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Archived Fishing Report

Summer Bite Not Bad for Kentucky Lake Anglers

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 06/23/2016

Summer took over its place on the calendar Tuesday, pushing away what most Kentucky Lake anglers agree was a strange and stubborn spring. 
    
Despite a week of hot and humid weather at times, Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has actually been pretty good for bass and crappie fishermen. Most days have seen light breezes mixed with a dab of cloud cover and that combination has made for decent fishing conditions.
    
June has long been a good month for crappie and bass fishing. It is indeed overlooked and underrated by most anglers.
    
Several days this week saw very few boats out despite good fishing conditions. I’ve been hitting the water early and beating the heat that way. Actually there have been some nice mornings when the bite was on and that helped dispel any concerns over temperatures until midafternoon when we pitched in the towel.
    
Lake levels remain relatively stable but still sleeping slightly below normal summer pool level. Forecasts for the weekend show Kentucky Dam will have an elevation of 358.8 while somewhat lower lake stages of 358.6 are predicted for the New Johnsonville area.
    
Normal summer pool elevation is 359 so TVA is using some of the storage capacity this summer and generating power while the lower rainfall across the region has apparently been down and not delivering as much runoff across the region.
    
Surface temperatures have been in the 84 to 86 degree range. A day or two readings climbed to the 87 degree range a midday. Water color remains clear across the reservoir.
    
Crappie have been hitting good as they park in midrange depths and relate well to structure. Depths of 10 to 14 feet have been productive.
    
After an unpredictable spring when crazy cold fronts and gale north winds dictated where and how anglers could fish, crappie are following a normal summer pattern. Their post-spawn patterns of late May and early June continue as summer takes over.
    
Each year crappie slowly leave spawning venues and transition back toward midrange depths where they occupy structure before migrating toward deeper hideouts in the weeks ahead. The fish are relating well to stakebeds and bushpiles with an appetite too.
    
Seems the crappie are relating better to structure now than they did back in the early spring when cold fronts and winds had them off balance.
    
Nice stringers have been taken lately by anglers vertical fishing live minnows or jigs tipped with minnows. Some nice summer slabs were taken this week and numbers have improved as well. There’s still a lot of small fish biting in big numbers but those pole bending bit ones are mixed in there with them, as are a few hefty catfish.
    
Other patterns producing have been slow trolling crankbaits along main lake ledges. A few crappie anglers are using that technique but it appears vertical presentations have been the most productive.
    
Bass patterns are also holding true to their typical summer moods yet Kentucky Lake anglers always seem to find a few shallow fish when others are banging away at main lake ledges.
    
Decent stringers have been taken around the parameters of weedbeds by anglers tossing weedless frogs, buzzbaits, floating worms, Texas rigged craws and worms, and spinnerbaits. Seems a few bass are lingering around visible weeds where some shad fry are beginning to emerge.
    
Blowdowns along the shoreline and river islands are also giving up some shallow bass. Those big schools of small shad fry have not shown up much as of late but that pattern should continue to develop on a daily basis. Find the fry and you’ll find the bass.
    
Mayfly hatches are overdue and that can also provide a productive shallow water bite at times. Hatches usually occur throughout late June and July, bringing a lot of bait fish toward shallow shorelines. Bass are usually lingering there too once hatches occur.
    
Deep drop-offs have indeed produced most of the tournament winning stringers lately, although most anglers are having a challenging day in their attempts to locate big schools of bass. It has been hit and miss out on the ledges at times but some days a little current was present and that seemed to enhance the bite.
    
Big 10-inch Texas rigged worms have been working well as have some jig and pig combos in the black and blue color. Popular worm colors have ranged from green pumpkin pepper to cotton candy and red shad.
    
Crankbaits are always part of the summer bass fishermen’s arsenal and such colors as blue/pearl, Tennessee shad and black/chartreuse are but a few of the combinations that have been producing. Swim baits are working too as are Alabama and Carolina rigs as anglers attempt to cover a lot of water and search for productive ledges.
    
Night fishing has also entered the picture for a few anglers who toss spinnerbaits along gravel banks and rip-rap levees. There are a few fishermen doing that and tying into an occasional smallmouth at times.
    
Catfish are still occupying midrange depths of 10 to 15 feet as crappie anglers are tying into some on a regular basis. A few pontoons are jug fishing and baiting with nightcrawlers or dipping hotdogs in various commercial concoctions.
   
Although some boats are working the main riverbank and testing the down current side of bridge piers with vertical presentations, action there is just now beginning to produce results. Watch for that deep water bite to improve quickly as the cats fall back to their summer hideouts.
    
Summer fishing is alive and well here on Kentucky Lake. Rise and shine early and you’ll beat the heat most days if you get your licks in early. Keep the water jug handy and apply the sunscreen.
    
Keep an eye in the sky too for those midday or late afternoon pop up thunderstorms. 

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Big Bass
Photo by Brandon Hunter

Nathan Long holds up two nice bass while fishing with guide Brandon Hunter recently on Kentucky Lake.