Fishing and History at Cordell Hull Dam
I don’t expect there are many who know why the dam across the Cumberland River a few miles north of Carthage was named for Cordell Hull. The short version is that for almost 12 years, the longest term in American history, he was our country’s Secretary of State.
Hull was born in Pickett County, quickly rose through the ranks from lawyer to be elected U.S. senator. He resigned from the senate when President Franklin Roosevelt asked him to become secretary of state in 1933. He resigned in 1944 in poor health. He was largely responsible for the creation of the United Nations and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1945. I think a man who worked diligently for peace should, at least, have a dam named for him.
Cordell Hull Dam became operative in 1973. It’s been one of my favorite fishing holes since the late 1970s. If you like camping, hiking, canoeing, horseback riding and other forms of outdoor recreation, they are available above the dam at various locations. Below the dam is for fishing.
Bank fishing is popular on both sides of the river. The fisherman platform on the western side at the powerhouse is presently closed for repairs. There are two launching ramps near the dam on the east and west banks.
The most sought after game fish species below the dam are stripers, stripe, sauger, walleye, bream, crappie, catfish and, during the cooler months, trout that have migrated upstream to the dam from the Caney Fork River that’s five miles south.
I fished below Cordell Hull Dam a couple of weeks ago with Doug Markham (outdoor writer and radio personality), who usually accompanies me to these waters. We’ve discovered that trolling is the most effective method for catching walleye and sauger. These are the fish I want to catch most – they’re the best tasting in the state.
While most anglers wait until cold weather to pursue them, they are present year-round. One of my best fishing trips was last July when it was scorching hot and there was no current. At first Doug and I expected the day to be a bust because of the lack of current. It turned out that our catch rate was much better before generation began. Ah, the pleasure of pleasant surprises.
Trolling is as simple as dragging a lure slowly behind a boat. I troll with six-pound-test line. Light line allows a lure to run deeper than thicker line but the drawback is the line parts easier and increases lure loss rate.
If you’re looking for an area with low fishing pressure, you will probably become very fond of this riverine environment of the Cumberland River below Cordell Hull Dam. And you’ll also be experiencing a bit of history too.