Fall Like Weather Put Pop in Step of Summer Anglers
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on July 24, 2019
Thumbs up to the weatherman this week! After enduring weeks of hot and humid weather Kentucky Lake anglers woke up to cool crisp mornings this week, reminiscent of mid-October when jacket mornings and shirt sleeve afternoons are the norm. Both lake levels and temperatures fell this past week, reopening the door to summer fishermen, many of which had thrown in the towel lately in the aftermath of above average temperatures that turned outings into a grudge match. Surface temperatures fell a few degrees and were resting in the 83 degree range at midweek. That’s down several degrees from last week’s peak of 88 degrees in some areas. Lake levels began a slow descent in early July, which is TVA’s schedule to implement annual winter drawdown done on a gradual basis for the next several months. Elevation this week actually fell to 358.3 earlier in the week but rebounded slightly at midweek. Projections for the weekend in the Kentucky Dam sector will be 358.4. A slight rise was underway in the aftermath of heavy rains and thunderstorms across the TVA valley last weekend and earlier this week. Water color is in pretty good shape across the reservoir for fishermen with a slight stain present in the main Tennessee River channel area. Most backwater bays exhibit only a slight stain. Benefitting from the slow current prior to the midweek rise in elevation were catfishermen working the main channel banks. Depths of 30 to 35 feet were producing decent stringers as boaters worked the edge of the submerged river bank using double hook bottom bumping rigs. Catfishermen targeted any irregular bends or lips along the channel bank or humps out on the main river. Also in their sights have been the down current sides of deep feeder creeks that at one time emptied their contents into the river channel. When current enters the equation catfish will stage on the down current sides of submerged creeks, awaiting shad that wash their way and congregate in the deep eddies during summer time. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers, big minnows and catalpa worms—if you can find them---are popular bait choices this time of year. Some commercial concoctions are also productive, assuming you can withstand the odors! Crappie anglers experienced a minor increase in activity lately with a few fish holding in midrange depths of 12 to 14 feet. Live minnows have been the most productive bait. Some anglers presented jigs and jigs tipped with minnows or various fish attractants but live minnows have paid the most dividends as sluggish summer crappie often opt for live bait presentations. Also producing at times have been deeper manmade structures, namely brush piles, located on the deep side of main lake ledges. Depths of 20 to 25 feet are giving up a few fish that seem to be relating to the deep cover. Most anglers are applying tightline techniques or bottom bumping rigs with hooks tied 18-inches to two feet above the sinker for suspended fish. Other techniques such as spider rigging presentations with multi-pole rigs and slow trolling deep diving crankbaits have, at times, produced some scattered fish. Bass fishermen had a short honeymoon with shallow fish before lake levels fell, pulling schools of baitfish out of bushes and outside weedbeds. Once lake stages fell below summer pool the shoreline habitat became less appealing to the schools of pin minnows that were attracting fish to shallow shorelines for a couple of weeks. While a few scattered fish are still relating to blowdowns that are holding pin minnow schools, most bass have backed out away from shorelines with some holding on shallow to midrange crappie beds beneath the surface or out on main lake ledges. Out from feeder creeks or on secondary flats anglers are finding some bass holding there if baitfish are present. Tossing Rattletrap style lures or swim baits have located some bass as have shallow running crankbaits. Main lake ledges have been the most appealing areas this week as lower lake levels and some current have made such areas more attractive to summer bass. However, despite hot weather and warm surface temperatures Kentucky Lake anglers know when they find the baitfish they’ll encounter bass regardless of depth. The ledge bite is hit and miss. Some sandbars produce when bass push shad up toward the top sides of ledges and just when that will happen if often unpredictable. When current is present it aids the deep ledge bite. However, some anglers have learned to fish the deep sides of drop-offs with huge crankbaits, spoons, swim baits, jig and pig combos, Texas rigged worms and Carolina style presentations of worms, craws or lizards, especially when monitoring areas with detailed sonar units. Sluggish bass can sometimes be triggered to respond if anglers choose the right baits during the summer doldrums. For that reason sometimes baits such as a leadhead jig and twister tail type grub can be a popular choice if bass are located suspended in open water and not necessarily relating to structure. Bass this time of year will often school with white bass if schools of shad can be located. At times they will follow the feeding frenzy of white bass or smaller yellow bass schools. Meanwhile, mayfly hatches continue to be scattered and somewhat unpredictable. If located some shallow activity will occur, especially around river island rims or steep shorelines out on the main river areas. Regardless of what type fishing fits your fancy, cooler days now upon us should indeed put pep in your step. Midsummer cool spells are rare so best take advantage of it while it’s here!