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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
SUMMER TEMPS RETURN …COOL SPELL SHORT AND SWEET
By Steve McCadams
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
RISING LAKE LEVELS
ALTER SUMMER FISHING SCENE…MAYFLY HATCHES UNDERWAY
By Steve McCadams
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
SUMMER SLABS OVERLOOKED AS ANGLERS MISS OUT…BASS ACTION GOOD ON LEDGES…MAYFLY HATCHES BEGIN
By Steve McCadams
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
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
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
JUNE CRAPPIE ACTION HEATS UP…BASS ON MAIN LAKE LEDGES…LAKE LEVELS RISE SLOWLY br />
By Steve McCadams
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
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
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
all youngsters who want to catch fish and win prizes at the same
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
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
“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.
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.
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
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
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
Crickets have been the bait of choice for
bluegill with redworms and meal worms working well on
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
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
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.
CATFISH ACTION HOLDS UP DESPITE HIGH LAKE LEVELS…RAPID DRAWDOWN
LIKELY BY NEXT WEEK
By Steve McCadams
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Until then, swap the sunscreen for
overcoats and ride it out best you can. A crazy spring
RISING LAKE BRINGS BASS TO BANKS AS CRAPPIE SPAWN BEGINS
By Steve McCadams
April 11, 2013
Bass are heading to the banks as Kentucky
Lake’s elevation approaches summer pool and the annual crappie
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
March 28, 2013
two dates that have opened up on April 1st and April 3rd
(Monday and Wednesday). Please contact me at
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
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
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
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
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
SPRING FISHING OFF TO STUBBORN START
By Steve McCadams
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.
SCENE HEATS UP AS SPRING KNOCKS ON DOOR
By Steve McCadams
March 7, 2013
It’s time to say goodbye to winter fishing weather and that
will officially take place next Wednesday once the seasons
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
WILL SPRING WEATHER CHASE WINTER AWAY?
By Steve McCadams
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Watch for the fishing scene to improve next week as lake
levels return to normal and mild weather returns to the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
The deep diving shad colored crankbaits haven’t
been the only thing going but they have been the best thing
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
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 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
Surface temps heated up to the 77 to 79 degree
range at midweek after cooling down late last week. Water color
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Bass, crappie, and bluegill anglers have had to
fish where they could and not where they wanted to.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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