You know what fires me up as much as anything these days? It’s finding something wonderful in a place I don’t expect to do so.


Take, for example, the Cumberland River in Kentucky. Last week I had the pleasure of hanging out with the Bluegrass Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Lexington (I’ll have you know I am now proud to be an honorary Kentucky Colonel). What a great group of serious, committed anglers. That much I knew, going in.

What I didn’t know much about was the trout fishing in Kentucky. I did know that Kentucky has some of the best whitetail hunting, bass fishing, etc., in the country…but trout…well that’s an afterthought, right?

Not exactly. Thanks to guide Brandon Wade of Cumberland Drifters, who was remarkably talented behind the sticks…and author/Civil War historian/fly angler Ron Blair (right and left in the photo, respectively), I got a taste of what this great commonwealth has to offer Rocky Mountain “slimer” addicts like myself. The Cumberland is a tailwater, where the currents spill cool and clear and trout thrive. Granted, the river can be fickle, and the fishing quality depends on flows, but the angling gods were smiling on us last week, as we caught dozens using light-line nymph rigs. It was magical. As for Ron, he claimed to be rusty. I took him for a “ringer” right away, as he hooked up consistently. And guide Brandon… well, all I’ll say there is that anyone who can read those subtle seams and riffles with such aplomb would be more than deadly guiding anywhere in the Lower 48.

It’s a technical fishery… a stunningly beautiful landscape… where the mind swims as you imagine blue pickets on the north bluffs, and southern scouts prowling the opposite banks, which is exactly how it happened during the Civil War.

If you’re a fly angler, it’s worth a trip to see and experience for yourself. If you’re a history buff also, you won’t find a better place to float and let the imagination run wild.

What an honor. I’ll be back, and I hope you get to check this place out also.