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Archived Fishing Report

Temps Rise As Lake Levels Fall; Current Helps Catfish Bite

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 07/12/2017

Most Kentucky Lake anglers are rising early these days and hitting the water before the sun beams at midday. This past week saw the mercury rising to the mid 90’s, which is some 5 to 6 degrees above the norm but that hasn’t kept folks from fishing.

Lake levels continue to recede slowly after a slight surge last week in the aftermath of heavy rains across the region. Presently, TVA is back on schedule with its slow winter drawdown underway.

Anglers fishing the main river channel and open lake areas have likely noticed current as there’s been plenty of it. Elevation forecast for the weekend shows a reading of 358.3 for the Kentucky Dam area. Upstream around New Johnsonville the elevation will be 358.1.

The reservoir is down several inches from the summer pool reading taken around the Fourth of July holiday period.

Dingy and muddy water that was present last week has quickly cleared as falling lake stages pulled it out of shallow bays and the upper end of Big Sandy.

Surface temperatures reflect the hot days and warm nights. Readings this week are in the 84 to 86 degree range. It appears slightly cooler conditions are ahead for the weekend.

Catfishermen are benefitting from the abundance of current lately along the Tennessee River channel. TVA has really been pulling a lot of water through Kentucky Dam, a situation that can stimulate sluggish summer catfish to take on a more aggressive mode.

A few decent stringers have been taken along the channel banks from anglers dangling nightcrawlers and chicken livers in depths of 30 feet. Watch for the bite to hold up well as long as the current continues. Moving water seems to stimulate schools of shad to roam about and feed, a scenario that works in favor of fishermen.

Crappie have been fair as to their summer mood swing and biting mode. Several were taken this week by anglers slow trolling deep diving crankbaits along main lake ledges in depths of 12 to 16 feet. Some fish were taken even deeper.

Also producing have been jigs tipped with Berkley Power Bait and just plain minnows fish vertically on bottom bumping rigs or suspended around stakebeds and brushpiles.

Some fish continue to linger in the 13 to 14 foot depth range and have been biting best in the early morning and late afternoon, especially if cloud cover was present. Other boats have attempted to work the deep sides of drop-offs in depths of 17 to 22 feet with mediocre results.

Meanwhile, mayfly hatches have still not shown up this summer along the shorelines the way they have in times past. A few flies have been seen at times but hatches have been sporadic. 

Both bluegill and bass anglers love to find active hatches as it can spell quick action once fish go on a feeding frenzy.

Decent stringers of bass continue to be caught by boaters banging away at main lake ledges. The bite has also benefitted from the consistent current that has fish moving up on top of sandbars at times when they corral schools of shad and push them toward shallow areas.

Deep diving crankbaits have worked well as anglers can cover a lot of water and find fish with them or trigger sluggish fish into biting. Popular colors have ranged from blue/chartreuse to sexy shad, chrome/chartreuse, firetiger and Tennessee shad just to name a few.

Most summer bass fishermen have their tackle boxes stuffed with about every colored crankbait in the rainbow so experimenting in hopes of finding their fancy is standard operating procedure.

Tossing big Texas rigged worms in the 9 to 10-inch length has worked well too in the green pumpkin pepper and black/blue combo colors. Carolina and Alabama rigs are still producing as are a few swim baits at times.

Although anglers haven’t found schooling bass or located much aquatic vegetation this summer the overall bite has been decent for summer bass fishing.

A few shallow fish are still around running the banks but with the lower lake levels now entering the picture most grassbeds and buck bushes do not have enough water to hold the bigger fish. Some treelaps off islands and main shorelines are holding a few fish however.

Typical summer patterns are underway on Kentucky Lake for bass, crappie and catfish. You can beat the heat by getting out there early or perhaps hitting it in the late afternoon. Just make sure the water jug is full!

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Honker Lake
Photo by Jennifer Dunnaway

In June these beautiful lily pads are in full bloom at Honker Lake in Land Between The Lakes. Honker Lake is a great place for wildlife viewing and hiking.