Steve McCadams Hunting & Fishing
Professional Hunting/Fishing Guide Since 1972
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Fishing Report

Updated fishing reports can be found here each week. Please note that lake elevation and surface temperatures are subject to change when drastic weather changes occur. My fishing reports will not be updated weekly until mid to late February. My fishing updates will take a backseat to waterfowling for the next two months. I'll post some updates from time to time but not on a regular basis during the winter months. Thanks for checking in. Thanks, Steve

Crappie Spawn Begins... Warm Days Trigger Annual Ritual
By Steve McCadams
Updated April 11, 2014

    Warm days have descended, triggering sluggish crappie to begin spawning phases here on Kentucky Lake. By this weekend surface temperatures will climb into the mid 60’s courtesy of several back to back sunny days that have really heated things up.   

  Since last week a lot of male crappie have shown the transition toward that beautiful dark purple appearance, a clear sign hormonal changes are taking place and the spawn is ready to begin. After a nasty spring the biological clock is now ticking but not before another cool start to a strange week.   

 The overall fishing scene has improved  for both bass and crappie anglers but especially for slab stalkers who thought warm spring days would never get here and stay. Overcoats were still standard attire earlier this week as gale winds and rain had quite a chill in the air before a midweek warm-up began.  

  Surface temperatures began the week in the 58 degree range, which reflected a cool down from the week before. By midweek the water edged across the 60-degree threshold and will continue to rise throughout the weekend.   

  Lake levels are rising too and some 18-inches above normal on TVA’s scale for mid-April. Elevation projected for the weekend at both Kentucky Dam and upstream at New Johnsonville will be in the 358 range. That’s only one foot below the summer pool level which isn’t supposed to be reached until May 1 each year.   

  Many are watching the mighty Mississippi River elevation where snow melt and run-off from northern states has entered the picture. Higher river stages there will ultimately have an influence on lake levels here.   

  Water color is good throughout the Paris Landing area and up into most of the Big Sandy and West Sandy area. Some dingy water is present in the upper Big Sandy.    

 Rising lake levels continue to scatter crappie somewhat. A lot of fish have moved up Big Sandy into the New Hope and Country Junction sector this week in response to higher lake levels and rising surface temperatures. West Sandy anglers reported increased catches as well.   

  Some dandy stringers were taken by anglers vertical fishing jigs over manmade fish attractors in shallow depths of 4 to 7 feet. Boats pulling lines armed with curly tail jigs and Roadrunners were doing well as were drift fishermen and those spider rigging.    

 Down around the power lines and Sulphur Well Island area crappie were still suspended in places but moving up on flats in depths of 10 to 12 feet. A few fish were caught in 4 to 8 foot stakebeds this week in the Paris Landing sector but shallow structure in the upper end of Big Sandy was more productive than in the Paris Landing region.   

  Fish will continue to be on the move the next few days as they blitz toward spawning structure. After several warm days a cool front is on the horizon for early next week, a scenario that might bring a short hiatus to the aggressive spawning activity.   

 Bass action backed off earlier this week in the aftermath of some cold nights that seemed to chill shallow water and diminish activity. Brisk northwest winds had an adverse effect earlier in the week but watch for the shallow bite to bounce back quickly as rising water and warmer days will team up for a positive change.   

 Spinnerbaits will have increased appeal in some dingy water areas as will loud colored crankbaits on gravel and rock banks, points, roadbeds, and sloping mud flats. Some anglers continue to toss Alabama rigs on deeper points and steep bluffs.   

  High winds will whip up sediments for a few days and anglers might work the windy sides of bays with a variety of loud colored bait presentations to find results.     Surface temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s are fast approaching and high lake levels may also send bass very shallow in the days ahead where some topwater lures will also be on the menu.   

 FISHING OPINIONS SOUGHT     The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is welcoming comments for its 2015 fishing regulations. This is an opportunity for the public to share ideas and concerns about fishing regulations with TWRA staff.     Public comments will be considered by fisheries managers and may be presented as proposals for regulation changes. Comments may be submitted by mail to: Fish Comments, TWRA, Fisheries Management Division, P.O. 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 or emailed to TWRA.Comment@tn.gov. Please include “Fish Comments” on the subject line of emailed submissions.    The fishing regulations are usually set each year during the October meeting by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission.    This comment period concerning fishing regulations will be open until May 6.

SPRING HASN’T SPRUNG…BUT IT’S ABOUT TO FOR KENTUCKY LAKE ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated April 4, 2014

Kentucky Lake crappie have been on the move this week after an overdue warm spell increased surface temperatures. Added to the warmer weather has been a rise in lake levels that may have triggered fish to move toward shallow venues but their maneuvers have thrown a curve to some fishermen this week.

Both bass and crappie anglers have enjoyed spring weather that saw temps reach the low to mid 70's a few days and that really increased surface temperatures too. At the beginning of the week the water was still cool and lingering in the 50 to 53 degree range but after back to back sunny days readings climbed into the 58 to 61 degree range in some places.

Hefty stringers of bass were taken this week as some big females made a surge toward shallow gravel banks, roadbeds, sloping rock points, and rip-rap. Good numbers of fish were caught by anglers tossing Alabama rigs, crawfish and shad colored crankbaits, suspending jerk baits, and jig and pig combos.

A lot of fish in the 5-pound plus range are being caught as those bulging prespawn females are moving up and roaming the shallow areas that are warming fast. A lot of anglers are laying back off long sloping points and banks while long casting Carolina and Alabama rigs, targeting fish that are staging out away from the extreme shallows at times and perhaps suspending during the day.

Lake levels have been rising this week and are about a foot above normal for the first week of April, which hasn't put water on shoreline habitat just yet but it has brought bass up to shallow spots as they await spawning time.

Elevation at midweek was 356.7 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville readings were in the 356.3 range. The reservoir rose over a foot since last week at this time as last weekend's heavy rains really drenched the region and sent a lot of runoff into Kentucky Lake.

Water color is clear in the Paris Landing area. Up Big Sandy there is some stained water in West Sandy and also around Swamp Creek and up Big Sandy itself toward Country Junction and New Hope sectors.

That dingy water warms quicker and has appealed more to prespawn crappie this week than clear conditions found elsewhere. More crappie have been taken lately south of the power lines in Big Sandy than other regions.

Most of the decent stringers taken this week were from anglers slow trolling curly tail grubs and Road Runner style jigs. Long line techniques, along with multi-pole spider rigs and drift fishing have paid the most dividends as finicky crappie have been quite scattered and suspended.

Trolling and drifting allows boats and pontoons to cover a lot of water. The fish have been taken in a variety depths as they respond to warmer surface temperatures but continue to shy away from structure. For that reason anglers covering a lot of water with a variety of baits dragging over wide areas have chalked up decent stringers.

Late last week and earlier this week a lot of crappie were taken by boaters staying out over the old Big Sandy river channel and dragging their buffets over 25 foot depths. However, a lot of the fish were suspended in the 15 foot range. 

Now that surface temperatures are increasing crappie appear to be staging toward shallow areas in preparation for spawning which will likely start next week. At midweek a few fish were taken in the back of Swamp Creek and various flats in the Sulphur Well Island area.

Rising lake levels likely sent a few fish toward the New Hope and Country Junction area the last few days where they should start targeting structure in the 3 to 8 foot depth ranges in the days ahead if not already. West Sandy anglers have been catching fish too in midrange depths.

Active spawning will begin once surface temperatures reach the 62 to 66 degree range and stay there. Spawning phases are on the threshold but a cool snap this weekend may slow things for a day or two.

Crappie in the Paris Landing sector have been quite finicky as catch rates have been much lower than the upper Big Sandy region. Fishermen stalking stakebeds and brushpiles in both midrange and deep main lake areas have struggled to boat decent numbers around Paris Landing.

Meanwhile, fish are on the move and in transition as spawning time approaches. Several different presentations are likely to produce in the days ahead ranging from casting jigs beneath slip-bobbers around shallow structure to vertical jig and minnow rigs in manmade fish attractors. Trolling multi-pole presentations will continue to produce as well and has been the best thing going this spring.

The fish have displayed some unusual behavior the last week or two in terms of their whereabouts and movement, choosing to stay out over deep zones and suspend instead of relating to submerged structure.

It's time for crappie to make a blitz and begin the annual ritual. A few male crappie began to show signs of tinting toward a darker color the last few days as hormonal changes kick in.

A few anglers have enjoyed success, bagging limits with trolling and drifting techniques while other structure oriented fishermen have been less fortunate. Some are doubting the strength of the crappie population and wondering where the fish are.

An unusual spring has pushed the timetable back and altered things a bit. It will be interesting to see how the next week to ten days treats crappie and bass anglers. Dogwood days are almost here!

SPRING HASN’T SPRUNG…BUT IT’S ABOUT TO FOR KENTUCKY LAKE ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated March 26, 2014

If you plan on fishing during the month of March it’s a good idea to pack a snowmobile suit and suntan lotion; you never know which one you might need! Such has been the case as Kentucky Lake anglers had another week of March Madness in the form of sunshine, snow showers, cold winds and a pleasant day or two sandwiched in there somewhere.

When will spring get here and stay for a spell? That’s a question on the minds of anglers this week and it appears some warmer weather is indeed forecast for the weekend. The week started on a cold and clear note. Snow showers and gale north winds further added insult to injury on Tuesday, keeping most boats at the dock or on the trailer. At midweek a slow warm up started.

To say that March has been brutal would be an understatement. Most anglers will be glad to see it go and welcome April with open arms.

Surface temperatures across Kentucky Lake have been in the 49 to 53 degree range this week. Cold nights have kept the water chilled and below average but watch for the weekend warm up to gradually improve things.

The weatherman promises temperatures will be in the upper 60’s and may cross the 70-degree threshold as the weekend approaches. That will help the attitude of both the fish and the fishermen, assuming high south winds don’t accompany the warming trend.

Lake levels have risen slightly the last few days for some unknown reason and were forecast to be in the 355.4 range at Kentucky Dam. Upstream in the New Johnsonville area elevation will be in the 355.1 range.

Water color is in pretty good shape across the reservoir with a slight stain throughout the Big Sandy and West Sandy area and also in the main Tennessee River channel. Some bays are clearing up compared to last week at this time with a little dingy water on shorelines where high winds have whipped up sediments.

For most crappie fishermen it has been a sluggish start to a stubborn spring. However, there have been some exceptions as late last week and earlier this week some decent stringers were taken south of the power lines in Big Sandy by an armada of boats trolling jigs.

Several boats reported limits taken while long-lining Road Runner style jigs in depths of 15 feet but out over deeper water and around the old Big Sandy river channel. Other techniques producing were spider-rig style presentations and drifting or pulling multi-pole rigs.

Crappie have been scattered and suspended out over deeper areas, a likely response to the colder weather that has kept them staging there awaiting a warm up. For the most part fish have not been relating to structure and riding out the inclimate weather in la-la land.

Popular colors for the army of trollers have been red/chartreuse, blue/chartreuse and some Christmas tree glitter with a chartreuse tail just to name a few.

Crappie fishermen stalking the stakebeds in midrange depths of 8 to 12, along with others working deep ledges on main lake drop-offs have been less productive. The fish in these areas have been very scattered and catch rates have been low but improving.

Watch for a rapid change to take place in the next week to ten days once warmer surface temperatures enter the picture. Crappie will make a blitz toward structure soon and begin to stair-step their way toward spawning territory once surface temps climb into the mid to upper 50’s.

Based on the present conditions it appears peak spawning will not take place for another ten days to two weeks. Cold weather has pushed the timetable back this year. Male crappie have not shown any hormonal changes and that darker appearance that signals the early phase of spawning has yet to present itself.

Spawning phases begin once surface temps reach the low 60’s but peak phases kick in once the water warms into the 62 to 66 degree range and stays there. Right now anglers need some stability in the weather to further our cause.

Bass showed increased interest recently when a few rare days of sun popped out and helped warm things. Some good size fish have been taken lately on crawfish colored crankbaits, jig and pig combos, suspending jerk baits, and both Carolina rigged craws and Alabama rigs with shad variations.

Fishermen have been targeting some deeper venues where humps and ledges out in the main lake have been holding fish during the cold weather but there was an increase in shallow activity this week. Fish were showing signs of moving up toward shallow gravel banks, sloping points, and rip-rap.

A few hefty fish were taken in shallow zones this week as the fish moved up when sunny days warmed some of the dingy water in the backs of bays too. The midweek cold snap brought a short hiatus to the shallow bite but watch for things to rebound quickly by this weekend and into next week.

Kentucky Lake’s schedule for reservoir filling kicks in April 1 each year so TVA will begin implementation of that next week. The curve is designed to reach the summer pool elevation of 359, which would be about four feet above present levels, by May 1 under normal conditions.

With rising lake levels and warmer temperatures teaming up anglers will see a transition of fishing patterns taking place beginning early next week.

Wave goodbye to a mean March that has worn out its welcome.  Now let’s hope it’s not an awful April ahead!

SPRING PUSHES WINTER OFF ANGLERS’ CALENDAR
By Steve McCadams
Updated March 20, 2014

Spring officially arrived Thursday, pushing a mean and stubborn winter off the calendar for Kentucky Lake fishermen who are hoping the weather changes in their favor. Most of March has been ruthless.    

Warm sunny days indeed escorted the change of seasons as anglers will have a nice warm up going into the weekend across the region with temps expected to be in the upper 60’s for a few days before another cold front enters the picture next week. Don’t toss away that overcoat and coveralls just yet!    

This week’s fishing scene had another mixture of weather conditions that dealt some mean blows to fishermen anxious to get out and test the water for bass and crappie. Topping the list of challenges have been high winds that pretty much dictated where boaters could go. Added to the gale force breezes have been some bitter cold temperatures to start off the week but things are moderating and a rapid warm-up is in progress.    

Surface temperatures across Kentucky Lake have pretty much stayed in the 46 to 49 degree range this week, influenced by cold nights and bone chilling north winds. Some moderation began at midweek but only rarely have some areas eclipsed the 50-degree mark for short periods of the day.

Anglers can expect surface temps to climb into the low 50’s this weekend, a situation that should improve the overall bite for both bass and crappie anglers as cold water has dominated the fishing scene all month.    

Lake levels are pretty much normal as the reservoir is back down near it’s low ebb of winter pool. Lake levels will remain low until TVA’s curve begins reservoir filling on April 1st each year. A slow and gradual increase in lake elevations begins then but projections are always at the mercy of heavy rains and runoff.    

Projections for the weekend at Kentucky Dam will be 354.9. Upstream at New Johnsonville Steam Plant TVA projects the elevation to be in the 354.6 range.    

Water color has improved since last week for many sections of Big Sandy that had been a bit muddy. A good stain is present across most of the Big Sandy and Paris Landing area and even the main Tennessee River channel is now sporting a good color for fishing.    

Crappie continued to be scattered as most anglers battling adverse conditions of high winds and cold fronts are hoping the warm-up underway will increase surface temperatures and stimulate movement from sluggish fish toward some prespawn areas.    

Most boats have been  working main lake ledges and concentrating their efforts toward deep drop-offs where depths of 18 to 22 feet have given up a few fish. However, it has been a one-here; one there scenario. Anglers are not finding any concentrations of fish despite working some good structure along the deep sides of ledges where the fish ought to be.    

Scattered reports of fish taken in midrange depths of 9 to 12 feet have come in from a few boaters back in the larger bays. Tipping minnows over brushpiles has produced a few fish but no big numbers have been reported.    

Same goes for a few boaters working shallow stakebeds while casting grubs and jigs beneath slip-bobbers. The shallow bite has not been on, a likely result of cold surface temperatures that have lingered throughout the month and kept baitfish out deeper. Watch for that to change quickly in the next week to ten days.    

TThe overall crappie scenario has been a bit tough for a variety of anglers who have implemented several techniques. From slow spider rigging to long line drifts and straight bottom bumping tightline methods, the fish have been finicky.    

If you’ve been having tough luck out there you’re not alone! March Madness has been hard on Kentucky Lake crappie fishermen thus far.    

Bass fishermen have struggled as well. High winds and cold fronts have greeted anglers the majority of March and catch rates have diminished. It has been mean and tough to hold the boat around open water spots.    

With the warm-up underway surface temperatures are rising and that should see a significant improvement for the shallow water bite in the days ahead. Although gravel points and shorelines haven’t been too productive lately, watch for that to change as the weekend approaches.    

Tossing crawfish colored crankbaits is the norm this time of year around the abundant rock and gravel points and sloping sandbars. Also, roadbeds and rip-rap normally produce as fish move up.    

The last week or two boats have also worked main lake ledges and humps along the main river channel with deep diving crankbaits, Alabama rigs and Caroline rigged craws in hopes of finding those winter patterns of staging bass in deep confines.    

March is a month when a lot of movement takes place for both bass and crappie as the fish transition from winter hideouts to prespawn phase. With the warm-up underway watch for activity to improve as the fish respond to slightly warmer surface temperatures.    

Another cold front is expected early next week, an unfortunate forecast at a time when a consistent spell of warm weather is needed, but it appears the cold snap will be brief and allow a quick rebound by later next week.    

Things are getting better but March weather has many faces. Anglers have seen most of the ugly ones lately and deserve a smile in the form of warm days and light winds. Spring has finally sprung!

FISHING SCENE WELCOMES WARM-UP
By Steve McCadams
Updated March 13, 2014

March Madness has been alive and well, making its presence known to Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene this week as anglers have endured a wide variety of weather. There have been some beautiful days with spring-like weather---temps climbed to 75 degrees on Tuesday---only to have another stubborn cold front roll in at midweek.

It appears warmer conditions are in progress as the weekend approaches so after a short hiatus anglers are back out on the water in search of winter crappie and bass that have shown signs of improvement lately.

Kentucky Lake’s elevation will be 355.2 at Kentucky Dam as the weekend approaches. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels are slightly higher with readings in the 355.7 range. Elevation had been falling earlier in the week but experienced a slight surge at midweek only to return to a gradual drop forecast by TVA.

Water color has been stained in the main Tennessee River but most of Big Sandy and West Sandy is in good shape with some dingy water still hanging around. The overall color in the Paris Landing sector is sporting a good color for bass and crappie fishing.

Surface temperatures have slowly climbed this week as the runoff last weekend from melting ice and snow delivered cold water into the reservoir for several days. Last week’s 39 to 42 degree range finally lost its grip and by midweek the water rose to the 47 to 49 degree range.

Crappie have shown increased interest this week but the overall picture has been blurred for anglers attempting to find concentrated schools of fish along main lake ledges. Most boats are reporting scattered crappie around the deep sides of drop-offs where anglers have targeted the 18 to 22 foot depths.

A few fish moved up to the 12 to 14 foot range earlier in the week when warm sunny days descended and improved the attitude of both the fish and the fishermen. However, crappie have been reluctant to school and it’s been a few here and a few there scenario.

Both live minnows and jigs have produced with a few anglers tipping jigs with minnows in an attempt to entice finicky fish. Most anglers are using tightline methods in the deeper structure. Some like the double hook bottom bumping rig while others are just fishing a single jig around brush and stumps.

Popular colors of jig skirts have ranged from pink/chartreuse to blue/white. When encountering dingy water a lot of anglers have been choosing loud colored leadheads such as florescent green, red, pink and chartreuse while experimenting with various colors of jig skirts.

Crappie have been somewhat scattered for several weeks and anglers are seeing suspended fish show up on their sonar screens out over deeper water. Seems a lot of fish are not relating to structure and just roaming, which sometimes appeals to spider rig or drift fishermen applying multipole presentations.
Once surface temperatures cross the 50 degree threshold watch for crappie action to improve. A combination of cold fronts, very chilly runoff entering the reservoir, and some fluctuation in lake levels have teamed up to confuse the fish and those pursuing them.

Bass fishermen haven’t had as much trouble finding fish as their crappie cousins. Despite cold surface temperatures in shallow bays some pretty good stringers have been taken the last two weeks.

Two of the first major tournaments required 5-fish limits weighing 20 pounds or more to win. March is a month known to produce hefty stringers as the big egg-laden females are putting on the feed bag as spring approaches. Their prespawn phase usually produces some of the biggest bass of the year.

Crankbaits are king right now along the long sloping mud bars and gravel points on Kentucky Lake.  Crawfish varieties have been popular choices with some dingy water areas requiring such choices as firetiger and florescent red variations.

Rapala’s Shad Rap, Bandit’s Root Beer, Strike King’s Red-eye shad series have been a few popular choices for anglers working gravel banks, rip-rap and fan casting some drop-offs in an effort to cover a lot of water.

Tossing some bigger deep diving crankbaits have worked too as have some suspending jerk baits, Alabama rigs, and also some Carolina rigged crawfish.

There’s been a lot of current in the main Tennessee River channel and TVA continues to flush a lot of water through the system. Bass anglers have been playing the current card in a few areas too.

March is a mixed up month of weather patterns. Always has been; always will be. It’s fair to say some pretty days are ahead with overdue warming trends but wind and cold fronts will be in the equation too as anglers battle March Madness Kentucky Lake style!

 

ROLLER COASTER CONDITIONS TAKE ANGLERS ON RIDE
By Steve McCadams
Updated March 06, 2014

Anglers have seen the weather  roller coaster return! It appears a warming trend is in progress for the Kentucky Lake area as the weekend approaches. Everyone deserves a warm-up after enduring the winter blast of ice and snow earlier this week that pretty much paralyzed the fishing scene for a few days.

After a decent Saturday the weather turned nasty as heavy rains preceded another winter storm that saw temperatures dip several degrees below normal on Sunday, setting the stage for severe conditions. For the last several days folks have been digging out from the ice and snow that had roads impassable.
Boat ramps that had a thick layer of ice all week have finally thawed, opening the opportunity for anglers to get back out on the water this weekend as temps are forecast to climb into the upper 50’s and maybe the lower 60’s.

Surface temperatures dropped back the last few days. The snow melt is sending cold runoff into the reservoir so the water will be sluggish to warm despite improved weather. Readings were in the 39 to 42 degree range at midweek.

Lake levels were rising earlier in the week due to heavy rains and runoff but crested at midweek and began falling slowly. Projections for the weekend at Kentucky Dam will be 356.7. Upstream around New Johnsonville lake elevation is projected to be in the 357.2 range.

Those readings are some two feet above normal winter pool but the reservoir is headed back down and may well be there by the middle of next week barring additional rain.

TVA is spilling water at Kentucky Dam so watch for a slow, gradual drop in lake levels the next several days. Water color had been a bit dingy in the Paris Landing area and up Big Sandy while some of the larger bays were showing better color. The main Tennessee River channel has dingy water and quite a bit of curret.

The region’s first major bass tournament got off to a good start last Saturday when calm winds and warm sunshine descended for a rare appearance. It took a hefty stringer of five bass weighing 26 pounds, 7 ounces to win the LBL Division Walmart Bass Fishing League event out of Kentucky Dam Marina.

Taking the top spot and a check for $4,610 was Brent Anderson of Kingston Springs, TN. Anderson said he was cranking bars in 6 to 8 feet of water with a Strike King KVD HC Flat Side crankbait and that he caught upwards of 30 keepers.

Bass fishermen got lucky last Saturday with the weather as before and after the event conditions were cold and horrible. The bite had been pretty tough prior to the one decent day of fishing last weekend as most anglers indicated they had not done well in practice.

Watch for activity to rebound in the days ahead if warmer weather continues. March on Kentucky Lake has a reputation for producing the biggest stringers of the year. The fish really put on the feed bag as they come out of a winter lull and start bulking up for their prespawn phase.

Crankbaits will be the lure of choice for the next few weeks. From crawfish variations to loud Firetiger colors, the rocky points, shorelines, and rip-rap rock banks will be worthy of consideration as will those sloping mud bars and points where fish move up during the warmer afternoon periods.

Crappie anglers were reporting some success before the frigid conditions moved in. Just how the fish will react in the aftermath of the cold front and cold surface temperatures remains to be seen.

Odds are fish will rebound gradually as warmer days enter the picture. A few fish had been caught in midrange structure last week. Depths of 10 to 13 feet gave up a few scattered fish as did some of the main lake ledges where depths of 18 to 25 produced.

A few boats were spider rigging along the main lake humps and ledges, encountering some sluggish fish. Others were tightlining jigs with mediocre results as were those anglers dunking live minnows. Generally speaking the numbers were low but overall reports indicated some improvement over the previous week.

March is a month where things change quickly. Both bass and crappie will be on the move, especially when a day or two of warmer weather comes along and influences surface temperatures.

Anglers are hoping ice, snow and severe cold are gone for good. It has been a mean week and no doubt some cool days are ahead but hopefully no knockout blows like anglers received earlier this week. March Madness started with a vengeance!

 

WARM BUT WINDY…ANGLERS STILL WAITING ON WEATHER
By Steve McCadams
Updated Februay 20, 2014

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene finally got a reprieve from the cold and brutal weather this week but the honeymoon with warm weather was short. It has been a warm and windy week for most fishermen with the exception of Wednesday when nice temperatures and light breezes stimulated activity.

By Thursday’s warm-up when temperatures climbed to the 70-degree mark across the region optimism was greeted with the threat of thunderstorms and wind warnings on area lakes. In fact, gale force winds diminished plans for bass and crappie anglers hoping to partake of the spring like conditions.

Although everyone welcomed the warming trend, it’s not unusual for breezy conditions to accompany south winds this time of year. When dramatic temperature increases enter the forecast during winter months you best batten down the hatches!

And how has the recent warm spell affected overall fishing conditions? Surface temperatures responded sluggishly to the warm days and rose from the 35 to 37 degree range last week to cross the 40-degree threshold this week. Readings were in the 42 to 44 degree range by Thursday.

Water color has remained pretty good across the Paris Landing sector of Kentucky Lake with some stain present in the main Tennessee River channel. Most of Big Sandy embayment is sporting a good color for fishing.

Lake levels have been falling slowly all week. The reservoir was getting back down near its winter pool mark on Thursday but TVA was likely pulling water in anticipation of some thunderstorms that were forecast to drench an already wet region.

Projections for the weekend at Kentucky Dam indicate elevation will be in the 355.1 range. Upstream at New Johnsonville Steam Plan TVA’s forecast shows lake levels will be in the 355.3 range as the weekend approaches.

Those projections could change if heavy downpours occur as the area is still wet and a lot of runoff is likely.

Crappie anglers have been anxious to get back out on main lake drop-offs and ledges as winter winds have not allowed much activity there. Typical winter patterns find most of the fish relating to deeper water and favoring the deep side of drop-offs where depths of 18 to 25 feet are often productive.

Reports at midweek indicated those that ventured out to the open water were having trouble finding fish. Success rates were slow for most anglers who were using jigs or live minnows on bottom bumping rigs or just plain tightlining jigs in the 1/8 to ¼-ounce size. Some were tipping jigs with minnows in hopes of enticing finicky fish.

Overall action was slow for the bulk of boaters who were questioning whether winter shad kills had provided too much competition. Others found a few scattered fish but not concentration.

Normally winter crappie will school around deep structure and stay hot on the trail of threadfin shad that ride out cold weather in the deeper venues of the main lake. Unfortunately, most anglers were struggling at midweek to find any concentration of fish.

A spot check of some fishermen working midrange brushpiles and stakebeds back in bigger bays in 8 to 12 foot depths were not bragging either. Those anglers reported tough sledding as well.

With only one decent day to fish this week anglers have been limited on their ability to move about and search different areas. It appears some cooler weather will return by this weekend and early next week, although no severe cold fronts are forecast like those endured earlier in the month.

Bass fishermen were not faring any better than crappie anglers either. Most got a lot of reeling practice lately but the bite was not on for most.

Warmer weather sure helped fishing fever rise but surface temperatures have been somewhat reluctant to climb into the mid 40’s, a threshold where bass become more active.

Anglers were keying in on steep rock bluffs in hopes of finding some suspended fish staging out away from the banks and waiting on warmer weather. Popular lure selections have been suspending jerkbaits and crankbaits, along with some jigging spoons and jig and pig combos. A few anglers are tossing the Alabama rig too.

A few bass have been caught in the midday or later afternoon periods but the overall scenario has been pretty tough for bass fishermen hoping to advance the throttle on spring fishing despite winter’s position on the calendar remaining for a few more weeks.

Watch for things to improve in the next week to ten days if another warm spell enters the picture. A lot of boats headed to the lake this week in hopes of treating their fishing pox but it may take another warm spell to really get things going.

 

FROZEN FISHERMEN READY TO THAW…WARMER WEATHER COMING
By Steve McCadams
Updated Februay 13, 2014

Kentucky Lake’s winter fishing scene has been frozen in time the last few weeks as anglers have been riding it out indoors. Stubborn cold fronts, snow, ice and brutal winds have kept most at bay.    

Relentless winter weather has dealt the cards and for most fishermen it has been a bad hand to play. In fact, the majority of fishing has been done in front of the television while watching show hosts land hefty stringers from beautiful blue lakes located somewhere south in a warm climate.    

Other anglers have twisted and turned in their recliner, almost wearing out the seat as cabin fever took hold. Reading outdoor magazines renders temporary relief. For a few short moments you succumb to the stories and feel the wind in your face, fish on the line, and almost reach for the drag to adjust the reel when the big one makes a run.    

Yet there’s nothing quite like being there. Try to explain the excitement and picture the moments to your buddies but walking up behind a pointed bird dog, seeing the flush of a fish sucking in a topwater bait or ducks downwind on that last approach over the decoys; it’s best to be up close and personal.    

Yet this endurance test may soon come to an end as warmer weather is on the way. Next week looks promising as the weatherman indicates inclimate weather will be in the rearview mirror for a change.    

Temperatures are forecast to climb out of the cellar and up the ladder toward the mid 50’s and even lower 60’s. Anglers haven’t had a forecast like that since late fall, although a few days in December offered short reprieves.    

Crappie and bass anglers are ready to blitz. The boat has been sleeping in the garage far too long. Once the weather breaks folks better get out of the way as there’s likely to be a mass exodus toward boat ramps.    

And what can anglers expect after the long cold spell? There hasn’t been much to report the last couple of weeks but odds are crappie will be perking up once warmer surface temperatures return and lake levels settle down. Same goes for bass.    

Surface temperatures this week have been in the 36 to 38 degree range. That will make any angler shiver as a few casts followed by cold hands pretty much pegs the frigid meter.     

Watch for a rebound into the low to mid 40’s by the middle of next week. Water color has been quite dingy in the main Tennessee River channel and backwater bays but that will improve by early next week too. Some dingy water has been present in Big Sandy too.    

Lake levels have been falling pretty fast this week as TVA pulled the plug and pushed a lot of water through the system after last week’s heavy rains swelled lake levels several feet and even reached summer pool stages.    

Projections for the weekend show elevation will be in the 355.5 range at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville readings will be in the 356.2 range, which indicates a lot of water is still flowing through but TVA will likely decrease discharge rates by this weekend.    

Although some rain may enter the region no severe thunderstorms are in the forecast at this time so that should allow the reservoir to stabilize in the days ahead.    

Winter patterns should find the crappie lingering around those main lake ledges where depths of 17 to 22 feet will be popular venues. Some fish may even back off to the deep sides of the drop-off and occupy depths of 20 to 25 feet at times as the shad are likely holding there.    

Bass will likely be holding deep as well and riding out the cold snap around steeper bluffs and deeper humps. Fish may well be suspended and tossing such offerings as Alabama rigs, suspending crankbaits, jig and pig combos and such could be good choices.    

If the dramatic warm-up occurs as predicted some fish could begin to move up toward gravel banks and rocky points by the end of next week.    

It’s still winter until March 20th but spring fever may well descend over the Kentucky Lake fishing scene next week once warm, sunny days return. Good weather will help lift the black cloud of depression that has plagued fishermen who will be trading frowns for smiles as they back the boat in and head out.

NASTY WEATHER LINGERS…LAKE LEVELS RISE FAST
By Steve McCadams
Updated Februay 06, 2014

Enough already! That’s the cry of Kentucky Lake fishermen lately who’ve been battered by cold temperatures, bone chilling winds, and spitting snow. As if that weren’t enough toss in rapidly rising lake levels the last few days that has further upset the apple cart.

It has been mean out there lately. Last week a lot of boat ramps were iced in from the frigid January weather that lingered too long to suit local anglers. Another round of winter weather descended this week and while boat ramps opened up there is high water to contend with, adding yet another hurdle.

Lake levels have really jumped the last few days in the aftermath of heavy rains on Tuesday that drenched a region that was already saturated. As a result there has been a massive runoff of water into the whole Tennessee River watershed, swelling lake levels more than four feet above normal winter readings.

At midweek lake stages were rising over a foot each day. The week started out with readings around 355 at Kentucky Dam and upstream at New Johnsonville but elevation was changing fast by Wednesday morning. TVA projects the reservoir could reach the summer pool mark of 358.7 at Kentucky Dam before the weekend arrives. Upstream at New Johnsonville elevation was already forecast to be 359.5 on Friday.  

Barring any additional rain the reservoir is expected to crest this weekend and begin its descent. The main channel will have a lot of current for the next several days as some dingy water flows through. Surface temperatures have been hanging around the 35 to 37 degree range.

Over the last week to ten days anglers have only had a day or two mixed in that appealed to their fishing fever. A few crappie were taken last week in the Paris Landing area as the mouth of Big Sandy was showing a decent water color.

Crappie anglers working the main lake ledges caught some decent numbers for a brief period as the 17 to 22 foot depth range was holding fish in a typical winter pattern. The deeper sides of the drop-offs were attracting baitfish that were riding out the cold snaps and that’s where the crappie were too.

 Although a few boats were testing the water over manmade fish attractors in the mouth of a few bays reports indicate their catch rate was low. The 8 to 13 foot depth range was not paying dividends for most, a likely result of the cold surface temperatures that influenced baitfish to go deeper and pull the crappie with them.

Bass fishermen have been working some of the steeper bluffs with jig and pig combos, Alabama rigs, and slow retrieved crankbaits but the bite has been slow lately.

Sauger continue to dodge the radar screen of anglers wondering where this former winter fishery has gone. Bottom line seems to be that the fish are just not out there to catch. Several years of weak spawns have resulted in weak year classes and that has anglers and biologists concerned.

Anglers across the area are bored with the lingering winter weather and hoping it loses its grip soon. Everyone wants a warm up but it has been a year when winter has returned with a vengeance. Anglers got spoiled the last few years when warm winters allowed great fishing conditions.

Both February and March are known for inclimate weather so fishermen may have to rely on patience until a few days of good weather enter the forecast. Otherwise, the cure for spring fever might not come for quite some time and in case you’re counting spring doesn’t officially arrive until March 20th!

 

WINTER FISHING SLOWLY RETURNS
By Steve McCadams
Updated January 09, 2014

Brutal winter weather dictated this week and Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene was at the mercy of the elements. A lot of fish were caught but most all of them were taken around the fire and indoors where anglers were reliving outings of days gone by!

It appears the Artic blast is now in the rearview mirror and conditions are improving as the weekend approaches. Temperatures are forecast to return to normal in the days ahead with highs climbing back into the low 50’s for a few days.

And how will fishing fare after the recent blizzard conditions? That’s a question on the mind of area anglers as surface temps have dropped dramatically since last week and ice entered the picture in many shallow bays and flats.

When such conditions roll in as they did earlier this week in a short period of time there is usually a shad kill to some degree. Bait fish such as threadfin shad that have occupied shallow areas fall victim to the rapid drop in surface temperature and go into shock. Die offs are not uncommon for a few days in the aftermath of severe cold.

While a lot of baitfish will fall back to deeper water and ride out the cold there some don’t make it. That scenario is usually tough on crappie, bass and sauger fishermen as the gamefish suddenly have an abundant food source that’s easy to catch so they pretty much gorge themselves on the free buffet of bait.

Odds are that will be the case for a few days but all anglers can do at this point it try and see. Most of the crappie will move back to deep winter venues in the main lake so drop-offs will be the best choice and depths of 20 to 25 feet might be a good place to start.

 Surface temps are likely to remain in the mid to upper 30’s for a few days before slowly climbing back to the 40-degree threshold. Water color has been pretty clear and in good shape for fishing.

Lake levels have been falling slowly since last week and were forecast to be in the 355.2 range at Kentucky Dam by the weekend. Upstream in the New Johnsonville area the elevation is projected to be in the 355.7 range but falling slowly.

No doubt the frigid scene dealt a severe blow to winter fishing this week here on Kentucky Lake but watch for the warming trend now in progress to slowly improve things for the area’s winter fishermen who have been pacing the floor while trapped indoors with cabin fever!

 

ANGLERS BOUNCE BACK FROM COLD SNAP
By Steve McCadams
Updated November 14, 2013

Winter weather slipped through the door earlier this week and pretty much sent anglers back to the bank to put another log on the fire. Yet warm weather regained its grip quickly and by this weekend temps are expected to rebound to the upper 60’s and low 70’s.

Fall conditions chased away the cold front but not before bone chilling winds and below average temperatures descended at midweek, putting a chill on the fishing scene. Bass and crappie anglers should see normal temperatures return quickly and fishing should resume, although some rain is in the forecast later this weekend and early next week.

Lake levels fluctuated a few inches this week and rose back to the 354.5 level at Kentucky Dam. Upstream in the New Johnsonville sector elevation is projected to be 354.6 as the weekend approaches. Those readings are still near the low ebb of winter pool and could increase this weekend if rains descend.

Water color remains clear across the reservoir. Surface temperatures dropped this week in the aftermath of the severe cold front. Readings fell into the 52 to 55 degree range, which is down several degrees from last week’s mild conditions.

Crappie action was fair prior to the cold front and should rebound by this weekend as winds will return to a southerly flow and warmer temps return. With some cloudy, rainy days ahead it could deliver some good fishing conditions as those days with low pressure usually stimulate activity for both bass and crappie.

The weatherman indicates some wind may enter the picture as temps warm this weekend and by the middle of next week another cool snap enters the picture.

Meanwhile, some of the better catches of crappie have been coming from deeper drop-offs on the main lake where depths of 15 to 22 feet have given up decent numbers. Finding some deep stumps or manmade brushpiles and stakebeds in the deeper venues has been the most productive territory.

There are still some crappie scattered about midrange depths, however, as a few stakebeds and brushpiles in the 8 to 12 foot depths have given up some fish. It’s taking a lot of stops to accumulate numbers in the midrange depths but some rainy days might see that zone improve.

Most anglers are tipping jigs with Berkley crappie nibbles or adding a minnow to entice bites.

Bass were relating to gravel roadbeds, rocky points, and sloping gravel banks prior to the cold front and that bite should return by this weekend. Shad colored crankbaits have been working well as have lures like Strike King’s Red-eye shad and Bill Lewis Rattle Traps in shad colors.

Spinnerbaits were still working too around grassbeds as a lot of vegetation was showing up in the low water around island rims and flats south of Lick Creek and down around Bass Bay, White Oak and further south toward New Johnsonville where more vegetation is showing.

