Explore Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley Fishing
Facebook Twitter Instagram Google YouTube Contact Us About Us
Switch Mobile/Desktop

Archived Fishing Report

Anglers Enjoying Nice May Fishing Conditions; Bluegill/Shellcracker Bit On!

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 05/12/2016

Kentucky Lake anglers have enjoyed good fishing as the half way point of May approaches. Mild weather and stable lake levels have been kind to fishermen, although a few windy days have slipped in the door and rocked the boat at times.
    
Surface temperatures this week edged up the scale as some warm days took over. Wednesday tied a record high of 90 degrees in the Paris Landing area. Surface temps at midweek were in the 72 to 75 degree range. Water color has been clear across most of the reservoir.
    
Stable lake levels are the norm throughout May, which is another attribute for this time of year. Projections for the weekend indicate a slight rise is underway due to some heavy rains at midweek across the TVA valley.
    
Kentucky Dam will see lake elevation in the 359.5 this weekend, which is up a few inches from earlier in the week but nothing too drastic. Upstream in the New Johnsonville sector the elevation is projected to be at normal summer pool of 359. Those projections could change if storms continue to dump rain south of our area.
    
The slight rise in elevation should benefit shallow shoreline bass anglers this week who thrive on pitching and flipping buck bushes and willow trees on river islands and backs of bays. Just a few inches of extra water will inundate shallow cover that was a bit too shallow earlier in the week.
    
Several bass have been taken around shallow structure these last few days by anglers tossing topwater, spinnerbaits and Texas rigged craws and worms.
    
A few boats are backing off the banks, however, and targeting post-spawn bass that have backed off from shallow spawning territory the last week or so.
    
Secondary flats and ledges are attracting several bass lately as surface temps warm and the spawning phases have passed. However, on Kentucky Lake there always seems to be multiple patterns working. Seems there’s always a few anglers finding shallow fish at the same time other fishermen focus on deep techniques with crankbaits, swimbaits, Texas rigged worms or jig and pig combos hopped around midrange ledges.
    
For bluegill and shellcracker fishermen it has been a great week. Hefty stringers have been taken in 2 to 5 foot depths. Most of the better grade of fish are favoring slightly deeper depths and somewhat off the shoreline itself.
    
Slightly higher lake levels these next few days could see more bluegill and shellcracker return to shallow bushes and grass. Crickets and redworms have been working well for anglers using slip bobbers or casting their bait and dragging it across bedding areas without floats.
    
Known to be finicky at times, shellcracker have been holding out away from shorelines this week and often mixing or residing near active bluegill beds. There have been a few trophy shellcracker taken this week that exceeded the one pound mark.
    
Anglers can expect the bite to hold up well these next two to three weeks. The first full moon of May arrives May 21 and that should signal peak spawning phases. For a lot of anglers these last two weeks have been quite good, despite a day or two when cold weather interrupted the active bite.
    
Catfish are hitting good as the abundance of gravel and rocky points or bluffs have paid dividends. Nice stringers have shown up all week from anglers working shallow areas where fish are spawning.
    
Females are bulging with eggs and moving up to spawn in shallow bays. Bluegill and shellcracker fishermen are tying into catfish on a regular basis too. Those catfish love to prowl around shallow bluegill beds, often feeding on the eggs or perhaps the newly hatched fry.
    
Crappie fishermen backing off the banks are finding a few scattered fish as the post-spawn phases is in full force. Not many big stringers have been taken but a few good size fish are still showing up.
    
It’s not unusual for post-spawn crappie to suspend out in main lake areas this time of year. The most successful anglers as of late have been trolling crankbaits or pulling some long line jig presentations around the 12 to 14 foot depth range.
   
A few shallow crappie have been taken by anglers stalking stakebeds with vertical methods or casting jigs. Those type anglers are having to make a lot of stops to accumulate a decent stringer, however.
    
It’s not unusual for post-spawn crappie to scatter and suspend, ignoring structure for a few weeks until they get over the stress of the spawning ritual. Later this month crappie will begin to take on a structure oriented mode more so than they are at this time.
    
May is a productive month for Kentucky Lake anglers. Some species are at peak spawn phases while others are on the back side and making a slow transition.
    
Nice weather awaits you whatever your favorite species might be. This time of year sure beats those gale north winds and cold fronts that dominated the fishing scene back in March and early April!

More Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports

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

If you've dug this deep in our Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley fishing reports, you are probably just itching to come down and visit the South's biggest lakes.  Get started by finding that perfect place to stay!  Find a Kentucky Lake cabin or a Lake Barkley campground, a full-service resort or a marina.  Heck, there are even dozens of hotels off the water to choose from! 

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.


Geese in Flight
Photo by Murray Blake

These Canadian geese are just beginning their yearly migration south to avoid the long, cold winter. They will return in spring to the welcoming waterways of the Kentucky Lakes Area.