Blue Stream Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing Report for:

South Fork Cumberland River - Leatherwood Fork - Tennessee

Hatch Chart - Best Access/Spots - Local Fish - About

Water Flow Chart

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Using Water Flow Charts & Weather Reports: Begin with our water flow charts to grasp stream velocity and volume – look for stable or rising trends to pinpoint ideal fishing times. Learn to interpret sudden spikes or drops, which can indicate potential challenges. Next, consult our weather reports to understand ambient conditions. Pairing the two, you can anticipate fish behavior, choose the right gear, and select the best fishing spots. Use these tools together for a holistic approach to your next fishing adventure.

In-Depth Weather

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Directions To Location

Hatch Chart

Month Hatch Time of Day Recommended Fly Sizes Popular Fly Patterns
January Midges Morning-Afternoon #18-#22 Zebra Midge, Griffith's Gnat
Winter Stoneflies Midday #16-#20 Black Stonefly Nymph
February Midges Morning-Afternoon #18-#22 Zebra Midge, Griffith's Gnat
Winter Stoneflies Midday #16-#20 Black Stonefly Nymph
March Blue Winged Olive (BWO) Afternoon #18-#20 BWO Dry Fly, Pheasant Tail Nymph
Little Black Caddis Late Afternoon #18 Elk Hair Caddis (Black)
Midges Morning #18-#22 Zebra Midge
April Hendricksons Afternoon #12-#14 Hendrickson Dry Fly, Red Quill
March Brown Afternoon #12-#14 March Brown Dry Fly
Caddis All Day #14-#18 Elk Hair Caddis
May Sulphurs Afternoon-Evening #14-#18 Sulphur Dry Fly, Sulphur Nymph
Green Drakes Afternoon-Evening #10-#12 Green Drake Dry Fly
Golden Stones Afternoon #8-#10 Golden Stone Nymph
June Light Cahills Evening #12-#14 Light Cahill Dry Fly
Terrestrials All Day #10-#16 Ants, Beetles, Hoppers
July Terrestrials All Day #10-#16 Ants, Beetles, Hoppers
Tricos Morning #20-#24 Trico Spinner
August Terrestrials All Day #10-#16 Ants, Beetles, Hoppers
Tricos Morning #20-#24 Trico Spinner
September Terrestrials All Day #10-#16 Ants, Beetles, Hoppers
Blue Winged Olive (BWO) Afternoon #18-#22 BWO Dry Fly
October Blue Winged Olive (BWO) Afternoon #18-#22 BWO Dry Fly
Caddis All Day #14-#18 Elk Hair Caddis
November Blue Winged Olive (BWO) Afternoon #18-#22 BWO Dry Fly
Midges Morning-Afternoon #18-#22 Zebra Midge
December Midges Morning-Afternoon #18-#22 Zebra Midge
Winter Stoneflies Midday #16-#20 Black Stonefly Nymph

While we strive to ensure the precision of our hatch charts, some reflect broader river region insights. Through ongoing partnerships with local guides and fly shops, we’re committed to refining our data. Should you notice any inconsistencies or have feedback, we welcome you to reach out. 

Best Fishing Spots

The South Fork Cumberland River – Leatherwood Fork is renowned amongst anglers for its fly fishing spots. Here are the high-ranking locales:

  • Blue Heron Area: Renowned for rainbow and brown trout, this crystal-clear water makes for an excellent sight-casting scenario.
  • Bear Creek: A tributary offering brook trout apart from rainbow and brown trout. Solitude is a bonus here.
  • Station Camp: Frequented by locals, this spot boasts of good trout populations year-round and provides fun dry fly opportunities.
  • Big South Fork Scenic Railway: Near the railway is an entry to an accessible area of the river teeming with trout.

Apart from these, there are several smaller tributaries and creek mouths along the Leatherwood Fork that offer incredible fly fishing experiences. Anglers are advised to carefully check local fishing regulations before starting their journey.

Best Access Points

The South Fork Cumberland River – Leatherwood Fork offers some of the best fly fishing opportunities. Here are the primary access points to this region:

  • Leatherwood Ford: This location can be accessed from Route 297. It is considered a popular spot due to the number of sizable rainbow and brook trout.
  • John Muir Overlook & Bandy Creek: The latter is an ideal camping region with quick access to the Leatherwood Ford. The former offers spectacular views and trails leading towards fishing spots. Accessible from Divide Road.
  • Rock Creek: Accessible via Rock Creek Loop, it offers ample opportunities for fly fishing.
  • Hazel Creek: Another popular location, offering a variety of species. Access from Route 297.

All sites are well-maintained and offer ample parking. Please ensure all fishing abides by the local regulations.

Local Fish

  • TroutThe South Fork is home to a large variety of trout, most notably cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout. They are top targeted species for fly fishing in the region.
  • BassBass species like the smallmouth and largemouth bass are also frequently targeted due to their abundance and impressive fight.
  • Black CrappieAn exciting species for fly fishermen as they are known for their eager bites and acrobatic fights.
  • Yellow PerchA popular target because they are easy to catch and are found in large numbers in the South Fork.
  • Channel CatfishAlthough not a traditional choice for fly fishing, they provide an experience like none other when caught with a fly rod.
  • BluegillFly fishermen fancy this species for their aggressive strikes and fierce battles, especially during their spawning season in the early summer.
  • PikeThese predators can be targeted using larger baitfish patterns, typically rewarding the angler with a strong fight and potential for larger size.
  • WalleyeAlthough a challenge for fly fishing, the South Fork of the Cumberland is known to hold sizeable Walleye which can provide a rewarding experience for the angler upon capture.

About The River

Delve into the fascinating history of the South Fork Cumberland River, commonly known as the Leatherwood Fork. This charmingly wild river is snuggled in Kentucky’s scenic landscape, and over the years it has etched a significant course in the region’s history. The earliest known settlers around the stream were the Cherokee tribes who greatly revered the lush, untamed beauty of the Leatherwood Fork.

Fast forward a few centuries, the river transformed into an essential waterway for trade. In the mid-18th century, adventurous pioneers set up trading posts along the embankments. Notable among them was Leatherwood Station that became a critical junction in the western trade routes.

Today, the Leatherwood Fork is a popular spot for recreational activities, boasting exceptional opportunities for:

  • Fishing
  • White water rafting
  • Kayaking

Undoubtedly, the South Fork Cumberland River is more than just a water body – it’s a testament to Kentucky’s rich past, thriving present, and promising future.

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