Great Weather/Early Fall Conditions Greet Anglers
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on September 14, 2022
Fall doesn’t officially arrive until next Thursday, says the calendar, but unofficially it seemed to have arrived a week or so early to the Kentucky Lake fishing scene.
Great weather this week began with a nip in the air on Monday morning, sending anyone outdoors back to the closet for a light jackets to go over the top of a long sleeve shirt. The cool snap really made it feel like fall was already here.
Those jacket mornings and shirt sleeve afternoons were here for a few days and everyone loved it. Seems the honeymoon won’t last as warmer days are in the forecast for this weekend and temps may even rise above normal for a few days.
Not to worry as September and portions of October are known to have a few hot days left in their weather arsenal. However, autumn angling has a reputation for stability and fishermen on Kentucky Lake have long known the season’s productive fishing sprees for bass, crappie and catfish.
Unlike spring fall weather is usually dependable. This time of year anglers don’t often have to battle gale winds that usher in cold fronts, a scenario that can literally alter the fishing scene overnight.
Lake levels are slow to change too. Stability is also in the cards and the reservoir doesn’t jump around and swell above normal. Although low lake levels are the norm throughout fall, it’s a slow and gradual drawdown by Tennessee Valley Authority so quick changes that often throw a curve to fishing patterns are quite unlikely during autumn angling.
Cooler surface temperatures are another attribute. And, after a summer like we’ve endured this year it’s high times things cooled off and the heat wave disappeared. It was indeed a long hot summer.
Surface temps this week have reluctantly cooled a bit but a big reservoir like Kentucky Lake is slow to drastic temp changes even though the air temps change quickly. It takes more than just three or four cool days and nights for significant changes to occur.
Surface temps this week have responded favorably and dropped two to four degrees at night but by midday things have heated back up so we need a few more fall like days to return.
Readings started the week off around 78 to 79 degrees each morning and slowly rebounded to the 83 to 84 degree range by midday. Sunscreen is still part of the picture for anyone out on the lake.
Water color is still pretty clear out on Big Sandy with only a slight stain present along the Tennessee River channel area. Lake levels this week have stayed around the 355.7 range in the Kentucky Dam sector. Similar readings are also present around Paris Landing and even up around New Johnsonville.
It bears repeating that lower lake levels during fall require all boaters to be on top of their game. Wise are the pontoon chauffeurs and day to day anglers who observe channel markers and resist the urge to take shortcuts out over main lake sandbars.
Current has been present in the main Tennessee River channel. TVA has been pushing around 35,000 to 40,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) through Kentucky Dam so that’s enough movement to stimulate schools of baitfish roaming about.
Thanks to the current Kentucky Lake’s catfish bite has been holding up well now for several weeks. A few hefty stringers are being caught by anglers who stay on the trail of baitfish as the catfish are schooling right there with them.
Depths of success for most anglers are ranging in the 30 to 40 foot range but there have been some fish taken in the 25 to 35 foot range as well.
Look for the fall bite to continue as catfishing here usually holds up quite well up into October.
Crappie anglers are finding a few fish here and there but having to make a lot of stops in the course of a daily fishing trip to rack of decent numbers.
Some fish have moved up to midrange depths of 11 to 12 feet but they’re scattered. Stakebeds and brushpiles in that midrange depths will produce a few fish but cooler surface temps are needed to see big numbers of crappie head shallow.
Deeper structure around 13 to 17 feet has produced crappie as of late. Some anglers report finding a few fish as deep as 18 to 22 feet at times.
Seems crappie on Kentucky Lake are roamers during the early fall phase and stay on the trail of shad as the baitfish move about. That’s why a few anglers stalk shallow crappie beds at times and still manage to find a stray now and then.
Bass anglers are still struggling for the most part. Reports this week indicated finding a 5-fish limit of 15-inch plus fish has been quite challenging.
Some activity has been observed on sloping gravel banks this week in the early morning and low light conditions of late afternoon. Shad are moving up in the low light conditions for a short feeding spree on midges, the tiny insects that hatch mostly in the early morning and late afternoon and the bass often move up as that occurs.
Tossing a shallow running shad colored crankbait and a variety of topwater presentations can trigger strikes. From a clear or chrome colored Heddon Torpedo to various jerk baits, anglers can enjoy a little surface feeding action these next few weeks.
After lowlight conditions fade away in the mornings boaters are falling back to main lake ledges and playing the current in hopes of finding bass still lingering to a summer pattern. Those open lake ledges and humps are still appealing to bass even during the early fall.
Tossing Rattle Trap style lures and big deep diving crankbaits are still good choices as anglers attempt to cover a lot of water fan casting areas in search of any schooling activity or even a scattered fish roaming in search of balls of baitfish.
Most anglers feel the bass are still holding to a summer type pattern for the most part. Some nice smallmouth have been taken on the east side of the lake by anglers tossing hair jigs, swim baits and various deep diving crankbaits at times.
Cooler days will soon return, lowering surface temperatures and sending fishermen back to the coat closet.
It has been a great week to be out on the lake whether you’re an anglers or recreational boater.