Summer Fishing Scene Off to Decent Start; Mayfly Hatches Underway
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on June 23, 2021
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene got off to a decent start as the first full week of summer chased away a strange and stubborn spring. Anglers experienced a warm kickoff on Sunday only to have a cool snap sneak in the door on Monday night in the aftermath of thunderstorms.
By Tuesday morning temps had dropped significantly, delivering a fall like feel as the mornings started off in the upper 50’s. Below average temps didn’t last long as highs by this weekend are expected to rebound to the 91-degree range.
After rising a few inches earlier in the week lake levels were expected to fall back near the summer pool mark of 359. Water color remains clear. Surface temps are resting in the 81 to 83 degree range and may warm a degree or two by next week as hot and humid conditions resume.
In the bass fishing category anglers have enjoyed some decent catches lately from relatively shallow shoreline habitat courtesy of the abundant schools of pin minnows. The shad fry schools are all around stickups and weedbeds in most coves and along river island rims as well.
The abundance of minnows has kept a lot of bass lingering around buck bushes, weedbeds and various blowdowns. Tossing a gold willowleaf spinnerbait has been productive in the blue/chartreuse skirt color among others.
Texas rigged worms and craws have worked too as has Storm’s Baby Brush Hog in the green pumpkin pepper color. It’s quite effective on the shallow fish right now.
Meanwhile, the summer mayfly hatches are underway across the reservoir and that always draws bass to the steep banks or bushes and shady overhangs.
Scores of small sunfish move up to feast on the flies and the bass feed on the flies too but also partake of the abundance of smaller fish running the banks. The bass are indeed opportunists.
Other lure choices such as fluke style floating worm presentations have also paid dividends as have a few topwater selections in the early morning and late afternoon hours.
Ledge fishing has also worked for those type fishermen who prefer to back off the banks and work various topography out on the main lake areas. And, this week that worked pretty good as TVA has been pulling a lot of water so the current increased, which enhances the ledge bite.
Casting huge Texas rigged worms in the 9 to 10-inch length are now popular as are some big spoons and the big deep diving crankbaits which are always a part of the summer bass angler’s arsenal here on Kentucky Lake.
Those deep humps and main lake sandbars are due to produce some good stringers.
Seems the reservoir has always offered both a shallow bass pattern and a main lake ledge pattern once summer arrives. That seems to be the case now underway.
Catfish remain on the prowl along the Tennessee River channel banks. Decent stringers were taken this week from depths of 35 to 45 feet as boaters worked the riverbank and drifted with the current while using bottom bumping rigs.
Some fish are suspended at times and anglers have learned to monitor their sophisticated sonar screens and adjust their bait presentations accordingly.
Chicken livers, nightcrawlers and several commercial catfish concoctions are luring the fish into biting. A few boats and pontoons have been seen jug fishing as well now that summer days are underway.
Crappie had been hitting pretty good last week for boaters trolling crankbaits across main lake flats in depths of 10 to 14 feet. Those vertical fishing over manmade fish attractors in similar depth ranges were picking up fish as well while tipping jigs with minnows or using just a pain minnow presentation.
However, the bite subsided late last week when mayfly hatches began to enter the picture. Sometimes the crappie sort of switch over from their main forage base of shad when the onslaught of mayfly larva begin emerging from the lake bottom.
A sudden abundance of mayfly larva, as well as adult flies, offer the crappie a free and easy buffet. That’s tough competition for anglers when that happens, at least for a few days.
At midweek crappie fishermen were seeing some improvement as fish seemed to show more interest for their jig/minnow combination. Plus, some stubborn winds a few days dictated where crappie anglers could fish and once the breezes subsided the fishermen could move about more in the open water and that helped out.
June crappie fishing is usually pretty good for Kentucky Lake anglers but high winds or the midst of a mayfly hatch can deliver temporary hurdles.
A few bluegill and assorted species of fish were moving up beneath overhanging willows and around steep shorelines where mayflies were falling to the surface. Such areas are good for flyrod enthusiasts or just casting ultra-light with small grubs or beetle-spin presentations as well as crickets fish beneath bobbers.
Watch for more mayfly hatches to occur throughout July as the summer months are peaks times for mayfly hatches along the Tennessee River.
Practically every fish that swims in Kentucky Lake benefits in some way from the massive mayfly hatches. The flies are indeed Mother Nature’s buffet that feeds her birds and fishes!