Heavy Rains Drench Fishing Scene; Lake Levels Rising
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on February 23, 2022
Wondering just how high the reservoir will rise in the days ahead dominates the fishing conversation of most Kentucky Lake anglers at present. In the aftermath of heavy rains this week flooding conditions occurred across most of the region.
Some 5-plus inches of rain fell on Tuesday with another drenching expected to fall on Thursday in a watershed that was already saturated. Tennessee Valley Authority had pulled the reservoir down near its low ebb of winter pool earlier in the week to create more storage capacity.
Lake levels started the week off around a low stage of 354.2 but fishermen can expect rising lake stages for the next few days. Just how high the lake will rise and when the crest will occur is anyone’s guess.
Fishermen can expect a lot of current to remain in the main Tennessee River channel area for another week or so. TVA will likely be pushing a lot of water through Kentucky Dam for another week or more.
Relatively moderate temperatures had been lingering for a few days with a cool front on the horizon that will see a drop in temps as the weekend approaches. Highs are forecast to be some 10 to 12 degrees cooler this weekend with highs only in the mid to upper 40’s.
Cold nights will stay in the picture for a spell but daytime highs are expected to moderate beginning early next week, rebounding to the low to mid 50’s starting Monday.
Water color changed from clear to dingy in many areas due to massive runoff. Around the Paris Landing area there was still a decent color present for fishing while up the upper Big Sandy and West Sandy had some dingy to muddy water moving in.
Surface temperatures were in the low to mid 40’s most of the week.
Crappie fishermen haven’t had much to brag about this week due to high winds and unstable weather conditions that interfered with their late February fishing plans. Late February and early March remind us that winter is still very much in charge.
Unstable weather is the norm this time of year. Anglers know the nice warm days with light winds are in the minority. However, there are times when good stringers of crappie and some decent bass can be taken this time of year when weather conditions cooperate.
A rapid rebound can occur with a few back to back days of warm sunshine. Dingy water warms a bit quicker and usually the schools of baitfish, namely threadfin shad, move up in response to both rising lake levels and rising surface temperatures.
So, this week’s demise in fishing conditions can rapidly rebound by next week. Meanwhile, Kentucky Lake anglers will have yet another week of fluctuating lake levels. The roller coaster with elevation continues.
Odds are after the rapid rise will come a dramatic drawdown as TVA will likely attempt to pull the reservoir back down to its normal curve, which for this time of year would be down to the 354 range.
Fishing deep depths has been the target zone for a lot of winter crappie anglers as of late. Depths of 18 to 25 feet have given up a few scattered fish.
Although some scattered fish have been taken in deep stakebeds and brushpiles around the depth range of 12 to 14 feet numbers of fish in that zone have been low.
Those stalking the deep structure and using Livescope sonar have reported finding fish holding tight to structure but the ones they’ve located have been reluctant to bite.
Despite changing their presentation of different color combinations on jigs and also altering between live minnows and jigs or even tipping jigs with minnows hoping to entice bites the response from finicky crappie has been sluggish.
Most anglers are hoping the overall bite improves once March rolls around and brings warmer surface temps to the fishing scene. That should see more fish start moving up to midrange depths soon.
Bass anglers haven’t had much to crow about recently as their efforts to find a few deeper smallmouth off submerged points and rocky bluffs have been inconsistent.
Tossing crawfish and shad colored variations of crankbaits around rocky bluffs, rip-rap and gravel shorelines haven’t paid dividends either.
Most anglers are just taking the nasty weather week in stride and hoping March delivers better opportunities.