Summer Conditions Arrive Early for Anglers
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on May 29, 2019
Above average temperatures have hung around for about week now and Kentucky Lake anglers have found themselves transitioning toward summer fishing patterns a bit earlier than anticipated. Weather was great for the legions of lakers on hand during the Memorial Day holiday period who flocked to the bays and beeches for fishing, camping, tubing, swimming and recreational boating of all sorts. Huge crowds were all over the reservoir and the waterways were buzzing. Surface temperatures this week reflect the warm days we’ve been having and climbed to the 78 to 81 degree range. Water color remains clear across the reservoir. Lake levels have been stable lately and sleeping just a few inches shy of the normal summer pool elevation. TVA has held the reservoir a few inches shy of the 359 normal summer pool elevation and readings projected for the weekend indicate the lake will be stable at 358.9. With lake levels slightly below normal summer pool it has pulled water out of the shallow bushes and grassbeds just enough to take away a flipping and pitching pattern for bass fishermen hoping to beat the banks. A few fish are lingering around outside weedbeds and blowdown treelaps but the shallow bite hasn’t been too productive for bigger fish as of late. Some anglers were tossing spinnerbaits and assorted topwater in the early morning hours and around sunset and finding an occasional fish rising to the occasion. Most of the better stringers in weekend tournaments are coming from summer patterns where anglers are turning their back to the banks and targeting deeper zones. Summer patterns are already underway as a lot of fishermen have been tossing big deep diving crankbaits, swim baits, jig and craw combos, Carolina rigs and big 10-inch Texas rigged worms. Despite some 20-pound stringers being caught and winning a few tournaments, the overall consensus among the ranks is that bass numbers are down across the reservoir. Most anglers are reporting an absence of small bass with what appears to be gaps in year classes. Anglers are catching a few hefty fish in the 4 to 5 pound range but don’t seem to be able to put together decent numbers of fish. Virtually no one has reported any schooling fish out on the ledges. Like the bluegill and redear fishermen, bass anglers are yearning for the days of abundant weed patches that offered structure as well as habitat for baitfish. As May fades away panfish anglers were struggling to compile big numbers of bedding bluegill. Late May and early June usually produces decent bluegill fishing but the fish have been quite scattered and reluctant to fan beds. Still somewhat of a mystery is the absence of aggressive bedding bluegill this spring. That’s not to say several fish haven’t been taken at times but a lot of veteran anglers have had difficulty finding and catching bluegill consistently. In the first two to three weeks of May a few nice shellcracker were taken around shallow buck bushes and outside weed patches. Anglers using wax worm, redworms and crickets were landing some nice ones but even then numbers appeared to be a bit below average. This week a few scattered shellcracker were biting but no aggressive bedding appeared to be taking place as numbers were down as were bluegill. Some bluegill were hanging around the 2 to 4 foot depths and a few had backed out deeper once water levels left shallow shorelines. Seems the bluegill have played hide and seek this spring, vacating many old bedding areas for parts unknown. That has a lot of panfishermen scratching their heads in disbelief, wondering why the fish changed locales and where exactly did they go? Catfishing has been a bright spot lately. Some nice stringers have been taken by anglers fishing rock banks with nightcrawlers being the bait of choice. Several nice catfish have continued to occupy shallow bays and pockets. Anglers casting light tackle for bluegill have been tying into pretty good numbers of catfish the last week or two. Some boats were also landing good numbers as they drifted with a jug spreads across the upper ends of bays. Drifting noodles baited with worms was quite productive and continues to pay dividends. Crappie anglers haven’t had much to brag about lately. The fish are in their typical post-spawn phase which can sometimes be challenging. The fish are still stressed from spawning and often suspended and scattered. There were a few reports of some anglers vertical fishing live minnows and jigs over manmade fish attractors in 9 to 12 foot depths. Catches were somewhat scattered but boaters managed to put a few keeper size fish in the cooler at times. Other techniques such as trolling crankbaits and spider rigging have managed to find a few fish but the overall bite was sluggish. Crappie should show some improvement soon as they usually acclimate to submerged structure in midrange depths by early June. The weatherman says somewhat cooler temps are on the way so perhaps the first week of June will bring a slight reprieve to the hot days that descended last week.