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Archived Fishing Report

Fishing Scene Improves; Stable Weather Returns

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 09/13/2017

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has had anglers guessing as to what type weather awaited them the last week or two. Looks like stable conditions are on the horizon and most of the uncertainty is in the rearview mirror.

In the aftermath of two hurricanes that delivered a lot of rain and wind to the region during the early September period, fishing conditions have settled down. The forecast looks good for the next several days.

After midweek rains it appears sunny days are ahead as southwest winds will return and warm things back up. No one has been complaining, however, about the cooler temps that dominated the fishing scene these last two weeks.

Lake levels have been changing a bit the last week or two as TVA fluctuated the reservoir to some degree and lowered the elevation at times to create more storage capacity. The region was dealing with some unknowns as to projected rainfall and runoff. Fortunately, flooding did not occur and lake levels are returning to normal.

Presently, the elevation at Kentucky Dam is 356.1. Upstream in the New Johnsonville sector the reading will be in the 356.2 range this weekend. Anglers can expect a slow fall in the days ahead but no drastic changes.

Water color is in pretty good shape across the reservoir. Muddy conditions had been present in the upper Big Sandy and West Sandy last week but that has improved. The Paris Landing sector is also sporting a good color for anglers.

Surface temperatures at midweek were staying cool and resting in the 73 degree range. That reading will likely rise a degree or two by this weekend as warmer days are in the forecast.

Crappie continue to show more interest and responded favorably to the cooler days and lower surface temperatures lately. Fall crappie fishing is traditionally quite good. It’s often overlooked and underrated too as most anglers miss out on some great conditions as summer loses its grip and autumn silently slips in the door.

Depths of 7 to 10 feet were holding good numbers of fish this week. Anglers vertical fishing jigs or jigs tipped with minnows scored decent stringers. Just a live minnow fished on a tightline presentation has paid dividends too.

Sometimes crappie will fall back deeper during the day if a bright sun enters the picture. They are light sensitive, especially in clear water, so anglers might fish the shallow bite best in early mornings and later afternoons.

Although fall doesn’t officially arrive on the calendar until September 22, fish are already transitioning to fall patterns and locations. The cool days of early September likely accelerated some movement toward shallow areas as baitfish moved up, bringing bass and crappie with them.

Brushpiles and stakebeds in the midrange depths are proving to be a comfort zone as crappie stage there. Odds are that depth range will hold fish for several more weeks. When cloudy or rainy days descend it makes the shallow bite event better.

Add a little light chop on the water from light and variable winds and fishing conditions are quite nice. These next few weeks should produce some consistent fishing conditions for all anglers.

A few fish were also residing on deeper main lake ledges where depths of 16 to 19 feet were holding decent numbers where deep structure could be located. Crappie are relating pretty good to cover this time of year.

Some boats are still trolling Road Runners and crankbaits along main lake ledges and main river channels while encountering enough fish to make it worth their efforts. Depths producing for trollers have been in the 8 to 14 foot range.

Popular jig colors for those vertical fishing stakebeds and brushpiles have ranged from pink/white to red/chartreuse, chartreuse/black, blue/white and some black leadheads with aqua blue bodies sporting glitter.

Bass fishing has been fair with a few anglers landing some hefty stringers at times. The overall bite has been sluggish for some while others found the bite working well for shallow shad colored crankbaits fished on shallow flats or secondary ditches.

Several fish have moved into big bays back off the main lake, which is a normal route this time of year, but unfortunately no grassbeds await them. Still, they’re following their forage and that’s the key; find the shad and you’ll find the bass.

Not every bay is producing but some are holding schools of shad along shallow flats and gravel banks. Rattle Trap style lures are working well and allow anglers to cover a lot of water as they search for both baitfish and the bigger bite.

Topwater action was decent a few mornings and late afternoon when cloudy days stimulated fish to move up shallow and show more aggression.

The early fall bite can be good at times when anglers encounter bass moving up on gravel banks to feed on shad that pursue the lowlight hatching of midges. The small insects trigger the shad feeding frenzies and bass know it and act accordingly. Such a scenario is best in lowlight conditions.

A few boats are working the main river channel for catfish when current is present. Depths of 20 to 30 feet have produced decent catches lately. Baits of choice continue to be nightcrawlers and chicken livers.

It’s a great time to be on the lake. Stable weather is returning, fish are biting and boat traffic is low. That means your fishing enthusiasm level should be high!

More Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports

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Fall at Kentucky Lake
Photo by Shane Dunnaway

A beautiful palette of colors can be experienced at Kentucky Lake during autumn. It's a site to see!