 

FALL FISHING WINDS DOWN FOR SOME
By Steve McCadams
Updated November 07, 2013

Kentucky Lake's fall fishing scene may be fading away for some anglers but others are still at it and enjoying autumn's outdoors. This week's fishing scene has seen relatively mild temperatures mixed with changing colors as the hardwoods have had their display on parade.
 
Although a couple of windy days entered the picture it appears normal temperatures are in the forecast for the next several days with highs reaching the low to mid 50's. It's a pretty decent fishing forecast for mid-November.
 
With a variety of hunting seasons in full swing and the abundance of sporting events at schools not many boaters are on the water these days but the fishing has held up pretty good for bass and crappie anglers lately.
 
Decent stringers of bass continue to come in by anglers tossing shad colored crankbaits around rock points and gravel banks, roadbeds, and rip-rap shorelines. At the same time spinnerbaits slow rolled around shallow grassbeds continue to pay dividends too.
 
A few boaters were pitching a craw or worm around boat docks and piers at times as well while others were still casting Carolina and Texas rigged worms around main lake ledges where a few fish were schooling at times.
 
Surface temperatures this week were in the 58 to 61 degree range. Water color is clear across the reservoir.
 
Lake levels have been sleeping near winter pool now for the last two weeks.
Elevation projected for the weekend at Kentucky Dam will be 354.3. A similar reading is also projected for the New Johnsonville area.
 
The lower lake levels can be intimidating but readings are normal for this time of year. Remember to pay close attention to those buoys and slow down if you're in unfamiliar territory.
 
Crappie fishing has been fair this week with some scattered fish lingering around midrange stakebeds and brushpiles. Depths of 9 to 12 feet are still holding on to some decent crappie but it has taken a lot of stop to accumulate good numbers.
 
Anglers working the deeper drop-offs seemed to fair better this week. Decent numbers were taken around submerged structure in the 15 to 18 foot depths by anglers using bottom bumping rigs armed with minnows and jigs.

Tightlining jigs worked well too as some were tipping with minnows or adding Berkley crappie nibbles to their presentation to entice bites.
 
A couple of windy days altered the battle plan for some boaters hoping to stalk the main lake areas. However, a few fish were taken back in bays out of the wind where midrange to shallow structure produced enough crappie to make it worthwhile.
 
The days ahead should be typical fall weather; starting out cool but moderating as the day goes on. Crappie usually show signs of bunching up by early to mid-November and while that hasn't been the last the last week to ten day it could change and improve soon.
 
It's pretty nice out there these days as ducks and geese are arriving, trees are reflecting their colors along placid shorelines, loons are singing, and very few boats are competing for space. Don't let these mild days get away from you!

PUMPKIN MONTH FADES AWAY ON STORMY NOTE.LOW LAKE LEVELS AWAIT ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated October 31, 2013

Kentucky Lake fishermen tipped their hat to October as it faded away on a very stormy note Thursday but it appears normal fall weather will return in the days ahead. Somewhat cooler conditions will enter the fishing scene for a few days in the aftermath of Halloween wind and rain that drenched the area.

Lake levels this past week were down to the low ebb of winter pool as TVA really pulled the plug in a likely move anticipating Thursday's heavy rainfall. Elevation at Kentucky Dam going into the weekend was projected to
be in the 354.4 range. Upstream at New Johnsonville readings were even lower with the elevation down around 354.2.

That's some of the lowest readings of the fall and it merits another reminder for boaters to use caution and pay close attention to the channel markers. Taking shortcuts over those main lake sandbars is not smart this time of year yet a lot of folks are unfamiliar with the depth. Just because you're a long way from shore doesn't mean deep water on Kentucky Lake!

Surface temperatures were hovering around the 59 to 62 degree range the last few days. Water color has been quite clear but will likely have some stain enter the areas in the upper ends of bays after Thursday's rain and runoff.

Crappie action has been fair this week and anglers had 3 or 4 beautiful days where warm temperatures and light winds blended for nice fishing conditions. A few foggy mornings faded away to placid waters and anglers could fish anywhere they wanted on the big water.

Depths of 8 to 13 feet were giving up scattered fish this week as stakebeds and brushpiles in that depth range were holding some fish but fewer than last week at this time. After last week's cold front it seemed a lot of crappie backed off to deeper areas and occupied structure in 15 to 20
foot depths at time and even deeper in some areas.

Fishermen stalking the deep drop-offs with bottom bumping rigs armed with live minnows or jigs tipped with minnows or Berkley Power Bait were finding success. And, a few bigger slabs were taken in the deep confines as
well.

Popular jig colors have ranged from white/chartreuse to shades of green with some black and red mixed in. Some white/orange and blue/chartreuse paid dividends at times too but fish have been somewhat finicky as to their choices and mood swings. Strikes have been quite light as the bites were not aggressive.

Bass activity seemed to back off somewhat since last week but there are still some success stories coming in from anglers tossing spinnerbaits over shallow vegetation. Popular choices have been white or blue/chartreuse skirts with gold willow leaf blades.

Lower lake levels are exposing a lot of structure in the form of crappie beds and various manmade cover. Grassbeds are now exposed in a lot of areas too and fish are chasing shad there. Working Senko style worms and various topwater jerk baits have worked too.

Some schooling activity was still taking place over shallow points and flats where fish were pushing the schools of baitfish up over shallow spots and hitting the surface. Casting shallow running crankbaits has worked well in these situations and a few white bass are there too in the feeding
frenzies.

A few boats are still working main lake ledges using Texas and Carolina rigged worms. Also in the arsenal have been some big crankbaits and jig and craw combos. And, this time of year the shad colored crankbaits on gravel banks and sloping points or roadbeds are always a good choice.

A few boats continue to work the main river channel for catfish where depths of 30 to 40 feet are holding some good ones. Light current this week in the main channel has been good for catfishermen who are using chicken livers, nightcrawlers, and big minnows for bait.

COLD SNAP CHILLS FISHING SCENE…WARMER WEATHER ON THE WAY
By Steve McCadams
Updated October 24, 2013

Frost on the pumpkin, below average temperatures, and brisk northwest winds put a chill to the fishing scene at midweek. Another October cool snap invaded the Kentucky Lake fishing scene and while the weekend ahead will be nippy, warm days are in the forecast for early next week as temps are expected to return to 70 on Monday.

Some nice stringers of crappie were coming in last weekend and earlier this week and bass fishing was pretty good too. Even some hefty catfish have been taken. While the overall fishing scene has been good the cold front and chilly winds brought mile high skies and slowed the bite some for anglers braving the high pressure that lingered the last few days.

It’s not unusual for fish to take on a sluggish mood once a cold front passes through. The clear, sunny days are nice to be out but changes in barometric pressure often have an adverse effect and that seemed to be the case the last few days.

Despite the cold front crappie anglers have managed to find and catch fish although the bites from finicky fish have been light. The crappie have been reluctant to move much out of their comfort zone to strike a bait so it has been a game of finesse.

Fish were holding tight to structure the last few days and you really had to watch that rod tip and line to detect the light bites. Tipping jigs with Berkley Power Bait in chartreuse and white colors has enhanced the presentation.

A lot of crappie have been holding in 7 to 12 foot depths this week. Some fish even moved up to 4 to 7 foot zones in the early morning and late afternoon period when lowlight conditions seemed to help.

Good numbers of fish have been caught lately but the cool snap brought a temporary hiatus to the bite. Action will likely resume by early next week when winds return to the southwest.

Meanwhile, a few fish have been taken by anglers working the main lake drop-offs as the deeper depths always seem to produce a few fish. However, the numbers of fish in the deeper structure in depths of 16 to 20 feet have diminished lately.

Surface temperatures responded to the cold front and have dropped back into the 63 to 65 degree range. That’s down several degrees from last week at this time and could fall even more by late this weekend due to cold nights. Water color remains clear across the reservoir.

Lake levels have fluctuated slightly this week after falling to the low ebb range of winter pool on Monday. Projected elevation going into the weekend will be 354.7 at both Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville Steam Plant. The stability comes after the reservoir fell several inches late last week but rebounded slightly at midweek.

Bass fishermen scored some decent stringers last weekend but like the crappie fishermen they experienced more challenging conditions at midweek. The fish seemed to back off once the cold front passed and took on a sluggish behavioral pattern.

Tossing crankbaits toward gravel points and banks has been paying off as have some rip-rap shorelines and shallow roadbeds. A few fish continued to school over shallow flats where they were running shad prior to the cool snap. Watch for that pattern to resume early next week as well.

Some boats are still working the drop-offs out on the main lake with Texas rigged worms, jig and pig combos, and some Carolina rigged craws. And, throwing a big crankbait is always in the arsenal.

Grassbeds continue to produce good numbers of bass that have been relating to the outsides of grass patches near deeper water. Spinnerbaits and Texas rigged worms have been producing but so have chrome and black colored Rattle Trap style lures and some shallow running crankbaits over submerged grass.

Catfish are still prowling along the edge of the river channel in depths of 30 to 40 feet. Anglers have been working the edge while baiting with chicken livers, cut shad, and night crawlers. Fall catfishing is overlooked by a lot of anglers.

After a few days of cold weather it appears some nice fall conditions will return soon. The colors are changing rapidly along the shorelines and hillsides of Kentucky Lake. It’s a great time to be out there!

SURFACE TEMPS FALL IN AFTERMATH OF COOL FRONT…FALL WEATHER RETURNS
By Steve McCadams
Updated October 17, 2013

Fall weather is in the process of returning in the aftermath of a cool front that brought rain to the Kentucky Lake area at midweek. Most of last week delivered above average temperatures after a cold front that lingered into this week but things were changing fast as this report was updated.    

North winds entered the picture on Wednesday and brought cooler conditions to the region as highs will only be 70 to 72 degrees by this weekend with nighttime temps falling into the mid 40’s. Anglers will have to dig out the overcoats for a day or two but it appears normal fall weather will take over soon and some foggy mornings may be instore.    

Lake levels have been falling slowly this week and were down to winter pool on Thursday. Projected elevation for the weekend at Kentucky Dam will be in the 354.6 and around the 354.7 range upstream at New Johnsonville. Those readings are down a few inches from last week at this time.    

Boaters are reminded once again to pay close attention to channel markers and resist the temptation to take shortcuts across open lake sandbars and flats enroute to their favorite fishing holes. It’s that time of year when caution is advised as there are still enough stumps and shallow gravel bars to damage your boat’s hull or the outboard’s lower unit and prop.    

Surface temperatures have been in the 73 to 75 degree range most of this week but will fall back into the upper 60’s and low 70’s by this weekend. Water color remains clear across most of the reservoir despite recent rains.    

Bass anglers have been scoring some decent catches lately but struggling somewhat as to the whereabouts of bigger fish. A lot of bass in the 2-pound plus range were showing up in a variety of areas but most all patterns were having trouble putting big fish in the boat.    

Good catches are coming in from anglers working milfoil grassbeds with topwater, spinnerbaits, and Texas rigged worms. The lower lake levels are exposing more patches of grass and weedless frogs, rats, and floating fluke style worms have worked well.    

Most of the aquatic vegetation is south of the Paris Landing area by several miles and starts showing up around the Leatherwood and Lick Creeks areas. From those bays further south toward New Johnsonville is where most of the grass is showing up around river islands, flats and in the backs of some bays.    

Around the parameters of grass matts anglers were tossing spinnerbaits and worms where baitfish were present and scoring pretty good. Buzzbaits have worked well in lowlight conditions as have some jerk baits.    

Other patterns producing have been schooling activity over shallow flats in open water where schools of shad have been roaming. A lot of fish have been busting on top at times and the gull activity will help you find the surface feeding frenzies.

There’s a lot of Asian carp activity on those shallow flats and grassbeds too but most of those flushing sounds from big fish are coming from startled carp.    

Popular choices around the open water schooling fish been shallow running crankbaits, Rattle Trap style lures and some swim baits. A few chugger style topwater plugs have also been producing.    

Some boats are working gravel points and dropping back at midday with Carolina rigged craws and crankbaits when high sun has pushed the fish back deeper.    

Still worthy of consideration has been the main lake ledge pattern where big deep diving crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, and some Carolina rigs and Alabama rigs were working. That summer pattern often lingers well into fall as to dividends.    

Crappie activity seemed to diminish late last week and earlier this week as fish pulled out of some shallow areas. Warm weather and falling lake levels likely contributed to that but fish took on a sluggish mood and bites were light.    

Fish had a finicky mood for several days and improved as cloud cover and rainy conditions entered the picture at midweek. However, the back side of the cool front may prove challenging for a few days if high skies and northeast winds linger.    

Depths of 14 to 17 feet were holding decent number of crappier earlier this week. Anglers working the deeper sides of drop-offs were finding a few fish relating to deeper structure. Popular bait choices have been live minnows and jigs tipped with minnows or Berkley Power Bait.    

A few scattered fish were relating to stakebeds and brushpiles in 9 to 13 foot depths but it appeared more fish were choosing deep water. That could change as the cool front will lower surface temps and likely push some fish back to shallow and midrange depths in the days ahead.    

Most anglers were using bottom bumping double hook rigs or tightlining a jig in the deep, submerged structure. However, a cloudy, rainy day will see crappie action improve quickly around shallow structures this time of year.    

Catfish were hitting pretty good along the main Tennessee River channel again this week. Depths of 35 to 40 feet were giving up decent numbers. A slow current had been present for several days and that worked in favor of catfish anglers working the river channel banks.    

There some catfish moving up to shallow areas as well. Crappie fishermen are tying into some nice ones on a daily basis while fishing midrange cover as the cats love to prowl around stakebeds and brushpiles this time of year.    

Fall conditions have returned and cooler surface temps will enter the fishing scene this next week. That will increase the comfort zone for fish in shallow areas.

 

WILD WEATHER WEEK FADES BACK TO FALL
By Steve McCadams
Updated October 10, 2013

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene had a wild ride earlier this week when a cold front, preceded by some heavy rain, roared in the door last weekend. By Monday morning a brisk north wind put a chill in the air when high skies dominated.    

Anglers were digging deep in the closet for heavy jackets too and by Tuesday a mean northeast wind thrust its force on the backside of the cold front. For most anglers fishing really fell off for a few days as bass, crappie and catfish seemed to have a mood swing that went in the wrong direction.

Fall is normally a season of stability. However, this week got off to an unusual start due to inclimate weather but by midweek temperatures had rebounded with light winds and sunny days returning to the fishing scene.    

It appears nice weather will remain in the forecast as the weekend approaches with warmer temperatures expected through next week.    

Surface temperatures responded to the cool snap and fell a few degrees earlier this week. Readings dropped to the 71 to 73 degree range earlier in the week but were climbing slowly toward the 75 degree reading at midweek.    

Water color was dingy in the upper end of some bays after the heavy rains on Sunday sent muddy runoff into the reservoir. At midweek dingy water was clearing in the backwaters while the main lake area of Big Sandy remained clear. A slight stain is present in the main Tennessee River channel but it’s a good color for fishing.    

Lake levels rose a few inches in the aftermath of the heavy rains but were stable at midweek. TVA’s projection for the weekend shows an elevation of 355.1 at Kentucky Dam and upstream at New Johnsonville, which is about normal for this time of year.     

Boaters are reminded to follow channel markers this time of year and resist the temptation to take shortcuts across shallow flats like they did back in the summer. Once Kentucky Lake nears its low ebb of winter pool elevation there’s an abundance of shallow sandbars that can play havoc with your lower unit and boat hull.    

Crappie took a roller coaster ride this week as the weather change seemed to have a negative impact for a few days. It’s normal to see action decrease once a cold front arrives and passes through and that’s just what happened as fish turned off on Monday and Tuesday when high barometric pressure teamed with stubborn north winds that switched to northeast at times.    

Fish had been hitting pretty good in midrange depths but backed off for a few days until winds switched back to the south on Wednesday and stimulated activity. At midweek crappie were hitting pretty good as some good stringers were taken in stakebeds and brushpiles in a variety of depths.    

I found increased numbers of fish at midweek choosing main lake ledges in the 14 to 16 foot depths. It appeared some of the shallow crappie had moved back to deeper water for a few days as fish were taking minnows and jigs fished on double hook bottom bumping rigs.    

There are still some scattered fish occupying those midrange structures, however. Depths of 8 to 13 feet were producing a few fish and more fish will return to those areas on days when cloud cover returns or rainy days return to the fishing scene.    

Popular jig colors were gold or silver with sparkle, motor oil and some white/orange, black/chartreuse and red/black just to name a few. Tipping jigs with Berkley Power Bait nibbles in chartreuse or white have worked well but adding a minnow at times has enticed some finicky fish to bite as well.    

Bass action diminished too during the height of the cold front earlier this week as those northeast winds seemed to deal a devastating blow for a few days. By midweek bass rebounded too and showed some interest as fish were chasing shad over shallow flats on the main lake.    

Activity improved on some of the main lake ledges where anglers were tossing Texas rigged worms and crankbaits and scoring consistent catches, although bigger fish have been hard to come by.    

Shad seemed to return to shallow flats at midweek and were schooling and some surface action was underway from aggressive bass. Tossing Rattle Trap style crankbaits was working well as was some topwater at times.    

The bite resumed in grassbeds at midweek as well after a short hiatus earlier in the week when the high skies seemed to send the bass deep in the grass with a lethargic mood. Minnows were more active and bass were feeding on them around the parameters of grassbeds.    

Catfishing showed signs of improvement the last few days with more fish biting in the 35 to 40 foot depth range along the main river channel. Some decent stringers were caught by anglers using nightcrawlers and cut shad.    

It appears the cold front has come and gone and mild to warm weather will dominate the fishing scene for the next week. It was a mean start to a week that has turned out to be pretty nice.

 

FALL FISHING SCENE HOLDING UP WELL…COOLER SURFACE TEMPS/CLOUDY DAYS HELPING OUT
By Steve McCadams
Updated October 3, 2013

Surface temperatures are cooling down and the fall fishing is heating up. It’s been a pretty good week for Kentucky Lake anglers as cloud cover and light winds have teamed to produce good fishing conditions. Lake levels have been falling slowly and things are pretty much on schedule as to the overall fishing scene.

Lake levels are projected to be in the 355.2 range at Kentucky Dam this weekend. Upstream around the New Johnsonville area elevation is expected to be in the 355.1 range. TVA has the reservoir resting at its normal range for this time of year as part of its annual drawdown phase.

It’s that time of year when anglers and boaters need to pay close attention to channel markers and resist the urge to take those shortcuts over shallow sandbars. You risk damage to your lower unit and boat when you avoid the buoys.

Cooler conditions are on the way for the weekend but surface temperatures have already cooled down this week into the 74 to 78 degree range. Water color remains clear across most of the Paris Landing and Big Sandy area with a slight stain in the main Tennessee River channel.

Crappie have been responding well to the cooler conditions and cloudy days. Some good stringers have been taken this week from the 9 to 13 foot depth range but more fish were moving up into 6 to 8 foot depths. I found a good grade of fish slipping into shallow water earlier this week. Some spots that were void of bigger fish last week were producing some dandies this week.

Tightlining jigs in the black/chafrtreuse, white/orange, white/green, and some shades of chartreuse with red or sliver glitter seemed appealing. However, strikes have been light at times as a lot of the fish are finicky biters, especially on days when mirror slick surface conditions put the fish in a sluggish mood.

Deeper main lake ledges are still holding on to some crappie too as depths of 13 to 17 feet have been productive at times. With cooler conditions on the way look for more fish to transition toward shallow areas by next week as the shad migrate to shallow flats and backwater bays.

Bass fishing has been fair with a combination of summer patterns still holding on for some. Boats continue to work the ledges with big deep diving crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, and some Carolina rigs.

Some fish moved up shallow when rainy days produced cloud cover and light winds helped push baitfish toward flats or up against gravel banks and points. Tossing shad colored crankbaits has worked well on gravel banks and points as have some Texas rigged worms and swim baits.

Grassbeds are still producing too and there is a lot of vegetation south of the Paris Landing area around the Danville islands and throughout the backwaters areas of the New Johnsonville sector. Tossing gold willow leaf spinnerbaits with blue/chartreuse skirts has worked well around the grass as have some jerk baits, floating worms, and some topwater such as buzzbaits, chuggers, and floating flukes.

With cooler conditions approaching watch for more bass to move up to gravel banks or start schooling over shallow flats in pursuit of shad. Watch for the gulls to help you locate those baitfish.

Catfishing has been fair along the main river channel this week. Depths of 35 to 40 feet have given up some decent stringers of blue and channel cats. However, crappie anglers have been tying into more catfish this week as well while fishing the shallow flats of 12 to 14 feet so catfish are moving up some.

October fishing awaits you. It has been nice out there lately with more good weeks ahead.

 

 

CRAPPIE HEATS UP AS SURFACE TEMPS COOL
By Steve McCadams
Updated September 25, 2013

Kentucky Lake’s fall crappie action has been heating up as surface temperatures cool down. Fish have been moving up this week toward shallow areas when cloud cover and rainy days delivered low light conditions.

The last week or so has seen the fall crappie bite improve, although last weekend’s cool front and gale north winds brought a temporary hiatus to the good fishing conditions. Since the weekend light winds and moderate temperatures have returned and things have improved.

Good stringers have been taken this week by anglers working the 10 to 14 foot depth range. And, a few bigger fish have come from main lake ledges too where the deep sides of drop-offs are still holding on to a few slabs lingering in the 16 to 18 foot depth.

Most of the fish are coming from submerged stump rows, brushpiles, and stakebeds where fishermen are using vertical presentations of 1/16 to 1/8-ounce jigs tipped with minnows or Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles.

Popular color combinations have been black/chartreuse, white/orange, green glitter, and some blue/chartreuse just to name a few.

Good crappie fishing should continue for the next several weeks as more fish move toward shallow areas in pursuit of schooling threadfin shad that are now finding comfort zones away from their deep summer hideouts.

Surface temperatures this week have stayed in the 76 to 79 degree range, which is cooler than the last two weeks. Water color has been in good shape across most of the reservoir.

Lake levels rose a few inches earlier this week in the aftermath of some heavy rains but stabilized at midweek. Look for a slow fall as the weekend approaches.

Elevation is projected to be in the 356.4 range at Kentucky Dam as the weekend approaches. A similar reading is projected for New Johnsonville as well.

Catfish perked up at midweek once water levels began falling slowly as the increased current seemed to stimulate the bite. A few boats are working the cuts and dips along the main river channel using bottom bumping rigs in the 25 to 35 foot depth range. Nightcrawlers, skipjack, and chicken livers have been popular baits lately.

Bass action has been fair with several small fish showing up in the creel of anglers working shallow grassbeds. Tossing gold willow leaf spinnerbaits with blue/chartreuse skirts have been popular as have shad colored jerk baits worked over the aquatic vegetation.

Texas rigged worms have produced too around the vegetation as have some white fluke style jerk baits and chrome and blue Rattle Traps.

A few bass have been schooling around shallow flats where shad are moving up. Watch for the gulls to help locate those schooling bass this time of year.

As surface temps cool watch for more bass to move toward shallow gravel banks and points. Some surface action will take place on foggy or cloudy mornings when shad are up feeding on midge hatches along shallow shorelines.

There’s some great fall fishing ahead but a lot of anglers miss the boat when it comes to autumn angling. Don’t be one of them!

 

FALL TRANSITION UNDERWAY FOR FISH AND FISHERMEN
By Steve McCadams
Updated September 19, 2013

Say goodbye to summer. Autumn angling is about to begin.

While it seems like the seasons changed a few weeks ago when cool snaps put a chill in the air the official arrival of fall occurs on Sunday. Both the fish and fishermen have been slowly transcending toward the change for a few weeks now.

For those of us who have been on the water on a daily basis these last few weeks it’s been a joyful occasion. The fishing has been good; the crowds have disappeared; and the winds have been light. I have a long list of reasons on why I love it out there this time of year.

Fall fishing here on Kentucky Lake is overlooked by most anglers. It’s underrated too. Stable weather conditions are the norm and that helps fishing patterns hold up well from week to week.

Lake levels are predictable too and that’s another feather in the cap of autumn angling. If you’re fortunate enough to establish a pattern for bass, crappie or catfish then odds are you can return next week and find them in the same locale.

When compared to other seasons fall has a lot going for it. Spring is great and certainly has the cure for cabin fever when winter woes take their toll but cold fronts that time of the year can change things overnight. Gale north winds dictate fishing locations or flooding rains swell lake levels and throw a curve to spawning phases of both bass and crappie.

For me this fall gig is just fine. I’ll take it over the hot and humid conditions of a sultry summer or the bone chilling winds of winter. I like it better than spring too as March can be mean and April can be awful.

Granted the best time to go fishing is whenever you can!

Now that my fall fishing sermon has touched the high spots comes this week’s fishing report. And, I’m glad to say it’s pretty much on schedule as to lake levels and fishing patterns.

Surface temperatures fell back into the 78 to 81 degree this week and that will help bring more shad to shallow flats and the backs of bays. Hot on their trail will be meandering bass and crappie too.

Water color remains pretty clear across most of the reservoir with a few areas of stain where winds whipped up shoreline sediments. Rain chances were increasing as this report was updated and by this weekend some dingy water could be present in the upper ends of bays from runoff.

Lake levels have been falling on a slow but gradual basis and pretty much following TVA’s drawdown curve. Projected elevation for the weekend at Kentucky Dam will be 355.4, which is down several inches from last week at this time. Readings will be similar at New Johnsonville this weekend as stability enters the picture unless heavy thunderstorms enter the picture.

Crappie activity improved this week with fish moving up toward main lake flats in pursuit of threadfin shad that were schooling. Although fish were a bit scattered at times making several stops paid dividends as stakebeds and brushpiles in 7 to 9 foot depths were holding fish as were structures in 11 to 13 foot depths.

Some of the deeper ledges out on the main lake are still holding on to decent numbers of crappie too. Depths of 15 to 19 feet were accounting for a few bigger fish that had not moved up shallow just yet.

It’s not unusual to find crappie at several different depth ranges right now as they have quite a comfort zone now that surface temps are cooling and shad are on the move. In the weeks ahead watch for those shallow zones to attract great numbers of fish, especially once surface temps fall back to the low 70’s.

Jigs tipped with live minnows and Berkley crappie nibbles in the white or chartreuse color have worked well this week. A few popular jig colors have ranged from black/chartreuse to red/white.

Bass activity was slow earlier in the week when a couple days of high skies with no cloud cover seemed to curtail activity. However, at midweek things improved as south breezes returned with cloudy days and that stimulated the bite.

Fish were moving up to gravel banks, roadbeds, and shallow flats where schools of baitfish were attractive. Watching for gull feeding frenzies can help you locate the baitfish activity too. Several bass were schooling when shallow flats full of shad appealed.

Tossing shad variations of shallow crankbaits and swim baits were working well as were spoons and Rooster tail style lures. A few fish were taking jerk baits in their quest to hit topwater.

A lot of bass are still coming from submerged grassbeds in behind islands and around island rims. Tossing Texas rigged worms, fluke style worms and shad colored jerk baits have been effective as have spinnerbaits and buzzbaits at times.

Watch for shallow gravel banks and points to hold some bigger fish now that surface temps are cooling. The main lake ledges are still worthy of consideration as big crankbaits, Carolina rigs, Alabama rigs and jig and pig combos are still working.

Catfish action is holding up along the main river channel again this week. Bottom bumping rigs using nightcrawlers and skipjack have produced some nice fish this week from the 30 to 40 foot depth range. Current has been steady this week but may subside by the weekend as TVA appears to be headed toward stability in the days ahead barring any drastic rains.

Fall fishing will officially begin Sunday. Some fine times await angler in the weeks ahead so hop to it before ole’ man winter chases this great season away too.
 

 

ANGLERS EMBRACE COOL SPELL…IS FALL ARRIVING A WEEK EARLY?
By Steve McCadams
Updated September 12, 2013

All week anglers have been wiping sweat, awaiting the cool snap now in progress. The change now underway suits Kentucky Lake anglers just fine. No doubt the nip in the air will put a glide in the stride of bass, crappie and catfishermen that have been negotiating heat and humidity for over a week.    

The weatherman indicates nighttime temps will fall into the low 50’s as the weekend approaches with low 80’s during the day, which is a significant change as the last week of summer fades away to fall. The autumn season officially arrive on Sunday, September 22nd.

Fishermen can expect some foggy mornings if winds die down as the cooler air resting over the warm waters of Kentucky Lake will likely produce such conditions.    

Surface temperatures this week climbed up to the 86 degree for a day or two but will be dropping throughout the weekend in the wake of the cool snap and north winds. Look for surface temps to fall back into the upper 70’s by early next week. Several thunderstorms passed through the area this week but runoff has been minimal and water color remains clear throughout most of the reservoir. A little stain was present in the main Tennessee River channel but Big Sandy embayment is relatively clear.    

Lake levels were falling on a gradual basis throughout the week and down several inches from last week at this time. Projections for the weekend at Kentucky Dam will be 356.1. Upstream at New Johnsonville readings will be in the 355.9 range.    

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has been pretty decent for crappie anglers who continue to find decent stringers in the 9 to 13 foot depth range where submerged stakebeds and brushpiles are located.    

I’ve had decent catches this week but found fish to be somewhat scattered in the midrange depths. Landing two or three fish at a spot was the pattern with an occasional bed producing 6 or 7 but it took several stops on a route to rack up hefty numbers.    

Tipping red and chartreuse jigs with Berkley Power Bait seemed to work best for me, although a few fish took a jig and minnow combo now and then.    

I dropped back to some deeper ledges a midday and found improved action from structure residing in the 17 foot depth range but near deeper water. Using double hook bottom bumping rigs armed with shiner minnows seemed to appeal to the deeper fish once the sun was straight overhead and cloud cover melted away.    

Watch for crappie to take on a more aggressive attitude by next week as the cooler surface temperatures will bring more shad to the shallow areas. Fish will transition toward midrange depths in greater numbers once surface temps back into the mid 70’s.    

Bass were still chasing shad in grassbeds this week, a fall pattern that will likely hold up for several more weeks. Lower lake levels will continue to expose more aquatic vegetation, providing anglers ample areas to toss topwater, spinnerbaits, and weedless frogs or floating worms.    

The outsides of island rims and grassbeds on flats will be good places to work Texas rigged worms too or rip a Rattle Trap style lure now and then.    

The summer patterns of big crankbaits, Carolina rigged craws, big Texas rigged worms, and jig and pig combos are still producing too. Gravel banks will soon be more appealing to topwater presentations in the early mornings and late afternoons.    

Catfishermen were enjoying some nice catches this week as the slow current was playing their song. Depths of 30 to 40 feet were accounting for some hefty blue and channel cats along the main Tennessee River channel.    

Working those submerged feeder creeks and indentions were the cat’s meow for boaters using nightcrawlers, chicken liver, and skipjack for bait.    

Summer is saying goodbye next week but it feels like fall may have slipped in the door a week early. Ah, the jacket mornings and shirt sleeve afternoons are here already!

 

SEPTEMBER FISHING ENJOYS COOL START
By Steve McCadams
Updated September 05, 2013

A nice cool snap at midweek helped the first week of September get off to a good start for Kentucky Lake anglers who dodged thunderstorms last weekend but welcomed lower temps and decreased humidity in the aftermath.

Light north winds at midweek were kind to fishermen working the open water areas for crappie, bass and catfish. A slow warm-up is in the forecast for the weekend.

Lake levels have risen this week due to some heavy thunderstorms across the TVA valley during the Labor Day holiday period. The reservoir is up some 6 to 8 inches compared to last week at this time but watch for TVA to pull water by this weekend and drop the lake back to normal curve.

Elevation is projected to be in the 356.8 range at Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville as the weekend approaches. However, readings will likely be lower by early next week with increased current showing up in the main Tennessee River channel the next few days.

Surface temperatures were lingering around the 82 to 85 degree range. Water color was clear throughout most of Big Sandy with a slight amount of stain in the main Tennessee River channel.

The interest level for crappie improved at midweek with several fish showing up in the 11 to 13 foot depth where submerged stakebeds and brushpiles were attractive to them. The rise in lake levels coincided with the midweek cool snap and that likely influenced crappie to move up some from their deeper hideouts in last week’s heat.

There are still fish relating to the deeper sides of main lake ledges too but the surge of activity toward midrange structure likely pulled some fish from their summer holding areas. Seems the late summer period always sees a few fish begin their early fall transition when helped by a cool snap.

Jigs tipped with minnows were producing good as were jigs tipped with Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles.

Bass action is still holding up well for anglers casting crankbaits and big Texas rigged worms on main lake ledges. Working Carolina rigged craws and hopping a jig and pig combo is working too.

Another pattern producing on a consistent basis has been the grassbed bite where anglers are working weedless frogs and rats around the thicker vegetation. Floating fluke style worms and topwater jerk baits and scored at times too.

Around the parameters of milfoils grassbeds anglers are tossing spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms, and buzzbaits.

Some schools of shad are working around gravel banks and over shallow flats where a few bass have been busting them in the early morning and late afternoon periods.

Catfish action slowed this week once the current backed off and lake levels started rising. Seems the fish just don’t feed or show much interest when stagnant conditions take over but watch for the catfish battle to resume quickly once current returns.

Depths of 30 to 40 feet had been producing some pretty nice stringers late last week and watch for that to return as falling lake levels in the days ahead will stimulate baitfish activity. Once the shad start moving the catfish will go back on the prowl.

Fall is about two weeks away but it’s already dropping hints of its forthcoming arrival.

 

ANGLERS SAY GOODBYE TO AUGUST…COOL MONTH TOOK THE BITE OUT OF DOG DAYS
By Steve McCadams
Updated August 29, 2013

Kentucky Lake anglers will say goodbye to August this weekend, hoping the return of hot and humid weather will fade away as the month draws to a close. Last year at this time fishermen were facing three-digit temps out there!    

Actually August has been pretty nice to fishermen this summer as most of the month was cooler than normal. The overall fishing scene has been pretty good throughout a month known for its heat and humidity.    

As the Labor Day weekend approaches anglers are in a typical late summer pattern for bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. Lake levels are pretty much on schedule as to TVA’s curve for winter drawdown.    

Lake levels at Kentucky Dam were expected to be in the 356.2 range this weekend and slightly higher upstream around New Johnsonville where elevation will be in the 356.4 range. Kentucky Lake has been falling slowly this week and that has put steady current in the main river channel that has benefitted both bass and catfishermen.    

Surface temperatures this week have been in the 82 to 85 degree range. Water color remains clear across most of the reservoir.    

A slow, steady current in the main Tennessee River channel has stimulated the catfish bite for anglers drifting along the riverbank and bottom bouncing double hook rigs baiting with nightcrawlers, chicken livers, and big shiner minnows or cut shad.    

Depths of 30 to 40 feet have been productive as boaters attempt to find little indentions along the river channel or work the down current sides of large submerged feeder creeks that emptied into the main river. Several decent stringers of channel and blues have been caught with an occasional nice flathead testing the tackle now and then.    

Summer crappie have been fair this week with a few fish lingering around deeper stakebeds and brushpiles in depths of 13 to 15 feet. However, most of the fish are relating to the deep sides of main lake drop-offs and holding around some structure in the 19 to 24 foot depth range.    

Tightlining live minnows on bottom bumping rigs has worked best for the deeper zones while tightlining 1/16 to 1/8-ounce jigs tipped with minnows has been productive in the deeper stakebeds.

Other presentations such as trolling crankbaits along the drop-offs have produced a few crappie as well.    

Bass fishermen continue to pound the aquatic vegetation with topwater weedless presentations and Texas rigged worms around the parameters. Tossing spinnerbaits and buzzbaits has worked too as have some shad colored jerk baits and floating fluke style worms.    

As lake levels fall there should be more grassbeds exposed in the weeks ahead. However, most of the milfoil and other thick vegetation has been found south of the Paris Landing area near Harmon’s Creek and areas further south toward New Johnsonville.    

Schools of shad are showing up along gravel banks and tossing shad colored crankbaits and some assorted topwater has paid off in shallow flats, gravel banks, and around roadbeds. Despite the warm weather some nice stringers have been taken in relatively shallow areas when the baitfish were there.    

Main lake ledges continue to produce for boaters working big crankbaits, Texas and Carolina rigged worms, and jig and craw combos. Some days the fish have moved up on the edge or top side of sandbars if cloud cover was present only to fall back to deeper water at midday or when sunny days pushed them deeper.    

Hopping spoons on main lake ledges has also produced some strikes as have slowly retrieved swim baits.    

A few scattered bluegill are lingering around bridge piers where working crickets or worms will produce a variety of sizes and species. And, bluegill are roaming the main lake ledges too and annoying both crappie and catfishermen at times.    

It’s time to say hello to September fishing on Kentucky Lake as the fall transition will soon begin.

 

BASS, CRAPPIE AND CATFISH BITE HOLDS UP…DECENT SUMMER ACTION CONTINUES
By Steve McCadams
Updated August 22, 2013

Bass and crappie action has held up pretty good this week as has catfishing along the main river channel thanks to a slow, steady current that has stimulated activity.    

Anglers continue to enjoy nice fishing conditions as August mornings have been cooler than normal with several cloudy days that helped diminish the summer sun’s rays. A few foggy mornings also made it feel nice out there and everyone is still talking about the unusual summer weather, although warmer temps returned at midweek.    

Surface temperatures this week were still a bit below the norm for the third week of August. Readings were in the 81 to 83 degree range the last few days. Water color has been clear throughout most of the Big Sandy area with a slight stain showing up in the main Tennessee River channel but the overall color is good for fishing.    

Lake levels are projected to be in the 357 range at Kentucky Dam by this weekend. Upstream around New Johnsonville a reading of 356.9 is expected. Elevation has been falling slowly throughout the week and about a foot below last week at this time. Readings are returning to normal after a mid-summer surge.    

TVA will continue a slow, gradual drawdown in the days and weeks ahead barring any more heavy rains across the watershed.    

Bass action has been pretty good again this week as a variety of patterns are paying off. Lots of boats are venturing south toward the New Johnsonville sector in search of aquatic vegetation. Some milfoil is showing up there and bass have been relating to the grassbeds where schools of shad are hanging out.    

Here in the Paris Landing sector bass fishermen are working the main lake drop-offs with big deep diving crankbaits and scoring some nice catches. And, slowly working Carolina rigs with worms and craws have continued to score as have the big Texas rigged worms work around the ledges.    

A few anglers are casting swim baits, Alabama rigs at times or altering to a jig and craw combo hopped around the deep water venues.    

Some big schools of shad are showing up along the river channel ledges and meandering out on flats as well where a few schooling bass have been busting them on the surface at times.    

Other boats have focused on shallow areas where the back of creeks, shallow gravel banks, roadbeds, boathouses and bridge piers have produced a few bass when minnows were located. Working smaller crankbaits and spinnerbaits have produced a few fish with some topwater action underway in the early morning and late afternoon low light periods.    

Catfish were back on the prowl this week too as the slow current is the cat’s meow for boaters working their bottom bouncing rigs along the edge of the river channel. Depths of 30 to 40 feet are holding some good numbers as anglers continue to work nightcrawlers, chicken livers, and cut shad along the submerged river bank and play the current.    

