Annual Drawdown Begins; Mayfly Hatches Underway
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on July 7, 2021
Annual drawdown on both Kentucky and Barkley Lakes has begun. Fishermen, boaters, property owners and recreationalists along the shores may have already noticed a slight drop in lake levels the past week or so.
Once July arrives on the calendar the TVA initiates its annual drawdown curve and lake levels will begin to recede over the next several months, reaching a projected winter pool level by late October or early November.
Each year the reservoir reaches the normal high summer pool around May 1 and stays there until early July. After sleeping at the low ebbs of winter pool throughout late fall and winter the reservoir begins its climb back to summer pool on April 1, according to TVA’s curve.
This week lake levels have been falling slowly after resting around the 359 summer pool mark throughout most of June. At midweek the reservoir was already down a few inches with a reading of 358.6 in the Kentucky Dam area.
Surface temperatures this week was in the 84 to 86 degree range as heat and humidity have returned. Water color is clear across most of the reservoir.
Massive mayfly hatches have dotted the island rims and shorelines of Kentucky Lake this past week.
Bass fishermen were still finding fish once they located the schools of pin minnows. Some decent stringers were taken by anglers targeting the shallow areas or backs of bays where schools of baitfish attracted the bass.
Boathouses and piers were holding minnows as were exposed crappie beds or various stickups. Any logs or treelaps on steep banks were producing fish if the minnows were there.
Smaller spinnerbaits were working as were a variety of colors of Texas rigged worms and craws. Some jerk baits such as Slugo style worms and other finesse type tube and swim baits were working well around the shallow cover harboring minnows.
Other patters producing have been the ledge style of fishing as deeper humps and sanbars in main lake areas are giving up some fish. The ledge bite should improve now that lower lake levels are entering the picture as that scenario may pull some of the shallow fish out to deeper venues.
Already working have been the usual menus of bit deep diving crankbaits in the black/chartreuse, Tennessee shad and sexy shad and blue/pearl color variations.
Popular choices have been Norman’s DD22, Bandit’s 300 series, Strike Kings 6XD and 10XD and Rapala’s DT Series. Once late spring and early summer arrive Kentucky Lake is crankbait heaven for main lake bass anglers working the ledges.
A few nice smallmouth continue to show up for ledge fishermen tossing various jigs, swim baits, Carolina rigs and spoons at times.
Also in the summer arsenal are jig and craw combos hopped along the ledges plus big Texas rigged worms in the 9 to 10-inch length. Color choices producing have been green pumpkin-pepper, red-shad, Tequila sunrise and June bug just to name a few.
Catfishermen are still finding good numbers as they work the edge of the main Tennessee River channel bank with nightcrawlers, big minnows and chicken livers. Depths have varied but the 35 to 45 foot range has produced well.
Current is part of the success story and it has been present this week which aided in the deep water bite. The moving water has indeed stirred up the shad and stimulated movement from the channel and blue catfish out along the main river channel.
Crappie fishermen have had to work a bit harder lately to find and catch fish but some have succeeded. While a few boats are trolling crankbaits and scoring as they work main lake ledges and flats in 12 to 15 foot depths others are using different techniques.
Vertical presentations of both live minnows and jigs continue to produce fish too. Deeper stakebeds and brushpiles are holding scattered crappie but anglers have had to make a lot of stops to accumulate decent numbers.
Black and chartreuse, motor oil with gold sparkle and a clear tube with silver sparkle have been good choices at times as water color is clear in most areas. Tipping shiner minnows on jigs or just fishing them on plain hooks has also paid dividends at times.
A few crappie anglers are beginning to pursue the night fishing aspect now that hotter weather has arrived and mayfly hatches are abundant. A lot of fishermen like to beat the heat and opt for night fishing once summer arrives.
Some bluegill and bass have been taken around the steep banks and island rims where fish are gorging themselves on mayflies. Casting popping bugs and sinking nymphs or tossing crickets on ultralight tackle will put you in touch with lots of fish when the mayflies are buzzing.
Expect mayfly hatches to continue off and on for the next several weeks.
Lake levels are falling as surface temperatures rise. The summer fishing scene is alive and well across Kentucky Lake!