Spawning Time for Catfish/Bluegill; Lake Levels Rise
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on May 5, 2021
Spawning time is at hand for catfish along Kentucky Lake and it’s coinciding with bedding bluegill and shellcracker too!
Also on the menu are abundant shoreline bushes, trees and grassbeds that are attracting bass to the aquatic wonderlands. Just this week lake levels have jumped a few inches above the normal summer pool mark and that inundates lots of visible habitat.
It’s a great time to go fishing for a variety of species as the shallow bays and pockets across the reservoir are offering a potpourri of opportunities for both novice and veteran anglers.
From a shady spot on the bank where sitting on the ground or perhaps a 5-gallon bucket to a fancy bass boat with carpet and swivel seats; it’s that time of the year when any type fishermen can partake of the lake’s amenities.
Hefty stringers of catfish have been taken this week as the cats are really on the prowl. Warmer surface temps and rising lake levels have really stimulated movement toward shallow rock banks and just shallow bays in general as the fish sprint toward potential spawning venues.
While a lot of rip-rap rock banks are producing fish so are just gravel bank areas back in pockets and bays off the main lake. A lot of bluegill and shellcracker anglers working the shallow shorelines have been tying into catfish on a regular basis as they cast light tackle.
That bite should hold up for another week or two. You can toss a few nightcrawlers or the catfish bait of your choice around rocks and gravel and likely encounter some dandy size females that are loaded with eggs and ready to spawn.
Bedding bluegill have stepped up their biting sprees this week although a cool snap at midweek week sort of put the brakes on some early bedding phases. Both bluegill and redear sunfish have begun moving to shallow water and occupying parameters of weedbeds and buck bushes plus some shallow pea gravel banks.
The fish are sensitive to slight weather changes and expressed that at midweek as the bite backed off for a few days due to below average temperatures. However, by the weekend temps should rebound and anglers should watch for activity to bounce back as the fish are ready to begin fanning their spawning craters and deposit eggs.
Bull bluegill and raging shellcracker should express a mood swing in the days ahead as they protect their bedding areas. Watch for those bobbers to disappear quickly as the fish will be guarding their spawning beds.
Several stringers have been taken this week by anglers working shorelines using crickets, wax worms and redworms. It appears the last week or so was the early stages of spawning as most anglers had to work pretty hard to find a concentration. That’s an indication the fish were not quite red hot, so to speak, but on the threshold of moving up and bedding.
Watch for the bite to improve in the days ahead assuming warm weather returns to the fishing scene with some warm nights and pleasant days. Bluegill and shellcracker fishermen don’t like cold fronts and nasty north winds as it dramatically changes the mood of the fish overnight once a cool spell sneaks in the door.
Sometimes the morning bite is sluggish and the fish are just turned off by the weather change only to respond favorably by the afternoon once a warm sun has heated things up.
Rising lake stages returned at midweek in the aftermath of some storms that drenched the region earlier this week. TVA indicates the reservoir has jumped a few inches and is now well above normal summer pool, which means abundant habitat along islands and shorelines for bass fishermen.
Lake levels are projected to be 359.6 (normal summer pool is 359) as the weekend approaches. That means a lot of structure that was a bit too shallow in pockets and bays last week now has ample water.
Bass will no doubt invade the buck bushes, bases of willow trees and aquatic vegetation that will provide a lot of targets for shallow water bass anglers.
The visible cover offers a Mecca for all sorts of topwater presentations ranging from buzzbaits to floating fluke style worms and assorted jerk baits.
Flipping and pitching techniques will be popular in the days ahead as jig and craw combos, Texas rigged worms and craws, and jig and pig combos will be good choices.
At the same time spinnerbaits will be tied on a rod in most bass boats as part of the arsenal. When Kentucky Lake’s elevation rises a few inches above summer pool mark like it is now it puts so many good fishing spots into the equation.
Not all bass anglers will beat the banks as there’s always a few boats testing the humps, sloping points and main lake ledges playing the current. And, seems they find fish out there too even when some others are fishing an entirely different pattern and depth!
Crappie anglers are still fishing for scattered fish in the post-spawn phase. Several boats have been trolling crankbaits over main lake ledges and back in the bays trying to locate a few suspended fish.
By covering a lot of water and experimenting with depth and color variations they’ve managed to find a few fish too.
Also chalking up a few crappie have been those boats vertical fishing manmade fish attractors such as stakebeds and brushpiles in midrange depths of 9 to 14 feet. However, not many limits have been taken as despite using assorted jig colors mixed with some live minnows the vertical technique has also battled scattered fish patterns.
Long lining and spider rig techniques are still producing a few fish too but most anglers report relatively low numbers of fish for their long day efforts.
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