Summer has been kind to crappie anglers as well. Decent stringers have been taken this week with most of the fish relating to the edge of the main lake ledges or holding on the deep sides around the 17 to 22 foot depth range.    

A few scattered fish remain in midrange stakebeds and brushpiles too. Depths of 11 to 15 feet are holding on to some crappie these last few weeks, especially if you catch a cloudy day with light winds. Seems the fish have had plenty of forage in the midrange areas as shad have meandered along the secondary flats and inside the bays for several weeks now.    

Live minnows have been producing well for crappie fishermen but jigs tipped with minnows have done alright. A jig tipped with Berkley Power Bait has been appealing too but expect to encounter lot of annoying yellow bass and small bluegill using this presentation.    

Mayfly hatches rebounded last week as a big hatch occurred south around Lick Creek and down toward he Danville area for a day or two. That brought a few bass and bluegill up shallow to feast on the natural buffet too.    

August is about to lose its grip and the late summer bite has held up well courtesy of an unusual August that has paved the way for an early fall transition.

 

WILL FALL ARRIVE EARLY? ANGLERS ENJOYING UNUSUAL SUMMER SITUATION
By Steve McCadams
Updated August 15, 2013

It’s been a wet one! Even Kentucky Lake anglers have felt the rippling effect of a soggy summer.

At a time when lake levels are usually falling slowly on TVA’s curve for annual winter drawdown the reservoir has had some surges. And, temperatures have been below normal on several days but no one is complaining about that one.

It might be mid-August but at midweek I had to reach in the closet for a long sleeved shirt and even a light jacket as north winds dropped the temperature and humidity, making it feel more like a late September outing. No doubt fall was in the air.

Lake levels jumped earlier this week in the aftermath of a series of thunderstorms that drenched the region for several days. Runoff has been significant for tributary streams entering Kentucky Lake and the elevation jumped about 18-inches and returned to the summer pool reading of 359 at midweek across most of the reservoir.

TVA was spilling water through Kentucky Dam and really got rid of a lot of the surge as the lake crested on Wednesday and began falling several inches each day. Projections for the weekend indicate readings of 358.3 at Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville but that elevation will be changing on a daily basis as the lake has about a foot to go before returning to TVA’s curve for this time of year.

Anglers can expect plenty of current for the next few days in the main Tennessee River channel. Water color there has significant stain but the upper ends of bays that were dingy will be clearing fast as falling water pulls the dingy color out. The upper portion of Big Sandy remains stained as is the West Sandy sector.

Down around the Paris Landing area water color is relatively clear. Surface temperatures this week reflect the unique series of summer cool snaps and have been resting in the 81 to 83 degree range. It’s not unusual to see surface temps climb to the upper 80’s and low 90’s in mid to late August but that has not been the case this year.

With falling lake levels in the equation bass, catfish and crappie anglers will have current to deal with in the main river channel area but by this weekend it could slow down and be quite beneficial for the summer fishing scene.

Bass fishermen were holding on to a pretty good summer bite that saw an increase in shallow activity this week when rising water seemed to trigger more baitfish activity over shallow grassbeds and around some boat docks. Tossing chartreuse/blue skirted spinnerbaits with gold willow leaf blades were producing well as were some topwater and Rattle Trap style baits in chrome and blue colors.

There isn’t much milfoil grass in the Paris Landing or in areas to the north but some good grass mats are showing up south around the New Johnsonville sector. Several flats and island rims south of Harmon’s Creek and White Oak have some exposed grassbeds and have been holding several smaller fish with a few chunks mixed in.

Drop-offs on the main lake areas continue to produce fish for anglers tossing big 10-inch worms such as Berkley, Culprit, and Zoom in a variety of colors ranging from black/blue to blue fleck, pumpkin pepper, and red shad. 

Carolina rigged worms and craws have held up too on the menu of summer styles as have jig and craw combos and the always popular big deep diving crankbaits. Strike King, Rapala, Mann’s, and Norman’s extra deep divers have been popular choices.

As lake levels fall back more grassbeds will be exposed in the next few days and weeks. Find the schools of minnows and you’ll find some schooling fish too.

Crappie action has been fair but may improve the next few days as the combination of cooler surface temperatures and falling lake levels might pull some roaming fish back to structure, making them easier to locate.

Most anglers are still using vertical presentations of jigs and live minnows in both deep water venues and throughout midrange areas where stakebeds and brushpiles are located near ledges. There have been some fish taken this week in that 12 to 15 foot zone thanks to cloud cover and cooler conditions.

Watch for action to increase on the deep sides of main lake ledges this next week as falling lake stages and warm weather will likely pull some fish back to the normal summer hideouts. Depths of 18 to 24 feet will appeal. Those double hook bottom bumping rigs baited with live minnows have worked best in deep water.

A few boats are still trolling Bandit crankbaits and scoring now and then as they work the ledges and slowly cover a lot of water. Seems there’s always some fish hitting crankbaits.

Catfishing has held up pretty good and several boats are working the edge of the main river channel in depths of 30 to 40 feet. Some good numbers were taken this week by anglers using nightcrawlers , chicken liver, and big live minnows.

The late summer catfish bite is usually dependent on current and conditions are cooperating in that department.

Bluegill activity has diminished with a few still lingering around bridge piers and along the river channel ledges. Mayfly hatches have been scarce lately as well.

Although fall is officially a month away on the calendar, the fish and the fishermen on Kentucky Lake are welcoming the early arrival. It sure has been nice out there lately.

 

SUMMER TEMPS TREAT ANGLERS PRETTY GOOD…BASS/CRAPPIE ACTION HOLDS UP
By Steve McCadams
Updated August 7, 2013

Kentucky Lake’s summer fishing scene continues to hold up well and has been the beneficiary of some pretty nice weather. In fact, the last few weeks have seen several days with cloud cover, light winds and morning temps somewhat below average.    

Late July and early August is known for hot and humid weather but it hasn’t been too bad as of late. Some fog entered the picture at times too and kept the sun at bay while anglers enjoyed some early morning fishing.    

Lake levels have been stable the last few days with readings of 357.6 at both Kentucky Dam and upstream at New Johnsonville Steam Plant. There has been a slight amount of current flowing in the main river channel and it’s just about right for catfish and bass fishermen.    

Surface temperatures this week have remained in the 82 to 85 degree range. Water color has been clear across most of the reservoir.    

Summer crappie fishing has been decent this week as those cloudy days have helped keep a few fish biting in the 12 to 15 foot range. Deeper stakebeds and brushpiles are still holding on to a few scattered fish. Jigs tipped with minnows have continued to produce in the midrange cover.    

At midmorning I’ve been backing out to the deeper ledges and finding some pretty good fish as it seemed the shallow or midrange bite slowed as the sun rose higher.     

The deeper ledges have produced the most fish as structure located on the edge of the drop-off and on the deep side in depths of 17 to 24 feet have been holding the most crappie. I fished the deeper zones using double hook bottom bumping rigs baited with minnows.    

A few scattered boats are slow trolling Bandit crankbaits along the main lake ledges and finding some scattered crappie using this technique. A catfish, bass, white bass and an occasional sauger are showing up at times as well for the trollers.    

Bass fishermen have altered their patterns between ledge fishing and working some submerged milfoil grassbeds where schools of pin minnows are holding. There are some grassbeds showing up further south on the reservoir down around New Johnsonville and along some river islands and flats south of Paris Landing.    

Good schools of baitfish are holding around boat docks, piers, treelaps and wherever grass is showing up. The pin minnows are attracting bass too and tossing spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms, and some assorted topwater jerk baits and buzzbaits has produced at times, especially in the early morning and late afternoon periods of low light.    

The ledge bite continues to hold up and the current has been about right lately for bass fishermen working those sandbars adjacent to the main river channel. Tossing a Carolina rig with a worm, lizard, or crawfish imitation has been a popular producer as have been big Texas rigged worms in the 10-inch length range. Hopping a jig and craw combo is always a popular summer bait too.    

Having a big crankbait tied on is part of the summer arsenal as well. The big deep divers have worked well all summer and will likely continue to produce for several more weeks. Strike King, Rapala, Bandit, and Bill Norman are a few of the more popular crankbaits that offer a series that dives down to the 10 to 14 foot depths when fished on light line.    

Catfish action has improved lately with some decent stringers coming from beneath the New McWherter Bridge here at Paris Landing. Other boats are working the edge of the main river channel this week where feeder creeks empty into the main channel and focusing on the 30 to 35 foot depth range.    

Nightcrawlers have been the bait of choice, along with a few chicken livers and various commercial stink bait concoctions. The slow and gradual current lately has worked in favor of catfishermen as well.    

Mayfly hatches have attracted a few bluegill to some shallow areas where overhanging trees are providing a canopy of shade as the flies fall to the surface. Casting ultra-light with small Rooster Tails or bobbers and crickets has produced pretty good.    

Anytime you get below average temperatures mixed with cloudy days it teams up for pretty good fishing conditions this time of year!

 

SUMMER TEMPS RETURN …COOL SPELL SHORT AND SWEET
By Steve McCadams
Updated August 1, 2013

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene had a nice reprieve for a few days last week when fall like conditions descended, dropping both temperatures and humidity to make it feel great on the lake for a few days.

At midweek summer conditions returned and the cool snap was in the rearview mirror of fishermen as they wiped sweat and dodged thunderstorms. Ah, but every day makes fall that much closer!    

Action has held up pretty good lately for catfishermen enjoying a moderate amount of current in the main river channel. Bass are still hitting pretty good for anglers working the main lake ledges and summer crappie have managed to show interest in the baits of anglers too.    

Lake levels this week were falling slowly this week as TVA continued its gradual drawdown. However, some heavy thunderstorms at midweek were dropping a lot of water across the southern end of the reservoir so it’s likely a little rise in lake stages could occur in the next few days.    

Elevation was projected to be 357.2 at both Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville as the weekend approached but TVA could revise that in the aftermath of the runoff that entered the pictured on Wednesday.    

Surface temperatures the last few days were resting in the 83 to 85 degree range but actually cooled off a bit last weekend. Water color is clear in Big Sandy but the main Tennessee River channel will likely inherit some stain these next few days from upstream.   

Bass fishermen were tossing Carolina rigged craws, worms, and lizards on a regular basis and catching decent numbers on drop-offs, especially on the main channel areas when current was present. Earlier in the week the current subsided for a day or so and bass activity fell off but rebounded at midweek.    

Big crankbaits are still producing too when fished along the ledges in 9 to 14 foot depths as have jig and craw combos and some swim baits. Texas rigged worms in the 10-inch size range have continued to be popular choices too.    

Catfish action improved the last few days as slow current was working in favor of catfishermen baiting with nightcrawlers fished in 25 to 40 foot depths. Bouncing rigs around the submerged feeder ditches and creeks that enter the main channel has worked well as have some piers at the New McWherter Bridge area.    

For summer crappie anglers the action has been fair lately and they enjoyed the cool snap last week that made it feel like fall was knocking on the door. With warmer weather returning look for more crappie to relate to the deep sides of main lake ledges in the 18 to 25 foot depth range.    

Most anglers are using live minnows on bottom bumping rigs with fishing the deeper hideouts but there are still a few scattered fish hanging around deeper stakebeds and brushpiles in the 12 to 14 foot zone. Anglers vertical fishing manmade beds are still having success with 1/16 to 1/8-ounce jigs tipped with live minnows or Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles.    

Mayfly hatches have been sporadic as of late. A few flies have hatched around the Paris Landing area at times and up north around Cypress and around river islands down toward Danville levee but no massive hatches have been seen like those of yesteryear.    

The summer scene has been pretty good to anglers lately and with the return of hot weather that early morning and late afternoon time frame will be the most appealing unless you choose to really beat the heat and try some night fishing.

 

KENTUCKY LAKE LEVELS RECEDE…NORMAL PATTERNS RESUME AFTER HIGH WATER
By Steve McCadams
Updated July 17, 2013

Lake levels have been falling for the last several days after Kentucky Lake’s elevation jumped more than two feet above normal summer pool last week in the aftermath of heavy rains across the region.

It has taken well over a week for the reservoir to crest and begin falling but TVA has been pushing a lot of water through Kentucky Dam this week in an effort to bring the reservoir back down to normal summer elevation.

Anglers are dealing with a lot of current in the main river lately---almost too much at times---but that scenario will likely improve by this weekend as the drastic drawdown slows. Lake levels crested last weekend around 361.3 range at Kentucky Dam but were falling several inches each day. By this weekend TVA should have the lake a few inches below summer pool (359) on its slow descent toward fall and winter drawdown.

Surface temperatures were in the 83 to 86 degree range this week as warmer weather descended. Water color was clear throughout most of the Big Sandy embayment but a slight stain was present in the main Tennessee River channel due to the dramatic flow of water flushing through the system.

Some boat docks, launch ramps, swimming areas, roads and campgrounds were adversely affected by last week’s surge in lake levels. Normal lake stages should greet anglers in the days ahead barring any more flooding upstream.

Catfish, bass and crappie anglers had to play the current this week as main lake ledges and the edge of the river channel were a bit swift in places by Kentucky Lake standards. Some good stringers of catfish had been coming from the main channel in depths of 30 to 40 feet before the increase in current and lake levels pushed the fish to flats and secondary bays.

Watch for the main river channel banks to resume activity by this weekend as falling lake levels and diminished current will pull catfish back to their typical summer hideouts.   

Crappie were still being caught in midrange depths this week as manmade fish attractors  such as stakebeds and brushpiles in the 13 to 16 foot depth range were holding fish. There were even a few fish taken in 12 to 13 foot structure when cloud cover helped the shallow bite.   

Rising lake levels lately likely helped midrange depths hold on to decent numbers of crappie as the fish found a comfort zone there where shad were roaming. And, the higher water helped filter sunlight and kept some fish in places that would normally be a bit shallow this time of year.

Watch for more crappie to move toward the deeper sides of drop-offs the next few days as structure in the 18 to 24 foot range will have more appeal. Falling lake levels usually pull fish back toward deeper venues.

Although most of the crappie are being caught by anglers vertical fishing jigs or using bottom bumping double hook minnow rigs, some boats are trolling crankbaits and scoring decent catches out over deep water or near the drop-offs.

Good stringers of bass continue to come in but the changing lake stages did throw some anglers off balance for a few days. A lot of smaller bass were taken in shallow bushes, weeds and around willows at river islands where schools of pin minnows were found.

Working spinnerbaits in blue/chartreuse with gold willow-leaf blades has produced around shallow weeds and bushes, along with some various topwater baits such as buzzbaits and assorted jerk baits.

Main lake ledges are still the choice for most summer bass fishermen who are tossing big deep diving crankbaits, Carolina rigged worms, lizards, and craws, and big 10-inch worms rigged Texas style or on shaker head style hooks.

A few fish are still taking jig and craw combos or such baits as Zoom’s Brush Hog worked along the ledges.

Popular worm choices have been Berkley Power Bait ribbon worms in the pumpkinseed, blue fleck, green pumpkin pepper, and red shad colors just to name a few. Zoom and Culprit’s big worms have worked well too.

Strike King’s new 6XD and10XD series of big crankbaits are quite popular as are Norman’s HD22, Rapala’s DT16, Mann’s Deep Pig and Bomber’s big Fat Free Shad.

A few scattered mayfly hatches were still underway and that was attracting some bluegill to river islands and bridge piers where flies were hanging before falling to the surface. Tossing crickets and small grubs were producing as were small Rooster Tails.

As Kentucky Lake falls back to normal elevation expect regular summer patterns to resume at typical summer venues. It has been an unusual week to ten days of changing lake levels for July anglers but that’s about to be in the rearview mirror.

 

RISING LAKE LEVELS ALTER SUMMER FISHING SCENE…MAYFLY HATCHES UNDERWAY
By Steve McCadams
Updated July 11, 2013

Lake levels this week on Kentucky Lake have been rising in the aftermath of regional flooding last week, an unusual scenario for this time of year. Normally, TVA begins its decent toward winter drawdown in early July but just the opposite has happened the last few days.    

At midweek lake stages at Kentucky Dam were 361.2, which is more than two feet above normal summer pool (359) elevation. Readings upstream at New Johnsonville were even higher as a wall of water headed north due to massive runoff. Elevation was observed at 362.3.    

There is a lot of current in the main Tennessee River this week as TVA will be pushing a lot of water through Kentucky reservoir in the next few days. Anglers can expect lake levels to crest soon and begin falling as TVA increases discharge rates.    

Surface temperatures this week climbed back into the 83 to 85 degree range after a cool spell during the first week of July actually saw temps fall back to the lower 80’s for a few days. Water color is clear in most of the Big Sandy and West Sandy areas with increasing stain now along the main Tennessee River as water flushes through.    

Summer crappie action has been holding up pretty good as some decent numbers are still coming from midrange depths where brushpiles and stakebeds in the 13 to 15 foot depth range are holding fish. The rising lake levels have likely given crappie a longer comfort zone in the midrange depths lately as baitfish have moved up with the rising water.    

Crappie were hitting good on red/white/chartreuse color combo jigs the last few days and tipping with Berkley power bait or live minnows enhanced the presentation. Strikes are light but that’s normal as warm weather descends.    

Other popular jig colors have been black/chartreuse with glitter, red/black/chartreuse, and some motor oil with glitter skirts just to name a few. While a lot of small fish are hitting there are still adequate numbers of keeper size fish sharing the same spots.    

A few fish are residing on the deep ledges in the main lake around submerged structure in the 18 to 24 foot depths. Bottom bumping rigs armed with live minnows have worked best in the deep summer hideouts.    

Catfish action had been good prior to the rise in lake levels and increased current. Right now there almost too much current along the main river channel but watch for that to improve by next week once lake stages return back to the normal range.    

Some boats were taking catfish while jug fishing in the backwaters of big bays. Catfish really go on the prowl when lake levels rise fast.    

Depths of 30 to 40 feet were giving up some good catfish along the main riverbank. However, with the rising lake levels catfish have moved up this week and crappie anglers are tying into some on a regular basis.    

Mayfly hatches were underway across the reservoir this week too and catfish, bass, bluegill and just about every other species seems to feed on them at times. Anglers can likely find some scattered bluegill around overhanging willows along river islands.     

Bass action was holding up for a variety of patterns this week. While most boats are still banging away at main lake ledges with big deep diving crankbaits, Carolina rigged craws and worms, and Texas rigged worms there are some fish moving up shallow in response to the rising water and mayfly hatches.    

Tossing spinnerbaits and Texas rigged worms around shallow bushes and grass has scored for anglers this week as some schools of pin minnows are roaming the visible structure. Working topwater plugs have paid off too such as floating worms, flukes, and assorted jerk baits.    

Anglers will need to play the current in the days ahead as that will redistribute bait fish and likely push bass to hang on the down current sides of submerged sandbars where they’ll congregate in submerged eddies and await shad washed right to them.    

Some scattered bluegill were being caught around bridge piers where mayflyies were hatching and washing by in the current.    

With the higher lake levels inundating shoreline buck bushes and willow trees along river islands there is a lot of shallow cover holding bass that now have abundant canopies of shade and refuge. Some of the aquatic grass patches that were visible last week are now slightly beneath the surface but still holding fish too.    

Higher lake levels make the main lake ledge fishing a little more challenging at times but once the crest occurs and levels begin falling drop-offs should really start producing good bass fishing. Crappie will begin to fall back to deeper depths too once the decline begins.

EARLY JULY WEATHER NICE TO ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated July 3, 2013

 It has been an unusual start for July anglers here on Kentucky Lake this week as below average temperatures and low humidity teamed up for nice fishing conditions. Everyone knows it won’t last all summer but a lot of fishermen have been making the most of it with hefty catches of bass, crappie and catfish.    

Seems odds for the second week of summer to feel like fall but that was the case a few mornings and no one is complaining.    

Lake levels are pretty much on track this week as the reservoir was staying around normal summer pool elevation. Projections for the next few days indicate a reading of 359.1 at Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville. TVA’s normal curve will see a slow, gradual drawdown begin next week as the decent toward winter pool begins after the holiday period.    

Surface temperatures the last few days cooled back down into the 81 to 83 degree range thanks to the cooler nights and light north winds at times. Water color remains clear across the reservoir.    

Summer bass activity has held up well this week with the heaviest stringers coming from main lake ledges but a lot of smaller bass are running the shallow banks and grassbeds where a lot of anglers are tossing topwater and spinnerbaits and loving it.    

There are areas of pondweed and various aquatics growing in shallow water that have been holding bass the last few weeks as schools of minnows and other baitfish are residing in the visit cover. Some fish have taken weedless frogs and other jerk baits but working a floating worm and Fluke style baits has produced too.     From the main lake drop-offs have come most of the heavier stringers this week. Several 20-pound plus limits have been taken in tournaments recently by anglers staying with those big deep diving crankbaits, 10-inch Texas rigged worms, jig and craw combos and Carolina rigged worms and lizards imitations.    

Strike King’s popular series of XD crankbaits have been popular choices as have Bill Norman, Poe’s, Bandit and Rapalas just to name a few of the big deep divers. Colors producing have been blue/white/chartreuse and Tennessee shad variations.    

Zoom’s Brush Hog in the green pumpkin pepper, red shad, and black/blue have been popular choices rigged both Texas and Carolina style. Culprit, Berkley, and Zoom’s big 9 to 10-inch worms have worked well too for deep water anglers.   

Thanks to some cloudy days crappie action has held up well again this week and benefitted from the cooler conditions. A few fish remain in stakebeds and brushpiles in midrange depths of 12 to 15 feet but numbers have scattered some since last week. No doubt a few fish are pulling out of the midrange zone and occupying deeper depths as last week’s warm spell heated up surface temps for a few days.    

There have been some decent stringers taken lately by anglers vertical fishing jigs in the manmade fish attractors, although it has taken a few more stops since fish are somewhat scattered. Tipping jigs with live minnows is still producing as is adding Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles to enhance bites.    

Trolling crankbaits is another pattern that continues to produce this time of year. A few boats were finding crappie on the edge of drop-offs  this week and also tying into a few big catfish and bass at times, not to mention an occasional sauger.    

Watch for more fish to transition toward the deeper sides of drop-offs by next week when warmer temperatures coincide with slow falling lake levels. Those deeper ledges should see fish holding around the 18 to 25 foot zones.    

Catfish were being caught beneath the Ned McWherter Bridge at Paris Landing again this week where a little current was working in favor of anglers fishing the piers. Nightcrawlers have been the most popular bait  choice.    

A few catfish are still lingering in the deep crappie beds too as anglers continue to tie into some dandies while dangling jigs around the submerged structures.    

Mayfly hatches were somewhat scarce earlier this week but watch for increased activity this weekend and for the next few weeks.       

Better take advantage of this nice weather and get out on the lake. Low temps and humidity won’t stay this week for long!

BASS/CRAPPIE HEAD TO MAIN LAKE LEDGES…MAYFLY HATCHES UNDERWAY
By Steve McCadams
Updated June 27, 2013

Bass and crappie continue to transition toward summer hangouts as warmer surface temperatures enter the fishing scene this week. Activity has been pretty good this week for bass anglers working main lake ledges and the summer crappie bite continues to hold up well.    

Mayfly hatches are beginning to enter the picture too, bringing bluegill, bass, and a wide variety of species to the table as this natural buffet seems to appeal to just about every fish in Kentucky Lake.    

Surface temperatures this week reflect the warmer weather patterns as readings have been in the 82 to 85 degree range. Water color remains clear in both the Big Sandy basin and throughout the Tennessee River.    

Lake levels this week were falling slightly and that put a lot of current in the main river channel and around secondary sloughs and islands. Projections for the weekend indicate the reservoir will rest at normal summer pool (359) at Kentucky Dam. Upstream in the New Johnsonville sector lake levels will be in the 358.9 range.    

With the falling lake levels throughout the week catfishermen scored decent catches beneath the Ned McWherter Bridge at Paris Landing. There have been some decent catfish taken by jug fishermen in the bays too, not to mention crappie anglers working the midrange stakebeds and brushpiles where some dandies are still lurking and testing tackle at times.    

Summer crappie action held up again this week despite some warm, windy days that challenged boaters at times. Most anglers want some light wind but it’s somewhat unusual to battle whitecaps this time of year but that was the case for me several days running. Area thunderstorms and rising humidity seemed to stir up stubborn winds that dictated fishing routes.    

When cloudy days were present there have been some dandy catches of crappie coming from 13 to 15 foot depths where deep stakebeds and brushpiles are holding fish. Vertical presentations of jigs tipped with either live shiner minnows or Berkley Power Bait have scored nice stringers.    

Other patterns producing have been trolling crankbaits along drop-offs and out over deep water venues this week.    

Popular jig colors have ranged from chartreuse glitter to yellow/black/chartreuse and even some purple with glitter at times.    

With surface temperatures increasing watch for more crappie to fall back to the deeper sides of main lake ledges in depths of 18 to 24 feet in the weeks ahead. Catch a cloudy day and the fish seem to move up some but fall back deep when bright skies enter the equation.    

Bass fishermen are still catching good numbers of fish on main lake ledges. Anglers are catching numbers but having trouble finding concentrations of bigger fish. Most winning tournament weights remain around the 20-pound mark but a lot of limits are coming in with weights in the 13 to 15 pound range.    

Tossing big crankbaits is still working on the ledges. Also consistent have been nine to ten inch works rigged Texas style. Carolina rigged worms and craws are producing too as have jig and craw combos hopped along the ledges.    

There are still some bass hanging around island rims and blowdowns in shallow water, especially if mayflies are around. There are areas of pondweed and various aquatics visible in shallow areas and anglers have been finding minnows using the grassbeds with bass hot on their trail.    

Floating fluke style baits have worked there as have some buzzbaits and spinnerbaits at times. Tossing weedless frogs and other surface lures are popular choices too.    

With hot weather entering the picture both crappie and bass anglers are finding some of their best action during the lowlight periods of early morning and late afternoon. That midday sun can curtail activity at times but the overall fishing scene has held up well this week and shows no signs of changing.

SUMMER SLABS OVERLOOKED AS ANGLERS MISS OUT…BASS ACTION GOOD ON LEDGES…MAYFLY HATCHES BEGIN
By Steve McCadams
Updated June 20, 2013

No dogwoods are blooming. Spring fever has come and gone. Spawning phases are history too.  

Fishing has held up well this week despite the heat as some gentle breezes mixed with a few clouds so it hasn't been too bad out there. And, whenever the fish are biting anglers can tolerate most anything.  

Kentucky Lake crappie have been right on time throughout most of June, occupying brushpiles and stakebeds in midrange depths of 12 to 15 feet. Vertical presentations of jigs tipped with minnows or Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles have paid big dividends lately yet not many anglers are taking advantage of the opportunities.  

Spring officially loses its grip this week and summer is slated to arrive Friday afternoon. While a few warm days are the norm this time of year, wise are the fishermen who rise and shine early, beating the heat when light winds and cloud cover team up for nice fishing conditions in the first half of the day.

Each year the crappie stage in these midrange structures before moving out to deeper water once the real summer doldrums arrive. For several weeks the fishing is great as the crappie are staying put and really holding next to cover where anglers can depend on their whereabouts.  

It’s not unusual to catch and release a lot of fish as there is often a mixture of year classes using the same spots but there are ample numbers exceeding the 10-inch minimum length limit. And these summer crappie have an attitude and an appetite.

Popular jig colors as of late have ranged from black/chartreuse to pink/chartreuse, white/blue with sparkles, black/red and motor oil with glitter just to name a few. Don’t let this good crappie time pass you by.

As to bass action some nice stringers are being caught on a regular basis by anglers working main lake ledges. There has been a little current in the Tennessee River and that has helped ledge fishing.  

Working big crankbaits has been paying off as have Texas and Carolina rigged worms and craws. Some guys are hopping jig and craw combos too. Winning tournament stringers are weighing in the 20 to 21 pound range lately so good fish are still coming in.  

Popular crankbait choices have been Strike King’s XD series in chartreuse/blue, sexy shad, and gizzard shad colors. Bill Norman, Poe’s, and big Bandits have worked well too.

Ledge fishing should hold up well for the next few weeks as summer patterns will keep some of the bigger fish schooling at times near deep water. The shallow shoreline and island rims are not out of the picture as small schools of pin minnows are now beginning to relate to shallow weeds, blowdowns and other shallow grassbeds and there are always some bass chasing bait in the shallows.

Mayfly hatches began last week and should increase in frequency in the weeks ahead. Bass and bluegill always seem to hold near the trees where flies fall to the lake surface as this natural forage is attractive.

Watch for a few bluegill to hold around islands and bridge piers as the hatches continues. Catfish have been hitting good too as they know the mayfly larva is hatching and providing an instant food source washed by the current.

Some hefty stringers of channel cats were taken this week around the piers at Paris Landing bridge as current has stimulated the bite. Nightcrawlers have been the bait of choice.

Lake levels have stayed around the normal summer pool mark this week. Elevation projected for the weekend at Kentucky Dam will be 359.1. Upstream at New Johnsonville TVA predicts an elevation of 359.2. 

Some heavy thunderstorms pushed through the area earlier this week and dropped a lot of rain in places but no significant changes in lake levels are expected. There is some stained water pushing through on the main Tennessee River but portions of Big Sandy remain clear in the Paris Landing area.The overall fishing scene has been a good one despite higher lake levels and rising temperatures.  

Surface temperatures this week have been in the 80 to 83 degree range. As summer officially begins anglers are starting off the new season with nice catches of crappie, bass, and catfish.

GOOD FISHING CONTINUES. LAKE LEVELS FALLING. EARLY SUMMER PATTERNS UNDERWAY
By Steve McCadams
Updated June 13, 2013

Kentucky Lake's fishing scene has been hot for quite a spell but things really heated up this week as temps climbed into the low 90's at midweek, giving anglers an early dose of summer fishing conditions even though it's still officially spring.  

Fishing has held up well this week despite the heat as some gentle breezes mixed with a few clouds so it hasn't been too bad out there. And, whenever the fish are biting anglers can tolerate most anything.  

Lake levels were some 18 inches to two feet above normal summer pool this week but were falling slowly as TVA attempts to pull the reservoir back down. Heavy rains last week to our north had the Mississippi River high and TVA was unable to discharge much water which caused Kentucky Lake to rise again and swell above normal.  

Elevation climbed to 361 at Kentucky Dam earlier this week (normal summer pool is 359)  but is expected to be 360.5 as the weekend approaches with a gradual drawdown expected for the next several days. Upstream at New Johnsonville elevation will be 360.7 this weekend.  

Water color has been quite clear across most of the reservoir. Surface temperatures this week warmed into the 79 to 83 degree range.  

Early summer fishing patterns are well underway for bass fishermen who are stalking the main lake ledges with big deep diving crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, Carolina rigged craws, and jig and pig combos. There have been some hefty stringers taken this week and most tournaments are requiring 23 to 24 pounds to win. Not bad for a 5-fish limit this time of year.  

With the high lake levels this week there have still been some shallow fish taken too as anglers are tossing spinnerbaits, topwater, and Texas rigged claws and worms around river islands where buck bushes and blowdown trees are holding some bass.  

Small pin minnows or fry are beginning to school around shallow grass and buck bushes offer abundant forage for small bass. As the fry mature watch for some bigger fish to begin feeding off the schools of minnows, especially with current entering the picture and pushing the bait tight to cover around island points next week.  

Current will likely improve the ledge fishing too as bass should school or relate to the down current sides of submerged structure in the days ahead.  

Crappie fishing has been good this week with some coolers full taken back in the bays where the higher lake levels have provided a comfort zone. Submerged stakebeds and brushpiles in depths of 12 to 16 feet have been productive.  

There have been some nice catches taken out on the main lake area too but fish there have been more scattered due to the high water keeping good numbers of crappie back in bays. Watch for those main lake flats and drop-offs to improve next week once lake levels begin  to fall back toward normal summer pool, a scenario that will pull fish out of shallow venues soon.  

Crappie have been hitting jigs tipped with live minnows. And, a lot of fish are hitting jigs tipped with Berkley Power Bait too. Popular colors have ranged from black/red to chartreuse/blue, red/white, and several variations of clear with glitter.  

Anglers can expect the June bite to hold up well for several more weeks but watch for more fish to transition toward summer patterns as surface temps rise.  

Some late bedding bluegill were still hitting this week as anglers found them off the banks and out in 5 to 7 foot depths at times. Not many fish were taken in shoreline cover as was the case a few weeks ago. The bluegill will continue to scatter and move toward deeper areas too as they roam and await some early Mayfly hatches that are fast approaching.  

Catfish continued to surprise crappie anglers and put a real bend in poles this week when they slammed jigs around those midrange stakebeds. A lot of catfish are holding in the 10 to 15 foot depths. A few boats were jug fishing and catching decent numbers while baiting with nightcrawlers.   The overall fishing scene has been a good one despite higher lake levels and rising temperatures.  

(NOTE: I have some dates that have opened up for June 18-20 and 26-27. If interested please call or email ASAP.)

JUNE CRAPPIE ACTION HEATS UP…BASS ON MAIN LAKE LEDGES…LAKE LEVELS RISE SLOWLY br /> By Steve McCadams
Updated June 06, 2013

It’s been a good week for anglers here on Kentucky Lake as crappie and bass anglers are chalking up some nice stringers. After another week of near normal lake levels and decent weather conditions teamed up to make this late spring time frame quite productive.    

Some thunderstorms last weekend and a day or two of windy weather to start the week off didn’t diminish the bite as June continues to hold up to its good fishing reputation. The month has a little bit of spring left in it before the summer season takes over.    

Crappie action has really improved this week with some good numbers showing up in the creel of anglers working midrange depths of 11 to 14 feet. A few fish were also taken on deeper ledges in 17 to 19 feet this week as well.    

June crappie fishing is overlooked and underrated by most anglers. The stable lake levels and weather patterns combine to produce good fishing conditions as crappie will stage for several weeks in the midrange depths before the doldrum days of summer arrive.    

Jigs tipped with Berkley Power Bait have been productive but tipping with a minnow has enticed strikes too. The fish are really relating to structure now that the post-spawn phase has passed and sporting an appetite. Those stakebeds, brushpiles, and submerged stump rows are holding a lot of fish and action should hold well for the next few weeks.   

Popular colors have ranged from red/black to blue/chartreuse with some motor oil with glittler and cotton candy producing too. Don’t let this good June crappie fishing pass you by.    

Bass action has held up with this week too with the bulk of larger fish coming from main lake ledges. Most anglers are tossing big deep diving crankbaits such as Strike King, Bill Norman, Mann’s, Poe’s and various brands of big lip baits.    

Also working on the ledges have been big Texas rigged worms in the 10-inch plus range. Popular colors have been green pumpkin-pepper, black/blue pearl, and Tequila sunrise just to name a few. Carolina rigged craws are always popular too once the ledge bite intensifies. Some boats were tossing Alabama rigs at times, along with jig and craw combos to fool a fish as well.   

Several smaller fish were still coming from shallow buck bushes and some blowdown trees around river islands. Working spinnerbaits and some topwater around the shallow grass and logs has produced at times.   

A few bluegill where still lingering around scattered bedding areas this week and some decent catches were taken in the 3 to 5 foot areas. Some fish have scatterd and left bedding areas this week but there were a few spots where some nice bull bream were making a late spawning attempt and holding on to fanning areas.   

Catfish were hitting pretty good in midrange depths as crappie anglers are encountering them on a regular basis while working those deeper stakebeds and brushpiles in 12 to 15 foot depths. A few scattered boats were jug fishing and doing well while baiting with nightcrawlers and chicken livers.    

Water color has been clear across most of the reservoir this week. Surface temperatures warmed into the 76 to 80 degree range.    

Lake levels have been rising a few inches the last few days due to heavy rains across portions of the TVA valley. And, high water on the Mississippi River has diminished discharge rates at Kentucky Dam the last few days.   

Projections for the weekend indicate the reservoir will be about a foot above summer pool with readings of 360 in the Kentucky Dam area. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels will be a bit higher with a forecast for 360.5.    

Once the reservoir crests anglers can expect some current in the main channel areas next week once TVA is able to increase its discharge rate and lower the reservoir back to normal summer pool.   

STABILITY RETURNS TO KENTUCKY LAKE’S FISHING SCENE
By Steve McCadams
Updated May 30, 2013

Stable lake levels and nice weather coincided this week for anglers at Kentucky Lake and that’s been rare this spring. The Memorial holiday was a good one for recreational boaters, fishermen, campers and practically all lakers as the kickoff to summer got started on the right foot.

Up until this week anglers have encountered a new fishing scene each week as changing lake levels and weird weather patterns kept fishermen off balance. Not so this week as lake stages have stayed around summer pool since last week and it appears things will stay normal for quite a spell.

Surface temperatures warmed up this week courtesy of some southern breezes and have been resting in the 74 to 78 degree range. Water color is relatively clear throughout the upper Big Sandy and West Sandy areas with a slight stain over on the Tennessee River portion.

Lake levels will be 359.1 this weekend at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation is projected to be in the 358.8 range with only minor fluctuation in the forecast. Barring any heavy thunderstorms across the region Kentucky Lake should remain at normal summer pool for several weeks

The overall fishing scene had held up well this week with significant improvement in the crappie department as the fish are in their typical late spring pattern, occupying midrange structure. Popular depths have been 10 to 14 feet as the fish stage out on secondary structure such as brushpiles and manmade stakebeds.

Good stringers were taken this week by anglers vertical fishing jigs tipped with Berkley Power Bait and live minnows around deeper stakebeds and brushpiles. Popular colors range from purple and clear sparkle to red/chartreuse sparkle and black/chartreuse just to name a few.

Now that spawning is over and lake levels have settled down watch for some good crappie action to continue in the weeks ahead. June is a month often overlooked by crappie fishermen but it’s quite productive thanks to stable conditions across the reservoir.

Bluegill and shellcracker were still hitting this week but it appeared the fish were passed their peak bedding activity as most veteran bream fishermen were having to make more stops as the big males were somewhat scattered.

There’s still some good action left for bluegill anglers but expect to encounter more females and smaller fish to enter the picture once prime bedding time passes.

Bass fishermen continue to ride the wave of activity as a lot of fish were taken this week by both shallow and deep water anglers. There’s still a lot of fish relating to shorelines where some submerged grass on the outside rim is attracting fish.

A few river islands with blowdown trees and logs that have washed up due to the erosion of this spring’s high water levels are holding some fish too. Working topwater jerk baits and pitching or flipping Texas rigged craws and worms have worked well in the shallow, visible cover this week.

A few fish were relating to boat docks as the bright sunny days pushed fish to cover and shade at times. An alternate pattern of deep water has emerged this week too at the same time shallow water fishermen were scoring some decent catches.

A lot of fish are beginning to back off the banks and residing on secondary ledges where big deep diving crankbaits, Alabama rigs, Carolina rigged craws, and big Texas rigged worms are the ticket.

The early summer pattern of fishing ledges is alive and well and most of the bigger tournament stringers will start coming from the deeper venues as warmer surface temperatures send the post-spawn fish to drop-offs and irregular humps.

