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Archived Fishing Report

Warm Weather's Return Heats Up Fishing Scene

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 05/04/2016

Cool weather kicked off the first week of May, chilling the fishing scene for a few days but a rebound is in progress with temps expected to rebound back to the 80 degree range this weekend.

The warm up is music to the ears of bluegill and shellcracker fishermen as the recent cool snap and northwest winds put a temporary chill to the shallow bite that started on a good note late last week. Watch for those powerful panfish to blitz back to active spawning phases quickly as surface temps warm.

At midweek Kentucky Lake had cooled back to the 66 degree range but the warming trend should have a positive influence by this weekend. Surface temps should bounce back into the 72 to 76 degree range soon and that will see a mood swing for these rascals anxious to begin fanning their crater shaped spawning beds.

Some decent stringers were taken this week despite inclement weather at times. Those cool mornings commanded jackets for anglers and put the fish in a sluggish mood to start the day but afternoon activity picked up for most.

Bluegill and shellcracker enthusiast like to target full moon phases as peak spawning phases can occur at that time.

Although the next full moon doesn’t arrive until May 21, look for some good fishing long before then. Those bedding areas are already showing signs of activity and the biological clock is ticking.

Hefty redear sunfish, commonly known as shellcracker, were taken this week by anglers working shallow grass and buck bushes. A few fish were taken out away from shoreline habitat too where shallow sand and gravel type bottoms appealed.

For the next few weeks Kentucky Lake anglers should experience some great times courtesy of these bedding bluegill and shellcracker. Don’t let this special phase of fishing pass you by.

The catfish bite has been good this week too as dandy stringers were taken in shallow areas as the fish continue to move up to their spawning areas too. Bluegill and shellcracker anglers casting the two to four foot depths have tied into some dandies this week making for a nice surprise.

Tying into tackle testing catfish is pretty common these days. Best to keep the dip net handy and loosen the drag on the light reels. Just hold on and enjoy the ride once a big cat slams that cricket or worm.

Catfish love to prowl those shallow spawning beds when panfish fry start to hatch. And, often times catfish will spawn around some bushes and grass too if submerged logs or roots are present. Rocky banks are their areas of choice but the shallow pockets are popular too.

Rock bluffs and similar type shorelines will continue to produce catfish these next two weeks. Nightcrawlers have been the bait of choice but chicken livers, shrimp, leeches and some commercial stink baits will produce too.

Crappie are in their typical post-spawn pattern, which means scattered and somewhat lethargic for most anglers. However, a few fish were taken this week in the 13 foot depth range around the Paris Landing sector as anglers vertical fished jigs around submerged stakebeds and brushpiles.

A few boats continue to implement the long-line techniques and pull curly tail grubs and Road Runner style jigs over main lake areas with moderate results. Others are holding on to casting jigs over midrange structure and finding a few fish in the 8 to 13 foot depth range but big numbers have not been the norm.

Bass fishing has had mixed results with a sluggish bite at midweek when the cold fronts descended. Prior to that some shallow fish were taken around buck bushes and grassbeds by anglers pitching and flipping jig and craw combos, Texas rigged craws and jig and pig offerings.

Several boats were working shallow grass with spinnerbaits and floating fluke style worms or topwater jerk baits.

At the same time a contingent of anglers are backing off the banks and attempting to find those post-spawning fish enroute to deeper areas. That bite has been inconsistent but will improve each week.

Swim baits and crankbaits on deeper flats have produced at times, however. Several small bass have been taken in shallow grass beds but there appear to be a few last spawning bass lingering around bushes and grass, especially if some dingy water is present.

Lake levels are staying around the summer pool elevation this week. Projections for the weekend indicated a level of 359.2 at Kentucky Dam and 359.1 upstream around the New Johnsonville sector. That’s similar to last week at this time as the reservoir has been relatively stable this week.

Water color is clear across most of the region with a few bays and islands harboring a slight stain due to wind action.

It appears nice weather and stability will greet anglers these next few days.

More Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports

Now That You're 'Hooked' on Fishing... Come See Us!

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Don't have a boat?  No worries!  Bank fishing is always an option for panfish. But if you're heart is set on largemouth or smallmouth, you can rent a fishing boat at many of our local resorts!

The perfect place to start looking for a place to stay at Kentucky or Barkley Lakes?  Right here on our main lodging page.


Kentucky Lake Sunset
Photo by Shawn Dunnaway

Sunsets at Kentucky Lake are special. You can find them on the eastern banks of Kentucky Lake looking west across a mile of ripples and waves. There's nothing quite like experiencing a sunset on Kentucky Lake.