Steve McCadams' Fishing Report
Cold Bad Weather in Rearview Mirror; Kentucky Lake Fishing Scene on Rebound
Report for February 24, 2021
Kentucky Lake anglers are chomping at the bit to get back out on the lake and test the water after almost two weeks of bad, cold and snowy weather that kept most of them on shore and staying close to the fire.
At midweek temps jumped to the upper 50’s and low 60’s across the region and despite ice still hanging around on ponds and within small bays and some boat ramps fishermen were already showing signs of spring fever!
What a difference one week can make! One week frigid temps with snow and ice; a week later warm sunny days, rising temperatures and spring is in the air.
No one is complaining about the quick rebound. Anglers wasted no time seizing the opportunity as some boats were sneaking back to open water boat ramps late last weekend and numbers increased each passing day.
Presently lake levels are still resting in the low ebb range of winter pool. TVA was projecting the elevation in the Kentucky Dam sector to be around 354.1 by this weekend. Water color is clear.
Surface temperatures are responding to the warm sun too and have risen from the 32 to 34 degree range last week to the upper 30’s and low 40’s at present.
Areas that were iced up last weekend have now opened up. Some big bays such as Blood River in Kentucky to the entire Big Sandy basin here in Tennessee south of Paris Landing State Park had succumb to ice last week but all areas are now accessible. Boat ramps are open too and the slick ramps and roads are gone.
Seems the winter crappie bite has been a bit sluggish to rebound however as most anglers were struggling to catch decent numbers this week. No doubt that will improve as time passes and warmer days take charge.
It’s not unusual for the bite to diminish after such frigid conditions. Often times severe cold weather that drops surface temps dramatically results in a shad kill across the reservoir. Threadfin shad in particular are vulnerable to quick drops in surface temp when they are up in shallow water as they will go into shock and experience a massive die-offs.
However, anglers haven’t been reporting a massive kills which is somewhat surprising. If it didn’t occur last week and earlier this week the forage base may have dodged the bullet.
In times past when big shad kills were seen it drastically diminished the bite for all anglers for several days. The fish pretty much gobbled up the sudden surge of available baitfish and gorged themselves, which was good for the fish but not the fishermen!
Recent reports have most anglers stalking the deep sides of main lake ledges or old river channels targeting depths of 20 to 27 feet. They’ve managed to find a few scattered fish on the deep zones but bites have been timid and catch numbers are low.
Odds are the baitfish have already begun to move up some in pursuit of their forage base. Shad will likely meander back up to midrange depths soon although look for several fish to occupy deep venues for a few more days until surface temps rebound to mid to upper 40’s.
Manmade fish attractors such as brush piles and stakebeds in the midrange depths that were pretty much void of fish during the recent cold spell will slowly see improvement in the days ahead.
Although most anglers are opting to use various colored jigs in their present day winter offerings, live minnows are always worthy of consideration this time of year. Some use a minnow only presentation; other like to tip a jig with a small minnow to entice bites.
Despite all the snow melt and runoff from feeder creeks not much stain has entered the reservoir. Water color is crystal clear in some of the eastern bays with slight stain present up Big Sandy and into West Sandy where ice dissipated at midweek, opening up large areas to anglers that had been frozen over for some ten days or more.
The extended forecasts shows daytime highs will be somewhat moderate in the low to upper 50’s at times but anglers best dig out the raingear as there could be several rainy days approaching according to the long range forecast.
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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.