Thumbs Up for Kentucky Lake's Fishing Scene
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on October 21, 2019
Stable lake levels and weather patterns have helped keep Kentucky Lake's fall fishing scene on track lately and the overall bite has been pretty good, especially for crappie anglers.
After a hot start to autumn angling back in September and early October, things have settled down nicely and normal daytime temperatures are now hanging around. Those cool foggy mornings are fading away at midday to warm sunny conditions and by noon anglers are shedding their jackets and coats. Not a bad scenario!
Fall has a reputation here of stable weather and lake levels but sometimes the apple cart gets upset when blustery winds from the north blow in, bringing with them falling temps, rain and bone chilling conditions akin to those unpredictable spring weather patterns.
It's unusual to have nasty weather in October and early November but if it does slip in the door it's usually for a short stay. That's way fall fishing is well worth the price of admission. However, wise are the anglers who come prepared and bring along overcoats, raincoats and sunscreen!
Other attributes that come to mind are quiet and peaceful days on the lake and at the boat ramp. Fall is a season when you can fight the fish without having to fight the crowd.
After Labor Day the lion's share of pleasure boaters enter the early phases of hibernation. With school activities, sporting events and hunting seasons there's a lot of things tugging away at the free time of most folks that pulls many away from the lake.
The end result is overlooked and underrated outings. Seeing the lakeshore change and its parade of colors mirrored in placid waters makes most days worth being there. Catching a bunch of fish is a bonus…for most folks! (smile)
Geese honking in the distance will serenade you at times. If you slow down and listen to the lake environment there's plenty of sights and sounds to please you.
Meanwhile, lake levels this week have stayed put and slept around the 354.8 elevation at both Kentucky Dam and upstream toward the Paris Landing and New Johnsonville sector. Water color remains clear.
All boaters are reminded to pay close attention to channel markers during winter pool lake levels. I've been on the lake daily and observed a lot of boats taking dangerous shortcuts over shallow stump rows and sandbars. Some get lucky; others don't and face expensive repair bills to both their boat and outboard's lower unit.
Surface temps continue to cool each week. Most days start out around the 64 degree range and warm to 66 or so by midday. A few rainy days have entered the picture lately but not enough to change water color or lake levels. It's been typical fall weather as of late.
Kentucky Lake's fall crappie bite continues to produce some hefty stringers and anglers have embraced the rebound from last fall, winter and spring when things weren't too rosy.
For the last few years many anglers caught small fish that were reluctant to grow and prosper in the seasons ahead. This fall things are different. It appears a lot of those small crappie survived and show signs of prosperity compared to times past.
Healthy crappie are being caught with many fattening up into the ¾ to 1-pound plus range. Fish are sporting bulging bellies and their "pork chop" physique indicates a good forage base is present, namely threadfin shad.
Commonly called "yellow tail" by commercial fishermen, the increasing number of shad schools have returned to the sonar screens of anglers. Lots of shad have begun moving up toward gravel banks in the early morning and late afternoon lately where they flick the water while feeding on small insects known as midges.
Midge hatches occur in lowlight conditions such as cloudy days or shady banks during sunrises and sunsets.
Commercial fishermen use throw nets to catch threadfin shad for baiting trotlines. It has been done here for decades but the last few years many veteran commercial fishermen voiced concern about the lack of baitfish. A lot of them had to leave Kentucky Lake and venture to Barkley in order to find adequate schools of threadfin shad to meet their needs.
That was yet another story being told about the forage base here. Thin crappie and bass were others pages in the book too. However, present day signs indicate a positive turnaround is underway out there.
No doubt more food on the table has transformed Kentucky Lake's fall crappie fishery into some pretty good fishing reports recently. Several limits have been taken these last few weeks and that should hold up for several more weeks too.
Depths of 8 to 13 feet have been giving up good stringers recently. That midrange depths usually produces during the fall and fish are following the road map to structure that's attracting baitfish.
Some of the better stringers are coming from anglers vertical fishing jigs and minnows around submerged stakebeds and brushpiles.
Deeper brushpiles down around 18 to 20 feet have given up some nice crappie too. Anglers are tightlining live minnows and tipping jigs with minnows in the deep cover.
At the same time a few boats are trolling Bandit crankbaits along main lake sandbars and back in creek channel ledges in some of the big bays and scoring nice catches. Some of the fish have stayed suspended in the midrange depths and often out over deep water at times.
Multipole presentations by spider rig style fishermen and trollers have paid dividends, which is vintage Kentucky Lake as several patterns are known to produce at the same time here as are different depth ranges.
Bass fishing hasn't been as good as most fishermen would like. Seems numbers are down and reports from several bass tournaments up and down the reservoir paint a pretty tough bite for most of the entrants.
While a few decent stringers always seem to show up, along with a few lunkers mixed in, some experienced anglers are struggling to find and catch fish.
A recent Bass Fishing League (BFL) regional division tournament out of Paris Landing State Park saw low weights brought in with several boaters not even weighing in a bass. Winning weights were off compared to times past and numbers of limits taken were down drastically.
Meanwhile, anglers are banging away at gravel banks with assorted crankbaits, jig and craw combos plus Texas rigged craws. Other patterns such as pitching craws and worms around boat docks have produced a few fish.
Some surface activity has occurred in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Still working at times have been fan casting flats near deep water with swim baits, Rattle Trap style lures and some suspended jerk baits.
Spinnerbaits and fluke style worms worked around visible structure haven't produced too well recently but that can change quickly when some cloudy rainy days descend.
Fall is fading slowly so don't let this nice fishing season get away from you!