Steve McCadams' Fishing Report
Anglers Hoping to Rebound After Wet Week
Report for February 8, 2020
After a wet week where rainy days dominated the Kentucky Lake winter fishing scene anglers are hoping for a rebound.
Anglers will have to endure a cool weekend but it appears mild temperatures will return next week, opening up the door for some decent fishing days. Temperatures in the long range forecast show daytime highs will linger in the upper 50’s and possibly reach the 60-degree mark for a day or two.
Lake levels this week have been rising slowly in the aftermath of consistent rains across the TVA valley. Elevation levels are projected to climb to the 355.1 range this weekend and likely exceed that by Sunday or Monday.
Although elevation at Kentucky Dam this weekend was around the 354.5 range a huge volume of water was being discharged---over 278,000 cubic feet per second. There was a larger volume of water entering the reservoir---a rate of 340,000 cubic feet per second---so the runoff is exceeding the discharge rate which means a rising reservoir.
Elevation this weekend upstream in the New Johnsonville area was already reading 358.5! That means a lot of current is present in the main channel area of the Tennessee River as quite a wall of water is passing through.
Last week the reservoir dropped down to the 354.3 range for a few days but elevation starting off next week will be a foot higher. Watch for TVA to continue revising its forecast for Kentucky reservoir on a daily basis.
Watch for lake levels to keep rising for several consecutive days and the crest has not been predicted at this time.
Water color is clear to stained in some areas as runoff in the upper Big Sandy basin plus both Big Sandy and West Sandy areas are showing dingy water while clear conditions are present around the Paris Landing sector of Kentucky Lake. Elsewhere on the reservoir lake levels are relatively clear except for a dingy main channel area.
Surface temperatures are holding in the 47 to 48 degree range.
Crappie fishermen were dodging rains and some thunderstorms at midweek. A few boats ventured out at times but opportunities were diminished due to wet weather and windy days.
Some fish were taken in deeper depths this week. Anglers were stalking the deep sides of main lake drop-offs in the aftermath of falling lake levels that usually pull fish back to deeper venues.
The traditional pattern on falling lake stages is follow the fish to deeper zones. However, once lake levels stabilize crappie will often move up to midrange and shallow depth ranges in pursuit of shad which quickly respond to changing lake levels and surface temperatures once they moderate.
There have been a few fish taken in 8 to 12 foot depths lately. Boats working the midrange structure of both brushpiles and stakebeds have managed to find a few scattered fish occupying such spots.
Deep ledge anglers stalking the open water areas have also found a few fish in 20 to 25 foot depths but as with midrange areas the fish there have been scattered. No one is reporting any schooling fish in deep or midrange depths at this time.
Live minnows continue to pay dividends. Those tightlining in deep areas have depended on shiner minnows.
Other anglers slow trolling or vertical fishing jigs are also tipping their jigs with minnow or Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles to entice sluggish fish into biting.
Popular color combinations lately have range from purple/chartreuse to blue/chartreuse, pink/chartreuse some black/red and motor oil skirts sporting gold glitter. Most crappie fishermen keep a wide variety of color combinations in their arsenal and experiment.
There are times when some pretty weird color schemes manage to attract the attention of finicky crappie!
Next week should offer anglers better fishing conditions as most of this week has been a wash out!
Not much activity in the bass fishing arena as of late. A few boats were tossing lead headed armed with twister tail grubs or hair jigs with small spinners in hopes of fooling a few deep water smallmouth.
Others were throwing assorted crankbaits---many in the crawfish color or shad variations---around rocking banks and rip-rap where current was present.
February fishing means anglers encounter a variety of weather patterns and lake levels at times. Best be prepared to go when the wind and temperatures open the door of opportunity.
Report Information & Archives
Steve's reports cover Kentucky Lake from Paris Landing to New Johnsonville.
You can access Steve's previous fishing reports in our Fishing Report Archives.
About Steve McCadams
A member of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Legends of the Outdoors, Steve McCadams is a professional guide and outdoor writer from Paris, Tenn.