Bluegill/Catfish Bite On As Surface Temps Rise
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on May 11, 2022
Kentucky Lake’s mid-May bluegill bite is on. It’s prime time for this popular panfish as spawning phases are underway.
Warm weather this week has stimulated the bite and several nice stringers have been taken in two to three foot depths. The fish began heading toward shallow zones more than a week ago as surface temperatures crossed the 70-degree mark.
Veteran bluegill anglers have hung their hat on the full moon in May signaling peak spawning time. That magical date arrives Monday according to the calendar.
Dandy stringers have been caught this week by anglers using crickets, redworms and wax worms. Some fishermen using ultralight tackle have had success casting very small hair jigs in the 1/32-ounce size and often tipping it with a wax worm.
When the fish turn aggressive and territorial, as they are during peak spawning time, they’ll tag most anything that enters their bedding area. Some hit out of hunger; others such as the big dark males turn protective of bedding spots and strike at anything they consider to be an intruder.
Seeing the bobber disappear cast after cast is indeed a sight for sore eyes. That’s now underway so don’t let this great fishing phase pass you by.
While a few shellcracker have been taken overall numbers appear to be down somewhat across the reservoir this spring. Still, there are a few dandies relating to shallow buck bushes and logs around shallow shorelines but most anglers are reporting diminished numbers compared to years past.
Rocky banks continue to give up some good catfish this week as hefty stringers have been caught. Rip-rap rock areas have been appealing to spawning catfish and the bite should hold up another couple weeks before the fish begin entering a post-spawn phase.
Baits of choice have been nightcrawlers, chicken livers, cut shad, leeches and assorted commercial stink baits.
Surface temperatures this week have climbed to the year’s warmest reading. Temps the last few days started out in the mornings around 72 degrees and warmed to the 75 degree range by midday.
Water color is mostly clear across the Paris Landing sector with a little stain present along the Tennessee River channel and around some islands but clear elsewhere.
Lake levels have remained relatively stable again this week. According to Tennessee Valley Authority elevation in the Kentucky Dam area stayed around the summer pool range---which is 359---all week.
Bass fishermen had a nice boost two weeks ago when the rapid rise in lake levels brought a lot of fish to shoreline habitat. Anglers were landing some dandy stringers while pitching and flipping Texas rigged craws around buckbrush.
However, the bite this week has fallen off a bit and most reports indicate things have gotten a bit more challenging as of late.
It appears some bass have backed out of the very shallow cover and taken on a post-spawn mood as they’ve backed of the banks but haven’t exactly moved out to a summer pattern on main lake ledges just yet.
More boats are beginning to target the secondary sandbars and long sloping points with big crankbaits, Carolina rigged craws and lizards, Texas rigged worms and hopping a jig and craw as part of their arsenal.
Seems there’s always a few fish lurking on shallow shorelines, especially if stained water can be found. However, more anglers are falling back and working deeper areas this week compared to last week at this time since surface temperatures are rising.
Some topwater is still part of the equation, especially in the early morning hours as anglers hit the parameter of some weedbeds and the outside rim of buck bushes and some blowdowns or logs mixed in with other shoreline structure.
Crappie have entered their post-spawn phase for the most part. A few successful anglers are stalking midrange depths of 6 to 12 feet and even deeper in some areas.
Most reports indicate anglers are having to make a lot of stops to accumulate any numbers as the fish seem to be a bit scattered.
There have been a few success stories coming in from a variety of presentations ranging from long lining Road Runner jigs to slow trolling crankbaits out over main lake sandbars.
Live minnows were working for some single pole tightline style anglers working midrange depths where stakebeds and brushpiles were giving up some low numbers. This time of year often sees a few crappie roaming shallow shoreline structure or out around midrange depths.
Even bluegill anglers working shallow zones will sometimes pick up a few crappie that hang around shallow stickups or perhaps occupy areas just off the shoreline. As surface temps continue to heat up more fish will transition back toward midrange depths during their post-spawn phase.