Anglers Taking Hot Summer Season in Stride
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on July 27, 2022
Fishermen across the Kentucky Lake area and really all across the southern region of the country are taking a sweltering summer fishing season in stride. They know they can’t change it so they’re just making the best of it.
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene got a slight reprieve from the near triple digit temperatures this week thanks to some overdue rains that also brought a blanket of cloud cover. However, humidity has stayed around and with the occasional thunderstorms have come high winds at times.
Anglers have had to keep an eye on the sky lately as those dark clouds in the southwest can sometimes pack a punch and sort of slip up on you while you’re a long distance from the boat ramp or dock.
No fun out on the lake when thunder rumbles and lighting enters the picture. Wise are the anglers and boaters who heed the warning signs and get in off the lake long before the dramatic low pressure weather change hits and gale winds whip up whitecaps.
That urge to make one more cast or catch one more fish will get you in trouble when dark clouds are on the horizon.
Best to pay close attention to the cell phone’s weather radar and heed the warnings. Learn not to wait until the last minute to make a run for shelter when you’re out on the lake, especially if you’ve ventured far away from your launch site.
And realizing one’s limitations is imperative. Small boats with small engines out on big water such as Kentucky Lake definitely have limitations.
There’s always been the temptation for folks in small boats with small outboard motors to venture out and about, often motoring to the far side of the lake in search of fish. They do that for the same reason anglers on the shore try to cast out as far as they can; at the same time a lot of folks in boats fish right up next to the bank!
I guess it’s always going to be that way.
Meanwhile, somewhat surprising has been the number of boats hitting the water this week despite the endurance test of weather conditions.
Surface temperatures have been in the 88 to 90 degree range. Water color is clear.
Lake levels have been falling slowly and the elevation projected for this weekend will be 357.8, (peak summer pool is 359) which is down several inches from last week as TVA’s curve toward creating more storage capacity within the reservoir continues.
Public boat ramps have seen lots of activity as of late as it seems word got out about increased current in the main Tennessee River channel stimulating the catfish bite. Bass and crappie anglers have been catching fish too.
There’s still a few summer mayfly hatches occurring, especially during and just after a thunderstorm. Seems the sudden surge of low pressure triggers a mayfly hatch but only Mother Nature knows the real timetable.
Still, even during a mid-summer hot spell fish flock to shallow shorelines and island rims to partake of nature’s buffet. Bass and bluegill especially show up in big numbers and the shallow bite can sometimes turn into a real feeding frenzy.
As mentioned earlier the current has been pretty good as of late and that’s what several anglers like to hear. The Tennessee Valley Authority has been pushing plenty of water through Kentucky Dam and by this weekend it projects a flow of more than 30,000 cfs (cubic feet per second).
That should boost the bite for deep water catfishermen working the edge of the main channel and around bridge piers at places like Paris Landing bridge.
Some boats are just drifting along the edge of the channel bank, working the steep ledge that drops off into the main channel and allowing the current to slowly drag them along.
Others use the trolling motor to hold boat position if hotspots are located or baitfish balls show up on their sonar screens. Spotting the schools of catfish, some of which may sometimes be suspended, will put you in the driver’s seat for great action.
Most anglers continue to credit their summer catches to the use of nightcrawlers, chicken livers, big minnows and shrimp just to name a few. Others opt for commercial catfish baits from their favorite bait shop and those work great too.
Bass fishermen have been reporting some success on main lake ledges as they toss big Texas rigged worms in the pumpkin pepper, June bug and red shad color variations. Big deep diving crankbaits in black/chartreuse, Tennessee shad, bone and various shades of shad colors are working too.
Always in the arsenal for summer bass fishermen targeting the ledge pattern are Carolina rigs, big spoons and jig and craw combos as well.
Night fishing has been drawing the attention of several bass anglers this summer as folks attempt to beat the heat.
From tossing big spinnerbaits to dragging Texas or Carolina rigged worms, night bass fishermen have been working sloping points that have deep water nearby or sometimes working rocky banks near deep water.
Hardly any reports have come in from anglers seeing surface activity from schooling white bass. That activity normally picks up this time of year as lake levels recede and shad school out over main lake sandbars but no success stories as of late.
Summer crappie are known to be sluggish but a few have been caught by anglers hitting the lake in the wee hours of the morning. Depths of 18 to 25 feet have produced a few scattered fish. Anglers credited live minnows as working best but some jig colors were also paying dividends.
There were some scattered crappie residing in brushpiles and stakebeds in depths of 13 to 15 feet.
Tipping jigs with minnows has also been popular and likely to appeal to some yellow or white bass too at times who might be hanging out around deep structure with the crappie. Odds are if shad are present you’ll encounter some yellow or white bass too.
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