Catfish/Bluegill Bite Takes Over Fishing Scene
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on May 3, 2019
Water temps have warmed this week as April faded into May and that signals a transition time for a lot of fishermen here on Kentucky Lake. Once surface temperatures on Kentucky Lake cross the 70-degree threshold it stimulates the early phases of catfish and bluegill spawning. Usually that kicks in during the last week of April and the first week of May and this year the transition is pretty much on schedule. Anglers have landed some pretty good stringers of catfish this past week from the rocky bluffs and shorelines. Ole’ whiskers seemed to make a blitz last week toward the spawning zones and several good fishing stories are coming in from both boaters and bank fishermen who have tangled with some dandy channel cats already! As usual, the bait of choice has been night crawlers. A few anglers were using various commercial concoctions and fooling a few fish into biting too. Watch for some good catfishing to continue for the next couple of weeks around rip-rap rock levees and roadbeds, steep rock bluffs and any rocky shorelines as the fish target these submerged areas to spawn in the crevices. Also joining the spring fling have been both bluegill and red ear sunfish, commonly referred to as shellcracker. These powerful panfish are in the early stages of bedding so the best is yet to come, especially for bluegill. Each passing day should see improvement as the biological clock is definitely ticking for the panfish community! Now is a great time to introduce someone to the great sport of fishing as bedding bluegill or catfish on the prowl usually display an aggressive biting spree. The enjoyment of fishing for bedding bluegill and shellcracker knows no age boundaries. A few bluegill were taken this week in 2 to 4 foot depths around shallow grass and bushes in pockets along the lake. Crickets and redworms were working well. A few veteran shellcracker fishermen like to use maggot larva, meal worms and even some artificial grubs once the fish become aggressive. Most are using pegged or slip bobbers to regulate depth and detect light strikes. Others prefer casting without bobbers and slow dragging a bait over bedding zones, watching that bow in the line as an indicator. Kentucky Lake’s prime time for bedding bluegill should last into early June. Shellcracker time is now underway and the first two weeks of May have traditionally been good with a few fish lingering around bedding zones into late May. Meanwhile, lake levels continued to fluctuate last week but have now settled down around the summer pool mark of 359. After a quick rise the previous week, followed by a drastic drawdown for a few days, the reservoir has now stabilized for the most part. Surface temperatures were in the 69 to 70 degree range by midday this week but started out cooler in the mornings. Warm nights will now help the water stay warm and aid in the spawning phases of catfish and bluegill as well as some bass now up on the banks. Water color is clear across most of the reservoir with a few bays sporting some stain in the upper end of Big Sandy. Crappie fishing has taken a back seat to the bluegill, bass and catfish activity now underway. However, during the high water last week a few anglers were seen wading and finding scattered crappie in shallow buck bushes and willow trees up Big Sandy when lake levels surged to the 360 range. Since then most of the shoreline habitat is now a bit too shallow for the crappie. Some boats were still trolling both spider rigs and long lining but their success rates have diminished compared to last week. Those attempting to find crappie in manmade fish attractors such as stakebeds and brushpiles picked up a few more fish this week but the overall bite was still scattered and sluggish. Depths of 7 to 12 feet had a few fish as did some shallow structure in 4 to 6 feet. Casting jigs produced for a few anglers this week too. The technique worked when casting over midrange crappie beds. Those casting did not report much activity when tossing at shallow shoreline structure. Now entering the post-spawn phase, crappie will likely scatter and suspend in midrange depths for a spell. A few will hang around some shallow structure but soon move back to midrange depths as the stress of spawning seems to put crappie out there in la-la land for the time being. Bass anglers have been making changes in their arsenal and now tossing some topwater in the form of floating worms and jerk baits. A few buzzbaits have been popular too cast around shallow bushes and submerged shoreline grass beds. Always popular this time of year are Texas rigged craws, lizards and worms. Laying back off the banks in clear water requires some long casts at times but late bedding bass are up there in the shallow pockets off the main lake. A few anglers are pitching and flipping shoreline cover using jig and craw combos and Texas rigged lizards and similar offerings. Seems there’s always a few boats working ledges and humps back off the banks as that pattern never goes away as fish will continue to pull out to such areas as surface temps heat up. May is a good month for the Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene. A lot of options are available to anglers regardless of what their favorite type fishing might be! You best head make plans and head to the lake; the fish are calling!!!