Some boats were tossing swim baits along the deep ledges in attempts to find some bigger schooling fish. There hasn’t been much current the last few days but some generation usually occurs up around midday and that can enhance the ledge bite.

Some submerged milfoil grass is present south toward the New Johnsonville area and some anglers were tossing big spinner baits and ripping Rattle Trap style lures through the scattered patches to find fish.

Catfishermen were out in force lately as the fish were hitting good near rocky banks. Several bank fishermen were landing nice ones as the fish came into spawning territory.

Watch for catfish to slowly back out away from shoreline rocks and cover in favor of midrange depths for the next couple of weeks. The fish will stage in midrange depths until hot weather sends them toward the main river channel. Until then, there should be some good ones caught by crappie anglers and those jug fishermen drifting their multiple presentations over flats where the catfish are roaming

Good weather and stable lake levels should continue to work in favor of fishermen this next week. Things are on track for good early summer fishing scene for bass and crappie anglers.

Steve McCadams "Casting for a Cure"
Kids Fishing Rodeo
14th Annual Event Puts Big Smiles On Small Faces

By Steve McCadams

Calling all youngsters who want to catch fish and win prizes at the same time!   

The 14th Annual Steve McCadams “Casting For A Cure” Kids Fishing Rodeo returns to Carroll Lake on Saturday, June 8th for a fun filled morning where even little fish bring on big smiles.   

Girls and boys ages 15 and under are invited to participate in the FREE event which will benefit the American Cancer Society. Each year McCadams teams up with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the big event is fast approaching.    

More than 3,900 kids from five states have been introduced to the great sport of fishing since the rodeo’s conception.    

Special plaques and bicycles will be awarded to kids catching the most and biggest fish in four separate age brackets. Age brackets will be 5 and under, 6-9, 11-12, and 13-15 years of age.    

“Returning to my hometown and hosting this rodeo is my favorite fishing day each year,” said McCadams, nationally known outdoorsman who lends his name to the event. “Thanks to the help of a TWRA, lots of volunteers and donations, the festivity will build some self-esteem in these future fishermen as they fight fish and cancer at the same time.”    

“With the help of donors who open their hearts and pocketbooks each year we send each youngster home with a prize and fond memory. I know we’ve made a positive impression on these kids over the years and in so doing we helped fight cancer at the same time,” continued McCadams, who grew up fishing Carroll Lake and participated in rodeos there in days gone by.    

Participants are asked to arrive early and check-in at the registration tent where each contestant will receive a bag of goodies. Onsite registration will be from 7-9 a.m. with the actual competition taking place from 9-11 a.m. except for the young age bracket of 5 and under who will just fish for one hour and weigh in at 10 AM.   

Loaner rods will be available courtesy of TWRA so every kid will have a chance to fish. However, kids are encouraged to bring their own bait and tackle. Bait and some terminal tackle will be available for sale onsite. Concessions will be available courtesy of McKenzie Relay For Life teams.    

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about the great sport of fishing while sharing some time with their family and friends,” said McCadams, himself a cancer survivor. “I wanted to do something to help fight this terrible disease that affects so many people. It’s especially sad to see young kids stricken with cancer but with events like these we can give them hope as we work together to find a cure.”    

The event will coincide with National Fishing Week across America. And, June 8th is Free Fishing Day in Tennessee.    

Carroll Lake is located one mile east of McKenzie, TN and five miles west of Huntingdon, on U.S. Highway 22. For additional information log on to www.stevemccadams.com or call 731-642-0360.    

To support the event or perhaps honor someone special send your tax deductible donation to: Steve McCadams “Casting For A Cure” Kids Fishing Rodeo, 655 Anderson Drive, Paris, TN 38242.

FULL MOON SHINES ON BEDDING BLUEGILL. LAKE LEVELS (FINALLY) BACK TO NORMAL
By Steve McCadams
Updated May 23, 2013

For the first time this spring Kentucky Lake is resting at normal summer pool level. Last year the reservoir never reached summer pool during prime spring fishing due to drought conditions and this year it's been higher than a hawk's nest for quite a spell.

The fishing scene has been good this week for those bronze bombers, better known as bull bream, who have been actively bedding for the last three weeks but watch for action to really peak this weekend as another full moon will coincide with the popular Memorial holiday weekend.

Bass have held up well too and numerous success stories continue to come in from anglers tossing a variety of lures in several different patterns. Crappie perked up too as more fish are pulling back to midrange depths and showing an interest to hide around structure now that changing lake stages have quit throwing them off.

Catfish are still hitting good and in the spawning phase as they prowl around bluegill beds and move up toward rocky banks to spawn.

After a few days of thunderstorms and unruly winds, weather conditions have settled down and it appears some good fishing days are in the forecast. When you mix good weather with stable lake levels the combination should produce some good fishing for a wide variety of anglers this next week.

Lake levels are projected to be stable going into the weekend at both Kentucky Dam and upstream in the New Johnsonville sector. TVA predicts a normal supper pool reading of 359 at Kentucky Dam and 359.1 at New Johnsonville.

Surface temperatures have been hanging around the 69 to 72 degree range this week. Water color is clear throughout most of Big Sandy with a slight stain remaining throughout the main Tennessee River and its bays but a good overall color for fishing.

While several species are biting the leader of the pack is none other than the territorial bull bluegill and shellcracker that have really gone on a spring fling this week. The fish are actively fanning beds and spawning is underway as is usually the case in late May when the fish make another blitz during the full moon phase.

Good numbers of hefty size bluegill have been caught this week in 2 to 5 foot depths. Baits of choice have been crickets, wax worms and redworms but some fish are aggressive enough to bite artificial grubs and larva imitations as well.

Shellcracker seemed to reenter the picture this week with a vengeance as more were showing up than last week in the coolers of panfishermen working weedbeds, gravel bars and edges of buck bushes. The fish really moved with the falling water last week and vacated the premises from weeks earlier when high water had inundated shoreline cover.

Most of the bedding is now taking place in traditional zones that are just slightly off the shorelines and on those gravel and mud mixed flats with a little submerged grass mix in too.

Bass action was good this week around the outside edges of buck bushes and weedbeds as falling lake levels pulled fish out of the thick cover. Places that were holding good fish last week are now without water or too shallow.

There is a lot of submerged eel type grass beginning to show up and fish are relating to it quite well. Tossing spinnerbaits, Texas rigged claws and worms, topwater jerk baits and fluke style choices have been productive as have some buzzbaits.

Some of the bigger stringers are coming from secondary sandbars and points where fish are pulling out and staging in a typical post-spawn pattern.Popular choices have been Carolina rigged craws, lizards, and worms along with big deep diving crankbaits and jig and pig combos.

The drop-offs protruding from main shorelines and spawning areas are holding lots of fish in the 7 to 12 foot depths, especially if deeper water is nearby.

With lake levels at summer pool or perhaps rising slightly in the days ahead due to rains upstream, the shallow bite should hold up well for quite some time. It's that time of the year when a lot of fish will stay shallow but backing off the banks for bigger fish is a popular pattern as well.

Crappie improved this week as more fish were showing up in the stakebeds and brushpiles residing in 11 to 14 foot depths. Numbers should really improve in the weeks ahead as more fish leave the shallow shorelines to fall back to their late spring pattern after a long scattered spell. The extended period of high water really had fish roaming but watch for a significant improvement now that conditions are back to normal.

Catfishermen have enjoyed another good week as their favorite fish has really been on the prowl. Good numbers were taken around shallow bushes and weeds this week where the fish were no doubt feeding on bluegill fry and the other critters that feast on their eggs.

Rocky shorelines continue to attract big females that are egg laden and looking for crevices to deposit their bounty. Nightcrawlers have been the best bet lately but chicken livers and shad guts have worked too.

The overall fishing scene has been good this week across Kentucky Lake and next week looks promising thanks to a nice weather forecast and normal lake stages. From bedding bluegill to aggressive bass, seems several different species are in the mood to tangle with anglers as the unofficial kickoff to summer begins.

Here's hoping you find the fish of your choice awaiting your arrival this week. Things look pretty good so don't let anything interfere with your fishing plans. Time, tide and the fish wait on no man!

LAKE LEVELS FALLING…IS KENTUCKY LAKE’S FISHING SCENE HEADED BACK TO NORMAL?
By Steve McCadams
Updated May 16, 2013

Lake levels are falling fast as TVA really pulled the plug this week and anglers are trying to adapt to the rapidly changing reservoir. Anglers are altering their game on a daily basis but some dandy catches continue to roll in for bass, catfish, and bluegill fishermen this week.

 Most of us can’t remember when normal lake stages were part of the fishing picture as it has been a very unusual spring with an extended spell of very high water that has altered fishing patterns for just about every species.

 Rising temperatures and falling lake levels best describe this week’s fishing scene but bedding bluegill and shellcracker have kept panfishermen busy as have a few scattered crappie that began to show some interest too.

Hefty stringers of bass continue to come in with a variety of patterns producing again this week. Catfish are in the spawning mode and testing the tackle of anglers working rocky bluffs and shallow buck bushes.

Surface temperatures this week have been in the 69 to 72 degree range. Expect temps to warm another degree or two this weekend as warm weather is in the forecast.

Water color has been dingy on the Tennessee River and inside many pockets off the main lake as the drastic drawdown has really been pulling water from upstream. In the Big Sandy area the water color is quite clear.

Elevation is changing daily as TVA has been dropping the lake six to 10 inches a day. Projections going into the weekend show an elevation of 361.9 at Kentucky Dam and 361.6 at New Johnsonville. Those readings are down about three feet from earlier in the week.

Anglers can expect a lot of current to continue in the main channel until TVA achieves summer pool status of 359, which could occur by the middle of next week.

How as the rapid drawdown affected the overall fishing scene? Despite the changes taking place anglers have kept up with the bedding bluegill that have backed out of many shoreline buck bushes and trees and chosen to fan beds in open water gravel bars and mudflats near shoreline habitat.

A few more shellcracker were showing up in the creel of anglers this week and there have been a few dandies eclipsing the one-pound mark. Watch for action to hold up well for another week or two as the fish transition back to normal bedding areas now that lake levels are going back down toward normal ranges.

Crickets have been the bait of choice for bluegill with redworms and meal worms working well on shellcracker.

Bass anglers continue to reap dividends from outside buck bushes and willow trees where tossing a blue/chartreuse colored skirt with a gold willow leaf has worked well. Pitching a jig and pig combo, lizard, and Texas rigged worm has worked too.

While the shallow structure has been holding a lot of bass look for the fish to really pull out to the outside cover the next few day as falling lake stages will see fish occupy spots near deeper feeder creeks or on steeper banks where deep water is close by.

Throwing topwater jerk baits has worked lately too has have a few buzzbaits. Those shallow grassbeds are about to return to the menu.

A deeper pattern continues to pay off too as some anglers are finding big deep diving crankbaits working well on secondary ledges, especially those that are near spawning spots where fish have fallen back toward deeper venues in their post-spawn phase.

Other popular choices have been Carolina rigged lizards and worms along with jig and pig combos and Texas rigged worms. Some fish were schooling near island rims and ledges out near the main channel where current was an influencing factor as to their whereabouts.

Crappie showed some signs of improvement this week and should get back to a more structure oriented pattern once lake levels settle down. There were still a few scattered fish lingering around buck bushes this week but watch for those fish to leave most of the stickups and fall back to midrange depth zones of 10 to 14 foot depths in the days ahead.

Although many crappie are still a little stressed from the spawning ritual numbers will improve quickly as they begin to congregate around deep structure such as brushpiles and stakebeds by early next week.

Catfish have been biting good this week, especially for those anglers working rocky bluffs or rip-rap banks. The fish are searching for those submerged crevices to broadcast their eggs and some big females are territorial right now and wiling to test your tackle should you enter the danger zone with night crawlers, chicken livers or various commercial concoctions.

All anglers have had to endure another week of changing conditions as high winds a few days added insult to injury but it appears Kentucky Lake is headed back to normal elevation. While some anglers have been intimidated by all the high water these last few weeks others have solved the puzzle and managed to pattern the bass, bluegill and catfish on a pretty consistent basis.

It will be nice to see the lake with a normal face for a change once stability returns. Hang in there for a few more days as things are rapidly improving.

BLUEGILL, BASS, CATFISH ACTION HOLDS UP DESPITE HIGH LAKE LEVELS…RAPID DRAWDOWN LIKELY BY NEXT WEEK
By Steve McCadams
Updated May 09, 2013

Despite the duration of high lake levels Kentucky Lake anglers have adapted well to abnormal conditions this week and landed some hefty stringers of bass, bluegill and catfish.

The spring saga continues, however, as fluctuation in lake stages continues to challenge fishermen yearning for the return of normalcy. Since last week TVA’s attempt to draw the reservoir back down toward normal summer pool elevation hit a speed bump when heavy rains drenched the region for the second time in two weeks.

Lake levels were falling pretty fast late last week but the influx of water from upstream has seen the reservoir actually rise a few inches since midweek. Projections going into the weekend show quite a wall of water coming down the Tennessee River as Kentucky Dam will have a reading of 363.1 while upstream at New Johnsonville elevation will be some 18 inches higher at 364.6.

TVA will continue to revise its projection of lake levels on a daily basis but watch for a rapid drawdown to occur soon.

There is a lot of current in the main channel as TVA continues to flush a large volume of water from Pickwick Dam through Kentucky Dam in the days ahead. Water color is actually pretty good across the reservoir and quite clear back in the bigger bays.

Surface temperature the last few days was rising slowly after some sunshine brought it up into the 67 to 71 degree range.

Bass action has held up well despite the crazy see-saw changes in lake levels with a variety of patterns paying dividends. Last week when falling lake levels took over fish were pulling out and occupying the parameters of buck bush shorelines, roadbeds, and secondary drop-offs.

The post-spawn pattern was clearly underway as fish began to move toward some ledges near spawning territory and keen anglers picked up on it by working Carolina rigged craws, jig and pig combos and tossing some big deep diving crankbaits.

Some drop-offs on the main lake but near primary spawning areas were holding good numbers of bass that were staging on points and submerged humps where current was pushing baitfish their direction. Backing off the banks is tough to do when visible, flooded habitat looks fishy but some schools of post-spawn fish were doing just that this week and that pattern will likely improve in the days ahead.

At the same time anglers were flipping and pitching jig and pig combos, Texas rigged craws and lizards, and slow rolling big gold willow leaf spinnerbaits around buck bushes and finding fish too. With high lake levels come abundant shorelines full of structure yet many boaters were backing off and attempting to work the original shorelines that harbored an abundance of submerged grassbeds and buck brush.

By midweek a slight rise in lake levels saw the shallow bite improve as it appears a few fish returned to visible stickups where even some topwater baits were working.

Right now both the shallow water styles and some deep water ledges are producing. Some of the shallow fish will fall back near deeper areas next week once a rapid decent in lake elevation begins.

Bluegill action has held up well this week as some hefty stringers have been taken around buck bushes and deeper gravel flats and points. The bluegill have been a bit deeper than normal due to the high lake levels and that has confused some anglers who experienced difficulty in finding good numbers near traditional bedding areas.

No doubt the fish have been thrown off a bit too as they’ve been moving around and not really fanning spawning beds in their usual manner. Still, big numbers have been taken by anglers tossing crickets and wax worms beneath slip bobbers in 5 to 7 foot depths.

The number of shellcracker taken this past week diminished for most anglers who have been somewhat mystified by the hide-and-seek game being played out by these magnificent panfish. Last week some good ones were showing up from buck bush venues but this week the fish vanished and dodged hooks even when bluegill were biting.

Catfish are still on the prowl and hitting good. More fish moved up to rocky banks this week as they enter active spawning phases. Some good ones are still surprising bluegill fishermen at times and really testing the tackle as they move up into buckbush shoreline areas during these high water periods.

Watch for good fishing to hold up around the rock bluffs for another week to ten days if not longer.

Crappie fishermen have struggled again this week, falling victim to several hurdles in the form of high water that coincided with the post-spawn phase. Some scattered crappie have been taken lately around shoreline cover and submerged buck bushes but the fish are there only because of the high water as most have spawned.

It has been difficult to put a successful pattern together as the crappie are roaming and not relating too good to deep structure out in the main lake or midrange stakebeds and brushpiles. Activity will likely improve once normal lake levels return but until that happens crappie anglers will continue to endure what has been an unstable spring in more ways than one.

While some anglers are faring well, most would like to see the reservoir back to normal elevation with fish returning to their usual locales. Hopefully floods are in the rearview mirror and better days are fast approaching.

LAKE LEVEL RECEDING…WEEK OF HIGH WATER CATCHES ANGLERS OFF GUARD
By Steve McCadams
Updated May 02, 2013

Kentucky Lake went on a rampage earlier this week after two days of heavy rains saturated the region, sending lake levels some five feet above normal. The drastic change happened in a short time too, catching anglers off guard as normal fishing patterns were completely off the radar screen.

Things have happened quickly this week in the fishing world as bass and crappie anglers were scrambling in hopes of finding scattered fish that were roaming with the rapidly rising lake stages. Things were pretty tough for all anglers while the lake was coming up as floating debris added another challenge to boaters.

Good news arrived Wednesday, however, as the reservoir crested and is now falling fast. TVA will attempt to pull the reservoir back to its normal summer pool elevation of 359 but that will take a few days.

And how have anglers fared in this roller coaster ride? Most fishermen were victims of the rapid change earlier this week but were adapting better as the lake crested and began to recede. Although crappie anglers are still struggling in the post-spawn phase, bluegill and shellcracker action has really heated up, along with some hefty stringers of catfish and bass being caught.

Surface temperatures this week responded to some pretty weather in the aftermath of last weekend’s thunderstorms and rose to into the 66 to 72 degree range. That warm up really stimulated the bluegill and redear bite as these fish were a bit behind on their bedding attempts due to a cool, messy April.

Water color is in good shape out on the main lake areas but some larger bays had muddy to dingy water lingering after last weekend’s thunderstorms sent runoff into the reservoir. Some areas had chocolate milk colored water in the upper ends of bays for a few days but that has improved.

Lake levels crested around 363.7 at Kentucky Dam on Wednesday but were a bit higher in the New Johnsonville area where the elevation rose to 364. Normal summer pool is 359.

Projections going into the weekend show a decline of at least a foot at Kentucky Dam where an elevation of 362.7 is forecast. However, TVA is revising its forecast on a daily basis and increasing its discharge. Anglers can expect a lot of current in the main river for the next several days. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation will be 364 as water is still rolling through the system.

Bass anglers were learning the whereabouts of high water fish and stalking the abundant habitat such as willow trees, buck bushes, and shallow grassbeds. Fish have moved up fast into the shallow structure as an abundance of baitfish moved up with the high water too.

Tossing spinnerbaits has been a popular choice as anglers tried to cover a lot of water. Pitching and flipping lizards, worms, craws, and jig and pig combos has been popular too.

Some bass were holding in buck bushes and suspending in the middle as water depth around some of the original shoreline was more than five feet deep. Although stained water was present in some bays, others were quite clear and anglers were tossing some topwater jerk baits and buzzbaits.

With falling water now entering the picture bass should pull to the outside cover and that should help anglers formulate a better pattern. Some river islands have been holding bass too so playing the current will be a factor.

A lot of bass have already spawned. No doubt the bass were thrown off too by the recent changes in weather and water levels but things are improving fast.

Bluegill and redear sunfish, referred to locally as shellcracker, were biting good at midweek but anglers had to change their approach. Normal bedding areas were unproductive as the high water caused fish to move up behind the original shoreline where bushes and trees recently inundated were more appealing to the powerful panfish.

Some dandy catches were coming in as a few anglers adapted and learned to fish right down in the submerged structure. As lake levels recede watch for the fish to slowly transition back toward normal bedding areas by early next week.

Catfish have been on the prowl as the rising water really brought fish to the upper ends of bays and toward shallow shorelines. Anglers are tying into some dandies while fishing near feeder creeks. Several bass and bluegill fishermen have battled some big catfish this week as they got a surprise when ole’ whiskers grabbed their hook.

Spawning time is here for catfish and they sprinted toward shallow areas this week. Watch for those rocky banks to hold fish the next week or two.

Crappie anglers normally see action subside once the post-spawn phase arrives and the late April and early May time frame can be challenging even in normal years. Add drastic weather changes and a flood to the fishing scene and it teams up for trouble and crappie fishermen got a big dose of that this week.

Fish have been extremely scattered lately and not relating to structure. Catch rates dropped off drastically as stakebeds and brushpiles became less appealing for vertical fishermen dunking jigs and minnows. However, boaters trolling with both long lines and spider rigs were also struggling to put a pattern together.

Some crappie moved back into shoreline buck bushes once high waters arrived but even there fish were scattered.

Action will likely improve as the reservoir falls back to summer pool and fish get back on a more structure oriented patter but until then crappie fishermen are likely to have tough sledding. After a spring like this one many crappie anglers are learning to give more consideration to the late May and June period when stable weather and lake levels are the norm.

The nice fall months of September and October are often overlooked and underrated by crappie anglers who have the “spring only” mentality. After all the unruly weather and lake levels this year those other months are sure begging for respect.

As the big pond slowly recedes anglers will wake up to a new lake each day until TVA gets it back down to summer pool. Adapting to the rapid change isn’t always easy but for those anglers willing take a different approach and capitalize on the movements of fish in transition the time can be quite productive.

LAKE LEVELS, WIND AND WEATHER KEEP ANGLERS OFF BALANCE
By Steve McCadams
Updated April 25, 2013

Changing lake levels mixed with unstable weather for another unusual week of fishing conditions for Kentucky Lake anglers. Despite the roller coaster ride anglers have landed some pretty good stringers of spawning crappie as bass are on the threshold of moving up and fanning their beds in shallow grass and bushes.     

I know it sounds like a broken record but the spring saga continues; usually late April offers some stability in weather patterns but that has not been the case this year as fishermen battled gale force winds this week and drastic changes in temperatures. It appears a nice warming trend will arrive late this weekend as temps are forecast to reach the mid to upper 70’s by Monday, bringing a welcomed change to the fishing scene.    

Crappie were biting good this week for a few anglers working stakebeds and brushpiles in depths of 5 to 13 feet with vertical methods but also productive were the long-line presentations by boaters trolling and drifting Road Runner style jigs over midrange depths.    

At times crappie moved up to structure and were spawning but there are already a few fish in the post-spawn phases that were out over deep water and somewhat suspended. Boats trolling and drifting jigs and minnows were picking up few fish using these techniques.    

A few scattered reports came in from anglers casting curly tail grubs and jigs under slip-bobbers around shallow structure but that technique has been hit and miss.    

Dark male crappie were sporting their handsome purple colors in full force and occupied shallow structure in the 4 to 10 foot zones. A few pale white females were taken in shallow areas too but most appeared to favor deeper water as they began moving out after spawning.    

The cool snaps have played havoc with the peak spawning phases the last two weeks. There have been some good days but it has been difficult for anglers to establish a consistent pattern of depth and location. Given the variables of changing lake levels and weather it comes as no surprise.    

Surface temperatures this week actually lost ground a few days when bone chilling northwest winds chased away the warm spell. The water last week was hovering around the 66 to 70 degree range in some places but fell back to 62 to 65 at midweek.    

Lake levels have jumped around too. After falling several inches last week the reservoir began rising again at midweek and is expected to be in the 360 range at Kentucky Dam by Sunday. That reading is a foot above the normal summer pool mark of 359. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation will be in the 359.8 range by this weekend.    

Just how high the lake levels will go is on the minds of anglers who have been watching the flooding scenario to our north along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. TVA has not been able to discharge large volumes of water this week and that has contributed to rising lake stages here.    

As to the status of the crappie spawn it appears most of the fish have done their thing and are now in the post-spawn phase. Most of the females are thin but usually Mother Nature spreads out the spawn over the period of a few weeks.    

In normal springs seasons crappie stair-step their way toward shallow venues as waters warm with a peak period of 5 to 7 days sandwiched in there somewhere. This year it has been difficult to track as fish were thrown off several times when cold fronts coincided with changing lake levels to alter the normal transition.    

Bluegill and redear sunfish, referred to locally as shellcracker, have been victims of the cold conditions too as last year at this time early bedding phases were well underway. Cooler surface temps have delayed bedding action but a full moon this weekend will see action improve.    

With next week’s warm-up watch for action to really heat up in the bluegill and shellcracker department. Water levels are up some two feet from last year at this time so traditional bedding areas should be productive whereas last year anglers were thrown off guard when the panfish bedded in deeper water.    

Bass were already moving up to bedding areas this week as a few big females have been seen fanning in shallow grassbeds and around buck bushes. Those yellow flowers in the backwater pockets of bays are holding a lot of fish and are quite appealing to the big sows now moving up to spawn.    

Rising lake levels will see ample water back around buck bushes and willow trees next week so tossing Texas rigged lizards and floating fluke style worms will be popular choices as will some spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. Topwater action should see a dramtic increase in popularity too as water will likely reach the upper 60’s and low 70’s by early next week, triggering more aggressive behavior from those buck bass protecting their zones.    

Flipping and pitching jig and pig combos, craws and such should work well too. Once lake levels exceed summer pool most of the good shoreline cover is inundated with plenty of water for bedding bass.    

Hopefully some stable weather will linger next week and improve fishing conditions. Lake levels will continue to change depending on the crest of the Mississippi River so that is another variable remaining for fishermen.    

While it hasn’t been too bad for bass and crappie anglers this week most are wondering when normalcy will return. Enough of dogwood winter; it’s high time spring stayed around for more than just a casual visit.

CRAPPIE SPAWN UNDERWAY…UNSTABLE SPRING CONDITIONS CONTINUE
By Steve McCadams
Updated April 18, 2013

Kentucky Lake crappie action really improved this week as warm weather stimulated spawning activity and anglers landed some hefty stringers. The last five to seven days have been the most productive this spring for most anglers as fish really made a blitz toward shallow spawning territory.    

It has been another unusual week, however, as anglers have had to negotiate drastic changes in lake levels, a scenario that had fish scattered at times. Stability has not been an ingredient in this spring’s fishing recipe.    

Despite the see-saw lake stages this week crappie anglers have done well with a variety of patterns and locations paying dividends. From shoreline buck bushes to midrange structure, anglers have caught fish using several techniques that ranged from long-line trolling to vertical presentations around manmade fish attractors. Some anglers scored while casting jigs toward shallow shorelines too.    

Lake levels jumped some two feet above summer pool earlier this week, which was about four feet above normal for mid-April elevation. That inundated shoreline habitat and crappie were on the move toward shallow cover as surface temps were warming rapidly.    

In the upper end of Big Sandy and West Sandy there was some dingy water in places that proved to be attractive for buck bush fishermen who had not enjoyed their favorite style in quite some time. The honeymoon proved to be short as TVA quickly began a drawdown that pulled water out of a lot of shoreline structure by midweek.    

Fish have really been on the move and somewhat confused by the fluctuation but were in active spawning mode at midweek around shallow structure in the 4 to 7 foot depths. Big male crappie were aggressive and territorial when a jig or minnow entered his restricted zone.    

Of concern to crappie anglers at present is the approach of yet another uninvited cold front slated to arrive as this report was being updated. Forecasts indicate cooler conditions as the weekend approaches in the aftermath of nasty, windy weather on Thursday.    

That is not what bass and crappie anglers wanted to hear as water levels were finally beginning to settle down and surface temps had climbed all week. It’s likely the approaching cold front will slow things down for a day or two, bringing a temporary hiatus to what had been a pretty productive week.    

A quick rebound is likely as the weatherman indicates warm weather will return soon. Temps are expected to return to the mid 70’s by Monday but only reach the upper 50’s and low 60’s Friday and Saturday as the front rolls in.    

Lake levels going into the weekend will be 358.9 at both Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville according to TVA projections. The reservoir is still about a foot above TVA’s normal curve for the third week of April as normal summer pool (359) is projected each year by or around May 1.    

Surface temps this week really jumped as warm sunny days pulled the water up into the 64 to 66 degree range at midweek. Crappie will initiate active spawning phases in the 62 to 66 degree range so the alarm sounded this week for the annual ritual.    

Action may diminish for a few days due to the cold front but watch for a rapid rebound by early next week. Anglers should have a few more active days of spawning fish in shallow areas next week before some fish enter post-spawn phases.    

With all the change taking place this week it seems anglers have caught crappie on everything from jigs cast under slip bobbers around shallow shorelines to the top sides of ledges out on the main lake using bottom bumping rigs. Water color was clear in the Paris Landing area as falling lake levels pulled most of the dingy water out of bays and off flats.    

It’s like some crappie will return to midrange structure early next week and likely spawn in some 6 to 12 foot zones if clear conditions remain. The clear water allows sunlight to penetrate the deeper depths and make deeper structure appealing.    

Bass anglers were chasing their prey too this week as the rapid rise really scattered fish. Shoreline buck bushes and grassbeds that were too shallow last week were suddenly flooded and appealing to roaming fish.    

A lot of smaller buck bass really sprinted into the yellow flowers and grassbeds in small pockets within the larger bays where water was warming rapidly. Some windy areas had stained water and that appealed to anglers tossing sprinnerbaits or flipping craws and jigs around buck bushes.    

Other patterns working well were Texas rigged worms and lizards, along with shallow running crankbaits. And, some topwater buzzbaits and jerk baits entered the equation too this week.    

There were a few boats still tossing Carolina rigged craws, Alabama rigs, and deep diving crankbaits off gravel points and clay banks in hopes of finding some fish staging there before moving up to spawn in the days ahead.    

As the reservoir returns to near summer pool elevation fish should relate well to the outside structure on shorelines. Any stickups with a little water on them out away from shallow banks should appeal to bass in the days ahead.    

It has been another weird week of weather and lake levels for Kentucky Lake bass and crappie fishermen but the warmer weather did improve things. If anglers can weather another annoying cold spell things should improve by early next week.    

Until then, swap the sunscreen for overcoats and ride it out best you can. A crazy spring continues!

RISING LAKE BRINGS BASS TO BANKS AS CRAPPIE SPAWN BEGINS
By Steve McCadams
Updated April 11, 2013

Bass are heading to the banks as Kentucky Lake’s elevation approaches summer pool and the annual crappie spawn begins.       

The early phases of the crappie spawn will begin within the next few days as their preferred surface temperature range of 62 to 66 degrees will likely arrive early next week. Spawning phases this year are about two weeks behind last year’s biological clock as another annoying cold front was in progress as this report was being updated.    

Lake levels have been rising all week and are lapping at the door of 359, which is the official summer pool level that isn’t supposed to be reached until the first of May. Just why TVA has allowed the reservoir to rise so dramatically is somewhat of a mystery to most anglers who fear the agency will pull the plug soon, a situation that could have a negative impact on spawning crappie and bass that head toward shallow venues.    

Elevation going into the weekend will be 358.7 at Kentucky Dam and 358.6 at New Johnsonville. However, heavy rains were in progress Wednesday night and Thursday morning across the region and that could send lake levels even higher by early next week.    

Anglers are concerned that allowing lake levels to rise ahead of schedule will cause TVA to pull the elevation back down to its curve in the days ahead in order to create storage capacity. The lake is about 3 ½ feet above normal for this time of year.      

Surface temperatures really warmed this week in response to mild nights and daytime temps that reached the upper 70’s. Readings the last few days have been climbing into the 57 to 59 degree range out on the main lake while secondary bays were a bit warmer with 60 degree plus water in places.    

The cold front will likely put the brakes on the rapid warm-up for a day or two but temps are expected to rebound on Sunday into the low 70’s. Next week’s forecast will have several days in the upper 70’s so surface temps will jump quickly and trigger the spawning phases of crappie that have been somewhat confused by the crazy weather and fluctuation of lake levels.    

Water color cleared across the reservoir this week as rising lake levels pushed most of the stain back. Anglers can expect some dingy water to return in shallow areas this weekend in the aftermath of high winds and runoff from heavy rains.    

Crappie improved this week in response to warmer surface temps and increased numbers were caught in stakebeds and brushpiles in depth of 7 to 14 feet as the fish were on the move. Several fish have now moved into 5 to 8 foot depth ranges and will continue to move up as rising lake levels and higher surface temps will send them to spawning territory.     

The cold front will bring a short hiatus to the blitz that began earlier in the week. The timing of the front is unfortunate as fish were on the threshold of spawning had the warm spell continued.    

With the unusual lake levels now inundating shoreline habitat it’s quite possible some shoreline buck bushes could appeal to spawning crappie by early next week. There are a lot of anglers who hope that happens as fishing the stickups has been a passion here for many years. Under normal conditions crappie usually spawn before water levels ever reach shoreline structure but the stage is set for fish to dart toward shallows next week.    

Fish had a mood swing this week and began moving toward structure. Spots that were too shallow last week and void of fish were producing decent numbers at midweek. With the rapid rise has come a lot of debris floating around out there so boaters need to be cautious.    

Vertical presentations of jigs and minnows around the submerged structure were paying dividends whereas last week most of the fish were being caught by boats slow trolling and long-lining techniques when fish were suspended out over deep water.    

Some nice stringers were taken the last few days in West Sandy and the upper Big Sandy basin. Also producing were the flats around the power lines in Big Sandy as fish staged in midrange depths in preparation for their desired spawning temp range.    

Male crappie showed a significant darkening this week as hormonal changes were underway, another sign spawning time is at hand.    

Things will happen fast next week as the warm sunny days will stimulate fish to move toward shallow shorelines and midrange cover where casting jigs, drifting over flats, slow spider rig and long-line techniques will produce as will vertical presentations.    

Bass are roaming and moving up fast into shallow pockets and shorelines where those abundant yellow flowers are now holding enough water to attract fish. Areas that were high and dry last week are now holding bass.    

Shallow grass and some buck bushes will begin producing this week as will some shallow roadbeds and gravel points. Tossing shallow running crankbaits will be a popular choice as will spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms and assorted floating worms now that topwater enters the picture.    

The bass are moving up in a typical prespawn phase and some big sows will likely be caught using various topwater selections. Backing off and tossing Rattle Traps and similar lures will work too on those gravel points where fish may stage before moving up into those shallow pockets where higher surface temps will be attractive.    

Bass fishermen may have to apply an early May pattern in their approach this next week even though it’s only mid-April.    

To say it has been an unusual spring would be an understatement. Weather patterns and lake levels have been anything but normal but once the cold front passes and winds switch back to a southerly direction expect a rapid rebound.

CRAPPIE SPAWN LOOMING…SUNNY DAYS ADVANCE TIMETABLE
By Steve McCadams
Updated April 04, 2013

Warm sunny days are in the forecast and anglers better get ready. A long stretch of dismal weather is about to lose its grip and the biological clock will begin ticking fast the next week to ten days here on Kentucky Lake.

Crappie anglers are anxiously awaiting the warm-up that is long overdue. It appears nice weather will arrive this weekend with the extended forecast showing temperatures climbing into the 70’s on Saturday and hanging around for several consecutive days.

Last week’s forecast never materialized as cold, dreary days chased away a brief warming trend, leaving anglers shivering in their shoes. It was yet another week of nasty weather with annoying northeast winds that continued to push the early phases of crappie spawning back.

Added to the cold and windy weather was a somewhat surprising jump in lake levels that further scattered fish this week. Kentucky Lake’s elevation was at 357.2 at midweek, which is almost three feet above the norm for the first few days of April.

Lake levels were forecast to be in the 357.2 range this weekend but TVA will likely begin pulling water soon and draw the lake back down to its normal curve. That depends on rainfall this week. Water color has been good for fishing with a slight stain across much of the reservoir.

Surface temperatures started the week out around 50 degrees but have been sluggish to warm as cold weather just hasn’t let go. At midweek surface temps were edging up to 52 but falling back down at night. Tuesday afternoon skies over me turned to sleet as it was a far cry from spring weather but that’s how things have been for several weeks running.

Watch for a dramatic increase in surface temps this weekend and early next week as the warm sunny days will really trigger movement from crappie once the water warms into the mid to upper 50’s.

While most crappie fishermen have struggled to put consistent patterns together lately, a few decent stringers have been taken by boats using long-line and spider rigging techniques.

It’s not surprising that crappie have been riding out the cold weather and below average surface temps by suspending out over deeper water. Most of the fish have been reluctant to move toward structure, opting for a suspended staging pattern as they wait on warmer conditions to trigger their spawning phases.

The lion’s share of fish last week and this week came from 14 to 17 foot depths as they suspended out over deeper water or near the edge of the old river channels and sloughs. Popular producers were curly tail grubs, Road Runner style jigs, and some tube skirts and minnow tubes pulled slowly through the suspending fish.

Other styles of presentations such as vertical jigging around stakebeds and brushpiles or bottom-bouncing minnow rigs along deep drop-offs were less productive. Normally those patterns are producing this time of year but March and early April have been anything but normal this time around.

Other signs of a late spring spawn have been the lack of dark male crappie showing up in the creel of anglers. The males begin to darken due to hormonal changes as spawning time approaches but that has been slow in coming due to the cold weather.

That will change this week as the fish make a blitz toward cover as they prepare for spawning. Crappie prefer a surface temperature range of 62 to 66 with some stability in weather as cold fronts can alter the early phases of the annual ritual.

Anglers should see significant improvement this weekend and throughout next week as the extended forecast of warm weather will really put fish on the move. Odds are the mood of the fish and the fishermen will improve with each passing day.

Peak spawning phases are shaping up to happen by the end of next week and linger on past mid-April.

From the bass department comes another week of decent stringers taken by anglers braving the cold, windy weather. Hefty stringers were taken in tournaments again this week as anglers adapted to the rising lake levels and dingy water from rain and runoff.

Successful patterns have ranged from tossing Alabama rigs over deep ledges to crankbaits, jig and pig combos, and Carolina rigged craws on sloping gravel points. Cold surface temps have kept some of the bigger out away from shorelines but watch for a lot of fish to move up in the next few days as shallow water will warm fast.

Shallow gravel banks and points should begin holding fish as will roadbeds and rip-rap rock levees. Tossing some suspending jerk baits will remain appealing as will spinnerbaits rolled slowly once the water warms.

Both bass and crappie will make their transitions from winter to spring venues this next week. The fish have been slow to move up this year but the extended spell of cold weather kept surface temps colder than normal and schools of baitfish have stayed deep.

Soon the gray hillsides of Kentucky Lake will parade colors of budding treetops. The calendar said spring arrived two weeks ago but the trees and the fish have shown otherwise. It appears the time is at hand to shed the overcoats and put on the sunscreen. Some of us were wondering if it would ever get here!

OVERDUE WARM SPELL IMPROVES KENTUCKY LAKE FISHING SCENE
By Steve McCadams
Updated March 28, 2013

(I have two dates that have opened up on April 1st  and April 3rd (Monday and Wednesday). Please contact me at stevemc@charter.net if interested. Thanks. Steve)      

Would spring weather ever arrive and chase away the chill? That’s a question anglers have been asking for quite some time here on Kentucky Lake and it appears spring has finally sprung.    

