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Archived Fishing Report

Dog Days Have Anglers Howling for Cooler Times

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 07/19/2017

Been a bit warm on the Kentucky Lake fishing scene this week as temps climbed into the low to mid-90s for several consecutive days.

While the temperatures are dominating the conversation among the ranks of all fishermen, most are taking it in stride as it’s just that time of year. The weather gurus says we’ve had several days that were 4 to 6 degrees above normal but it hasn’t been all bad out there.

Several mornings this week saw a light breeze kicking off the day with a little fog mixed in that helped filter the sun for a few hours. That helped make it quite tolerable for anglers who rose early and hit the water hoping to beat the heat.

Surface temperatures this week climbed to the 87 to 88 degree range, which is the highest reading of the year.

Lake levels this week haven’t fluctuated much. The reservoir is resting in the 358.5 range around the Kentucky Dam sector. Upstream the elevation is a bit lower around the New Johnsonville area where the forecast will be 358.1.

Those levels are similar to last week at this time as some runoff enter the Tennessee River watershed. Water color has cleared since last week across most of the reservoir.

At midweek current had diminished and that seemed to curtail activity for the catfish bite, which had improved last week when TVA was pushing a lot of water through Kentucky Dam.

A few boats were bottom bumping along the main Tennessee River channel this week and working their nightcrawler and chicken liver bait presentations but results were a bit slow. A few fish were taken in the 30 foot depth range but the overall bite was sluggish.

Catfishermen know things can change quickly and action can rebound once current kicks in. In fact, some days the bite can improve from morning to afternoon once current enters the picture and stimulates baitfish movement.

Summer crappie are biting but somewhat sluggish. The most action has come from midrange depths of 13 to 14 feet.

Effective techniques have ranged from slow trolling crankbaits along main lake ledges and river channel banks to vertical presentations of jigs and live minnows around deeper stakebeds and brushpiles.

Those slow trolling crankbaits are finding some deep fish suspended at times and scoring some decent stringers.

Tightlining live minnows or jigs tipped with minnow or Berkley Power Bait continues to pay dividends at times too. There are still several small fish lingering in the midrange depths but occasionally anglers are tying into a pretty good slab mixed right in there with them.

Crappie anglers are having to make a lot of stops and picking up some here and there but not logging big numbers of keeper fish or finding any significant schooling activity. Some current can also play a role in the overall activity of crappie out on the main lake areas as it seems to put the fish around structure.

Despite the heat anglers are finding a few crappie willing to bite with most of the activity occurring by mid-morning or in the late afternoon hours. Once that sun peaks at midday and the wind dies down it’s another ballgame!

Since last week a couple of scattered mayfly hatches occurred at various locations in the Paris Landing sector. No massive hatches but no doubt some bass and bluegill moved up to feed on the shallow buffet for a spell.

The bass bite, like the catfish, has been a victim some days of the lack of current. Most summer bass anglers hang their hat on current helping them locate active fish. Without it bass are somewhat lethargic on the ledges. That doesn’t mean they won’t bite but it sure is better when current stimulates shad movement which seems to put fish in a competitive mood to feed.

At midweek the stagnant current seemed to slow the bite drastically. That could change by this weekend as the heat will likely increase power demands for TVA so odds are the agency will be pulling more water through Kentucky Dam in the days ahead.

The ledge bite should improve for bass fishermen tossing deep diving crankbaits and Texas rigged worms once the current returns.

Most of the bass were relating well to structure in the 12 to 15 foot depth range this week. Find some cover on the break or topside of main lake ledges and you should encounter decent size fish.

No doubt the heat is separating the men from the boys but hitting the lake early will allow you to get in several hours of good fishing before that midday heat wave signals it’s time to trade the fishing poles in on some iced tea!

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Kentucky Lake Sunset
Photo by Shawn Dunnaway

Sunsets at Kentucky Lake are special. You can find them on the eastern banks of Kentucky Lake looking west across a mile of ripples and waves. There's nothing quite like experiencing a sunset on Kentucky Lake.