.

If your family wants to visit a unique place and enjoy the best trout fishing in the state, then it’s time to head to the Cumberland River tailwater in southern Kentucky. It’s located in Russell County, south of Jamestown off U.S. 127.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife stocks nearly 200,000 rainbow and brown trout each year in this stretch of river below Lake Cumberland’s Wolf Creek Dam. About half of these fish go into the water within sight of the dam. There’s plenty of space to fish from the bank or launch a boat at the nearby ramp. Two state records were caught from this river: a 21-pound brown trout and a 14-pound, 6-ounce rainbow trout.

There’s plenty for families to do. You can see how trout are raised at the nearby Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery. The facility is open to visitors from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Central Time) seven days a week. A playground overlooks the river, while hiking trails wind through the nearby woods.

Trout fishing, however, is the big draw. Some anglers use small crankbaits that imitate minnows or crayfish, or Rooster Tail in-line spinners. But most anglers use bait to catch trout, including corn, night crawlers, salmon eggs, or Power Bait putty. The best places to fish are wherever you see dimples on the surface of the water—these indicate feeding trout.

Fishing the tailwater requires caution because water releases from the dam can quickly raise the river level. Stay well back if you notice a sudden surge of current. Call (270) 343-0153 to find out the projected generation schedules. The best time to fish is during periods of no generation, when water is not being released from the dam.

A small hatchery creek near the campground is also stocked with trout. It’s a great place for small children to fish.

The best time to visit is during the heat of summer. Because the water is so cold, a wall of fog forms along the river every morning—it’s natural air conditioning unlike anywhere else in the state.

Kendall Campground is a short walk to the water and has 77 sites, most with hookups. Call (606) 343-4660 for more information, or make your reservations online at If you prefer not to rough it, nearby Lake Cumberland State Resort Park can’t be beat for overnight stays. Call (800) 325-1709 for reservations or visit


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