Warmer weather arrived the last few days but not before bone chilling winds and some snow earlier this week added insult to injury. Things are rebounding quickly and the fishing scene is changing for the better as bass and crappie action is improving.      

Anglers can expect significant movement to take place this weekend and throughout next week as crappie begin moving toward midrange depths in preparation for spawning. Same goes for bass that will now occupy more shallow gravel banks and rocky points in their transition from winter to early spring patterns.    

Crappie action picked up the last few days as overdue sunshine began to have a positive effect. The fish have lingered in deep water across most of the lake for the last week or two due to cold surface temperatures. I found a few hefty slabs in 20 foot depths earlier this week but they were scattered and bites were finicky.    

A spot check of a few midrange stakebeds was unproductive earlier in the week but was already showing signs of improvement after a day of sunshine and rising surface temps.    

The warm-up now underway had pulled the surface temps up from 47 degrees at the beginning of the week to 51 on Wednesday. By this weekend anglers could see readings in the mid 50’s, a threshold that will send more fish to midrange depths as they enter prespawn phases.    

Watch for a lot of crappie to move into the 9 to 13 foot zone the next few days across much of the reservoir. In some bays and flats up Big Sandy and elsewhere south along the Tennessee River where dingy water is found anglers are already taking fish in 4 to 8 foot zones.    

That’s not to say several fish are not lingering along main lake ledges as several boats were slow trolling, drifting, and dragging long lines of jigs this week and finding some suspended crappie out there. Fish were relating to 18 to 22 foot depths earlier in the week but moving up daily as warmer weather influenced their urge to move toward prespawn staging areas.    

Spawning for crappie usually takes place once surface temperatures reach the 62 to 66 degree range with some stability. It appears that’s still at least a week to ten days away as male crappie have yet to show hormonal changes of their darkening color phases once spawning time approaches.    

Crappie fishermen should see a dramatic improvement the next few days and weeks. The biological clock has been pushed back this year due to the mean March weather but once the games begin fish hit the fast forward button!    

Lake levels this week began near the low ebb of winter pool but have risen daily since Tuesday. TVA begins its annual start to summer pool on April 1 each year so that will kick in on Monday. Barring heavy rains or the return of last year’s drought conditions Kentucky Lake will reach the summer pool elevation of 359 on or around May 1st.    

Projections going into the weekend will be 355.6 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville Steam Plant lake levels will be in the 355.9 range. Water color has a slight stain but has cleared since last week in many areas.    

From the bass arena comes continued success stories by anglers tossing shad and crawfish variations of crankbaits, along with the Alabama rig. Although stringers the last week or so have not been as hefty as two to three weeks ago they are still impressive.    

Most tournament wins the last week or so have required a 4-pound average, which is amazing but not as eye opening as the 5 pound plus average in several events the previous two to three weeks. No doubt the below average temperatures and high winds lately have curtailed activity.    

With warmer surface temps entering the picture watch for some good fish to occupy shallow gravel banks, roadbeds, and mudflats near deep water. Tossing Rattle-Trap style lures, suspending jerk baits, jig and pig combos, and Alabama rigs should continue to pay dividends as the deep water patterns lose their grip once fish move up.    

Carolina rigged craws and Texas rigged craws will begin producing too as the spring pattern takes hold.    

Both bass and crappie anglers are ready to shut the door on a cold and dreary month. March was a mean one. Let’s hope April acts better as it’s time to get this spring gig going.

SPRING FISHING OFF TO STUBBORN START
By Steve McCadams
Updated March 21, 2013

Kentucky Lake anglers have had to battle a rash of cold temperatures and annoying winds this week. Spring slipped in the door on Wednesday but winter weather has been reluctant to loosen its grip. Apparently the weatherman didn’t get the memo.

Below average temperatures and bone chilling northwest winds teamed up for a stubborn start to the spring fishing scene. Despite challenging conditions some pretty decent stringers of crappie have been caught and stories of big bass catches continue to come in.

Surface temperatures did climb slightly last weekend and have hovered around the 50 to 52 degree range but will likely fall back some as the weekend approaches due to the arrival of another uninvited cold front.

Lake levels are pretty close to normal for this time of year and rose a few inches in the aftermath of some thunderstorms Monday. Elevation at Kentucky Dam will be in the 355.5 range this weekend. Upstream at New Johnsonville the reservoir is a bit higher with readings in the 356 range.

Water color is showing some stain throughout the Paris Landing sector but still good for fishing. Up Big Sandy muddy water was entering the picture at midweek as a lot of runoff from Monday’s thunderstorms was influencing that area and portions of West Sandy.

Crappie catches have been reported this week by anglers working the main lake drop-offs in the Paris Landing area where deep depths have been holding some fish due to cold surface temperatures. Some nice fish have been taken in depths of 20 to 25 feet and a few even deeper at times.

Fish should begin to move up in the days ahead and occupy the top sides of the ledges or relate closer to the shelf itself. No doubt the cool conditions have kept schools of shad riding it out in deeper venues and the crappie have been following their forage.

Last week’s Crappie USA tournament’s winning stringer (weighing 14.94 pounds) was taken up Big Sandy near Country Junction by anglers long lining jigs where suspended crappie where hanging out in midrange depths. The hefty stringer had seven fish that averaged over two pounds each with the big fish tipping the scales at 2.63 pounds!

Other patterns such as drifting and spider rigging with multip-pole presentations have been fair producers as they worked the deeper river channels near the power lines and in West Sandy. Generally speaking, crappie have been scattered but given the nasty weather that isn’t too unusual as most anglers have been at the mercy of the wind.

A few fish have been taken from midrange stakebeds and brushpiles in depths of 8 to 13 feet but fish there have been few and far in-between. Vertical presentations of 1/16 to 1/8-ounce jigs have produced a few when tipped with minnows or Berkley crappie nibbles but the best action there is yet to come. Productivity in the shallow to midrange structure will change quickly next week if warm weather arrives and sends surface temps into the mid 50’s.

Baits of choice for a lot of the deeper patterns have been live minnows. Jigs have worked too with a few popular color combos getting attention such as blue/chartreuse, red/chartreuse, dark green/chartreuse, purple/clear and some mixed glitter tube skirts.

Crappie are still in their prespawn phase and are behind where they were last year at this time as to their transition routes. While a few fish will begin entering bays and migrating toward shallow flats look for them to ride out the cool weather in deeper venues until a warm up occurs.

Hefty stringers of bass continue to be caught by anglers tossing Alabama rigs, suspending jerk baits, and crawfish and shad colored crankbaits.

While a few fish have been taken by anglers working those rocky points and gravel banks with crankbaits and suspending jerk baits, most of the bigger stringers are coming from off shore humps or feeder creeks that empty into deeper water at the mouth of large bays.

Schools of bass have been staging in the deeper areas for several weeks and relating close to baitfish schools in the same spots. While a few fish have been taken on Rattle Traps most of the credit has gone to big deep diving crankbaits, suspending jerk baits and the popular Alabama style rig.

Most tournament wins have required stringers to have an average weight over four pounds and several have been in excess of five pounds. And, several big largemouth have been caught that in the 7 to 8 pound range lately too.

Those deeper patterns will hold up another week or so until warm weather sends bass toward shallow gravel banks, roadbeds, and mudflats in the backs of creeks.

FISHING SCENE HEATS UP AS SPRING KNOCKS ON DOOR
By Steve McCadams
Updated March 7, 2013

It’s time to say goodbye to winter fishing weather and that will officially take place next Wednesday once the seasons change.

Both bass and crappie anglers are ready for spring to take over and hold on. The Kentucky Lake fishing scene had a couple days of spring weather in the aftermath of several cold, dreary days last week but it came with baggage in the form of mean March winds.

Surface temperatures had been sleeping in the 46 to 48 degree range last week but began climbing to the 50-degree threshold on Saturday for the first time this year. Some stubborn northwest wind and cool nights have held a grip but a warming trend now underway should see surface temps hold around the 50-degree mark until another warm spell arrives.

Last year at this time anglers were the beneficiaries of some unusually warm weather that had things ahead of schedule as to spring fishing patterns. Crappie and bass anglers were talking about early spawns last year at this time but both water temperatures and lake levels are pretty much on schedule this time around.

Lake levels this week have been falling slowly and are hovering close to the normal low ebb of winter pool. Projections from TVA indicate an elevation of 354.4 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels will be in the 355.1 range.

Water color is in good shape for fishing across the reservoir. A slight stain was present in some areas due to high winds whipping up shorelines but overall things look good.

Crappie action has improved some with the success rate lately somewhat dependent on the wind. March is always an iffy month for open water crappie fishing as wind dictates the rules of engagement. On days when winds have been tolerable anglers are catching decent stringers from the deeper main lake areas of 18 to 25 feet.

Some fish moved up the last few days and showed signs of a transition into midrange depths as stakebeds and brushpiles in the 9 to 12 foot depth range were beginning to produce a few scattered fish.

A lot of fish are suspended in deep water and hanging out in the deeper zones awaiting a warm-up. Several boats were scoring as they slow trolled jigs and live minnows over the main channel and deeper sloughs of Big Sandy.

Popular techniques have been spider rigging, drifting, pulling and trolling long line presentations of Road Runner style jigs or even tube skirted jigs. Others are using live minnows and slowly maneuvering along the deeper sides of drop-offs and finding fish on structure.

Increased success was also reported in West Sandy this week too as boaters were dodging the wind around the Britton Ford sector.

Expect a lot of movement from fish next week as they respond to warmer surface temperatures and move up toward flats and into big bays in their prespawn phases. Action had been slow in midrange depths but watch for that to improve soon.

Once surface temperatures reach the mid 50’s and some stability in weather patterns takes over things will happen quickly in crappie world.

Big stingers of bass continue to come in as anglers are catching some dandies in a variety of depths. Those deeper schools of bass have really been holding up for anglers who have learned their whereabouts thanks to some updated sonar technology.

Finding the suspended schools of shad near deeper creek channels far out from shore has been the ticket for bass fishermen tossing the Alabama rigs and suspending jerk baits. Some very big fish have been taken the last two weeks.

With warmer weather now entering the picture watch for more big fish to move up toward those gravel points and big chunk rock shorelines. Tossing shad and crawfish colored crankbaits will be popular choices.

The colder surface temperatures have been keeping a lot of the bigger bass out deeper as they are hot on the path of schools of baitfish. Once temps warm baitfish will transition toward those shallow mud flats and gravel bars.

March is holding up to its reputation as being one of the best months of the year to catch big bass here on Kentucky Lake. Those big females are putting on the feedbag as prespawn approaches.

WILL SPRING WEATHER CHASE WINTER AWAY?
By Steve McCadams
Updated March 7, 2013

Snowflakes one week; spring weather the next. Say hello to “March Madness” where drastic changes occur this time of year on short notice.    

Spring hasn’t sprung just yet but it appears the Kentucky Lake fishing scene will be the beneficiary of a nice warm up this weekend as temperatures rebound into the low 60’s and southern winds push cold weather back north. It will be a dramatic turnaround from last week’s blizzard conditions.    

Anglers are anxiously awaiting the warm-up as bone chilling winds have dominated the fishing scene for well over a week. March roared in like a lion last week and fishermen are hoping things improve once warm weather descends and winds change direction.    

Surface temperatures have remained in the 44 to 46 degree range this week as cold nights have prohibited any warm up. That will change this weekend and temps will creep back up a few degrees but may not cross the 50-degree threshold until the middle of next week unless warm sunny days hang around.    

Lake levels have fluctuated a few inches due to localized rains but TVA’s forecast going into the weekend will be 355 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation is projected to be in the 355.6 range. Water color is relatively clear to stained in most bays and clear out on the main lake.    

Despite the recent cold and windy weather bass anglers have landed some hefty stringers. Last week’s Wal-Mart BFL tournament, held during blizzard like conditions, took over 20 pounds just to make the top seven. The winning stringer tipped the scales at 23 pounds, 7 ounces.    

The week before a local tournament out of Paris Landing State Park had a winning stringer that was a fraction shy of 25 pounds! So, the cold weather bite has been a pretty good one to start the season off here on Kentucky Lake.    

Most of the hefty stringers were taken by anglers working deeper depths of 8 to 14 feet and out away from the main shorelines as some nice schools of suspended bass have been staging there. Popular lure choices have been Alabama rigs and suspending jerk baits.    

Watch for more bass to move up toward rock and gravel banks next week if surface temps warm. No doubt the cold weather has kept a lot of fish deep where they are riding out the chilly conditions and following their forage base.    

Crappie fishing had a flurry or two of activity over the last week but overall conditions have not been favorable for boaters hoping to work the main lake ledges. It has been too windy and cold for most but the warm spell now underway will see activity improve quickly.    

The weekend forecast is favorable as to warmer weather but wind could be a factor. Meteorologists indicate the warm-up may come at the expense of strong southeast winds.    

Most of the crappie are hanging out on main lake ledges with the 18 to 22 foot depth zone being most productive. High winds can play havoc on boaters trying to fish the open water this time of year.    

Popular jig colors have ranged from blue/chartreuse to black/chartreuse, red/green, chartreuse with red sparkle, and some sliver/green combos just to name a few. Several anglers have been tipping with minnows or Berkley power bait.    

As surface temperatures moderate next week watch for crappie to slowly move up toward midrange depths and enter the 10 to 14 foot depth range. Until warmer surface temperatures arrive look for the bulk of fish to remain deep in the Paris Landing sector while areas up Big Sandy and in West Sandy may see some suspended fish start showing up.    

No doubt anglers are ready to put this nasty cold weather in their rearview mirror as spring draws closer.

UUNINVITED COLD FRONT PAYS ANGLERS A VISIT
By Steve McCadams
Updated February 26, 2013

Is it a cold front in-between warm spells or the other way around? Whatever the description it appears falling temperatures that arrived at midweek will put a real chill to the fishing scene this weekend on Kentucky Lake.    

Anglers had a nice weekend with moderate temperatures and light winds that proved to be productive for both bass and crappie anglers but a nasty cold snap will influence the fishing scene for the next few days. Below normal temperatures are forecast for the weekend with some moderation expected by early next week.    

Surface temperatures started the week off in the 46 to 47 degree range but will likely fall back a few degrees by this weekend, a scenario that will curtail a pretty good bass bite that was underway as February lost its grip and gave way to March.    

Last weekend’s mild weather with two days of back to back sunshine sure heated up the bass bite as some hefty fish were taken. A local tournament out of Paris Landing State Park had a winning weight of 24.98 pounds to start the year off on a good note! Big bass was a 7.22 pound largemouth.

Anglers are tossing a variety of lures these days ranging from some suspending jerk baits to deep diving crawfish and shad colored crankbaits, jig and pig combos, Alabama rigs, and some Carolina rigged crawfish. Rattle-trap style lures are always popular this time of year on Kentucky Lake too as the abundance of gravel banks and points are havens for this style of lure that allows anglers to cover a lot of water.    

Finding some big chunk rock points or shorelines with a little wind or current passing near can be productive as the big prespawn females are putting on the feedbag this time of year before moving up. Other venues around sloping sandbars are popular too as some fish will suspend and hang out despite no real structure in the locale.    

March has traditionally produced some of the biggest bass of the year here on Kentucky Lake. The hefty egg-laden females are likely at their heaviest weight this time of year so now is the time to tie into some chunks.     /span>

Lake levels this week rose a few inches from last week due to localized rains. Some dingy water entered the upper ends of bays and creeks while the main lake area was sporting a good color for fishing and clearer that shallow bays.    

TVA projects lake levels to be 355.3 for the weekend at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville Steam Plant area elevation will be in the 356 range. TVA is still pulling enough water through Kentucky Dam to create some current in the main river channel areas.    

Crappie fishermen had a pretty good weekend and started the week off on a decent note before the cold front descended and changed things with annoying northwest winds and falling temperatures. Since then action has fallen off as anglers have yielded to the winter conditions now present.    

Decent numbers were caught last weekend by boats working the main lake ledges in depths of 17 to 20 feet. A few fish moved up into the 15 foot range at times too.    

Most boats with good numbers reported catching a lot of fish in the 10 to 11-inch range as the bigger slabs were a bit hard to come by last weekend.     Popular jig colors have been ranging from black/chartreuse to pink/chartreuse, chartreuse with red sparkle, and some red/yellow combinations just to name a few.    

Look for the deep water pattern to hold up for another week or two until surface temperatures warm and send fish toward midrange depths.

FISHING SCENE CHANGING WITH WEATHER
By Steve McCadams
Updated February 20, 2013

Moderate weather is in the forecast and anglers hope the return to warmer conditions with less wind will help the fishing scene on Kentucky Lake that has been the victim of cold, windy days lately.

Most anglers got blown off the lake last weekend in the high winds despite some warm temperatures entering the picture but there were just too many whitecaps to overcome. Bass and crappie anglers have had a pretty tough week overall but that could improve as the weekend approaches.

The weatherman indicates normal conditions are in the forecast and anglers will be out in force as February fades away.

Surface temperatures this week continued to hang around the 45 to 48 degree range. That could modify some by the weekend if pleasant weather arrives. Water color has been good across most of the reservoir.

Lake levels have been falling slowly since last week but should stabilize soon as TVA is getting the reservoir back down near its winter pool elevation. Projections for the weekend will see readings of 354.5 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels are forecast to be in the 355.2 range.

For the last few weeks lake levels have been falling and creating a lot of current in the main river channel. At times lake stages have varied more than two feet between Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville as a lot of water pushed through the system but it appears things will level out as the weekend approaches and less water passes through.

Crappie anglers will be back out on the main lake ledges this weekend and next week when winds allow as most of the catches in the Paris Landing sector are coming from deep drop-offs. Depths of 16 to 22 feet have been producing fish with a lot of activity in the 18 foot depth range.

The deep venues are popular this time of year as the bulk of baitfish schools ride out the cold snaps in deeper depths that are less vulnerable to quick temperatures changes. The main forage base of threadfin shad will occupy deep water until surface temps climb back into the mid 50’s.

A few anglers were reporting some success from West Sandy lately where deeper brushpiles and stakebeds were holding fish in 12 to 15 foot depths. Once warm weather returns look for fish to move up toward shallow areas and perhaps suspend out over deep water.

Bass anglers have been tossing some lipless crankbaits over shallow mud flats where some submerged grass mats were holding a few fish. Contrasting the shallow flats pattern has been some main lake ledges where jig and pig combos, Alabama rigs, deep diving crankbaits and some Carolina rigged craws have produced.

The gravel banks should start producing more fish by early next week if warm weather arrives and some fish move up. Crawfish colored crankbaits will be popular in the weeks ahead when worked slowly around rocky points and gravel banks with wind blowing in. Slow rolling big spinnerbaits will be worthy of consideration in the days ahead too.

Watch for the overall fishing scene to improve once surface temps climb back out of the 40’s and cross the 50-degree threshold. March is fast approaching and while winter weather will continue to plague anglers from time to time, warmer weather will slowly creep back into the fishing scene.

FISHING SCENE CHANGING WITH WEATHER
By Steve McCadams
Updated February 14, 2013

Kentucky Lake’s winter fishing scene has been changing with the weather lately as a mixture of conditions have greeted anglers. Some days a cold brisk wind has been too challenging for most and catch rates were down drastically. However, for those fishermen fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule and pick their days, some pretty good catches awaited them.

February is a month known for changing weather. There will be a few nice days mixed in but anglers know they have to tolerate some nasty winds and cold temperatures this time of year and conditions can change at the drop of a hat.

Some nice stringers of crappie were taken lately by anglers working the main lake ledges where deep water venues have been holding decent numbers. Productive areas have been deep sides of drop-offs where submerged stumps and brush in the 17 to 20 foot depth range has paid dividends.

Most anglers are tightlining jigs around the deep structure but a few boats reported success while using bottom bumping, double-hook minnow rigs as well.

Some of the more popular color jigs skirts have ranged from blue/chartreuse to red/chartreuse and some chartreuse with red glitter and variations of sparkle scale tubes. Tipping jigs with Berkley Power Bait Gulp and Crappie Nibbles has enhanced strikes too.

Most of the fish in the Paris Landing area have come from deep ledges but there have been some crappie in midrange brushpiles and stakebeds up West Sandy and in some other bays such as Cypress and Standing Rock where 8 to 12 foot depths produced fish.

Surface temperatures have been holding in the 45 to 47 degree range. Water color is good with a slight stain in places.

Lake levels this week are still sleeping above normal winter pool and have fluctuated a few inches after some heavy rains but not too drastic for anglers.

Projections for the weekend will be 354.4 at Kentucky Dam but almost two feet higher in the New Johnsonville area where readings will be 356.2. For the last several weeks significant current has been present in the main channel as a lot of water has been pushing through the system.

A few bass have been taken lately and the winter fishery continues to attract a lot of boats to the cold weather approach whereas in times past very few ventured out until early March. Anglers have learned to master the cold weather patterns and generally speaking, winters are not as cold as they used to be.

Most anglers are tossing Carolina rigged craws, jig and pig combs, or slowly retrieving crankbaits. Some success has come from slow rolling spinnerbaits around shallow flats where fragments of grass remain.

Rattle traps have been productive as have shallow running shad colored crankbaits. Points with big chunk rock or rip-rap shorelines have been holding some fish too.

Not much to report from the sauger fishery as very few fish have been taken this winter. Most anglers feel the fish are just not there for the taking.

WINTER FISHING SCENE REBOUNDS
…WARM WEATHER RETURNS
By Steve McCadams
Updated January 31, 2013

Thanks to a nice week of warm weather the winter fishing scene has rebounded for Kentucky Lake anglers. Temps this week have been in the upper 50’s and low 60’s at times. And, winds have been pretty nice as well , allowing both bass and crappie anglers to access anywhere they chose.    

Lake levels this week began a gradual fall after rising a few inches over the weekend. Elevation continues to be above normal winter pool and that has been the case pretty much all winter. TVA is pulling water and projecting a continuous fall throughout the weekend.    

Elevation for the weekend at Kentucky Dam is predicted to be 354.8. However, upstream at New Johnsonville there is still almost a two foot variation in lake levels as water flows down the Tennesssee River. Lake levels this weekend for the New Johnsonville area are projected to be in the 356.7 range and falling.    

Surface temperatures have responded to the warm weather and are now in the 46 to 49 degree range. Water color has improved with a slight stain in the main channel but clearing in the bays and creeks as falling water has pulled most of the muddy water out of shallow areas.    

Crappie fishermen were out in force this week as weather improved. Light winds and a warming trend had boats working the main lake ledges where anglers were dunking jigs and minnow rigs on deep drop-offs. Depths of 18 to 24 feet were producing some fish in the Paris Landing sector.    

Up Big Sandy and into West Sandy boats were working deep brushpiles, stumprows, and stakebeds and finding fish in the 10 to 14 foot range at times. Some crappie were even moving up to 8 to 12 foot spots but appeared scattered.    

Watch for increased activity in the days ahead around midrange depths as mild weather will remain in the forecast. That should see surface temps moderate some and bring more fish to the 10 to 12 foot zone.    

Bass anglers were tossing a variety of baits around submerged grass on sloping flats. Spinnerbaits were popular as were Rattle Traps and other shallow running crankbaits.    

A few boats continued to key in on deeper ditches and sloughs that feed into the main river channel and tested the submerged areas with Carolina rigged craws, jig and pig combos, Alabama rigs, and some finesse baits worked very slowly to entice strikes.    

Other boats have been working the gravel bank, rip-rap, and big chunk rock patterns with crankbaits in crawfish colors and some loud color choices during periods when dingy water was present.    

No doubt a touch of spring fever was in the air this week after last week’s cold snaps and north winds kept most anglers on shore. Although mid temps will hang around this weekend and into next week, some high winds are expected later this weekend.

WEIRD WEATHER HAMPERS ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated January 31, 2013

It has been a topsy-turvy week of weather for the Kentucky Lake fishing scene after severe storms moved through at midweek, dropping temperatures and upsetting the apple cart of anglers hoping warm weather would linger.

Balmy warm weather dropped in for a two-day visit earlier this week as temps climbed to 70 degrees on Tuesday but by midweek there was a 25 to 30 degree drop. Winter weather returned with a vengeance in the aftermath of high winds, thunderstorms, and heavy rain that kept fishermen off the lake the last few days.

Lake levels have been falling on a gradual basis for over a week after Kentucky Lake jumped some four feet above winter pool two weeks ago. Elevation was projected to be 354.7 this weekend at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville TVA projects the elevation will be 356.

Heavy rain across the region will continue sending runoff into the Tennessee River so expect significant current to remain in the main channel for the next week or so. Lake levels may rise a few inches the next few days.

Water color was dingy in the main river but had cleared some in the bigger bays this week as falling lake levels pulled muddy water out of secondary areas.

Surface temperatures rose some this week into the 45 to 48 degree range but will likely fall back a few degrees as cooler conditions are expected to hang around for several more days. It appears winter will hold its grip until at least the middle of next week but the long range forecast appears to have mid 50’s returning.

Some crappie were taken during the brief few days of mild weather this week but some windy conditions challenged anglers by midday. Depths of 17 to 20 feet produced a few fish.

Bass fishermen were playing the current in some areas and working sandbars with Carolina rigs, Alabama rigs, and some jig and pig combos but success was limited.

Winter sauger fishermen are still not finding many fish playing their game either. Action has been slow for most sauger anglers the last two months.

It has been another mean week of weather for winter fishermen yearning to get out on the lake but it’s that time of year when conditions can be nasty at times. Hang in there as moderate weather and stable lake levels will return at some point.

FALLING TEMPS/ LAKE LEVELS HARD ON ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated January 24, 2013

Kentucky Lake’s winter fishing scene has been a tough one this week for anglers as falling temperatures and lake levels teamed up to provide quite a challenge. Cold weather slipped in the door on Monday and has hung around all week.    

Added to the winter weather woes have been falling lake levels as TVA attempts to pull the reservoir back down to the winter pool elevation after a dramatic increase in the aftermath of last week’s flooding across the region.    

Lake levels jumped fast last week as muddy runoff entered the system and caused the reservoir to jump some four feet above normal but TVA has really been flushing water through the system this week. Elevation was changing on a daily basis and quite a wall of water has been coming down the Tennessee River from upstream as elevation has varied some three feet or more between Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville.    

Projected lake levels going into the weekend will be 354.8 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation will be in the 357.8 range. Surface temperatures cooled off this week with the influence of the cold front and are now in the 38 to 42 degree range.    

Main lake areas remain quite dingy but most of the bays are beginning to clear as falling lake levels have pulled muddy water out of feeder creeks and coves this week.    

Another cold front was in progress as this report was underway but moderate temperatures are expected to enter the picture next week, a change which will lure crappie and bass fishermen back out on the lake.    

Some crappie anglers have been out recently and testing the water anyway but success rates have been low according to most reports. Bass anglers have been in the same boat this week.    

Watch for the fishing scene to improve next week as lake levels return to normal and mild weather returns to the fishing scene.

CHANGING LAKE LEVELS TOUGH FOR ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated January 17, 2013

Winter anglers have had a tough week on Kentucky Lake. Conditions have not been kind for crappie and bass fishermen.    

Drastically changing lake levels teamed up with some cold temperatures and stubborn winds the last week or so and that has kept most fishermen waiting for better days.    

Lake levels jumped over four feet in that many days across the reservoir and muddy water has entered the picture as well. TVA had the reservoir back down to winter pool a day or two before the heavy rains drenched the region but tributaries swelled quickly on Monday as the runoff entered the system and sent flood warnings out for many low lying areas.    

After resting two days near the 354 range Kentucky Lake’s elevation jumped to summer pool readings of 359 near New Johnsonville and higher than that upstream where a narrow river system had trouble absorbing the rapid runoff.   

The lake crested at midweek and is now falling slowly with an accelerated forecast as the weekend approaches. Anglers can expect a lot of current in the main river for another week or so. And, the water color is muddy.    

TVA is changing its forecast daily but the last report showed a drastic difference between Kentucky Dam and upstream monitoring stations at New Johnsonville. Projections for Kentucky Dam will be 355 by this weekend but upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation will be 358.9, which indicates a wall of water flowing north.    

Both crappie and bass anglers have reported reduced catch rates this week but moderate temperatures are predicted for this weekend which should entice anglers to get back out. The Big Sandy area near Paris Landing is dingy but not as muddy as the main Tennessee River channel area.    

Surface temperatures were in the 37 to 41 degree range and will likely moderate this weekend.

FISHING YIELDS TO WINTER WEATHER
By Steve McCadams
Updated January 03, 2013

Kentucky Lake’s winter fishing scene has had a bit too much winter weather lately to suit most bass and crappie anglers. It appears moderate conditions are on the way as the weatherman indicates temperatures will return to the low to mid 50’s this weekend and throughout next week.

That is good news for fishermen who have yielded to the cooler conditions the last week to ten days. Some have cabin fever and are ready to get back out the water after having been cooped up for a spell. Most of the holiday period wasn’t too kind anglers.

Cold weather has dropped surface temperatures to the 42 to 44 degree range this week. Water color is still relatively clear.

Lake levels have been above normal winter pool elevation for quite some time, a situation that has puzzled anglers to some degree as not a lot of rain has fallen in the area.

Kentucky Lake crested at midweek around the 357.3 mark at Kentucky Dam and a bit higher than that upstream at New Johnsonville. Lake levels are falling several inches each day as TVA is spilling water through Kentucky Dam at a pretty fast pace. The agency was pulling some 122,000 cubic feet per second through the gates at Kentucky Dam the last few days, which is a large volume that will create a lot current in the system and see daily levels change by several inches.

Projections going into the weekend show TVA will increase its discharge with a forecast for 355.8 at Kentucky Dam with a foot difference in elevation from New Johnsonville where the forecasts shows 356.8. That means a lot of current is present in the main river channel with quite a wall of water headed north as the drawdown occurs.

Falling lake levels will likely remain part of the fishing scene through late next week when TVA has the reservoir back near winter pool.

Bass anglers are still venturing out and fishing ledges in the mouth of big creeks. Successful anglers will likely play the current in their attempt to pattern the winter bass this next week.

Deep water crappie action should resume the next few days so anglers can likely find the 18 to 24 foot depth range paying off in the days ahead. Fast falling lake levels usually work in favor of the deep drop-offs and with the cooler surface temperatures now present it’s likely the baitfish have gone deeper as well to ride out the cold.

FISHING YIELDS TO WINTER WEATHER
By Steve McCadams
Updated December 27, 2012

Winter weather has dominated the Kentucky Lake fishing scene the last week or so, keeping most anglers at bay and dodging cold, windy conditions. A drastic change in the weather earlier this week pretty much shut down the winter fishing scene.

It appears more cold weather will linger as the weekend approaches, keeping most anglers indoors and waiting for better days. Gale force winds and bone chilling temperatures seem to be paying anglers back for earlier this month when mild weather dominated for several weeks.

Lake levels have been rising since last week as some rain entered the picture both here and further south in the TVA valley. Kentucky Lake has been about 2 ½ feet above normal winter pool elevation lately but was expected to crest at midweek and begin falling slowly the next few days.

However, the recent rains and snow melt may keep the lake a bit above normal winter pool elevation well into next week if not longer.

Observed elevation going into the weekend will be 356.1 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation is a bit higher with readings in the 356.6 range. There is quite a bit of current in the main river channel as TVA is discharging over 90,000 cubic feet per second, which is more than enough to create current in the reservoir.

Surface temperatures had been in the 48 degree range earlier this week but will be falling drastically each day.

Prior to the cold front crappie anglers were still scoring decent stringers but anglers pitched in the towel once the weather worsened. It may be several days before things settle down but watch for winter crappie to resume biting when that happens as the deeper ledges out in the main lake should be productive.

With falling lake levels underway and cooler surface temperatures entering the picture anglers can expect the deeper venues to pay off.

Sauger fishermen are still singing the blues as they have not fared well this year. Despite some decent weather earlier this month and the return of current in the main river channel the sauger have not shown up.

Bass anglers were still working main lake ledges and playing the current some with Carolina rigged craws and Alabama rigs, along with some finesse baits worked slowly. Once warmer weather returns bass anglers will rebound too.

Until weather changes in favor of fishermen the best bet is to put another log on the fire and ride it out.

FISHING SCENE COOLS OFF
By Steve McCadams
Updated December 13, 2012

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene cooled off since last week as Monday’s brisk northwest winds brought a dandy cold front to the area. Temperatures fell drastically earlier in the week and have remained chilly although winds calmed in the aftermath of the front when a high pressure took over.

Since the cold front arrived winds have been light out of the northeast but colder conditions have diminished the enthusiasm level of many crappie and bass anglers that had grown fond of the above average temperatures which lingered for weeks.

Surface temperatures have dropped each day and fell back to the 47 to 49 degree range at midweek. Water color remains clear.

After last weekend’s heavy rains most anglers anticipated a rise in lake levels but such as not been the case as TVA had been pulling the reservoir down last week prior to the recent rains. And, a long dry spell saw a lot of the rain and runoff soaked up to some degree.

Lake levels rose only a few inches and have already begun to recede. Projections for the weekend at Kentucky Dam will see elevation in the 355.2 range. Upstream at New Johnsonville the forecast calls for 355.

It’s not surprising that fishing activity diminished since last weekend. Crappie anglers ventured back out at midweek when light winds entered the picture but it seems the high pressure slowed the bite. Success rates declined as anglers reported very light strikes from fish reluctant to take a jig or minnow.

Most of the crappie fishermen continue to target deep sides of the main lake ledges. Brush and stumps in the 18 to 22 foot depth range have been the most productive for the last two weeks.

Watch for improvement as the weekend approaches and some cloud cover enters the scene. Temperatures are expected to warm slightly before another cool spell forecast by the middle of next week.

Bass action slowed this week too as some fish had been taken around shallow gravel points and some grass last week but that changed once the cold front passed through. It’s likely bass fishing will rebound some too as the weekend approaches.

IS HONEYMOON WITH WEATHER ABOUT TO END FOR ANGLERS?
By Steve McCadams
Updated December 06, 2012

The first week of December has been a carbon copy of the wonderful weather enjoyed by anglers throughout November but is the honeymoon about to end?

Rain is expected for the weekend with cooler conditions entering the forecast for next week, a change which may interrupt the long stretch of unusually mild weather and above average temperatures that have spoiled fall fishermen here on Kentucky Lake.

Light winds and warm day have dominated this week and crappie anglers have taken advantage of it as several boats have been out and about. On Monday temperatures broke records across the region with a reading of 74 degrees in some areas.

Temperatures have actually been above average for the last week to ten days when readings were in the low to mid 60’s as November handed off the fall fling to December.

Good stringers have been taken again this week throughout Big Sandy and into West Sandy where deep water zones continue to produce.

In the Paris Landing area crappie continue to relate best to the deep sides of main lake ledges where depths of 17 to 23 feet have been holding pretty good numbers. Most fishermen are tightlining jigs or using bottom bumping rigs armed with live shiner minnows to stalk the submerged stumps and brush on the deep side of the drop-off.

While a few fish have been taken in stakebeds and brushpiles in midrange depths of 9 to 13 feet during the warm spell, falling lake levels this week appeared to pull fish back toward deeper hideouts. Some bays such as Leatherwood, Lick, Cane, Hurricane and White Oak have given up some crappie lately too.

Speaking of lake levels, TVA’s projections heading into the weekend may be anticipating rainfall as the elevation has been falling slowly all week but on a gradual basis toward winter pool. Elevation is expected to be 354.9 this weekend at Kentucky Dam.

Upstream in the New Johnsonville area lake levels are forecasts to fall down to 354.7 level, which is several inches lower than last week at this time. Water color remains clear and surface temperatures have danced around the 52 degree mark.

Bass fishermen are still darting up and down the lake as though it were early fall. A lot of anglers are beginning to work main lake drop-offs along the river channel with Carolina rigged craws, jig and pig combos, and some finesse baits worked slowly in deeper areas.

Some boats are still targeting grassbeds where tossing chrome and blue Rattle Traps, spinnerbaits, and Texas rigged worms are working.

Crankbaits on gravel points and big rock banks are also worthy of consideration in the late fall patterns.

Still not much coming in from sauger fishermen but a little current in the river this week may work in their favor.

It appears the weather will change a bit by next week but anglers can’t complain as things have gone their way for several weeks running. And, odds are some mild weather will return to the fishing scene in the near future.

ANGLERS AND WEATHERMEN ON GOOD TERMS
By Steve McCadams
Updated November 29, 2012

Kentucky Lake anglers must be living right. No doubt fishermen are on good terms lately with meterologists.

It’s another week of relatively mild weather for late fall fishermen here in the Kentucky Lake area as the weatherman is forecasting temperatures in the low to middle 60’s for the approaching weekend.

Conditions have been stable the last week with some cool frosty mornings melting away to mild afternoons and light winds. There was a day or two of chilly weather but overall, rains dodged the area on Monday and south winds have resumed their fall flow of nice, stable weather.

Lake levels have been changing very little this week as TVA has pretty much held on to a very slow drawdown. Elevation at midweek for Kentucky Dam was 355.4, which is down only a few inches from last week at this time. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels are projected to be in the 355.3 range as the weekend approaches.

Surface temperatures are in the 51 to 52 degree range at midday but starting off cooler in the mornings. Water color remains clear across the reservoir as not much rain or wind has stirred things up. In fact, very little rainfall has entered the system the last two weeks.

Crappie anglers are finding activity still holding up well on deep ledges where depths of 17 to 22 feet have given up some decent numbers lately. Anglers are working deep structure with jigs and minnows where the fish are favoring the main lake drop-offs.

There has been some increased activity in midrange stakebeds and brushpiles the last week or so as a few more fish have entered the 10 to 14 foot zone compared to last week at this time.

Popular jig colors have been blue/chartreuse, red/chartreuse, and some white/red variations just to name a few. Live minnows have been working well too as anglers use bottom bumping rigs in the deep water to stalk the submerged structure.

A few bass fishermen are still at it, working both grass beds and some main lake ledges, especially along the river channel. Some finesse baits are paying off as small grubs, Road Runners and some crawfish imitations worked slowly on Carolina rigs have produced.

Spinnerbaits and Rattle Traps are still producing bass from vegetation at times as are crankbaits worked around gravel banks and points. Seems the late fall patterns always have some rock and gravel banks in the playbook here on Kentucky Lake.

Not much coming in from sauger fishermen thus far on the Tennessee River.

With another week of nice fall weather working in favor of fishermen, crappie and bass anglers should be thankful for the conditions as this time of the year things can change quickly. Old Man Winter hasn’t made his presence known just yet but odds are he’s coming sooner or later!

FISHING WEATHER RETURNS…LAKE LEVELS UP SLIGHTLY
By Steve McCadams
Updated November 15, 2012

Decent weather has returned this week to the Kentucky Lake fishing scene and anglers are embracing the warm-up and light winds. Moderate temperatures are forecast for the weekend with highs expected to be in the low 60’s with light wind and sunshine.

Crappie anglers have fared well since midweek when the warming trend began after a cold start on Monday and Tuesday where temps struggled to reach the upper 40’s a few days. However, things bounced back quickly as some decent catches were reported the last few days when boaters were able to venture back out to main lake drop-offs.

