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Archived Fishing Report

Warm Weather Cools Bite for June Crappie

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 06/15/2017

Although summer doesn’t officially begin until Wednesday of next week, most anglers testing the water of Kentucky Lake this week thought it arrived early! There have been some hot days on the lake lately as temps have been running some 6 to 8 degrees above normal.

Most days temps have reached the 92 to 93 degree range. A lot of boats hit the lake in the early morning hours, tossing in the towel at midday when the sun beamed and the bite slowed.

Surface temps this week climbed to the 83 degree mark, their highest reading of the year. Water color is in pretty good shape across the reservoir with a slight stain in places where high winds whipped up shallow shorelines. Overall it’s clear out there.

Lake levels have been falling slowly the last few days. TVA projects an elevation of 358.9 at Kentucky Dam this weekend. Upstream at New Johnsonville projections show a lower level of 358.3.

June is normally a good month for crappie but anglers have struggled lately putting together a pattern as keeper size fish have been hard to come by. While there have been a few nice ones taken that crossed the 1/14-pound range and made it to the 14-inch plus length range, scoring big numbers of hefty fish have been quite a challenge.

Midrange depths traditionally produce decent numbers of keeper size crappie as late spring loses its grip and summer enter the picture. However, this year the bite has been sluggish. Anglers are still finding several small fish but most have voiced disappointment in the lack of medium to large size fish in their daily creel.

No clear answer to the present dilemma but in times past the crappie bite would take on a sluggish mood during the early phases of mayfly hatches. In that scenario Mother Nature suddenly sends an abundant food source to the forage buffet for crappie and several other species.

The month’s first hatch occurred last Thursday in the Paris Landing area. Although not massive, there were several flies seen clinging to piers and overhanging trees.

Not only are the adult mayflies a tasty delight for just about every species but prior to the adults taking flight comes an emerging larva stage from the lake bottom. When that happens fish often gorge themselves and that could be what’s happening to the crappie scene.

Usually the fish bounce back after a week or two once the new wears off. Yet crappie anglers these last few weeks have been struggling to box decent numbers. Maybe that 12 to 14 foot depth range will produce better in the next week or two.

Deep ledges have not given up big fish either as sometimes anglers can fall back to main lake ledges, keying in on the deep sides of drop-offs when the midrange bite diminishes. Seems those testing the deeper depths have also found an uphill battle. The 17 to 22 foot depth range has not given up many fish either.

Bass anglers continue to target the ledge bite as higher surface temperatures and lower lake levels enter the picture. A little current has been present at times and that has stimulated more fish to pull off the banks and occupy their summer venues.

Casting big deep diving crankbaits in the blue/chartreuse, pearl, Tennessee shad and chrome/blue are but a few of the popular colors. The deeper series of baits diving to the 12-foot plus range are popular choices these days.

Big Texas rigged worms in the 9 to 10-inch range are working too. Popular color choices have been green pumpkin-pepper, Tequila sunrise, black/blue and blue with metal flake have been producing. Also in the arsenal have been swim baits and Carolina rigs as ledge fishermen are known to have several rods rigged out with a variety of baits for the deep water attack.

Some shallow fish are still running the shallow grassbeds but most of the winning tournament stringers are coming from main lake drop-offs, a pattern that’s unlikely to change as summer kicks in.

Bluegill bedding is now in the rearview mirror but some decent ones can still be caught. Tossing crickets and worms around mayfly hatches will produce and some good ones are hanging around boat docks and bridge piers where shade appeals.

Catfish have continues to transition from their shallow rocky bank areas to midrange depths far out from shorelines this week. Look for most of the catfish to linger in midrange depths for a few more week and then head to main river channel areas.

Anglers should see more cloud cover enter the picture these next few days as rain chances increase, a scenario that should help the overall bite. Slightly lower temps and humidity are in the forecast for early next week.

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Beaver Dam Outlook
Photo by Melodie Cunningham

The view from the top of this beaver dam shows a Kentucky Lake inlet in late spring. An inlet like this one is habitat to a variety of exciting wildlife and plants just waiting to be explored!