Steve McCadams' Fishing Report
Autumn Officially Arrives Tuesday; Cooler Days Coming
Report for September 16, 2020
Seasons are about to officially change on the calendar and for anglers it appears the temperatures are about to follow suit.
By later this weekend and early next week the weatherman says nighttime temps will dip down into the low 50’s with daytime highs projected to be only in the mid to upper 70’s. It may well be time to dig out that light jacket before heading out on the lake.
Odds are some foggy mornings are instore for fishermen next week. That’s another sure sign fall is descending and seasons are transitioning.
Fishermen can expect to see surface temperatures fall several degrees in the days ahead. The water has been starting out the mornings in the 78 degree range and warming to 82 by midday lately. Watch for that to drop 3 or 4 degrees by early next week as Saturday night’s temp is forecast to drop down to 49 degrees!
Lake levels have been rising lately due to a surge of rainfall across the TVA valley that is now making its way through the system and passing through Kentucky Dam.
Elevation this week was up more than a foot from last week at this time. Lake levels crested around the 357.7 range but are now falling daily. Projections show the reservoir will be down to 357.2 by this weekend and continue to fall for the next several days. Water color remains clear across the reservoir.
There has been a lot of current this week in the main Tennessee River channel since TVA is pushing a lot of water through the reservoir. That has stimulated the catfish bite for anglers working the main river channel and targeting the mouths of big creeks that emptied into the main channel.
Catfish often congregate on the down current sides of creek channels or irregular lips submerged along the submerged river bank. Depths of 25 to 40 feet have been producing decent stringers recently. Most anglers are using nightcrawlers and some chicken livers for best results.
Look for the fall catfish bite to hold up well throughout next week courtesy of the current that stimulates baitfish activity and prompts the catfish to go on the prowl.
Crappie are improving as some nice stringers have been taken lately. Fall is a good time for crappie and the season is overlooked and underrated by most anglers.
Attributes for Kentucky Lake’s fall crappie bite are stable weather. That allows patterns to hold up well from week to week. Anglers don’t normally have to fight cold fronts and nasty north winds this time of year.
The fish begin their fall transition each year in early September and will continue to migrate toward midrange and shallow depths in the weeks ahead as they’re in hot pursuit of schools of threadfin shad.
Depths of 6 to 12 feet will be popular ranges for the next several weeks. Some fish may linger in deeper depths at times too but watch for the bulk of the fish to keep holding in their comfort zones of midrange depths where stakebeds and brushpiles will attract them.
The bite has been pretty good lately with most anglers favoring a jig tipped with a live minnow. Some anglers are just tightlining a live minnow and doing well.
A lot of jigs are producing too when tipped with Berkley Power Bait in the white, chartreuse or silver and gold with glitter. Jig colors in the black/chartreuse, pink/pearl and red/chartreuse are a few color combinations that have been paying dividends.
The weeks and months ahead offer some great crappie fishing opportunities so don’t let this nice fall season pass you by.
Bass fishermen have experienced some improvement this week but overall numbers are still down compared to normal fall patterns and weights.
Most anglers looking to win tournaments are still relying on summer patterns and working the ledges and humps of main lake areas. Fishing hefty size Texas rigged worms in the green pumpkin-pepper has done well for a few anglers.
Others are tossing swim baits, big deep diving crankbaits and Rattle Trap style offerings along main lake flats and sandbars in hopes of covering a lot of water in search of baitfish.
Watch for some gravel banks to produce some topwater action by next week as surface temps cool and shad move up.
Report Information & Archives
Steve's reports cover Kentucky Lake from Paris Landing to New Johnsonville.
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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.