Most of the fish are coming from deeper ledges in the main lake area where depths of 17 to 21 feet were producing decent numbers of fish. The crappie are relating to structure on the deep sides of the drop-off most days and seemed to have pulled out of midrange stakebeds and brushpiles the last week or ten days.

Jigs are working well but some anglers are using bottom bumping rigs armed with live shiner minnows at times too. Popular colored jig skirts have range from blue/chartreuse to dark green/chartreuse, red/white, and purple/green combos just to name a few.

Surface temperatures this week cooled slightly into the 53 to 55 degree range. Water color remains clear as not much rain has fallen in the watershed.

Lake levels are up slightly from last week and hovering around the 355.6 range at Kentucky Dam. Forecasts for the New Johnsonville area for the weekend will be 355.5. Those readings are up a foot to 18-inches from two weeks ago when TVA pulled the reservoir down to winter pool for a week or so.

It is somewhat surprising that lake levels have increased lately as very little rain has fallen across the TVA valley.

Bass anglers continue to fish a grass pattern with spinnerbaits and Rattle Traps at times while others are tossing crankbaits around gravel banks and rocky points. Shallow roadbeds and boathouses have also given up some bass lately.

There are a few boats working drop-offs with big crankbaits, Carolina rigged crawfish, and some Texas rigged worms at times. A few smallmouth have shown up at times for anglers casting grubs and crankbaits on the Tennessee River portion.

Some schooling fish had been showing up around shallow sandbars at times before the cool snap earlier this week. That pattern could resume later this week when warmer conditions and light winds return.

KENTUCKY LAKE DOWN TO WINTER POOL…WARM WEEKEND AHEAD FOR ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated November 08, 2012

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene for early November has seen TVA pull the reservoir down to it low elevation of winter pool earlier this week, exposing a lot of shallow stumps and sandbars for boaters.

While low lake levels are normal in late fall it bears repeating for boaters to use caution and beware of those shallow dangers that sleep silently beneath the surface. Unless you know exactly where you are it’s wise to pay close attention to channel markers and resist the urge to take those short cuts across open water.

Warmer weather is in the forecast for the weekend as anglers have battled some nasty winds and cold temperatures earlier this week as fronts were pushed by east and north winds that annoyed fishermen at times. There have been some decent days in-between the cold fronts, however, when fishing was pretty good for bass and crappie anglers.

Surface temperatures this week were in the 53 to 56 degree range and may warm a degree or two this weekend before another cool snap enters the picture early next week. Water color remains clear across the reservoir.

Lake levels bottomed out at winter pool elevation late last week and earlier this week when readings dropped down to the 354 mark at Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville. The last few days has seen a slight rise with forecast for the weekend projected to be 354.9 at Kentucky Dam and 354.7 upstream at New Johnsonville.

Crappie fishing had a decline earlier this week for a day or two when stubborn winds, light rain, and cold temperatures seemed to have an adverse effect. Fish were biting but sluggish and scattered. Those pesky cool fronts often slow the fishing activity for a day or two but it appears a quick rebound is on the way as temps are expected to be in the lower 70’s for the weekend.

Several crappie pulled back to deeper depths lately as the falling lake levels appeared to pull fish away from midrange structure that had been holding good numbers. Depths of 14 to 20 feet were holding decent numbers of crappie at midweek where fish had pulled back to deeper structure in response to the change in elevation.

There were still some fish taken in midrange brushpiles and stakebeds, however, as anglers worked them with vertical presentations of jigs and minnow combos. The depths of 7 to 12 feet had been holding fish pretty good last week and while action there diminished for a few days, watch for more fish to return there as a slight rise in lake levels and warmer weather could see a quick rebound as the weekend approaches.

Late October and early November have had more cool windy days than normal this year but the overall fishing scene has been pretty good.

Bass anglers were still tossing spinnerbaits around grass and scoring decent catches. Other lures such as Rattle Traps, Texas rigged worms, and some jerk baits were paying off too as the coontail moss, milfoil, and pondweed patches are still holding bass.

Gravel banks are paying off too as anglers cast shad colored crankbaits. Big chunk rock points, rip-rap, and sloping gravel points have been paying off as well, along with roadbeds and bridge piers.

Kentucky Lake is a different reservoir when lake levels fall to winter pool. Fishing is still good but anglers have to learn low water patterns and adjust.

It’s a nice time of the year to be out there and you get a different perspective of some of the topography that is exposed

NOVEMBER FISHING OFF TO WARM START IN AFTERMATH OF COLD FRONT
By Steve McCadams
Updated November 01, 2012

After last week’s brutal cold front that drastically changed the fishing conditions from the low 80’s to low 40’s overnight, temperatures have rebounded and November fishing on Kentucky Lake will get off to a good start it appears.

Fall fishing the last couple of weeks has seen some roller coaster weather patterns as high winds dominated the fishing scene for about five days, whipping up the lake with whitecaps and sending anglers back to the coat closet for reinforcements.

As the weekend approaches temps are forecasted to return to the 70’s before another cool snap arrives early next week when temps will fall back to the mid 50’s. However, the cool snap isn’t predicted to be as mean as last week when conditions were more favorable for duck hunting than bass or crappie fishing.

Despite drastic changes crappie fishing has held up pretty good for those who braved high winds and found fish still clinging to midrange depths where brushpiles and stakebeds attracted them. Actually, fish have been holding in this fall pattern for several weeks running with a few mood swings at times but the 8 to 14 foot depths have paid dividends since early September.

Fish have been taking jigs tipped with minnows and Berkley crappie nibbles with the most popular technique credited to vertical presentations where anglers kept the bait right smack dab in the face of finicky fish. Strikes have been light at times, especially on the cold front days when high skies were keeping fish tight to cover.

At times high winds have made it difficult for anglers to hold the boat over their favorite areas and it has really been a test for trolling motors and batteries some days, not to mention the guy running the trolling motor and trying to keep the boat still.

It appears decent weather may return after a cool start next week as early November normally delivers mild conditions. Crappie action should hold up well throughout the month as fish are likely to stay in midrange depths.

Popular jig colors have ranged from red/chartreuse to some motor oil with red metal flake and blue/clear at times to black/chartreuse and red/clear sparkle.

Lake levels have dropped since last week as TVA has pulled the reservoir down to winter pool levels. Elevation at Kentucky Dam is forecast to be 354.2 as the weekend approaches and 354.1 upstream at New Johnsonville. That is the lowest reading since late last winter and down a foot from last week at this time.

Surface temperatures responded to the cold front and have fallen back into the 54 to 57 degree range for the first time since mid-March. Cold nights have influenced water temps that may change a degree or two by this weekend. Water color remains clear.

Bass anglers battled low temps and high winds too this week and experienced a slowdown as the fall bite fell off for them in grassbeds , main lake drop-offs, and gravel bank patterns. A few fish were still relating to grass while most boats were attempting to find bigger fish on ledges.

High winds have made it tough for main lake boaters to work the crankbaits and other presentations on drop-offs but that should improve as mid weather returns. And, some schooling fish were still chasing shad on sloping points and flats at times where anglers were casting chrome colored Rattle Traps and similar jerk baits.

Other patterns producing have been shad colored crankbaits on gavel points and roadbeds or rip-rap at times. Falling lake levels have pulled bass nearer to deep water escape routes this week too.

Seems a few fish are always relating to the grassbeds this time of the year as well and anglers tossing spinnerbaits and Texas rigged worms have continued to catch fish on a consistent basis. Although some bigger fish have been hard to come by from the grass patterns there have been some good numbers caught around the aquatic vegetation.

With the mean cold front and high winds of last weekend and earlier this week now out of the picture, fishing will be more enjoyable for a few days but a cool snap now and then will require fishermen to keep the coveralls and raingear close at hand. Remember, you can always take it off if you don’t need it!

ANGLERS FACING COOL FRONT AFTER WONDERFUL WEEK OF WEATHER
By Steve McCadams
Updated October 25, 2012

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has enjoyed several days this week of great fall weather with cool mornings giving in to warm afternoons. Temperatures have been in the mid to upper 70’s most days with a day or two eclipsing the 80 degree mark, a significant contrast to some of the cool, windy days of last week.

It appears anglers will have to trade in the sunscreen for overcoats this weekend, however, as another cold front is fast approaching and expected to blow in. Just how much change occurs to the nice fall fishing scene remains to be seen. Saturday’s high is expected to struggle to reach the mid 50’s as a northwest wind will deliver a significant change but rain is expected to move out of the area by late Friday night.

The extended forecast shows several dry days after the cold front with a slow warm up beginning early next. Fishermen can expect a few days of high skies in the aftermath of the cold front as a high pressure will likely follow the initial change but action should resume in a few days once things settle down.

Surface temperatures this week climbed back into the 64 to 67 degree range in response to several warm days back to back. Watch for cooler conditions this weekend to pull that back down into the low 60’s soon.

Lake levels haven’t changed this week as TVA indicates the discharge rates and inflow have been about the same for several days. Elevation at Kentucky Dam will be 356.2 going into the weekend. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels will be in the 356.1 range. Water color remains clear.

Crappie and bass anglers reported some decent stringers again this week, although there were a few days when fish were sluggish and reluctant to bite in the mornings when mile high skies likely had a negative impact on shallow fish.

After some slow starts fish seemed to rebound in the afternoons once light south winds entered the picture and lowlight conditions stimulated action.

Crappie had been hitting good lately in the typical midrange depths of 9 to 14 feet but appeared to back off deeper the last few days. More fish were taken in the Paris Landing area at midweek by anglers working main lake ledges in depths of 13 to 19 feet.

For some reason the shallow and midrange structure that had been holding good numbers of fish for several weeks running lost its appeal as fish backed off toward deeper areas at times. Only a few scattered fish were taken in midrange areas the last few days.

The transition of fish back toward deeper areas is somewhat puzzling but all it takes is a cloudy day or two to stimulate the shallow or midrange activity. Most days this past week have been quite clear and some stubborn winds were factors at times for anglers attempting to work open water.

Crappie were taking live minnows and jigs tipped with minnows at times. Tipping jigs with Berkley Power Bait continues to work well but expect to encounter some pesky bluegill and yellow bass at times.

Popular jig colors in the clear water have ranged from dark color shades to some blue/clear, motor oil, and red/blue/white variations.

Bass fishermen seemed to struggle a few days this week with finicky moods from stubborn bass that were not cooperating. Several days anglers reported low numbers of fish being caught despite testing the water in several different areas and with a potpourri of presentations.

While a lot of anglers have been flogging the grassbeds with everything from spinnerbaits to weedless topwater and Texas rigged worms or fluke style jerk baits, others were backing off and working main lake ledges and sloping points with crankbaits and Carolina rigs.

Other popular patterns at times have been tossing shad colored crankbaits and Rattle Trap style lures on mud flats where some schooling fish observed chasing shad.

Schooling bass are often found in the backs of larger bays this time of year, especially on the east side where big patches of aquatic grass is located. Meanwhile, cooler surface temperatures are beginning to see some grass fragments dislodge and floating away.

Gravel banks are always popular during the fall season and some fish have been relating to the rocky banks, roadbeds, bridge piers, and boathouses.

Despite several days of nice weather it appeared both bass and crappie took on a sluggish mood and that confused several anglers who anticipated more aggressive fish behavior.

No doubt the approaching cool front will come with some north winds and that will likely stall the rebound for a few days as fish seemed to improve after midweek. Hopefully the weather change will be short in duration and mild conditions will return quickly as the late October and early November time frame is usually quite pleasant for Kentucky Lake anglers.

MIXED WEATHER PATTERNS CONFRONT ANGLERS…BASS AND CRAPPIE ACTION REBOUNDS
By Steve McCadams
Updated October 18, 2012

A mixture of weather patterns have dominated the fishing scene this week across Kentucky Lake as anglers had a few nice days sandwiched in-between some windy cool mornings. Normally mid-October weather patterns are quite stable with cool starts and warm finishes as to the daily routine but a dose of March madness slipped in with some gale force winds that upset the apple cart a few days.

Despite some cool snaps that whipped up the main lake with whitecaps a few days the overall fishing scene has been a pretty good one for both bass and crappie anglers. Fall colors continue to change and beautiful shorelines are parading colors as the hills are coming alive with yellows, reds, and oranges that provide a nice backdrop to this Autumn angling gig.

Since last week lake levels and surface temps have changed slightly but some recent heavy thunderstorms drenched the area and provided significant runoff, erasing a few inches of declining lake stages from late last week.

As the weekend approaches lake levels will be in the 356.2 range at Kentucky Dam, which is up several inches from last weekend when TVA dropped the reservoir down to 355.9. Upstream at New Johnsonville projections indicate elevation will be in the 356.1 range.

Surface temperatures said goodbye to the 70’s last week and have slept in the 62 to 64 degree range most of this week. At midweek the daytime air temperatures climbed near 80 degrees but slightly cooler conditions are in the forecast the rest of the week but expected to be near normal most days.

Crappie continue to hit good this week and have shown signs of more movement toward the 8 to 12 depths. A few fish were caught in the 7 to 9 foot range as well and more fish were making a transition from the main lake into some of the larger bays, a likely result of slightly cooler surface temperatures that have given shad a bigger comfort zone in these areas this week.

While a few mornings saw crappie action start off sluggish when high skies and touches of west to northwest winds were switching, fish seemed to improve later in the day. It’s not unusual for fish to be finicky in the aftermath of a cool snap when high barometric pressure robs the sky of clouds but the fish slowly rebound once weather settles and winds work their way back from stubborn easterly directions to southerly flows.

Some mornings this week I found fish quite reluctant to bite as strikes were extremely light from moody fish that were not in a feeding mode. After a few hours of slower paced presentations things gradually worked out of the sluggish spell but it took a lot more stops to accumulate decent numbers.

Tipping jigs with either minnows or Berkley Power Bait such as crappie nibble or gulp seemed to entice reluctant crappie into biting better. It’s been a trial and error approach at times as to which colors are working best with various shades of chartreuse working well.

Some red/white combos have also appealed as have blue/chartreuse and some red/white/blue hair jigs and even pink and chartreuse at times.

A variety of patterns have been working ranging from some boats shooting the docks, a technique popular on some lakes where anglers use light action rods to thrust jigs up under low hanging boat houses where both shade and structure hold crappie this time of year, to the popular vertical presentations over manmade fish attractors.

There have been a few boat slow trolling crankbaits and others spider-rigging while moving slowly with the multi-pole presentations over midrange depths and finding fish too.

Some fish continue to come from deeper main lake ledges where brushpiles located drop-offs were attracting a few but it appears more fish moved up to shallow venues within the last week or so.

Bass patterns are holding on to gravel banks, submerged grass beds, and some ledge fishing again this week. Nothing drastic has changed for bass fishermen the last few weeks as all three of these patterns have worked well with an occasional report of some shallow fish hitting spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits around crappie beds, shallow stumps and some roadbeds and boat houses.

There are still some schooling fish on shallow flats as throughout the day they make a blitz in pursuit of shad schools that meander over the deeper areas but get pushed shallow by the feeding frenzies. Some fish have taken topwater jerk baits when schooling but most are being caught by anglers tossing Rattle Trap style lures in shad colored variations.

Hitting the gravel points and sloping sandbars with deep water close by has been paying dividends as have some roadbeds and rip-rap areas.

Grass beds are still abundant and holding bass as anglers work spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms, and some weedless topwater at times. Some grass is beginning to break up and floating off in fragments which is the result of cooler surface temperatures but there are still plenty of thick grass areas holding fish in the parameters.

Several weeks of great fall fishing remain on Kentucky Lake as this underrated and overlooked season is worthy of consideration.

COOLER SURFACE TEMPS GREET ANGLERS…BASS AND CRAPPIE BITE REBOUNDS AFTER COLD FRONT
By Steve McCadams
Updated October 11, 2012

Kentucky Lake’s fall fishing scene said goodbye to a drastic cold front last weekend that left about as quick as it came. In its aftermath have been cooler surface temperatures that stimulated enthusiasm levels for crappie and bass anglers.    

It has been another good week for crappie fishermen who continue to rack up some nice stringers from midrange depths. After last weekend’s cold northwest winds faded into light southern breezes the fish rebounded quickly and resumed biting in that 9 to 14 foot zone where structure such as brushpiles and stakebeds were appealing.    

While a few fish were taken by boaters working main lake ledges in depths of 15 to 20 feet the lion’s share of consistent crappie catches have come from midrange depths lately, which is pretty much the norm for autumn angling.    

Surface temps this week cooled down into the 64 to 66 degree range. By this weekend’s warm up look for temps to climb back into the upper 60’s. Water color remains clear.    

Lake levels were changing slightly but hovered around the 362.2 range at midweek at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation was 362.1. A slow and gradual fall will likely occur the next week or so barring any heavy rains as TVA is pretty much on schedule for its winter drawdown.    

Crappie should continue to move up toward shallow areas this week in response to the cooler surface temps that likely pulled more shad to bays and flats. Not many crappie have been taken in extremely shallow water lately, choosing instead to linger near the mouth of bays or on big flats and ledges in the main lake areas.    

I found good numbers of fish this week occupying stakebeds and brush near drop-offs. The 10 to 13 foot zone was quite productive for me but a few fish were taken deeper at times with some shallow beds paying dividends on cloudy days and later afternoons when lowlight conditions seemed to help.    

Jigs tipped with minnows have worked well as have jigs tipped with various colored Berkley crappie nibbles. Popular color combinations have been red/white, blue/chartreuse, black/chartreuse and some brown/red at times.    

Several days have seen some three-digit catches while we culled down to 50 range of keeper sized crappie. While a lot of crappie are near the 10-inch minimum length limit there are plenty of keepers out there with an occasional slab testing the tackle.    

Expect to encounter a lot of yellow bass and bluegill around the crappie beds this time of year as these feisty rascals are competitive and sprint toward your bait with a vengeance. Sometimes you have to catch a few and get them out of the way before you can get the jig down around the structure where the crappie are holding tight.    

The overall crappie picture is good so don’t let this autumn angling pass you by. It is beautiful on the lake these days as the hardwoods are changing on a daily basis and a parade of colors await you.    

Bass patterns continue to favor submerged grassbeds out on the main lake where anglers are tossing spinnerbaits, Rattle Trap style lures, and some Texas rigged worms and assorted jerk baits. There are some fish in the thick grass mats too and working topwater and weedless lures around visible grass has worked well.    

Some decent numbers of bass have been taken in the submerged grass as anglers find fragments of it on sloping sandbars near drop-offs.    

A few boats are working main lake ledges with Texas rigged worms, Caroline rigs and bit deep diving crankbaits and still finding fish as though it were summer. However, bass are schooling at times once they push schools of shad over the shallow sides of ledges and having a topwater bait handy is a good idea, followed by some spoons and suspending jerk baits once the fish go down.    

Fall is always known for gravel bank fishing and tossing shad colored crankbaits around big rock points, roadbeds, and pea gravel shorelines has been productive. Finding baitfish is the key and there have been some surface feeding frenzies at times in the early morning and late afternoon periods or when some cloudy, rainy days enter the picture.    

Seems Kentucky Lake’s fall bass fishing always has two or three different patterns working at the same time. Meanwhile, nice stable weather is in the forecast so this fall fishing gig is alive and well.

ANGLERS BRACE FOR WEEKEND COLD FRONT…QUICK REBOUND SHOULD OCCUR NEXT WEEK
By Steve McCadams
Updated October 04, 2012

Kentucky Lake’s fall fishing scene has enjoyed a few days of nice weather this week after a rainy start on Monday and while fishing has been quite good for bass and crappie, anglers are bracing for a drastic weather change.

Fall has a reputation for pleasant, stable weather but it appears a cold front will descend this weekend, bringing a dramatic change in temperatures pushed our way by strong north winds on Saturday. The unusual cold front may bring a temporary hiatus to the nice fall fishing anglers have been enjoying for quite some time but watch for a quick rebound by early next week.

Once this weekend’s weather change loses its grip, watch for a high pressure to dominate with high skies for a day or so until south winds return, bringing moderate temps back into the picture. In the aftermath of the cold front will be drastically cooler surface temperatures that should see increased activity for shallow areas.

Surface temperatures this week had already begun to cool and dropped back into the upper 60’s at midweek. Most mornings the surface temps have been starting off around 67 and warming to 72 at midday. By next week look for surface temps to fall into the lower 60’s and camp there for quite some time.

Water color has remained clear despite some rain earlier in the week. Lake levels had been falling slowly since last week and had a minor fluctuation for a day or two but TVA projects a reading of 356.3 at Kentucky Dam this weekend. Upstream at New Johnsonville readings are expected to be 356.2.

Lake levels are down about a foot from a week to ten days ago but pretty much on schedule at this time for TVA’s curve for winter drawdown.

Crappie fishing has held up well this week with some hefty catches coming in from anglers working midrange depths with some movement toward the 7 to 9 foot depths, especially on cloudy days. In the Paris Landing area most of the fish are relating to stakebeds and brushpiles in the 10 to 14 foot zones but have been moving up toward shallows when lake levels are stable or rising.

Last weekend during falling lake levels some good numbers of crappie were caught on the deeper sides of drop-offs in depths of 16 to 18 feet. Not all the crappie have left deeper venues but anglers can expect increased numbers to migrate toward more shallow structure by next week as fish take on a more aggressive attitude in pursuit of shad that are moving up.

Popular bait choices have been jigs in the red/white, red/chartreuse, blue/chartreuse, and some orange/white combos just to name a few. Tipping unpainted leadheads with minnows has worked well at times, as has tipping jigs with Berkley crappie nibbles.

Some days the fish have been finicky with very light strikes but the overall crappie picture has been quite good with some bigger fish beginning to show up. It’s not unusual to catch a lot of fish this time of year that are in the 10-inch range so expect to measure a few. However, it’s good to see the numbers out there as several year classes are well represented.

Bottom line is the fall crappie fishery is alive and well. You can catch some big numbers of fish right now and cull out plenty that qualify for the cooler.

Mixed in with the crappie have been aggressive yellow bass that will test your tackle and patience at times. These feisty rascals always seem to have an appetite and attitude, not to mention being annoying. And, a few good catfish are lingering around those crappie beds too.

Also putting on a feeding spree have been bluegill that are competing for those crappie jigs, live minnows, and Berkley crappie nibbles. Those machine gun strikes are courtesy of some hungry bluegill that have been attacking jigs and minnows with a vengeance.

The yellow bass and bluegill are indeed masters of deception when it comes to stealing your bait this time of year but they will sure put a bow in your rod as they dart about.

Catfish action has been fair this week and a few boats continue to work the edge of the main river channel, drifting slowly with the current. There have been some nice ones taken around the submerged feeder creeks that empty into the river itself.

Bass fishing is still getting good grades from anglers working both aquatic grass patterns and some gravel banks or points. Tossing spinnerbaits, shallow running crankbaits, and some fluke style jerk baits over submerged grassbeds has continued to produce.

Many of the long shallow sandbars have patches of grass that are holding fish. While the grass is not visible on top, it is just below the surface in many areas.

Some boats continue to toss weedless lures around thick, matted grass and some fish are still holding in that habitat, especially if it is near deeper water. At the same time the grass patterns are working a few anglers are favoring gravel points and banks where shad activity has attracted some schooling fish.

Some shallow gravel banks and sloping points are attracting schooling bass this time of year and some surface activity has been underway at times. One key to finding the schooling fish has been to observe the gull activity as they will lead you to the baitfish.

Main lake ledge fishing is not off the radar screen just yet. Casting crankbaits and jig and pig combos is still appealing to some fish that are staying out away from shorelines and relating to drop-offs. At various times during the day the fish are pushing shad out over the shallow sides of ledges where some surface activity has taken place.

With falling surface temperatures next week there should be some surface opportunities taking place as bass will be more aggressive once the front passes through and stable weather returns. Roadbeds and big rocky banks should be appealing to crankbait fishermen next week.

The approaching cold front should be a minor bump in the road for fall fishing. After a few days of heavy coats watch for shirt sleeve weather to return soon. Trees are fading to beautiful colors on a daily basis so once the cold front passes make plans to get back out on the lake.

FALL CRAPPIE ACTION HEATS UP AS SURFACE TEMPS COOL
By Steve McCadams
Updated September 27, 2012

It was the first week of fall and Kentucky Lake crappie anglers got off to a good start with a mixture of weather conditions confronting them.

Seasons officially changed last Saturday and this week’s autumn angling saw some calm days and cool mornings followed by a windy warm up at midweek. The overall fishing scene has been a good one with some hefty stringers of crappie coming from the 9 to 14 foot depth range.

Good numbers of fish were showing up for anglers working jigs and jigs tipped with minnows over manmade fish attractors in the midrange depths but there have been some good fish taken on the deep side of main lake ledges too.

I found some good numbers of keeping size crappie relating to structure in the midrange depths this week and cooler surface temperatures likely pulled more fish to shallow venues at midweek. Rising lake levels late last week probably influenced some fish to move up to shallow flats as lots of baitfish were present.

Surface temps this week were in the 72 to 75 degree range, a slight cool down from last week at this time. Water color remains clear.

Lake levels have been falling slowly this week after a slight surge in elevation last week. The reservoir was changing several inches each day as TVA was pulling a lot of water and attempting to get lake levels back down to normal curve for early fall elevation.

Projected elevation going into the weekend for the Kentucky Dam area will be 356.3, which is down almost a foot from last week. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation will be in the 356.2 range.

Current has been present all week in the main Tennessee River channel so that has helped catfishermen and even some bass and crappie anglers working drop-offs.

Crappie improved throughout the week and showed increased interest levels. There are good numbers of 2 ½ and 3 ½-year classes out there right now so you can catch a lot of fish. Several fish require measurement as to the 10-inch minimum length limit but there’s no doubting the hefty number of fish sporting an appetite.

Popular jig color combinations have been black/red, red/white, and some blue/chartreuse just to name a few. Adding minnows to jigs has enticed bites when fish were finicky and Berkley crappie nibbles have helped too.

Watch for action to hold up with for the next several weeks as more fish move up shallow in response to cooler surface temperatures that pull shad toward shallows. This fall crappie gig is a good one so don’t let this great season pass you by. Weather has been great and there aren’t many people on the lake so it’s quite pleasant out there.

Bass fishermen continue to find fish around submerged grass on the shallow sides of sandbars. The fragmented grass patches seem to be holding good numbers of fish that are chasing shad up into the shallow areas but hanging around the drop-off in-between feeding sprees.

Tossing spinnerbaits, Rattle Traps, and fluke style jerk baits has worked well around the grass patches in 4 to 6 foot depths.

Some shallow sandbars are also appealing to schooling bass that are running shad in the early morning and late afternoon. Shallow running crankbaits have worked well for this pattern and watch for the presence of gulls to help you located the baitfish and overall activity.

A few boat continue to hold on to the summer pattern of main lake ledges where tossing big crankbaits and Texas rigged worms continues to produce fish. Hopping a jig and craw has worked there too.

Gravel banks in Big Sandy have given up some bass this week too as casting shad colored crankbaits and tossing some topwater at times has paid off. Some suspending jerk baits have paid off too as the fall season often sees good bass move up on the gravel shorelines in pursuit of shad that feed on the midge hatches that occur in the early morning and late afternoon periods.

There have been some decent stringers taken in shallow water the last week or so.

Catfishing has been decent this week courtesy of the current present in the main river. Boats have been drifting slowly along the edge of the main channel but those feeder creeks that empty into the main channel have been popular places as the fish often hang in deeper holes and wait for the current to wash baitfish their way.

Fall has gotten off to a good start for bass and crappie anglers with several good weeks ahead. The nice weather and good fishing are a tough combination to beat. Kentucky Lake shorelines are starting to show a little color in the trees too so the scenery is yet another reason to get out and about.

FALL FISHING OFFICIALLY UNDERWAY…GREAT WEATHER AWAITS YOU
By Steve McCadams
Updated September 20, 2012

Anglers on Kentucky Lake this week thought fall slipped in the door a few days early as a cool snap in the aftermath of a rainy day on Monday and gale force winds on Tuesday faded into nice sunny weather at midweek.

Fall fishing on Kentucky Lake officially begins Saturday morning when the season arrives on the calendar but fishing conditions have already been in the fall mode for quite some time.

After an unusual start this week’s fishing scene turned into beautiful cool mornings where a touch of fog faded into nice sunny days where light winds made it great for fishing. It appears some nice days are ahead too as moderate temperatures are in the forecast, a nice scenario to for the start of autumn angling.

Lake levels have been rising the last few days after areas to our south received heavy rainfall on Monday. By this weekend elevation will be about a foot higher that it was last weekend as the reservoir has been rising a few inches each day.

Projections for the weekend will see lake stages at 357.3 at Kentucky Dam while upstream at New Johnsonville elevation is expected to be in the 357.5 range. There is a lot of water flowing through the Tennessee River system after heavy rains drenched middle and portions of east Tennessee earlier this week.

Surface temperatures reflected the cooler conditions this week and fell into the 74 to 76 degree range, which is a few degrees cooler than last week at this time. Water color remains clear across most of the reservoir except for a few shoreline and island areas where winds or boat waves have stirred sediments at times.

Crappie have been hitting pretty good this week with some nice stringers taken in the 11 to 14 foot depth range at times but several fish appeared to favor deeper spots and occupied structure in the 14 to 20 foot depth range.

Activity has been best on the cloudy days as fish seemed sluggish a few mornings after the cool front when mile high skies delivered bluebird days with no wind, a scenario that can often produce finicky moods. Fish seemed to hit good in the early morning and later afternoon periods the last few days but slowed during the midday when a bright sun beamed down on placid waters.

Action improved whenever light breezes brought ripples but the combination of high pressure, stagnant winds, and bright sun had crappie reluctant to bite at times. With stable weather patterns now hanging around watch for an improvement the next few days as more fish move up toward shallow venues influenced by rising lake levels.

Baits of choice this week have been red/white combo colored jigs tipped with minnows but a few black/red and blue/chartreuse combos produced too. Adding some Berkley crappie nibbles has also enhanced strikes at times.

Crappie have been holding tight to cover during the bright days and favoring structure near the drop-off or deeper water. Anglers can expect some good fishing in the days ahead as this fall crappie fishing kicks it up a notch.

Bass action has been good this week for anglers working fragmented grassbeds on shallow ledges. Tossing shallow running crankbaits, fluke style jerk baits, spinnerbaits and some topwater have paid off. A lot of sloping flats have submerged grass on them and the fish have been relating to such areas even though the grass is not visible all the way to the surface.

Other patterns producing have been thicker grassbeds where weedless frogs and rats have worked. Tossing worms and spinnerbaits around the parameters of thick grass have worked too.

Gravel banks are always popular during the fall and some are producing right now. Casting shad colored crankbaits and swim baits along gravel when shad are visible has worked well too.

Some boats are still flogging the main lake ledges with big Texas rigged worms and crankbaits. As surface temps continue to cool the deeper fish should be moving up toward shallow sides of ledges and that already appears to be underway.

Some scattered reports from catfishermen continue to trickle in as they work the riverbank and bottom bounce nightcrawlers and chicken livers around the 25 to 40 foot depth range. Current should be present next week as TVA will be pulling water due to the recent surge in lake levels so that should stimulate the catfish bite.

Great fall weather and fine fishing opportunities await you as this transition of seasons takes place. It’s quiet on the lake too as not many boats are out there but those who do not wet a hook in this season are missing out.

COOL SURFACE TEMPS HELP ANGLERS JUMP START FALL
By Steve McCadams
Updated September 13, 2012

Kentucky Lake anglers got a dose of fall weather this week and it sure felt good. After last Saturday’s drastic weather change when a gale north wind blew through, dropping temperatures and lowering humidity, the September weather has been sensational.

Surface temperatures responded to the cooler conditions and dropped back into the 78 to 79 degree range, which is about 10 to 12 degrees below readings of the past two months. A little fog lingered over portions of the lake this week, painting a nice early fall picture and perhaps a taste of more such mornings to come.

Lake levels have fluctuated a few inches recently, a likely result of some thunderstorms that dropped significant rain upstream. After rising several inches the reservoir is projected to be in the 356.8 range this weekend at both Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville.

Lake levels at the present time are up several inches from a week ago.

A slight drop in lake levels will likely occur by early next week unless heavy rains return. Water color remains clear across the reservoir.

After Saturday’s cool front passed through, a high pressure system has dominated the weather picture with clear blue skies and light winds. Increasing clouds are expected as the weekend approaches with only a slight chance of rain but the cloud cover should work in favor of anglers. Often times the first few days after a cool front are beautiful to be out but the high skies make it tough on fishing.

That seemed to be the scenario this week as activity showed some improvement at midweek for both bass and crappie anglers. Winds returned to a southerly flow and cloud cover entered the picture.

Crappie were showing signs of improvement this week as more shad were venturing toward shallow flats in the Paris Landing sector and up Big Sandy and into West Sandy. A few more keeper size fish were taken in the 9 to 12 foot depth range compared to last week.

No doubt the cooler nights and lower surface temperatures will enhance the bite for crappie anglers working shallow structure in the days ahead. The rising lake levels likely stimulated some movement as well toward shallow structure the last few days.


Even a slight cool down can stimulate the sluggish mood of crappie this time of year. The fish might have been in midrange depths for quite some time but just not showing much interest. Watch for a more aggressive attitude in the weeks ahead as the fall action continues to improve.

Baits of choice continue to be jigs tipped with minnows or just live minnow rigs.

Bass action slowed some last weekend and earlier this week due to the cool front and high pressure but rebounded some at midweek. Popular patterns continue to be grassbeds, main lake ledges, and some gravel banks where fish are moving up on structure such as shallow crappie beds.

Schools of shad were meandering around gravel banks at times and while the topwater bite was off earlier this week watch for that to improve once cloudy days filter out some of the bright light and keep the baitfish active.

Once shad move up on gravel banks they often display a feeding frenzy in lowlight conditions when feeding on midge hatches, a small insect that emerges in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Working the gravel banks with topwater can be productive as can shad colored crankbaits when the fish are there but not surface feeding.

Aquatic vegetation continues to thrive as hydrilla and spiny leaf are the dominant grass in many areas but some milfoil is out there too. Bass will continue to relate to the abundance of grassbeds in the weeks ahead and spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms, and a variety of weedless frogs or rats will be productive at times as will floating fluke style baits.

Buzzbaits and assorted jerk baits will be good choices at times if schooling fish are encountered around schools of baitfish.

Some boats are still backing away from the thick grass and working fragments of vegetation found in deeper water or on sloping points. A few boats are working ledges altogether and avoiding the grass while working deep diving crankbaits, Carolina rigs, and hopping a jig and craw combo with moderate results.

A little current should be in the picture this week so that could work in favor of anglers fishing near main channel areas.

Fall catfishing has been fair but inconsistent as some anglers were struggling this week after finding fish last week. With more current working in their favor boats along the main river channel this week should see improvement as the fish congregate on the down-current side of submerged creek channels or bends in the riverbank itself.

Although fall doesn’t officially arrive until September 22, fall fishing conditions are already here.

COOL WEATHER COMING FOR ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated September 6, 2012

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene this week had a mixture of hot and humid conditions with some thunderstorms thrown in there at midweek and while summer made its presence known, it may lose its grip this weekend as a cool snap is on the way.

Forecasts indicate fall conditions will enter the picture later this week, bringing a welcomed reprieve that could jumpstart autumn angling. Temperatures are expected to fall into the upper 50’s at night and climb only into the upper 70’s during the day once the weekend arrives.

The cool conditions should stimulate bass and crappie action and it will be welcomed by catfishermen too. Seems the first cool spell of fall perks up sluggish fish that take on a more active mood as they too feel the cooler conditions and increase feeding sprees.

Surface temperatures this week reflected the hot weather and lingered around the 82 to 84 degree range but will likely fall several degrees by early next week once cool nights enter the picture.

Water levels had been falling slowly since last week but actually rose a few inches at midweek, a likely response to some heavy thunderstorms across the Tennessee River watershed. Projected elevation for the weekend will be 356.4 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville projections are for 356.3.

Water color remains clear across the reservoir.

Watch for crappie to improve next week as more shad migrate toward shallow regions in response to cooler surface temps. Once those big schools of threadfish shad start schooling at the surface and meander toward shallow water while feeding on zooplankton the crappie will be hot on their trail.

That means more fish will move into midrange depth zones of 9 to 13 feet or less, especially if cloudy days enter the picture. The last week or so there have been several small fish hanging out in those midrange structures but bigger fish were hard to come by, a scenario that could change quickly next week.

Once surface temps fall back into the 70’s anglers should see significant improvement as crappie will take on a more aggressive attitude with an increased appetite.

Baits of choice lately continue to favor jigs tipped with live minnows. Just live minnow rigs have worked well too.

Bass action has been good and anglers are finding those weedless frogs and rats working well over thick grass mats but at the same time deeper ledges and some flats with fragments of grass have worked well too.

Main lake ledges are still worth consideration and tossing big crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, and Carolina rigs have continued to produce.

As lake levels fall more aquatic grassbeds are exposing themselves so there is an abundance of hydrilla, spiny leaf, and milfoil present. Finding baitfish in the grass has been the key but the fish have used the thicker grass that provides a shady canopy with open pockets are close by.

Watch for some improvement in the topwater bite next week once cooler conditions arrive.

Catfishing on the main river channel has bit hit and miss this summer but on the days when current was flowing fish responded favorably. Bouncing bottom in the 25 to 35 foot depths where feeder creeks entered the main channel have been productive. Nightcrawlers and chicken livers have been popular bait choices as of late.

It appears a touch of fall is fast approaching and no one will complain if the season gets here a week or two early.

COOL MORNINGS STIMULATE ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated August 23, 2012

Nice cool mornings have greeted anglers lately with a touch of fall in the air at a time when hot and humid conditions are the norm. In fact, below average temperatures lingered last week and most of this week giving fishermen a lucky break as August isn’t known for cool spells.

Surface temperatures reflected the cool snap and have fallen into the 81 to 83 degree range this week, which is down several degrees since last weekend. Water color remains clear.

Lake levels have been falling slowly the last few days after sleeping somewhat above normal the past two weeks. Observed elevation going into the weekend will be 357.6 at Kentucky Dam, which down several inches from last week at this time. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels will be in the 357.5 range.

Overall fishing conditions have been pretty good this week as crappie seemed to perk up compared to last week’s sluggish mood. A few more fish were hitting in the 9 to 14 foot depth range.

Boats working live minnows and jigs tipped with minnows around submerged stakebeds and brushpiles experienced improvement, a likely response to cooler conditions that may have seen more schools of shad moving up to midrange flats.

There were some crappie taken on the deeper sides of main lake ledges too as the 18 to 20 foot depth range gave up more fish this week as well.

Mixed in with crappie on the deep ledges have been some pretty good numbers of bluegill too. A few boats have learned to catch the decent size bluegill too while tightlining redworms or waxworms on those deep ledges.

