Steve McCadams' Fishing Report
Pumpkin Month Popular for Panfish
Report for October 6, 2021
Mention fall crappie fishing and some folks look at you like a cow looking at a new gate!
Popular opinion has the peak time for the area’s most popular panfish here on Kentucky Lake occurring in early to mid-April.
While spring may always be the most popular season for crappie as the vast majority associate prime time with the spawning phases autumn angling for crappie has a lot going for it. Topping the list is stability in weather conditions followed by stable water levels.
Odds of hitting decent weather are in the fishermen’s favor during October and early November. Generally speaking anglers are likely to encounter light and variable winds accompanied by mild temperatures.
Although we’ve had a rainy day or two lately the inclement weather doesn’t usually linger. In fact, the forecast for the next few days looks good with cool morning giving in to warm afternoons.
Jacket mornings and shirt sleeve afternoons are a pretty good combination.
Meanwhile, Kentucky Lake crappie anglers are reporting some decent stringers as of late. Several fish are moving up and residing in midrange depths of 8 to 12 feet. Some pretty good size fish are being caught too as the crappie are already putting on the fall feed bag.
Surface temperatures this week have been starting the mornings out in the 75 degree range and warming to 78 on most days. Watch for slightly cooler surface temps to show up in the days ahead as daytime highs are moderating and cool nights are having an influence.
Water color is in good shape throughout most of Big Sandy and West Sandy. The Tennessee River area and most of its major bays are sporting a good color this week despite some localized rains that drenched the Paris/Camden area.
Lake levels this week have stayed around the 355 range with minor fluctuations. That’s a normal level for October and early November across the reservoir but it requires caution for boaters. Once fall arrives all boaters best pay close attention to channel markers.
Stakbeds and brushpiles in the midrange depths should continue to produce for Kentucky Lake crappie anglers for the next several weeks too. A few more fish will move up shallow in the days and weeks ahead as the weather cools and lake levels stabilize.
More schools of threadfin shad have already been roaming up into shallow bays and flats this week.
Jig color combinations that have worked well lately have been Bobby Garland grubs in the blue/chartreuse and various shad mimicking variations that sport blue sparkle with a smoke or clear body.
Live shiner minnows continue to work well too. Just plain minnow presentations are producing results as are some jigs tipped with minnows.
Worthy of consideration have been the addition of Berkley Power Bait Crappie Nibbles in the chartreuse and white plus green and blue with metal flake. The small marshmellow scent attractant type addition seems to entice bites when crappie take on a finicky mood.
Anglers vertical fishing manmade fish attractors are scoring pretty good catches but still having to make several stops throughout the morning or afternoon to accumulate a limit.
Boaters using spider rig techniques are doing well at times as they slowly trolling their buffet of baits along midrange depths of 10 to 12 feet. A few cloudy days saw fish move up to the 8 foot depth range. Catfishing reports almost sound like a broken record but the bite has held up well as of late. Baits of choice have been big minnows, nightcrawlers, chicken liver and shrimp.
Depths of 20 to 30 feet have been producing good numbers of catfish as most boaters are favoring the edge of the main Tennessee River channel or following pods of baitfish that are roaming.
Not all the catfish are deep as several crappie fishermen are tying into then in 10 to 12 feet at times but the edge of the river channel continues to be the most productive zones.
Bass fishermen are still slugging away with several boats targeting main lake ledges or flats where baitfish are attracting some fish. Depths of 6 to 10 feet have held some bass that seem to be chasing shad up on the top sides of sandbars and running at times with a few white bass in the jumps.
Locating schools of shad on main lake sandbars has given up some decent bass but anglers are having to log a lot of casts before finding fish.
Most anglers report tough sledding as to the shallow bite as of late.
Each week is seeing more change in the hillsides and shorelines as to color phases. October is indeed a month that’s overlooked by crappie fishermen on Kentucky Lake.
Bottom line is it’s just a great time to be out there!
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.