Sizzling Temps Alter Fishing Scene; It's Tough Out There!
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on June 16, 2022
It’s actually still spring according to the calendar! Summer doesn’t officially arrive until next Tuesday, June 22nd but someone forgot to tell that to the weather man.
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has been somewhat altered by the recent rash of hot weather and sizzling temperatures that recently set new records for daytime highs.
Outings have felt more like mid to late August than mid-June this week. Wow! It has been tough out there on the water lately after the wee hours of the morning lose their grip and heat up at midday.
Some anglers are hitting the water at daybreak, getting in a few hours of fishing before pitching in the towel at midmorning or midday. There are always a few diehard fishermen willing to brave the heat and humidity.
Success stories have come in from a few boaters stalking catfish along the main Tennessee River channel. It’s that time year when the deep bite turns on from schooling catfish relating to depths of 30 to 45 feet---sometimes deeper---along the channel bank.
Current is a big factor as it stimulates the catfish bite. There has been a slow steady current most days so that’s helped stimulate movement within the food chain. When the water is moving it stirs up plankton and that stirs of movement from baitfish, namely shad.
Once that occurs the catfish go on the prowl and the fishing improves. Without current it’s often a stagnant situation out there. Without some current the catfish are lethargic and just don’t show much interest.
Baits of choice continue to be nightcrawlers, assorted commercial stink baits or homemade concoctions of marinades where anglers dip chicken livers and such in a pungent brew.
Bottom line is some pretty nice stringers have been taken by those willing to brave the heat or perhaps rise and shine early and get their fishing done by midday.
If you go remember to take along plenty of ice in your cooler and don’t rely on livewells this time of year as the water is just too hot and your fish will spoil quickly when using a livewell despite aeration.
Surface temperatures this week have climbed to the 84 to 88 degree range. Nights have been hot so the water hasn’t had much opportunity to cool off in the evening hours.
Lake levels were projected to be in the 359.2 range as the weekend approaches so the reservoir continues to stay relatively close to its normal summer pool elevation. Water color is clear across the reservoir.
Both bass and crappie anglers have fallen victim to the rising temperatures as it has curtailed activity. Some crappie were taken the last week or two by anglers fishing midrange depths and finding a few fish relating to structure.
Those vertical fishing jigs and live minnows around stakebeds and brushpiles in the 12 to 15 foot depth range were catching a few scattered fish times. However, on the days when very little cloud cover was present to filter out the bright sun it seemed to diminish the bite from sluggish crappie by midmorning.
Some boats are beginning to troll crankbaits over main lake sandbars and finding a mixed bag of crappie, catfish, white bass, black bass and a rare sauger now and then.
Bass anglers are targeting the ledges with both deep diving crankbaits and an assortment of Texas rigged worms, hair jigs and craw trailers plus Carolina rigged craws and lizards. A few anglers were also tossing swim baits and picking up a smallmouth at times out on main lake humps or ledges.
As with the catfishermen current also helps the ledge bite for early summer bass fishing. When there’s current schools of shad show up roaming about on the sonar screens of anglers but without the current the lack of movement within the baitfish community really diminishes the bite.
Some shallow grassbeds and blowdowns are holding schools of pin minnows that continue to mature and grow better week by week. The larger minnows will continue to attract bass to shallow water in the weeks ahead, despite high surface temperatures.
Seems the attraction of abundant forage overrides the high surface temperatures as bass will chase those pin minnows around shallow structure, especially if current is present and pushes the tiny minnows behind any bush, grass patch or log that break the current providing small eddies of refuge.
Night fishing for bass has entered the equation for a few smallmouth and regular bass fishermen due to the recent spell of hot weather. Tossing a spinnerbait along rip rap and sloping sandbars near the main lake could produce some fish now that summer conditions present.
Mayfly hatches have been somewhat scattered across the reservoir lately. Not many reports have come in this week of massive hatches along the main river islands and shoreline but that can change quickly. Often big hatches occur just before a thunderstorm but according to the weatherman not much chance of rain is in the forecast.
Fishermen who love to fish light tackle or perhaps use a flyrod to battle bass and bluegill during the feeding frenzy beneath a mayfly hatch will get their chance in the days and weeks ahead. Late June and throughout July is prime time for hatches to occur.