Bass action has been fair this week and the increasing acreage of aquatic vegetation continues to offer bass fishermen an abundance of visible structure. Most areas with five feet of water or less along the Tennessee River area from Paris Landing south are covered with a combination of pondweed and spiny leaf naiad, not to mention the lush green Eurasian watermilfoil.

Finding minnows working the grass has been the key to finding bass as all the vegetation looks fishy. A variety of presentations have paid dividends such as weedless frogs and rats fish over the thicker matts of grass while chartreuse and blue skirted spinnerbaits worked on the parameters have been popular choices.

Topwater has worked well at times such as Rebel’s Pop-R, Heddon’s Zara spook, and Storm’s Chugg-Bug. Floating worms and fluke style baits have been good choices too, not to mention buzzbaits.

Texas rigged worms have paid off around some deeper grass or near breaks in the grassbeds where shallow and deep water are close together.

Several boats are avoiding the grass patterns and targeting drop-offs with the likes of big Texas rigged worms, deep diving crankbaits, some drop-shot finesse presentations and jig and craw combos. The ledge anglers are also tossing Carolina rigged worms and craws with moderate success.

Catfishing showed some improvement at midweek once current picked up in the main river channel. Last week the catfish were slow most days as anglers were not seeing any current but that changed earlier this week when TVA began pulling more water.

Boats working the edge of the main river channel this week were tying into more fish. Depths of 20 to 35 feet were producing and baits of choice ranged from chicken livers to nightcrawlers and big minnows.

Will fall come early this year? That would suit anglers just fine and the last week or so with cool mornings and low humidity sure made it feel like fall was fast approaching.

BASS FISHING TOPS WEEKLY REPORT
By Steve McCadams
Updated August 17, 2012

Some pretty nice days have greeted anglers this week as lower temperatures and diminished humidity have worked in favor of fishermen, an unusual scenario for mid-August. Several mornings have been cool as cloud cover gave it a fall feeling for a few hours before the sun kicked in at midday.

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has been dominated this week by good bass reports from anglers taking advantage of cooler conditions and current along the main river that seemed to stimulate the bite. From main lake ledges to relatively shallow grassbeds patterns, consistent catches have been reported.

There have been some cloudy mornings where topwater action was underway for anglers tossing buzzbaits and assorted jerk baits around the edges of grass where schools of baitfish were abundant. Floating fluke style worms and Texas rigged worms have worked too as have chartreuse and blue skirted spinnerbaits with gold willowleaf blades.

For deep water patterns the big Texas rigged worms in 10 to 11 inch lengths continue to produce. Deep diving crankbaits in shad variations have produced too as some bass are schooling and pushing shad up on the shallow sides of drop-offs at times.

Carolina rigged worms were still working on the deep ledges as were some drop-shot presentations.

From the crappie department comes word of a few scattered fish taken by anglers spider rigging in the West Sandy and Big Sandy area around midrange depths of 9 to 12 feet. Down around the Paris Landing sector fish seemed a little deeper as anglers there were taking some keepers from 10 to 14 foot depths around stakebeds and brushpiles.

A lot of anglers are tipping jigs with live minnows and finding success with that presentation while some are fishing live minnows exclusively.

Some boats were working deeper ledges and tightlining jigs and bumping bottom with double hook rigs in depths of 18 to 22 feet where action was fair. Big numbers of crappie have not been showing up the last two weeks.

Catfishing along the main river channel banks has been fair this week and the steady current has seen some increase in activity. Most boats are working the edge of the main river channel where feeder creeks emptied into the main channel.

Sightings of white bass in the jumps have been rare and overall action has been slow.

Lake levels continue to be somewhat unusual for mid-August. Elevation this week is still a few inches above normal as thunderstorms upstream continue to dump water into the TVA watershed. Water color has been clear.

Observed elevation at Kentucky Dam is projected to be in the 358.5 range as the weekend approaches. Upstream at New Johnsonville readings are in the 358.3 range.

Cooler nights and moderate days have seen surface temperature moderate into the 85 to 86 degree range.

COOL SPELL COULD HELP FISHING
By Steve McCadams
Updated August 09, 2012

    It appears the weatherman will send a touch of fall this way as rainy days are expected to precede a cool front as the weekend approaches. Cooler conditions are expected for a few days with below average temperatures that should work in favor of fishermen on Kentucky Lake.

    Highs are forecasted to be in low 80’s this weekend with nights cooling off into the mid 60’s, a welcomed change from the hot and humid conditions that have lingered earlier in the week.

    Lake levels have been a bit unusual too as elevation has risen a few days with more runoff entering the Tennessee River watershed from thunderstorms upstream. Projected elevation for the weekend will be 358.4 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels will be in the 358.3 range.

    Surface temperature has been in the 86 to 89 degree range this week but may cool some this weekend. Water color has been clear. Some current has been present this week as TVA continues to push water through Pickwick and Kentucky Dams.

    Summer bass patterns have held up well despite a rash of hot weather that has hung around for about two weeks. Some nice stringers have been taken by anglers working main lake ledges and the presence of current lately has improved the ledge bite.

    Popular presentations have ranged from some drop-shot presentations on the deep sides of ledges to activity up on the top sides of sandbars where both crankbaits and jig and craw combos have worked. Big Texas rigged worms have been consistent producers as well with such colors as blue fleck, pumpkin pepper, red shad, and black/blue pearl just to name a few.

    Some bass have been running shad up on the top sides of sandbars at times in depths of 7 to 10 feet only to fall back on the deeper sides of ledges and hang out until a feeding spree occurs and the fish push some shad toward the shallow zones.

    In addition to the popular drop-off summer pattern has been the continuation of fish taken around milfoil grassbeds. The abundance of aquatic vegetation is harboring a lot of baitfish and bass have been relating to the grass pattern all summer.

    Tossing spinnerbaits and Texas rigged worms have works well but a few mornings and late afternoons have seen some surface activity take place on buzzbaits, floating fluke style jerk baits and assorted chuggers such as Rebel’s Pop-R and Storm’s Chugg-Bug.

    Grass is present around island rims and extending out on points where some good submerged cover is present, especially if the grass fragments are near ditches or deep water.

    Night fishing has been attracting a few boats in an attempt to beat the heat lately. Tossing spinnerbaits along gravel banks has produced a few fish too.

    Crappie action has been fair with a few fish coming from 10 to 13 foot zones. Fish were scattered but relating to structure in the depth range and showing a preference for jigs tipped with minnows and live minnows themselves fished in a vertical presentation.

    While a few fish were coming from deep sides of ledges in 18 to 24 feet activity was somewhat slow in the deeper areas when compared to the structure in midrange depths.

    An occasional boat was seen trolling deep diving crankbaits along the edges of drop-offs and picking up a mixture of crappie, sauger, bass and catfish at times.

    Although August is normally a popular time to see some surface activity from schooling white bass no sightings are coming in.

    Some boats are night fishing and working minnows beneath floating lights where a few crappie have been taken. No doubt the approaching cool spell will bring a welcomed change to the fishing scene.

ANGLERS BATTLE HEAT AS FISHING COOLS
By Steve McCadams
Updated August 02, 2012

Kentucky Lake anglers have battled some hot temperatures recently as a few three-digit days returned to the fishing scene, cooling off the bite for most bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish anglers.

Last week was somewhat surprising as to lake levels when the reservoir rose several inches after some local and regional thunderstorms apparently dropped enough runoff to swell streams. After a slight surge lake levels are now falling slowly and pretty much on track for TVA’s winter drawdown curve.

Elevation is projected to be 358 at Kentucky Dam as the weekend approaches. Upstream around New Johnsonville readings will be in the 357.8 range. There has been some current in the main river this week as TVA has pulled some water through the system and that has helped bass and catfish anglers at times.

Surface temperatures are in the 86 to 89 degree range. Water color is clear.

Bass fishing held up pretty good this week as the slight current seemed to stimulate movement of baitfish around both visible grassbeds along the river islands and flats where submerged mats of grass was attracting shad.

Main lake ledges were holding bass too and the typical summer pattern of big Texas rigged worms, deep diving crankbaits in shad colored variations and jig and craw combos were working well. Caroline rigged worms and lizards were also producing at times.

Depths of 9 to 13 feet were holding bass on the top sides of ledges around mussel shell beds but fish were also relating to any structure in that depth range if deep water was close by. Some fish continue to linger on the deeper sides of drop-offs where 15 to 20 foot depths were holding bigger fish at times.    

Schools of minnows were relating to visible milfoil grass across the reservoir and bass were hitting topwater in the early morning and late afternoon but backing off in favor of spinnerbaits and worms worked on the parameters once lowlight conditions faded.

Crappie have been sluggish but a few are still lingering in the deeper stakebeds around depths of 10 to 14 feet. Jigs tipped with minnows were working well and just a live minnow presentation paid off too. I found fish still accepting a jig tipped with Berkley crappie nibbles fished slowly in thick cover as well.

Deeper ledges have produced some scattered crappie this week as a few boats were working the 19 to 25 foot zones and finding fish holding around deep brush piles or stumps. Live minnows worked on bottom bumping rigs were appealing to the deep crappie.

Some gravel banks around steeper shorelines were still holding on to a few bluegill this week as were bridge piers and boat houses with docks. Seems a few nice ones are hanging around such areas and taking crickets or worms tossed their way.

Catfish activity picked up some this week which is likely the result of increased current in the main river channel. A few boats were tying into some dandies along the bank of the river around 25 to 35 foot depths and some were working the down current sides of the piers at Paris Landing Bridge with moderate success.

Hardly any sighting of white bass have been reported but traditionally, the month of August is popular for surface activity when the fish school and bust the surface chasing shad.

LAKE LEVELS SEE SLIGHT RISE…
FISHING HOLDS UP
By Steve McCadams
Updated July 18, 2012

It’s somewhat unusual to see lake levels rising in mid to late July but Kentucky Lake’s elevation actually got a rare boost this week and rose a few inches in the aftermath of abundant thunderstorms.     

The year’s highest reading came at midweek when elevation at Kentucky Dam climbed to 358, which is still a foot below summer pool but up several inches from the previous week. Upstream at New Johnsonville the reservoir crested around 357.7.    

TVA’s curve begins its annual drawdown in early July so odds are the reservoir will begin falling slowly in the weeks ahead anyway. Meanwhile water color remains clear across Kentucky Lake.    

Surface temps this week stayed in the 86 to 88 degree range as last week series of thunderstorms cooled things off a bit and sent some fresh water into the river system.    

Conditions have been pretty good lately for summer anglers who have enjoyed light winds and cloudy mornings. Topping the list of successful anglers have been bass fishermen who continue to reap the rewards of both grassbed and deep ledge fishing patterns.    

There have been some nice stringers of fish taken this week in local tournaments where 5-fish limits commanded weights of 20-pound plus stringers to win. Normally, winning weights this time of year are lingering around the 17 to 18 pound range but seems a lot of boaters are figuring out the deep pattern and landing hefty fish during the hot weather periods.    

Deep sides of main lake ledges are still producing the majority of the hefty stringers but not all the fish are deep as good numbers are also coming from the top sides of ledges at times or up on the shelf itself. Tossing jigs with split-tail trailers or crawfish imitations have worked well for the deeper depths of 18 to 25 feet.    

A few boats are hopping jigs but alternating their presentations with huge Texas rigged worms, Carolina rigged lizards, craws, and worms or sometimes mixing a spoon or big swim bait in the arsenal.    

Big deep diving crankbaits in shad colored variations are still working too. Several fish have been found this week chasing shad up into the 8 to 14 foot zones and tossing crankbaits in those areas sure covers a lot of water and triggers strikes at times.    

Grassbeds continue to hold a lot of fish and a buffet of baits are working around the abundance of milfoil that seems to be holding abundant schools of baitfish. Texas rigged worms are working well in such colors as fire/ice, green pumpkin pepper, cotton candy, red shad, and Tequila sunrise just to name a few.    

In the early morning or late afternoon hours bass have been hitting surface lures ranging from buzzbaits to chugger style topwater presentations, not to mention floating flukes and assorted weedless lures twitched slowly around pockets of vegetation.    

There are plenty of grassy areas to choose from but most of the aquatic vegetation appears to be around the stateline bays and further south toward Paris Landing down to New Johnsonville.    

Spinnerbaits with gold willowleaf blades have worked well around the grass too and the grass pattern has worked at the same time anglers are working deep ledges.    

Crappie action was fair this week with a few fish coming from deep stakebeds and brushpiles in the 14 foot depth zone. While a few deeper spots around creek and river channels where structure was located in 18 to 22 foot depths were producing it seemed a few fish had returned to midrange areas, a likely result of the rise in lake levels coupled with some cloud cover.    

Live minnows and jigs tipped with minnows are producing best.    

Not much activity showing up in the catfish category or white bass arena this week. Activity should improve for catfishermen working those main river banks and deep, submerged feeder creeks if some current enters the picture.    

Mayfly hatches continue to be scarce across the reservoir as mid-summer usually sees more sightings but not many flies have been seen since July entered the picture. Meanwhile, anglers welcome the return of a few thunderstorms and cloudy days that have kept the summer bit going lately.

COOLER WEATHER/RAIN AID ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated July 12, 2012

Long overdue rains, cooler days and overcast skies entered the fishing scene this week for Kentucky Lake anglers who got a reprieve from the three-digit temperatures that showed up for an unwelcomed visit the previous two weeks.    

Conditions improved the last few days in the aftermath of thunderstorms the last four days (and nights) that drenched some areas, bringing high winds as part of the package. Temps the last few days have been in the upper 80’s to low 90’s, which is down 10 to 15 degrees from some record highs set over the last week to ten days.    

While localized thunderstorms dropped several inches of rain in spots, the overall region is still thirsty and lake levels have only risen a few short inches. TVA projections for the weekend will see readings of 357.6 at Kentucky Dam while the New Johnsonville sector is expected to have elevation in the 357.5 range.    

Water color remains clear. Lake levels are up slightly from last week at this time but still well below average yet the rains did add fresh water to the river system that was much in need of a fresh drink.    

Surface temperatures cooled slightly from last week’s 90-plus readings and have been in the 86 to 88 degree range the last few days. A couple of cloudy mornings also had fog that help filter the sunlight until midday, making it nice for summer anglers for a change.    

From the bass fishing arena comes continued success stories by anglers working aquatic vegetation. Grassbeds continue to increase in acreage and are growing around island rims and shallow flats, providing an abundance of cover for both baitfish and bass that are relating to the submerged structure.    

Spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms, fluke style jerkbaits, and assorted surface lures ranging from chuggers to buzzbaits have produced around the milfoil grass. A few anglers are tossing weedless frogs and rats over visible carpets of grass while others are falling back and working submerged grass fragments growing on deeper points or flats adjacent to deeper water with shallow crankbaits, worms, and spinnerbaits.    

There are abundant schools of minnows using the parameters of some grassbeds but it’s a trial and error approach as the bait moves in and out, influenced by wind and some current in places. Find the shad and you’ll encounter the bass that are hot on their trail.    

Main lake ledges are always worthy of consideration this time of year and the drop-offs continue to produce for anglers working them big Texas rigged worms in the 10 to 11 inch length range. Carolina rigged worms and lizards are producing too as are jig and craw combos.    

Depths of 18 to 25 feet are still holding on to bass but there’s plenty of fish relating to the top sides of the sandbars in places and also near the drop-off itself, especially if you find some structure. At times the bass are moving to feed and chasing shad on the top sides of ledges only to fall back at times and hang out near some humps or ledges until a feeding spree stimulates them.     

Tossing big deep diving crankbaits is still on the summer menu as well. So, you can find a variety of patterns still working for a variety of depths and lure choices. The scenario is vintage Kentucky Lake summer bass fishing.    

Crappie activity seemed to rebound some this week courtesy of the cooler conditions and cloud cover. Fish were not quite as sluggish as the last two weeks when exceptionally hot weather had an adverse effect.    

Increased numbers of fish showed up from some deeper stakebeds and brushpiles located in 14 to 18 foot depths. And, some deeper spots in the main lake were producing a few more fish this week as structure in the 18 to 25 foot depth zone was holding crappie.    

Live minnows and jigs tipped with minnows were working best but tipping jigs with Berkley crappie nibbles was also appealing at times.    

Some bluegill were biting in deeper depths as those deep crappie confines were holding several. Catfish were still relating to midrange depths too and hiding out in deep crappie cover.    

There has been a slight amount of current at times along the main river and that should help the catfish bite  along those submerged creek channels that empty into the main river channel in that 25 to 35 foot depth range.    

TThe fishing scene has been much more pleasant this week thanks to a break from the hot and dry conditions that had dominated far too long.

ABOVE AVERAGE TEMPS/BELOW AVERAGE LAKE LEVELS GREET ANGLERS…BASS BITE HOLDING UP
By Steve McCadams
Updated July 4, 2012

Above average temperatures and below average lake levels continue to greet anglers who have battled adverse conditions for quite a spell.     

Kentucky Lake’s summer fishing scene has held up pretty good for bass fishermen this week despite lingering heat and low lake levels. Decent stringers were still being caught by anglers working drop-offs and fish were still relating to the abundance of grassbeds where baitfish were hiding.    

Drought conditions continue to influence the region as low flows throughout the Tennessee River watershed due to a lack of rain will keep the reservoir’s elevation below TVA’s normal curve for lake levels.    

In normal years Kentucky Lake would have seen a slow increase in elevation throughout April and climbed to a summer pool mark of 359 by early May. Traditional summer pool level would have been maintained until early July when the slow winter drawdown begins but this year things have been quite different.    

Presently, lake levels are in the 357.4 range at Kentucky Dam, a reading that has been holding its own for several weeks. Upstream at New Johnsonville Steam Plant sector the elevation will be 357.2 as the weekend approaches.    

TVA has been pulling some water through the system but it’s discharging about the same amount as the inflow; thus, lake levels have been stable for quite some time.    

Surface temperatures this week peaked at 90 degrees, a reflection of the three-digit days last weekend and earlier this week where warm nights hung around too. Early morning readings were starting out around 87 but crossing the threshold by midday. Water color remains clear.    

Thanks to some light breezes it hasn’t been all bad out there.  Anglers are still hoping for some cloud cover and rain to drench a thirsty fishery but as long as the wind stays up the temperatures have been bearable, although short boat rides sure are enticing at times.    

Bass continue to relate to the increasing grassbed areas where baitfish are hanging around as the aquatic carpets provide both cover and shade. The bite has been decent in the early morning hours and late afternoon but slowed during midday once the bright sun beams.    

While a few fish have been taken on assorted topwater jerk baits, along with spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, the lure of choice has been Texas rigged worms fished on the parameters where grass has deeper water close by. Some of the submerged grass growing on points protruding into deeper water are attracting fish that move up in lowlight and chase shad for brief periods.    

Thick carpets of grass are also appealing to a few anglers tossing weedless surface lures such as rats, frogs, and floating fluke style presentations in pockets of open water surrounded by grass.    

Deeper ledges are still producing fish too as big Texas rigged worms seem to have the most appeal but jig and craw combos, deep diving crankbaits and Carolina rigged worms and Zoom’s brush hog have also worked at times.    

Worms in the 10 to 12-inch length have been popular when fished with a ½ to 5/8-ounce slip sinker. Colors of choice have ranged from plum, blue-fleck, and black/blue to pumpkin-pepper, cotton candy, and fire/ice. Zoom, Culprit, and Berkley’s big power bait series have been a few popular producers.    

Some anglers are still working the deep sides of ledges with spoons and heavy jigs to flush out some bigger fish from the 18 to 25 foot depths. However, there are still decent numbers relating to the top sides of the sandbars at times or lingering near the drop-off itself when wind is present.    

Schools of shad were roaming the top side of main lake ledges and bass were hot on their trail at times as the 9 to 12 foot zones were worthy of consideration when tossing both worms and crankbaits. However, not many of us want to toss that huge crankbait for extended periods in this type of weather.    

Crappie activity seemed to diminish this week as the increased surface temperatures combined with a high pressure system delivering bright skies did not work in favor of anglers stalking summer crappie. While some cloud cover and fresh water into the system would likely help the sluggish bite, not much relief is in sight as to changes in weather patterns.    

A few fish were taken this week in the 18 to 25 foot depth range as they backed out of midrange depths and occupied structure near the main river channel. Jigs tipped with minnows and just live minnows presented in a vertical presentation were producing if fished slowly and methodically around the deep cover.    

A few fish were hanging around the midrange stakebeds in 12 to 14 foot depths but numbers declined there since last week. The high skies and clear water seemed to have pulled fish toward deeper venues this week, not to mention rising surface temps.    

Bites were light as the fish were not aggressive and displaying a reluctant mood to feed, a likely result of the rising surface temperatures. No night fishing reports have come in but it’s likely some fish could be taken beneath the lights if anglers set up shop over some main lake ledges where schools of shad could be lured to the boat’s locale.    

Mayfly hatches have been somewhat scarce the last two weeks but usually show up in the early to mid-July time frame. There have been some bluegill hanging out around the deeper ledges, along with some hefty catfish that have jumped on jigs and minnow rigs dunked by crappie anglers.    

Seems the catfish are relating more to the midrange depths instead of moving out to the edge of the main river channel as is normally the case when hot weather descends. A lack of current has likely been a factor for many summer catfishermen who are usually seen working the edge of the river channel and drifting with the flow.    

Everyone is hoping for some rain. Keep your rods crossed.

THREE DIGIT TEMPS GREET ANGLERS…AND SUMMER JUST STARTED!
By Steve McCadams
Updated June 29, 2012

Anglers are dealing with the warm weather by rising early and hitting the lake just after dawn peaks across the eastern ridges or deferring their outings to late afternoon trips in order to battle three-digit temps that have slipped in the door.    

July hasn’t arrived and summer hasn’t been here long but the weather man was crowing loud this week as to the late June forecast that will see 100-degree plus temps escort the calendar’s change as the weekend arrives.    

No doubt fishermen are wondering what lies ahead for the summer fishing scene here on Kentucky Lake as hot and dry conditions are dominating the scenario. And, July and August have a reputation for more of the same.    

Despite a lack of rain that continues to result in low flows on the Tennessee River system fishing hasn’t been all bad for bass and crappie anglers. Some pretty impressive stringers of bass are still coming in on a regular basis and crappie anglers working deeper ledges are scoring as well.    

Clear water conditions continue to best describe the turbidity of most of Kentucky Lake but high winds have whipped up some stain in a few places at times. Earlier this week a gusty northeast wind did just that in the upper end of Big Sandy and some bays along the Tennessee River.    

Surface temperatures this week have lingered around the 83 to 85 degree range as there were a couple of cool mornings leading up to the hot forecast now descending on the region. Expect temps to rise to the upper 80’s by this weekend.    

Lake levels continue to reflect the lack of rainfall and runoff entering the system. The drought conditions have worn out their welcome as Kentucky Lake’s elevation actually fell a few inches this week. Observed readings at midweek were 357.4 at Kentucky Dam and 357.3 at New Johnsonville Steam Plant sector.    

That elevation is projected for the weekend as Kentucky Lake remains below normal summer pool of 359, a mark that will not be reached this year for the first time in recent memory and perhaps the first time in the reservoir’s history.    

Bass fishermen are still finding two patterns paying dividends. Expanding acreage of aquatic vegetation as a result of the clear water conditions and low lake levels continues to attract a lot of pin minnows and shad so the bass are relating to the grass pattern.    

Deep sides of main lake ledges are also giving up good fish and some of the summer’s best stringers have been taken in the deep confines of 18 to 25 depths. No doubt the clear water and low lake levels have sent some bass deeper than usual the last few weeks and a lack of current may also be a contributing factor to the deep bite.    

Anglers have been hopping jigs and craw combos, big Texas rigged worms, and even hopping spoons at times. Some big deep diving crankbaits have worked too but some of those deep ledges are holding fish that are just too deep at times for crankbaits to reach them.    

Popular colors choices for the 10 and 11-inch worms rigged Texas and Carolina style have been black/blue, fire/ice, red shad, cotton candy, and pumpkin pepper just to name a few. Some Carolina rigged worms, lizards and Zoom’s brush hog have worked at times.    

As to grass fishing the shallow flats and island rims south of the Paris Landing sector all the way past New Johnsonville are increasing as to their mats of vegetation. Eurasian watermilfoil is abundant in many areas of 5 feet or less depth as the clear water has really stimulated the growth of weeds the last few weeks.    

Baitfish have been abundant at times in many areas of the grass, especially if some wind is present and pushes the schools  minnows into weedlines or parameters of grassbeds near ditches and creek channels.    

Spinnerbaits and buzzbaits have worked in the early morning and late afternoon hours as have shad colored jerk baits. Texas rigged worms have appealed too when worked on the outside of the thick grass while some weedless surface baits are entering the equation now that thick grassbeds are coming to the surface and establishing a carpet of shade for fish.    

It continues to be an interesting year for anglers as the early spring weather accelerated fishing patterns while the lack of rainfall, low lake levels and above average temperatures now team up to challenge anglers as the summer doldrums descend.    

Crappie were moving toward deeper depths this week as the midrange structure that has been holding them for weeks seemed to have less appeal. A few fish were still hanging in the 12 t 14 foot depth range but some of the better size crappie are now relating to structure in the 16 to 20 foot depths.    

All in all anglers are taking it in stride and dealing with lake levels and weather that is beyond their control. The fish seem to be adapting so the fishermen might as well join them.

Steve McCadams "Casting for a Cure"
Kids Fishing Rodeo
(13th Annual Event Puts Big Smiles On Small Faces)

Calling all youngsters who want to catch fish and win prizes at the same time!   

The 13th Annual Steve McCadams “Casting For A Cure” Kids Fishing Rodeo returns to Carroll Lake on Saturday, June 9th for a fun filled morning where even little fish bring on big smiles.   

Girls and boys ages 15 and under are invited to participate in the FREE event which will benefit the American Cancer Society. Each year McCadams teams up with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the big event is fast approaching.    

More than 3,700 kids from five states have been introduced to the great sport of fishing since the rodeo’s conception.    

Special plaques and bicycles will be awarded to kids catching the most and biggest fish in four separate age brackets. Age brackets will be 5 and under, 6-9, 11-12, and 13-15 years of age.    

“Returning to my hometown and hosting this rodeo is my favorite fishing day each year,” said McCadams, nationally known outdoorsman who lends his name to the event. “Thanks to the help of a TWRA, lots of volunteers and donations, the festivity will build some self-esteem in these future fishermen as they fight fish and cancer at the same time.”    

“With the help of donors who open their hearts and pocketbooks each year we send each youngster home with a prize and fond memory. I know we’ve made a positive impression on these kids over the years and in so doing we helped fight cancer at the same time,” continued McCadams, who grew up fishing Carroll Lake and participated in rodeos there in days gone by.    

Participants are asked to arrive early and check-in at the registration tent where each contestant will receive a bag of goodies. Onsite registration will be from 7-9 a.m. with the actual competition taking place from 9-11 a.m. except for the young age bracket of 5 and under who will just fish for one hour and weigh in at 10 AM.   

Loaner rods will be available courtesy of TWRA so every kid will have a chance to fish. However, kids are encouraged to bring their own bait and tackle. Bait and some terminal tackle will be available for sale onsite. Concessions will be available courtesy of McKenzie Relay For Life teams.    

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about the great sport of fishing while sharing some time with their family and friends,” said McCadams, himself a cancer survivor. “I wanted to do something to help fight this terrible disease that affects so many people. It’s especially sad to see young kids stricken with cancer but with events like these we can give them hope as we work together to find a cure.”    

The event will coincide with National Fishing Week across America. And, June 9th is Free Fishing Day in Tennessee.      

Carroll Lake is located one mile east of McKenzie, TN and five miles west of Huntingdon, on U.S. Highway 22. For additional information log on to www.stevemccadams.com or call 731-642-0360.      

To support the event or perhaps honor someone special send your tax deductible donation to: Steve McCadams “Casting For A Cure” Kids Fishing Rodeo, 655 Anderson Drive, Paris, TN 38242.

VARIETY OF BASS PATTERNS PRODUCING…SUMMER CRAPPIE ACTION GOOD
By Steve McCadams
Updated June 21, 2012

Summer bass and crappie action has been holding up well for Kentucky Lake anglers despite some warm days and high winds this week. Overall the fishing scene continues to hold up as nice catches are coming in.    

It’s a bit unusual for anglers to have to battle high winds this time of year but for some strange reason white caps have influenced the fishing scene several days lately and dictated the location for both bass and crappie anglers attempting to fish open water areas.    

While practically all of us want a light breeze this time of year, the wind seems to have been a bit much at times. Still, anglers have managed to overcome the hurdle and landed pretty good stringers of summer crappie and hefty bass.    

Kentucky Lake’s elevation had another week of below average readings but that’s been the case for a lot of TVA reservoirs this spring. The lack of rainfall will make history this year as the big pond will not achieve summer pool readings and the annual drawdown normally begins in early July anyway.    

Lake levels are projected to be 357.6 this weekend at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation will be in the 357.4 range. Normal summer pool is 359.    

Lake levels remain quite clear across the entire reservoir and very little current has been present in the main river channel lately.    

Surface temperatures this week were in the 81 to 84 degree range, which is up a few degrees from last week at this time.   

Crappie have been hitting pretty good since midweek after a slight slowdown last weekend and earlier this week, a mood swing that might have been influenced by mayfly larva that sometimes brings an abundant buffet benefitting the fish but challenging the fishermen.    

Some good size crappie were hanging out in the 12 to 14 foot depth range as stakebeds and brushpiles were producing but fish were sluggish to bite at times. Strikes have been light and even some of the larger fish have been finicky at times.     

Fish are holding pretty tight to structure and it has required a methodical approach. Watching the line and rod tip have been necessary to detect illusive bites and at times it has been a feeling contest with the jig and snags.    

Tipping 1/16 to 1/8-ounce jigs with minnows or Berkley crappie nibbles has paid dividends, however, and numbers of fish improved at midweek. Some deeper ledges also producing fish as the deep sides of the drop-offs with 16 to 18 feet of water are holding fish where structure is located.    

Bass anglers continue to focus on deep water venues for the larger stringers but the grassbeds are producing lots of fish too.    

While some of the larger stringers are coming from 18 to 25 foot depths at times, the clear water has really stimulated the advancement of aquatic vegetation such as pondweek and Eurasian watermilfoil. Most of the island rims and flats south of Paris Landing are seeing grassbeds increase in size on a weekly basis.    

Anglers are finding good numbers of bass relating to the mats of grass which is loaded with baitfish. Tossing spinnerbaits, assorted surface lures, and Texas rigged worms have worked well. Ripping a Rattle Trap in a chrome color variation has worked too.    

While a lot of fish are relating to the abundance of grassbeds the winning tournament stringers are mostly coming from boaters working jig and craw combos, big Texas rigged worms, Carolina rigged worms, and hopping spoons along the deeper sides of the ledges. Some swim baits have worked along the deep venues too.    

Main lake ledges are producing but some of the better fish are relating to the edge of the main river channel itself at times. No doubt the low lake levels combined with the clear water scenario are influencing the deeper summer pattern this year.    

In times past anglers could find schools of pin minnows around shallow bushes, treelaps, and shallow visible water willow style grass along shorelines this time of year but low lake stages have altered the location of late spring and early summer bass this year along Kentucky Lake.    

Big deep diving crankbaits are still part of the summer arsenal too but with bass holding off in deeper depths lately even the most deep diving baits just won’t get down there where the fish are. No doubt the fish will move up on top to feet at times, especially if some cloud cover enters the picture but overall it’s been deeper than usual for several weeks running.    

A few scattered mayfly hatches have dotted the shorelines at times but bluegill have held out away from shore for the most part and are now relating to deep structure in 6 to 12 feet. Some pretty good ones were taken this week by anglers dragging wax worms, crickets, and redworms around deeper crappie beds where the fish seem to have found a comfort zone.    

Catfish were still holding in midrange depths too and some nice ones were taken by crappie anglers working live minnows or jigs at times. There hasn’t been much current in the main river so that summer catfish pattern along the main river channel has yet to develop.    

Although some warm days are part of the fishing scene lately, it really hasn’t been too bad out there in the early morning hours. And, when the fish are biting the heat seems tolerable.

ANGLERS WAVE GOODBYE TO A PRODUCTIVE SPRING
By Steve McCadams
Updated June 14, 2012

Kentucky Lake’s late spring fishing scene has been a good one and anglers will officially enter the summer season next Wednesday. Hopefully, things won’t change much as summer patterns have been underway for quite some time and the overall report card has chalked up some high marks for bass, bluegill and crappie anglers as of late.    

It has been a pretty nice week of weather with the exception of a thunderstorm that roared through late Monday afternoon and sent boaters scrambling toward shore as gale force winds blew everyone off the lake. However, most days have been pleasant for fishermen with light winds and some cloud cover helping out anglers.    

Mayfly hatches were underway this week across the reservoir, although not massive like those of yesteryear when millions of flies used to descend on every nook and cranny. Still, practically every species of fish seem to benefit once this natural buffet occurs.    

Surface temperatures this week stayed in the 78 to 81 degree range. Water color remains clear as very little runoff has entered the watershed.    

Lake levels continue to sleep below their normal summer pool elevation of 359 on both Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. Just about all types of angler have learned to adjust and take it in stride but it has been different this spring, especially for those bass and bluegill fishermen who are accustomed to working shallow shoreline habitat.    

Lake levels are pretty much the same as last week at this time. Elevation is projected to be in the 357.6 range at Kentucky Dam as the weekend approaches. Upstream at New Johnsonville readings will be 357.4. There has been slight current in the main river channel at times but basically, the Tennessee River has had low flow for several weeks running.    

Summer crappie are biting good for anglers working the 11 to 14 foot depth zones where stakebeds and brushpiles have been producing decent numbers. While several small fish are sharing the midrange depth zones there are some good fish mixed right in there with them.    

Baits of choice have ranged from jigs tipped with minnows to jigs tipped with Berkley crappie nibbles in the white, chartreuse or gold metal flake colors. Popular color combos have ranged from red/chartreuse to some white/orange, black/chartreuse, and blue/chartreuse variations.    

Crappie action will likely hold up week for several more weeks until the summer doldrums arrive. Overall the June bite has been right on track but overlooked by most anglers who are missing out on this underrated period of the year.    

A few scattered bluegill are showing up with hefty appetites as anglers are catching them in a variety of depths and locations, a typical scenario once bedding phases are in the rearview mirror and mayfly hatches occur. Some nice bluegill have moved out toward deeper crappie beds this week but a few remain near shallow flat and piers or boathouses where shade is available and mayflies are hitting the surface.   

Catfish have been hanging out in midrange depths too and crappie anglers are tying into a few that are sharing the submerged structures. A few pontoons have been jug fishing and finding some activity back in the bays as their bait presentations drift across the midrange hangouts.    

Bass anglers continue to reel in some dandy stringers from variety of locations and patterns. Ledge fishing is still paying dividends as hefty stringers were taken this week by those tossing big shad colored crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, and Carolina rigged worms and lizards. Hopping a jig and craw combo is still working too as are some spoons fished on the deeper sides of drop-offs.    

While a lot of decent size fish are holding on the breaks or moving up at times to feed in the 10 to 12 foot zones, reports continue to credit deeper depths at times for producing some of the better fish taken in the tournament scene.    

Close behind the ledge pattern has been the increasing popularity of the milfoil grassbed pattern that jumped into the limelight two weeks ago. While not much grass has been observed north of the White Oak or Harmon’s Creek sector, there appears to be increasing mats of the aquatic vegetation showing up in the New Johnsonville sector.    

Anglers are tossing spinnerbaits, floating worms, jerk baits, Texas rigged worms, and Rattle Trap style lures wherever vegetation can be located. No doubt the bass are relating to the grass that is full of shad and bluegill forage.    

Summer patterns for bass and crappie, along with other species, are about where they should be for this time of year and the overall fishing scene is holding up to its reputation as the transition of seasons takes place.    

Spring is about to fade away and while it has been somewhat unusual, it will go down as a season that was kind to anglers providing some very good weather these last few months that resulted in a productive fishery. Odds are future springs will not be as nice as the one we’ve just enjoyed.

EARLY JUNE FISHING SCENE RATES HIGH MARKS…BIG BASS STRINGERS TAKEN…CRAPPIE ACTION GOOD
By Steve McCadams
Updated June 7, 2012

Early summer patterns are on schedule for anglers who have chalked up some hefty stringers of bass, crappie and bluegill this week on Kentucky Lake.    

Despite a few days with annoying north winds that whipped up whitecaps the fishing scene has held up well as the first week of June dealt pretty decent cards. Rain earlier in the week helped bring some cooler conditions and lower humidity.    

Surface temperatures are starting out around 78 degrees in the mornings and warming to the 82 degree range at midday. Water color is clear in the main lake with a slight stain in some bays where winds whipped up sediments.    

Lake levels are up slightly from last week but still more than a foot below summer pool’s 359 mark. A few thunderstorms passed through the region earlier in the week but haven’t dumped enough water to alter levels much, according to TVA.    

Projections for the weekend will be 357.6 at Kentucky Dam and 357.4 for the New Johnsonville sector. There has been slight current in the main river at times.    

Anglers continue to deal with below normal lake levels but it hasn’t diminished the catch rates for bass, crappie or bluegill fishermen who continue to score as they adjust to the patterns.    

Good stringers of crappie continued this week as the 10 to 14 foot depth range has produced well. There is a good grade of fish mixed in with some smaller fish as they share the comfort zone of midrange depths where structure is located.    

Stakebeds, stumprows, and brushpiles are holding nice numbers and the early June bite will likely last for some time. Once the fish pull off shallow spawning territory and discover structure in the midrange depths the pattern generally holds up for several weeks.    

Popular presentations have been various shades of chartreuse jigs tipped with live minnows or Berkley Power bait crappie nibbles. Live minnows have worked well too on tightline rigs.    

Bass patterns are on track for the early summer gig as hefty catches have been taken this week by anglers working main lake ledges and midrange grassbeds near deep water.    

In the recent Triton Boat Owner’s tournament held June 1-2 out of Paris Landing there were some awesome stringers weighed in that recorded several fish in the 9-pound plus range and two that tipped the scales over 10 pounds!     

On two different days teams landed stringers that weighed 27 and 28 pounds for an average weight of 5.77 pounds on the event’s top stringer! Big bass of the event was a 10.38 pound lunker and it took 48.57 pounds to win the two-day tourney.    

The quality and quantity of the bass taken last week in the event was quite an eye opener for most of us who have been around the fishing scene for several years.    

While most have been working ledges with big deep diving crankbaits, large Texas rigged worms, hopping spoons or jig and craw combos there have been some milfoil grassbeds producing well as anglers put together spinnerbait, topwater and flipping patterns.      

The ledge pattern has been on for quite some time but grassbeds have increased in the last few weeks, especially south around the New Johnsonville area where mats are showing up near ditches and deeper sloughs. Lots of baitfish are relating to the aquatic vegetation and the grass near deep water has held some of the year’s best bass thus far.    

