Lake Levels on the Rise; Summer Pool By Early May
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on March 29, 2022
Tennessee Valley Authority’s curve for reservoir filling begins each spring on the first day of April. After a slow but gradual rise—under normal conditions--- in elevation throughout the month the lake should reach its summer pool elevation of 359 around the first of May.
Folks are always talking about the lake levels and just this week low readings were observed as elevation dipped down to 354.3 at midweek. Lower elevation really exposed backwater mudflats and various shoreline structure this week in addition to shallow sandbars and extended island rims along the main river.
All that will change starting this weekend as rising lake levels will slowly change the face of Kentucky Lake. A lot of boat ramps or gravel bank launch areas have been victims of low lake levels so several lake front property owners plus anglers and recreational boaters are looking forward to rising lake levels.
Surface temperatures have been reluctant to warm this week due to cool winds that shifted at times from the north to northeast. That kept temps somewhat cooler than normal until midweek week when a rapid warm up rolled in pushed by gale winds and rapidly advancing thunderstorms.
For most anglers it has been a pretty challenging week. Conditions have not been in favor of fishermen who had to wet a line wherever the wind told them to go. It appears cooler days in the aftermath of midweek storms will last throughout the weekend before nice weather enters the picture to kick the week off.
Water color has been pretty good across the reservoir for both bass and crappie anglers. It’s dealing with the nasty wind and unruly March weather that has kept most anglers off balance.
It’s fair to say most will be glad to put a mean March in the rearview mirror. Looks like next week will bring warmer days and that, coupled with a slow rise in lake levels, should see an improvement in the overall fishing scene.
Finicky crappie have been hard to come by for most boaters but a few using long-line techniques have managed to score some decent stringers at times. Those pulling Road Runner style jigs slowly around somewhat deeper water credit their successful depth range to that of 12 to 15 feet.
Even veteran long liners say they are having to troll back and forth or pull long distances to catch fish. Seems the fish are still staging in deeper water and somewhat suspended at times in open water areas.
That tells the story of the prespawn bite as fish have been behind schedule as to their transition toward midrange depths. Although a few big female slabs have been caught, the fish have not made that early spring blitz toward shallow structure.
That should occur next week as the present scenario of sluggish fish staying out away from shallow structure is a result of the inclement weather we’ve had. Watch for quick changes to occur next week as we’re about to see surface temps reach the low to mid 60’s, triggering the urge for fish to begin active spawning phases.
A few male crappie are showing some darkening as to their pigmentation but have yet to move up to shallow structure or along gravel banks. Soon they will be on the threshold.
Meanwhile, techniques such as single pole presentations of jigs and minnows around manmade fish attractors such as stakebeds and brushpiles have not paid dividends as is normally the case during late March. Falling lake levels this week plus annoying northeast winds at times have no doubt had a negative impact on the shallow bite.
While a few fish have been taken in 8 to 12 foot zones it has been hard to accumulate numbers there.
Active spawning phases kick in once surface temps hit the 62 to 66 degree range. Looks like that should arrive by the middle of next week and get the show going.
Also struggling in the wake of a mean March have been bass anglers along Kentucky Lake. Usually fishermen are landing some lunker largemouth this time of year as the big sow bass should be putting on the feed bag in preparation for spawning time.
However, several experienced bass fishermen up and down the reservoir have struggled to put any productive patterns together as of late. For most it has been a one here; one there result despite their best efforts.
During late March Kentucky Lake’s abundance of gravel shorelines, rocky points and various roadbeds or rip-rap banks produce decent stringers. While a few fish have been taken on that habitat it’s been low numbers.
Also somewhat surprising are the low numbers of spotted bass, commonly referred to as Kentucky spotted bass.
Some Texas rigged crawfish in green-pumpkin pepper variations plus some Carolina rigged craws have picked up some finicky fish as have the usual crankbait patterns along gravel points. Rapala’s Shad Rap, Bandits, Strike King’s Red Eye Shad and Rattle Traps are normally popular throughout March and early April.
Perhaps warmer surface temps next week will stimulate activity and see more bass moving up in their prespawn patterns.
It’s time to shed the coats!