Heat Wave Intimidates Anglers
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 07/20/2016
Yes it’s mid-summer but does the heat and humidity have to be so dominating to the Kentucky Lake fishing scene? Seems some upper 90’s in the forecast with a three-digit day thrown in there have pretty much intimidated fishermen lately…and August isn’t even here yet! Activity diminished this week as not many boats have been on the lake other than those with recreational goals of swimming, tubing and skiing. Fishing boats have not crowded local boat ramps or popular spots on the lake. Lake levels continue on TVA’s path to lower elevation as the summer season matures. Winter drawdown actually begins in early July each year with a slow but gradual lowering of lake stages in preparation for additional storage capacity as fall and winter approach. Projections for the weekend will be 358.5 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville elevation will be in the 358.1 range. Those readings are few inches down from normal summer pool readings of 359 of a few weeks ago but normal for this time of year. Hot weather is calling the shots and surface temperatures reflect the extended spell of above average temperatures. Even nighttime readings are not cooling down much. Surface temps this week have been in the 88 to 90 degree range. Water color is relatively clear despite several thunderstorms that drenched some areas with high winds that stirred up some shoreline areas. With the gradual drawdown underway main Tennessee River channel areas have had slow but steady current most days. That has helped the catfish bite as a few stringers have been taken below bridge piers where fish are resting in the eddies and waiting on baitfish to wash their way. Some fish have been caught along the main river channel banks this week too. Boats are working submerged creeks that empty into the main river channel. Bottom bumping rigs baiting with nightcrawlers, chicken or turkey livers, big minnows or shrimp have worked well. Bass fishermen are still landing some decent stringers as they work main lake ledges. The current has helped that bite too as it always seems to stir up schools of baitfish that meander the lake looking for zooplankton. Current brings life to a stagnant lake, even during hot summer months. Add a little wind and cloud cover and it makes for a decent morning of fishing. Meanwhile, some anglers are still stalking shallow structure such as blowdowns and boat houses where schools of pin minnows are present. Tossing a spinnerbait, shallow running crankbait or Texas rigged worm or craw will produce strikes. Big spoons, huge crankbaits, 10-inch Texas rigged worms, jig and pig combos, and swim baits all have their time and place in the summer arsenal of Kentucky Lake. There are deep water patterns and shallow ones going on at the same time even during the summer doldrums. Night fishing has produced a few fish too as anglers target gravel banks, rip-rap, and sloping points protruding into deep water near main river areas. Slow rolling a big spinnerbait with a Colorado or willow leaf blades has worked at times. Crappie were still at it this week and continue to hang around deep stakebeds and brushpiles. Some fish have pulled back to deeper depths lately but not all of them. A few fish still occupy structure in the 14 foot depth range. Live minnows and jigs tipped with Berkley power bait are still yielding strikes although bites are light and fish are sluggish at times, especially once the midday sun kicks in. Most of the fish have been taken in the first few hours after daylight. Bluegill activity has been scattered with a few fish hanging around bridge piers and boat houses. Mayfly hatches have been occurring up and down the reservoir but inconsistent. A few fish are relating to steep banks and island rims where some flies are falling to the surface and providing great feeding opportunities. It appears anglers will get a slight reprieve as temps will moderate a bit by next week. Summer has a lot of warm days left in it but that doesn’t mean fish quit biting!
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