The clear water has lingered for several months across the reservoir and the conditions apparently stimulated growth of milfoil and bass have wasted no time in moving up to the shallow havens.     Late bedding bluegill were still sporting an attitude this week and decent catches were taken from deeper bedding spots in the 4 to 7 foot depths. A lot of late spawning females are now occupying the bedding areas and that’s not unusual this time of year as the second wave of spawning takes place.    

There are still a few good bull bream hitting on the beds but a lot of the big males are showing up in deeper water as they leave the fanning areas and scatter into open water zones where mayfly larva is beginning to show up.     

Some good bluegill action remains but anglers may have to cull out a lot of smaller fish and some females as  the last phase of the spawning time is in its eleventh hour. Watch for another mayfly hatch at any time.

COOL SPELL COMING…HOT FISHING HOLDS UP FOR BASS/CRAPPIE ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated May 31, 2012

Kentucky Lake anglers are getting a reprieve from warm weather as a cool snap has entered the picture and lowered the humidity but not the production of bass and crappie fishermen.     

Overdue rain arrived earlier this week, escorted by some thunderstorms that dropped some water on a thirsty TVA valley but the reservoir remains some 18 inches below normal summer pool elevation. Lake levels have not increased much since last week at this time.    

A touch of fall will last a few days before losing its grip as light north winds and potential rains will lead into a nice weekend for fishermen.    

Surface temperatures this week had increased to the 83 to 85 degree range but will likely fall back several degrees by late this weekend courtesy of the cool front.  Water color remains clear.    

Lake levels are reluctant to rise as not enough rain has entered the TVA valley to bring Kentucky Lake up to its normal readying of 359. Projections for the weekend will see elevation in the 357.4 range at Kentucky Dam.  Readings upstream at New Johnsonville will be 357.2.    

Crappie action continues to hold up well as numbers were good this week for those fishing stakebeds and brushpiles in the 12 to 14 foot range. A few fish were taken deeper as well with some main lake ledges producing more fish than last week at this time, a likely response to the warm weather.    

A pretty good grade of fish was showing up at times as anglers tipped jigs with minnows and Berkley power bait. Although several small fish are still schooling around the midrange structure there are plenty of keeper size crappie hitting.    

Anglers fishing jigs in a vertical presentation were doing well. A few boats were trolling spider rigs or deep diving crankbaits with moderate success.    

This early summer crappie bite will continue to improve throughout the month of June as the fish continue to transition toward cover that may not be too deep but relatively close to deeper water.    

Popular jig colors ranged from red/chartreuse variations to some blue/white and blue/chartreuse. Mixed in with the crappie are some decent catfish and bass at times too, not to mention some nice bluegill.    

Bluegill were showing some late bedding activity this week as there’s usually a second wave of the powerful panfish that make a blitz back to spawning territory in late May and early June. That seems to be the case as some nice bull bream were fanning deeper beds out away from shoreline and showing their beautiful, deep colors reflective of hormonal changes associated with active spawning.

Although not many shellcracker are being caught the late bluegill bite is holding up well and with a full moon approaching anglers should have another good week of activity before the big males back off bedding. Once mayfly hatches resume the fish may scatter a bit but anglers can still land big numbers but may have to cull through some of the smaller ones in the weeks ahead.    

Bass patterns are holding up well for boaters banging away at main lake ledges. Some of the better fish are coming from deeper depths lately but may well move up if surface temps cool off this weekend. Not much current has been present in the main river which comes as no surprise since minimal rainfall has occurred.    

While the big  crankbait bite has held up well for several weeks running other patterns such as big spoons, jig and craws combos, Carolina rigs and big Texas rigged worms have produced too. Some fish were relating to the deep sides of ledges and occupying depth ranges in excess of twenty feet in some areas.    

Most anglers were hitting the upper sides of main lake sandbars or perhaps the break but could be missing out on the deeper bite that has taken place at times. No doubt the clear water conditions and lower lake levels have pushed some bass deeper than usual.    

Despite some anglers finding the big bite deep there have been some ledges that have given up good numbers of fish from the 9 to 12 foot zone, which is the norm this time of year. Cloudy days or in the midst of some thunderstorms has seen some bass move up on top of ledges and take on feeding sprees at various times throughout the day.    

Big swim baits and the Alabama rig are still working too. Those big Texas rigged worms are starting to produce even more with such colors as cotton candy, green pumpkin pepper, blue/pearl, and red shad just to name a few.    

A few shallow fish were hanging around boat docks and piers at times but the larger stringers are coming from main lake ledges across the reservoir. Some aquatic vegetation is advancing from Danville Bridge south to New Johnsonville so that pattern will continue to improve and attract fish as schools of shad fry mature and become more attractive as a forage base in the weeks ahead.    

Catfish action has been fair with most fish hanging out on shallow flats and around submerged crappie beds in the 7 to 12 foot zones. Some females are still sporting eggs.    

The approaching cool snap shouldn’t change the fishing too much but it will sure improve the attitude of anglers. Anytime you get a touch of fall in the air before hot summer arrives you better take advantage of it.

BASS, CRAPPIE AND BLUEGILL BITE HOLDING UP WELL…ANGLERS DEALING WITH LOW LAKE LEVELS
By Steve McCadams
Updated May 24, 2012 

Kentucky Lake anglers continue to take low lake levels in stride as the overall fishing scene has been pretty good this week.     

As the Memorial Day holiday weekend arrives the reservoir will still be shy of normal summer pool elevation but bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish anglers haven’t let it curtail their efforts.    

After a few cool mornings summer weather will coincide with the unofficial kickoff of the summer boating season as hot and humid conditions are in the forecast before a cool snap enters the picture next week.    

Good fishing conditions greeted anglers this week and consistent catches of big bluegill were still coming in as bass anglers enjoyed success from main lake ledges. Crappie action has been improving daily too and some nice stringers were taken this week from the 9 to 13 foot depth range.    

Warmer weather arrived at midweek after a couple of cool mornings with low humidity sure made it feel nice out there.     

Surface temps are up some from last week at this time. Reading at midweek were in the 78 to 81 degree range and may increase a degree or two by late this weekend. Water color remains clear.    

Lake levels are projected to be 357.5 at Kentucky Dam this weekend, which is up a few inches from last week but still more than a foot below the normal summer pool mark of 359. Upstream in the New Johnsonville area lake elevation will be in the 357.3 range.    

Good bass action continued for anglers working the drop-offs this week and those big deep diving crankbaits are still paying dividends as are Texas rigged worms and some Carolina rigged lizards. A few anglers are still tossing the Alabama rig while others hop a jig and craw combo or work such lures as big swim baits and spoons.    

A lot of bass are relating to ledges on the main lake where depths of 7 to 13 feet are holding fish. There hasn’t been much current but at times enough was present to put fish on the summer pattern where schools of shad have roamed near deeper depths.    

The deep diving shad colored crankbaits haven’t been the only thing going but they have been the best thing going.    

Crappie activity perked up a bit as some larger fish were showing up in increased numbers from stakebeds and brush located in midrange depths. I found some nice fish as midweek taking jigs tipped with either live minnows or Berkley power bait nibbles.    

Popular colors ranged from red/chartreuse variations to some white/blue. As surface temps warm the crappie will continue to improve as they take on a more structure oriented pattern and find their early summer patterns and comfort zones around cover.    

The late May and June period is a good time for crappie here on Kentucky Lake and many anglers overlook this time of year. Crappie action will continue to improve as those shallow and scattered fish transition toward their early summer venues.    

Bluegill have held up to their reputation and continued fanning beds that are deeper than their usual spring spots. Some of the best fishing has come from bedding areas located in 4 to 8 foot depths. While there have been a few taken in shallow gravel flats most have chosen bedding spots back off the shorelines.    

The bluegill bite has been a good one this spring but it has been different due to low lake levels. Shellcracker continue to hide from the hooks of most anglers who are catching one here and there at times. There have been some good size ones taken but numbers have been off.    

Catfish action was fair this week as there are still some roaming the shallow flats and hanging out around bluegill beds where they feast on the eggs and fry at times or perhaps the other baitfish doing the same thing.    

As surface temps warm watch for summer patterns to accelerate this week for most species. There’s already been a decent mayfly hatch so things continue to be ahead of normal except for lake levels. Anglers have learned to play the cards as dealt and go on about their business of finding and catching fish in low water.

BLUEGILL BITE STILL ON…BASS ON THE BARS AS CRAPPIE IMPROVE…LAKE LEVELS STILL LOW
By Steve McCadams
Updated May 17, 2012 

Although still some 18 inches or so below normal summer pool level, Kentucky Lake actually had a rise in elevation this week after heavy rains to our south finally sent some runoff into the TVA valley.    

Temperatures heated up at midweek but the bluegill bite has been hot for over two weeks as hefty stringers of big bull bream continue to dominate the fishing scene for sportfishermen across the reservoir.    

Crappie action has improved this week too as increased numbers of bigger fish were showing up in the creel of anglers working structure in the 7 to 11 foot zones.    

Overall bass activity has been good too as the lion’s share of big stringers continue to come from anglers beating the main lake sandbars with deep diving crankbaits.    

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene enjoyed nice weather and light winds have been pretty kind to anglers. There were a few mornings when a north wind had a nip in the air but stable May weather patterns have returned as temps are forecasted to be in the low to mid 80’s for the next several days.    

Surface temps heated up to the 77 to 79 degree range at midweek after cooling down late last week. Water color remains clear.    

Lake levels experienced a slight rise for a few days and debris was floating as grass and some shoreline driftwood indicated a sluggish increase in elevation was underway. However, the reservoir is still almost two feet below summer pool in the New Johnsonville area.    

Projections for the approaching weekend indicate the elevation will be 357.3 at Kentucky Dam, which is the highest elevation thus far this spring. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels will be in the 357.1 range, which is up several inches from last week at this time but still well below the normal summer pool mark of 359.    

Coolers full of big, rusty bluegill continue to come in from anglers tossing crickets and wax worms in the 3 to 6 foot zones. Bedding has been underway for over two weeks but in the last day or two more females have moved up and entered the bedding areas, a sign that peak activity may have occurred during the last week or ten days.    

That’s not to say some good bluegill action doesn’t remain but the ideal scenario is finding the big males dominating the bedding areas, which has been the case since early May. Once the females start showing up in increased numbers there seems to be a slight decline in the percentage of big bulls in concentrated areas.    

Anglers can expect to find plenty of good ones still lingering slightly offshore but may move up toward shallows if lake levels continue to rise in the next few days.    

Shellcracker continue to win the hide-and-go-seek game this spring as a few good ones are being caught but numbers have not been abundant. Overall it has been difficult to find concentrations of shellcracker for most panfishermen this spring.    

Just exactly where the illusive olive drab redear sunfish hide has been a mystery for even some veteran anglers this spring. No doubt the lake levels have been a factor but the pattern has been puzzling while the big bream have helped fill the void most days.    

From the bass department comes continued success for boaters banging the sandbars with big deep diving crankbaits. Most all of the recent tournament wins have come from anglers concentrating their efforts on ledge fishing and the shad colored variations have been the bait of choice.    

Although some trophy bass have been taken in a few recent events that eclipsed the 8-pound mark, the common denominator among the ranks has been lots of fish caught but struggles in locating bigger fish. Some pretty good schools have been located where numbers were abundant but most of the fish were in the 2 to 3 pound range or smaller.    

Carolina and Alabama rigs have produced well lately and several boats are tossing big Texas rigged worms in hopes of fooling some big fish but the worm and jig bite has lived in the shadow of the crankbait bite lately. Although no reports of aquatic vegetation have come in from the Paris Landing area north, some Eurasian watermilfoil has been reported south of the New Johnsonville sector.    

With clear water and low lake levels the recipe is right for the return of aquatic vegetation this spring and summer. Anglers could see a surge in grassbeds in the weeks ahead.    

Crappie showed improvement this week as some cloudy days seemed to stimulate the bite. Structure in the 7 to 11 foot zones gave up some good fish as anglers vertical fished jigs tipped with minnows for the highest level of success.    

There are a few scattered crappie lingering in stakebeds and brushpiles in 5 to 7 foot zones but will continue to move toward midrange depths as the surface temps increase the next week or so.    

While some boats pulling long lines with jigs were struggling, others fishing structure in a slow, methodical manner were doing well. Popular colors have ranged from purple/chartreuse to blue/clear, and some red/white and black/chartreuse variations.    

Catfish were biting for anglers fishing nightcrawlers around shallow flats and sugmerged structures in the 4 to 8 foot zones. Low lake levels have influenced the fish to spawn out away from some shallow rock shorelines this spring as the traditional areas have just been too shallow.     

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene had another good report card this week as high marks were documented for bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish. Despite the continuation of low lake levels catch rates have been good for anglers who have adapted to different depths and learned to play the game where the rules have changed this spring for practically all species.

PRIME TIME FOR BLUEGILL…LOW LAKE LEVELS PUZZLING
By Steve McCadams
Updated May 10, 2012 

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has been a good one this week despite the lagging lake levels that continue to mystify all anglers.    

Prime time is here for panfishermen who love battling the bronze bombers as they hit the second week of active spawning phases. Bluegill have turned it up a notch this week as they fan their craters in the sandy substrates of Kentucky Lake.    

Hefty stringers of big bull bream are coming in daily as anglers work the shallow areas where the bulky males are protecting the nest and socking it to meal worms, crickets, red worms and other small larva type baits that invade their space.    

Each year the bluegill and shellcracker enter active spawning phases in late April and early May.  The last few days really seemed to see an increase in activity but last weekend’s full moon also played a role in advancing the biological clock.    

Surface temperatures this week have danced around the 73 to 77 degree range. Some cool mornings made it feel like fall as a cool northwest breeze had surface temps rising slowly throughout the day. Water color remains clear across the entire reservoir.    

Low lake levels continue to dominate the conversation among the ranks of anglers and pleasure boaters. No one can recall TVA failing to reach summer pool elevation or being this far away from it during the first two weeks of May.    

Projected elevation going into the weekend will be 356 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation is resting around 355.7. Normal summer pool is 359 so the lake is about three feet below normal for this time of year.    

Despite abnormal elevation anglers are adapting to the different locations of bedding bluegill and finding them deeper than times past. Good numbers of fish being caught in 4 to 7 foot depths and the fish are fanning around shallow structure such as stumps and crappie beds.    

Shellcracker are showing up too but overall numbers are down as their whereabouts continue to challenge some anglers who normally beat the banks this time of year and find them in grassbeds and buck bushes. Still, some dandies are mingling near bedding bluegill that are several yards off shore in most cases.    

There should be another couple of weeks of great bluegill fishing but if you’re having trouble locating them hang in there; just make yourself fish a little deeper and back off the banks and cast around submerged structure.    

Bass patterns continue to hold up consistently for anglers working the drop-offs as though the summer season was here. Although surface temps are not as hot as summer months, the fish are already in that mode as they back off the banks and relate to main lake ledges or sloping points in the mouth of big bays.    

Tossing big deep diving crankbaits has been about the best thing going but also producing have been Texas and Carolina rigged worms, craws and lizards. Jig and craw combos have worked as have Alabama rigs with shad colored swim baits.    

For some anglers it has been tough to back away from the banks and fish deep water patterns this time of year but the grassbeds, buck bushes, and willows are high and dry as are river islands. Clear water color has been a factor as well.    

Crappie fishing has been fair this week and big numbers of fish are still showing up for anglers stalking midrange stakebeds and brushpiles in the 9 to 14 foot zone. There are a few shallow crappie lingering in submerged cover located in 5 to 9 foot areas but pretty scattered best describes it there.

You can land a lot of fish that are still shy of the 10-inch minimum length limit but it’s fun catching them and there are indeed a few keepers mixed in.    

Crappie were hitting a variety of baits but unpainted leadheads and variations of white/red or purple/chartreuse jig skirts were working. Tipping jigs with minnows was paying dividends too or just plain minnow presentations were popular.    

Jigs tipped with Berkley crappie nibbles in white, pink, and chartreuse were also worthy of consideration.

Catfish continue to hit well this week as they enter spawning territory and move about shallow flats in 5 o 12 foot depth zones. Both bluegill and crappie anglers are tying into several catfish that are hanging around the shallow structure.    

Those rocky roadbeds or bluffs and banks with rocky crevices should attract catfish the next week or so as they continue spawning.    

It appears anglers will have to continue altering their approach and change their way of thinking as low lake levels are likely to stay around for a spell due to a lack of rainfall in the TVA valley.     

Most species are adapting to the low lake levels and scores of fishermen are beginning to figure them out. From bass to bluegill, seems everything is different lately as to their whereabouts but those putting the pieces together are completing the puzzle and reaping the rewards with hefty catches.

BLUEGILL/SHELLCRACKER SPAWN UNDERWAY…LOW LAKE LEVELS PUZZLE ANGLERS
By Steve McCadams
Updated May 03, 2012 

Spawning phases are underway on Kentucky Lake for two powerful panfish that pack a punch. Both bluegill and redear sunfish, known throughout the South as shellcracker, are sporting an attitude accompanied by an appetite.

Since last week’s warm up these species had a mood swing and rebounded with a vengeance as surface temps bounced back to the 73 to 75 degree range and triggered bedding time. Back in mid-April these rusty rascals had an early surge in activity when their biological clock advanced during unusually warm weather but cold fronts since then derailed their train.

Last weekend they got back on track and the bite is underway. Good numbers have been taken this week as it appears warm weather will dominate the fishing scene for several days.

Hefty stringers of bluegill have been caught this week but shellcracker are somewhat illusive, a likely scenario due to low lake levels that have left popular spots such as weeds and buck bushes high and dry along shorelines.

Most of the bedding is taking place in 3 to 5 foot depths and out away from shorelines and traditional areas. All fishermen are somewhat puzzled this week about the low lake levels as TVA was supposed to have the reservoir at summer pool by May 1.

Meanwhile, casting light tackle armed with bobbers or just dragging the bait across bottom has paid dividends. Baits of choice have been crickets but redworms and wax worms have worked well on both bluegill and shellcracker that appear to be doing their thing in deeper depths due to the low elevation and clear water color.

Surface temps this week climbed from the mid 60’s last week back into the low to mid 70’s and will continue to rise with the warm weather conditions projected. Water color remains clear across the reservoir.

At a time when lake levels should have been rising just the opposite has happened and the reservoir actually dropped a few inches since last week. Observed elevation at Kentucky Dam is projected to be a mere 356.1 this weekend while falling back to 355.8 upstream at New Johnsonville.

Rainfall has been down across the TVA valley and while we’ve had droughts before it usually hasn’t had this much influence at this time of year. Lake levels should be resting at 359 right now.

I cannot recall Kentucky Lake ever being this low at this time of year nor have any old timers I’ve talked with. The present situation is unprecedented and there are a lot of unknowns associated with it ranging from fishing patterns to spawning and recruitment as usually the shoreline habitat provides sanctuary for those young of the year.

It has been a dramatic contrast to last year at this time when we were experiencing flooding and on the way to record high lake levels that occurred in mid-May!

Bass patterns right now are more akin to summer fishing as the lion’s share of heavy stringers are coming from ledges and deeper water. A lot of anglers are tossing big deep diving crankbaits on the drop-offs as if it were June.

A combination of factors are likely contributing to the summer patterns as it appears the bulk of the bass have spawned and already backed off the banks but low lake levels and clear water have no doubt been factors.

Texas rigged worms and Carolina rigged worms, lizards, and craws have worked well, along with Alabama rig fished on sloping points and main lake drop-offs. Hopping a jig has also produced some bigger bites.

Not all the bass are deep as several limits have been taken by anglers tossing spinnerbaits, shallow running crankbaits and some assorted topwater around shallow pockets and clean mud banks but most of the heavier stringers are coming from deeper venues.

Like all the other anglers bass fishermen have been thrown off by the lack of water as one of the popular patterns this time of year is usually pitching or flipping a jig or lizard around shallow shoreline structure or tossing a topwater jerk bait.

Crappie patterns have been mixed lately as a few scattered male crappie were lingering around shallow structure in 5 to 7 foot depths. However, the crappie have been inconsistent in shallow cover and midrange depths.

Several small fish were still biting but the larger fish were quite scattered. A few decent fish were taken in 10 to 14 foot depths but it has taken a lot of stops to accumulate a decent stringer.

Watch for crappie to improve some in the weeks ahead, however, as more fish return to a structure oriented moods. Some fish were still coming in from drift boats and those slow trolling long lines trailing twister tail grubs and Road Runner style jigs.

Action from the main lake ledges had diminished the last week to ten days as the deeper venues were not producing.

Catfishing improved this week as more big females move up to spawn. Rock banks and bluffs will produce some good fish in the next week to ten days.

Some hefty ones have been hitting around those bluegill beds this week as they prowl toward shallow areas too. Once the bluegill beds get hot it seems the catfish move in too as they’re likely attracted by the smell and food source of both the eggs and tiny fry that begin hatching out.

Lake levels are low but the interest level of anglers is high. Bedding bluegill, big catfish and biting bass will do that to you!

ANGLERS BATTERED AFTER COLD, WINDY WEEK…LAKE LEVELS LAGGINGbr /> By Steve McCadams
Updated April 26, 2012

After a tough week on the water Kentucky Lake anglers are hoping cold fronts and gale winds are in the rearview mirror. Normal weather was already returning at midweek and the forecast looks promising for bass, crappie and bluegill fishermen who got their feelings hurt for the last week or so.

A stubborn cold front followed last week’s cool snap and since then below average temperatures and brisk winds dominated the fishing scene until Wednesday’s warm up. Not only have temps been below average but lake levels are lagging behind schedule this week too as it appears TVA will not achieve its goal of summer pool by its target day of May 1.

Surface temperatures fell back to 62 degrees by Tuesday morning after climbing up to 75 degrees about ten days ago. Although it has warmed up since last weekend’s duck weather descended, the fish have been sluggish to rebound.

Especially slow has been the crappie bite as several small fish are hitting but the bigger fish really had a mood swing and dodged anglers’ hooks several days running. Crappie were already showing signs of a slow down last week as their post-spawn phase is usually sluggish but the severe cold front teamed up with gale force winds and the combination dealt a mean blow.

At midweek surface temps were climbing back to 65 and will likely return to the 70 degree range this weekend, a step in the right direction for stressed out crappie, finicky bluegill and shellcracker which backed off this week, and stubborn bass that have evaded hooks as well.

Lake levels are below TVA’s projections this week and that has thrown a curve to fishing patterns as well. Elevation is projected to be 356.5 at Kentucky Dam this weekend and only 356.2 at New Johnsonville. Normal summer pool is 359 but it’s highly unlikely TVA will make the mark by next Tuesday as the reservoir is about two feet below normal for late April.

Water color remains clear across most of the reservoir as not much rain has fallen in the watershed. High winds have whipped up some stain in places but overall it’s clear throughout Big Sandy and along the Tennessee River bays.

Anglers were thinking the bluegill and shellcracker spawn would be early this year as beautiful weather back in March and early April pointed in that direction but last week’s cold front put the brakes on some early spawning phases. The fish backed off this week but will likely rebound soon as surface temps rise and stimulate spawning activity.

With low lake levels look for the bedding to take place in different locations as the fish are likely to be out and away from popular shoreline locations of times past.

Crappie have diminished this week as the bigger fish have won the game of hide-and-go-seek. Seems the post-spawning slabs have backed away from structure as stakebeds and brushpiles that had been producing on a regular basis were almost void of big bites.

It’s not all that unusual for the larger fish to suspend out away from flats and spawning spots as they ride out the stressful phase but most anglers have been puzzled by the drastic change. Good numbers of small fish are still showing up and hopefully some improvement will occur as warmer weather enters the picture and the slabs settle down and return to structure in the weeks ahead.

Catfish were beginning to enter midrange depths as several dandies were challenging the lines of crappie anglers stalking the 9 to 13 foot range. Some hefty females were caught and they were bulging with eggs so they will continue to prowl and move up to spawning spots around rocky banks in the next week to ten days.

Bass fishermen haven’t been immune to the slowdown either as both numbers and weights in local tournaments fell off this week. A variety of patterns and lure choices had been producing and will no doubt resume by this weekend but low lake levels are throwing some anglers off balance.

Shallow shoreline activity is usually picking up about this time and those yellow flowers that dot backwater pockets and bays typically have some water around them, a visual pattern that appeals to fishermen tossing topwater, spinnerbaits and fluke-style jerk baits.

At midweek most of those flower patches were on dry ground or too shallow to fish. Most boats are lying back off the banks and casting shallow running crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and Texas or Carolina rigged worms and craws. Some are throwing the Alabama rig and fan casting shallow bays and mud flats hoping to find some staging fish hanging out in la-la land.

Other patterns have found bass still relating to drop-offs in the mouth of big bays or long sloping points with steeper banks that harbor deep water close by. Some success stories continue to come in from angles hopping a jig and craw combo on ledges far away from shallow shoreline venues.

Seems the topwater bite subsided this week when surface temps plummeted but watch for a dramatic turnaround by this weekend.

Numbers of big bass continue to be down, however, as there have not been as many 5-pound plus fish this spring compared to the last two or three years.

Lake levels may be below average but it appears warm weather will return in the days ahead and pull surface temps back to normal ranges as the fish and fishermen recover from a week or ten days of bumps and bruises. Here’s hoping for a mellow month of May!

COOL WEATHER/WIND ALTERS FISHING SCENE…WARMER DAYS AHEAD
By Steve McCadams
Updated April 19, 2012

Kentucky Lake anglers had a challenging week as gale force winds and cooler temperatures added a hurdle that saw catch rates diminish for most fishermen. Another cool snap is in the making as the weekend arrives but hopefully fishing will rebound by early next week as sunny skies and warm temps return.    

The fishing scene was a victim of nasty north and northeast winds this week that whipped up whitecaps and sent boaters into coves or bays, greatly limiting their choices. And, it’s been downright cool as most mornings commanded coveralls and overcoats.    

Bass, crappie, and bluegill anglers have had to fish where they could and not where they wanted to.    

By early next week fishing should improve as moderate weather returns that allows surface temperature to rebound and winds to switch to southerly direction.    

Surface temperatures this week fell back to the 65 degree range and even cooler in some shallow pockets while the main lake was slightly warmer. Waters warmed slightly each day but lingered around the 67 degree at midday, which is down six or seven degrees from the last week to ten days.    

Mix cold fronts, north winds and post-spawn phases of crappie together and you get diminished catch rates for most anglers who have seen their stringers fall off this week as to numbers and size.

A few decent crappie were still showing up but it was clear the bigger fish had backed off their biting spree and not relating to structure as had been the case last week.    

It’s not unusual for larger crappie to back off structure and curtail activity once peak spawning phases pass as they are stressed from the annual ritual and often suspend in open water with a reluctant attitude. That added to the recent cold, high skies and windy weather dealt a triple whammy to fishing this week.    

A lot of small crappie are still showing up and there are enough keepers to keep it interesting. Popular depths have been the 10 to 14 foot range. Very few crappie have been caught this spring around shallow shorelines as the fish just did not move up as their needs were met in the deeper water due to clear conditions.    

Bluegill and redear sunfish, better known as shellcracker, were about to bed last week but the cold front and falling surface temperatures backed them off. Watch for action to really turn on next week if warm sunny days enter the picture as these powerful panfish are on the threshold of moving to shallow flats and pockets where they will fan their crater beds for spawning.    

Bass anglers battled winds like everyone else this week and while activity diminished for some, others found the mossbacks playing their game and landed some hefty stringers as the cold front came in last weekend. A few 5-fish limits tipped the scales at 20-pounds plus in local tournaments.    

While no trophy fish were reported this week there were some nice largemouth coming in that made it to the 5 and 6 pound class.    

A variety of patterns have been paying off as success was reported from anglers tossing Texas rigged worms off secondary ledges and deep points while a few were caught  on buzz baits over shallow flats with no cover present.    

Carolina rigged worms and craws were still producing good as were crankbaits tossed around rocky banks and points.     

Once surface temps rebound watch for more fish to move up to shallow spawning pockets  this next week as it appeared fish backed off a bit this week in response to the falling surface temps and pulled out of shallow zones.    

A few catfish are showing up as well as crappie and bluegill anglers are tying into some dandies at times.    

Lake levels are still on schedule as TVA’s curve is pretty much on target this spring. Lake levels have been rising slowly and elevation for Kentucky Dam is projected to be 356.5 this weekend, up a few inches from last week at this time. Upstream at New Johnsonville the reservoir is expected to be in the 356.3 range.    

Water color remains clear across most of the reservoir.    

Although the fishing scene this week on Kentucky Lake has been under the influence of high winds and cool temperatures at times, watch for overall conditions to improve quickly once those warm days return and surface temperatures climb back into the low to mid 70’s.

CRAPPIE ENTER POST-SPAWN PHASE. BASS/BLUEGILL ABOUT TO BED
By Steve McCadams
Updated April 12, 2012

This spring's honeymoon of great weather came to a halt Wednesday.

Sooner or later it had to happen; a cold front that is and it roared in at midweek, sending anglers back to the closet for overcoats that have been suffering from neglect. A nasty northeast wind hammered fishermen for a day or two but it appears nice weather is in the process of returning as the weekend forecast looks good.

Bone chilling winds packed a punch and brought the mercury down to the mid 30's one night and daytime highs struggled to reach the mid to upper 50's, a drastic change from the mid 80's last week.

Mix a cold front with gale northeast winds and crappie on the back side of peak spawning and it's a recipe for declining productivity. Crappie really backed off for a day or two during the thrust of the front that delivered high skies and white caps. The change should come as no surprise.

The lion's share of crappie appear to have already spawned as big females were taken this week that displayed a thin profile compared to last week at this time. Still a few food fish were showing up but the drastic weather changed pulled a lot of fish out of shallow areas the last few days.

I found some good fish holding in 10 to 14 foot depths during and since the cold front but most shallow stakebeds in the 5 to 9 foot range that were holding good fish earlier in the week were void of activity as surface temps plummeted. A few may return to shallow structure as the weekend approaches and temps rebound as lake levels rise.

Surface temps at midweek had dropped to 63 to 65 degrees, down some ten degrees compared to last week at this time. Temps will likely climb back into the upper 60's or low 70's by late this weekend. Water color remains clear across the reservoir except for a few wind driven shorelines showing a little color.

Lake levels are on schedule as to TVA's curve for reservoir filling. Observed elevation at Kentucky Dam will be 356.5 this weekend and 356.1 at New Johnsonville. Expect a slow rise to continue for the next two weeks until the summer pool mark of 359 is achieved on or near May 1.

Crappie had been hitting good until the weather change sent a finicky mood throughout the ranks of bigger fish. While a lot of small fish were hitting all week, the larger slabs seemed to show a reluctant attitude as bites were very light. It's not unusual for post-spawn fish to be sluggish as they're often stressed after spawning.

While a few late spawning fish may be lingering in midrange depths or suspending out over deeper venues, it's clear the bulk of the population made a blitz the last week to ten days and some even began spawning in late March due to the influence of an early spring.

Expect those midrange depths of 9 to 14 feet to produce crappie in the days ahead as nice weather will likely help out the fishing scene but it's doubtful many fish will head to shallow banks having already completed their annual ritual in deeper depths.

Popular jig color combos this week have been purple/chartreuse, rainbow/chartreuse, white/red, blue/chartreuse and some variations of red and chartreuse with glitter. Tipping jigs with minnows has worked well for vertical style presentations.

Boats pulling long lines, spider rigging, and trolling crankbaits are still finding fish playing their game as well. Curly tail grubs and Road Runners are the lures of choice.

While the crappie are entering post-spawn phases it doesn't mean the game is over. There are still some good days ahead so not to worry. However, anglers have been spoiled the last few weeks as both the weather and crappie fishing have been above average.

Bluegill and shellcracker were going through the early bedding motions before the cold front descended. A few boats were already catching them in shallow flats out away from their normal bedding shoreline areas as water levels were not high enough to inundate grass or bushes just yet.

Watch for action to resume later this weekend and early next week as a few warm and sunny days will trigger the return of these powerful panfish to spawning phases. They were already on the threshold but the cold front will no doubt put the brakes on what had been a runaway train. Odds are they will be ahead of schedule this month too so watch for the invasion to begin soon.

Bass were holding up to their reputation until a midweek hiatus backed them off what had been a decent biting spree. Patterns were ranging from shad colored crankbaits on gravel points to shad colored swim baits, suspending jerk baits, and jig and craw combos.

(This week's big bass story comes from Jim Durdin of Camden, TN who reported a 11 pound, 6 ounce largemouth taken over a week ago in Harmon's Creek. Jim caught the lunker on a 1/8 ounce blue and chartreuse grub while casting for crappie!)

Decent stringers were coming from mud banks near pockets where fish were staging in the warm water and about to move up to spawn. Some boats continue to toss the Alabama rig and catch fish on sloping points and secondary ledges.

Carolina rigged craws and lizards were also worthy of consideration.

Topwater activity and spinnerbait patterns should emerge as soon as surface temps rebound but it's likely bass will be on bed by early next week once warmer days enter the picture. Fish will be fanning on shallow banks and pockets as water levels will not be up around shoreline habitat in time to accommodate this spring's early spawn.

With the cold front now in the rearview mirror Kentucky Lake's fishing scene should return to a high level of success for bass, crappie and bluegill anglers, not to mention the shellcracker brigade.

This week's cold front reminded us of just how lucky we've had it the last six weeks or so!

SPRING FISHING SPOILS ANGLERS…WEATHER CHANGE ON THE WAY
By Steve McCadams
Updated April 5, 2012

Crappie fishing has been fantastic for Kentucky Lake anglers this past week. Bass fishermen have had some good days too. All anglers are wondering how long the great weather and sensational fishing can hold up?    

 Spawning phases have been underway for about two weeks for crappie and it appeared peak periods may have occurred this week as warm sunny days and light winds sent the surface temperature up to the 74 degree range at midweek.    

Hefty stringers have been coming in for weeks but the last few days things really heated up as increased numbers of big females were showing up in the creel of anglers all over Big Sandy, West Sandy and throughout the Paris Landing sector.    

Anglers have had a long honeymoon with weather conditions for almost a month but it appears change is on the way. Cooler conditions are in the forecast and next week anglers may have to trade in the sunscreen for overcoats and sweatshirts.    

What effect will a lingering cold front have on the crappie spawn? How about the bass, bluegill, and shellcracker which have already moved up to shallow areas well ahead of their normal schedule?   

All anglers are asking those questions right now as we’ve been spoiled by a spring that has delivered ideal conditions that advanced the biological clock for every species.    

Water color has been quite clear and most crappie are spawning in the 6 to 12 foot depth range. Add unusually warm weather to clear water and you get an early spawn in deeper depths. That appears to be the case this year.    

Surface temperatures have been in the mid to upper 60’s for two weeks running. This week temps in the mornings were starting out in the 71 degree range and climbing to 75 at midday.    

Lake levels are right on schedule as TVA began its curve for reservoir filling last Sunday. A slow rise is underway and projections indicate levels of 355.9 for Kentucky Dam this weekend. Upstream at New Johnsonville the forecast will be 355.6. Those readings are up a few inches from last week at this time.    

Summer pool elevation of 359 is scheduled by May 1 each year.     

While a few crappie spawned last week some of the largest fish of the year were taken this week and most were out away from shorelines. One of the larger slabs reported was a 3 pound, 1 ounce black crappie taken by Larry Hicks of Yorkville while fishing in Big Sandy last Saturday afternoon.    

Although several boats have been casting grubs and beating the banks where dark male crappie are usually relating to gravel banks the action for such methods and areas has been off.     

The lion’s share of crappie have come from anglers working main lake flats and ledges while pulling long lines with jigs, spider rigging with multi-pole presentations or vertical fishing stakebeds and brushpiles with jigs or minnows.    

Other methods of pulling crankbaits have produced at times as have casting curly tail grubs around deeper cover.    

No doubt some good fishing days are in the future and truth is, a lot of crappie are caught in May and June long after spawning phases peak. However, many spring crappie anglers hang their hat on hitting the peak week each year and that in itself is always a gamble as to weather and water conditions.    

With a cold front looming in the aftermath of an extended spell of warm weather it’s quite likely the last few days delivered some of the area’s peak spawning phases. All week big females have been moving toward structure as they were bulging with eggs and ready to make deposits on submerged cover.         

Just this week big bluegill and shellcracker have shown up in shallow areas too, sporting dark colors from hormonal changes that already have the males on the prowl. These powerful panfish don’t usually sport such an attitude until late April but this year it’s different.    

Bass have been displaying spawning phases for almost two weeks too, hanging around shallow pockets and darting around bedding areas as though they were about to fan beds.    

Anglers were catching a lot of small bass this week but still having trouble getting larger fish to bite, which continues to point toward spawning phases for those big sows.    

Odds are next week’s cool spell could alter the fishing scene but just how much remains to be seen. Even if a few cool days and rainy skies enter the picture we can’t complain. It has been one of the best springs ever and a short hiatus from beautiful weather may not linger too long before things bounce right back.

CRAIG’S 11-POUND BASS RAISES THE BAR…YOUTH TURKEY HUNT KICKS OFF SEASON
By Steve McCadams      

Adam Craig of Buchanan may have had his best fishing day of the year last week and the season just got started. In fact, it may have been his best fishing trip ever as he sure raised the bar for bass anglers around here with the trophy catch.    

While fishing Kentucky Lake in one of the weekly afternoon buddy bass open events he boated to one of his hotspots and tossed a Bill Lewis Rattle-Trap out in shallow water and slowly cranked. The blue and gold colored crankbait fell prey to a lunker largemouth to the tune of 11.05 pounds!    

The list of area bass anglers who have landed a largemouth from Kentucky Lake exceeding the 10-pound threshold is pretty short but there are a few entries. Raise the bar up to 11 pounds and it’s a rather elite list. Make that extremely elite.    

Needless to say Craig’s catch was the big fish of the afternoon and helped him win that day with a total stringer weight of 19.99 pounds. Yet the win was a moot point as the trophy bass catch of a lifetime is still on his mind.    

And yes, he does plan to have the trophy mounted as it already has a date with Paris taxidermist Dickie Wooten.    

Craig fishes a lot of local tournaments and also competes in FLW’s Wal-Mart BFL Division. Last Sunday he was casting away in the LBL Division event here on Kentucky Lake after catching the big fish the previous Wednesday afternoon.    

UUnfortunately, he had used up his luck on the big fish earlier in the week but he said he was glad to have landed the lunker even if it wasn’t during a big tournament as the catch alone was more than enough payback.    

“I’ve seen a lot more big bass come from Kentucky Lake the last two years but it’s even sweeter when one of them is on your own line,” said Craig, who often fishes buddy event with his dad Spencer of Paris.     /p>

Congratulations to Craig on the big bass as he will be the talk of the tournament trails for quite some time as to big fish honors and rightfully so. After all, how many people do you know that have landed an 11-pounder from Kentucky Lake?



(Additional updated outdoor articles and information by Steve can be found at: www.parislanding.com. Also, Steve's weekly outdoor columns and news tidbits appear each Friday in the PARIS POST-INTELLIGENCER newspaper and can be found at www.parispi.net.)

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