Steve McCadams' Fishing Report
Will Nice Weather Get Here and Stay Here? Looks Like It!
Report for May 12, 2021
Looks like a nice forecast for the Kentucky Lake fishing scene as the next several days will see warmer temps and diminishing rain chances. Most anglers agree such a forecast is overdue!
For the lion’s share of May conditions had a touch of fall in the air with below average temperatures mixed with rain and storms that sort of threw curve balls to spring anglers yearning for short sleeve weather. It appears the fishing scene is about to heat up and dry out.
By this weekend the weatherman says warmer days will arrive with highs in the upper 70’s and low 80’s. That should heat up the bluegill and shellcracker fishing as the fish have been a bit sluggish at times due in part to the chilly conditions that no doubt had a negative impact on the spawning scene.
Although some decent stringers have been taken at times the overall bite has been a bit off. Watch for that to improve quickly once some hot and humid weather enters the picture.
Several bluegill were taken lately around the parameter of shoreline buck bushes and submerged grassbeds. Some mornings the fish were downright timid as bites were finicky. Things seemed to improve in the afternoons a few days once warmer temps stimulated the activity.
Bluegill are indeed trying to bed and have been fanning their crater type bedding areas but the fish are sensitive to the cool snaps and should respond favorably this weekend and into next week once sunny days dominate and heat up surface temperatures.
Shellcracker have also been challenging this spring and scattered for most anglers who have stalked the shoreline bushes and shallow grass searching for beds.
While most of the bluegill anglers are opting to use crickets the shellcracker brigade usually prefers the use of redworms or wax worms.
Lake levels have danced around the summer pool mark of 359 but haven’t stayed put as TVA has been pushing a lot of water through Kentucky Dam in the aftermath of heavy rains both here and upstream around Pickwick and further south.
Surface temperatures reflect the cool conditions that have lingered and are sleeping in the mid-60’s at times. Watch for that reading to rise by this weekend and throughout next week. By early next week the reservoir should be warming to the low 70’s.
Catfish continue to be on the prowl and have been biting fairly well for the last couple of weeks. Catfish are still in their spawning phase and will occupy shallow shoreline habitat and rocky banks, especially when lake levels warm and rise.
Some dandy stringers were caught this week by anglers using nightcrawlers. Rocky bluffs and rip-rap banks will keep appealing to the spawning fish for another week or two.
Fishermen using light tackle and targeting both bluegill and shellcracker have been tying into catfish on a regular basis and that’s sometimes a tackle tester but a nice surprise nonetheless.
Crappie fishermen are in the post-spawn phase and while fish are scattered there are still some anglers putting points on the board. Some decent stringers were taken in 8 to 12 foot depth ranges this week but boaters had to cover a lot of water if trolling or make a lot of stops if vertical fishing.
Some fish are hanging around structure in midrange depths and fishermen are using both live minnows and jigs to entice the finicky fish into biting.
Bass anglers are playing the lake level game lately. Some days lake stages have been slightly above summer pool elevation of 359 only to fall back below that mark a day or two later. That’s kept the shallow bite and pitching and flipping techniques somewhat unpredictable at times.
Presently the reservoir is back above summer pool with a reading at midweek of 359.2. That level puts good water up on shoreline structure and resumes the shallow bite.
Some decent numbers were taken recently by anglers tossing topwater presentations. Floating worms and various jerk baits around buck bushes and over submerged grass have paid dividends, especially in clear water conditions.
Spinnerbaits have also worked at times for some tossing a gold willowleaf blades sporting skirts in the blue/chartreuse or clear with sparkle.
There are always a few anglers putting their backs to the bank and working sloping points, humps and secondary ledges at the mouth of some bays as post-spawn bass slowly transition away from spawning spots.
Tossing Texas rigged worms and craws plus Carolina rigged craws, lizards and worms is popular for anglers covering a lot of water. Swim baits are popular too. Crankbaits are working for deeper water fishermen looking for some numbers out away from shoreline habitat as well.
Looks like Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene will have a nice stretch of weather coming that may allow anglers to do more fishing and less running from the wind, rain and storms. Amen?
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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.