Fishing is perhaps the most popular sport on Lake Cumberland, which attracts a number of tournaments as well as up to four million visitors each year.
The 50,250 acres of water are teeming with varieties such as crappie, rainbow trout, walleye, striped bass, walleye and more. And a guide will work his tail to find where the biggest schools are for his clients. Catch or not, fishing guides can show you the best places to fish locally, what kind of gear to use and how to use it.
Sometimes the weather is a factor. A cold front can stop the fish or a windy day can prevent the boat from holding a particular spot. The seasons matter too. Fish go through cycles of activity that include spawning, moving from one area of ââthe lake to another, and seasonal water turnover.
Jeff Burton operates Burton’s Guide Service, which specializes in stripper fishing. Why this bass in particular? Well let’s just say size matters. The average catch weighs between eight and 12 pounds.
âThey are also fighting hard,â said Burton.
While booking charters since 1988, Burton grew up fishing “like most people in the business,” he laughed. “I started bass fishing and whatever we could catch.”
The Somerset native has lived in Nancy for 30 years and is launching charters from Lee’s Ford Marina. What started out as a second job became Burton’s core business after he retired from the Kentucky Department of Corrections in 2013.
âJust being on the lake,â Burton replies of his inspiration to guide. “That’s what brought me home and kept me here.”
Although open year-round, Burton’s main catching season is March through September. This is not a weekend concert; Burton can book daily charters.
âThere isn’t a lot of downtime during the season,â he said. “We reserve about six weeks in advance.”
While you might expect clients to be newbies, Burton said he reserves just as many charters for other guides and even professionals. The typical trip, he added, is as much about experience and memory-making as it is about catching fish.
âYou have a lot of families and retirees,â Burton said. “There are also a lot of guys who get together. If they go to college or work together, it’s kind of like a golf outing after a business meeting.”
But for those who have never fished before, Burton will be sure to review the basics. One thing you might want to prepare for is timing. Burton is usually fishing shad for live bait around 1 a.m.
Charters are booked for six hours, unless the client hits their limit and needs to return. The service provides all the necessary equipment – preferably Shimano reels and live bait rods. The Custom Weld boat is equipped with first aid kits, GPS and fish finders, as well as heated and closed in case of inclement weather.
âThere are only about ten of these boats like this on the lake,â Burton said. “Sure, built very heavy. We have a lot of logs in Cumberland Lake and they don’t do anything other than put a little bit into this boat. It also has high sides and is a stable boat.”
For more information call 606-875-2863 or visit burtonsguideservice.com.