October 16, 2014 - by Kentucky Lake Guide Steve McCadams
LOW LAKE LEVELS REQUIRE CAUTION FROM FALL FISHERMAN
In the aftermath of heavy rains earlier this week Kentucky Lake’s elevation has changed dramatically after sleeping near its low ebb of winter pool for quite some time.
Changing lake levels and unstable weather are somewhat unusual during the fall months but stability has not been on the radar screen for anglers lately. It has been a weird week of weather. From heavy rains and gale force winds to dropping temperatures courtesy of a cold front, both the fish and the fishermen have been a bit confused by it all.
I’ve battled the challenges since last week and gone from wearing no coat to an overcoat and raincoat. The weatherman has served up a potpourri of forecasts lately.
Not to worry, however. It appears nice weather is already in progress, paving the way for a decent weekend and a return to normal conditions. In fact, the long range forecast indicates pretty weather will last well into next week.
Fall colors should be beautiful these next two weeks along the shores of Kentucky Lake too. That’s another good reason to take advantage of fall fishing.
Lake levels this week are up significantly from last week at this time. TVA’s forecast for the weekend indicates the elevation crested at midweek around 356.2 range and should fall back to 355.3 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels will be in the 355.7 range. Those readings are up over a foot from last week.
There is a lot of current in the main Tennessee River channel since TVA is discharging a huge volume of water since the heavy rains. Watch for the reservoir to be back down close to winter pool by the middle of next week barring any additional rainfall.
Surface temperatures responded to the cool front and have dropped to the 68 to 71 degree range. Water color is a bit stained in the backs of most creeks and bays where feeder ditches delivered some runoff earlier this week. The main lake portion of Big Sandy remains clear while some stain is present in the Tennessee River where a little current is present.
Crappie fishing has been pretty good despite inclimate weather that added high hurdles to the fishing scene in the form of whitecaps and blowing rain. That made it difficult for fishermen to work some open water areas and hold the boat over structure at times.
Some decent size fish are coming in from anglers working stakebeds and brushpiles in the 9 to 12 foot depth range. A few fish were taken in 7 to 9 foot cover on the cloudy days and shallow zones should continue to pay off as surface temps fall back into the normal fall range.
Tipping jigs with live minnows and Berkley Power Bait has been appealing to finicky crappie. Popular color choices have been black/chartreuse, blue/chartreuse and watermelon just to name a few.
Bass continue to play games with anglers as fish are somewhat scattered. Several patterns are producing but numbers have been off a bit for most. Fall is a time when bass anglers might find shallow running crankbaits worked around gravel banks pay off while tossing spinnerbaits and worms around grassbeds works too.
At the same time some topwater action is part of the approach as are some deep crankbaits and jig and craw combos worked slowly over main lake ledges. All are different but still produce during a fall day.
Not many fish have been schooling over flats and in the backs of bays where grassbeds are found but that can change quickly this time of year as baitfish pile up in backs of bays.
The next two weeks should offer some good fishing for both bass and crappie as it appears stable conditions will enter the picture.