Anglers Embrace Cooler Conditions... Better Late Than Never!
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 09/27/2017
After two weeks of hot and humid weather Kentucky Lake anglers will finally get a reprieve. Cooler conditions are in progress and the region is anxiously awaiting the return of chilly mornings with mixed fog. Light jackets will now be standard attire when leaving the boat ramp. Although fall officially arrived last Friday summer weather has dominated the fishing scene the last two weeks as temps most days climbed to the 90-degree plus range. No wind and high skies had fishermen gasping for air a few days but not to worry; fall weather may be a week or so late but it appears the next several days will see lower temps and lower humidity. Fishermen have a reason to be optimistic as the forecast is good. The last of the extended spells of hot weather appears to be history. In addition to falling temperatures lake levels have dropped this week. Elevation is now down to the low ebb of winter pool, which means pay attention to the channel markers and avoid taking shortcuts across open water where shallow sandbars lurk. Projections for the weekend show an elevation of 355 at Kentucky Dam but a few inches lower upstream at New Johnsonville where lake stages will sleep at 354.6. That’s a few inches lower than last week at this time. Surface temperatures have been above normal the last two weeks with readings starting out around 78 to 79 in the mornings and climbing to the 82 degree range a midday. Expect the water to cool back to the mid 70’s by this weekend. Water color is clear across most of the reservoir as very little rain has fallen as of late. Crappie have responded to the hot weather lately by falling back to deeper depths. Decent numbers of fish were taken this week in depths of 16 to 20 feet out on main lake ledges. A few weeks ago fish had blitzed toward shallow to midrange depths when cooler conditions prevailed. Watch for crappie to return to midrange depths these next few days as cooler conditions will stimulate movement of baitfish back in that direction. Both crappie and bass will transition back toward shallow zones in pursuit of shad. If a few cloudy or rainy days enter the picture anglers should see real improvement in the 6 to 12 foot depth zone. Stakebeds and brushpiles in the shallow to midrange depths that have been mostly void of fish the last week or two will see activity return. Meanwhile, main lake ledges have been giving up decent numbers of crappie that favored structure on the edge of drop-offs. Most days the fish have chosen to reside on the deep side of the ledge, a likely response to hotter surface temps and bright skies when no cloud cover was present to filter the light. Live minnows have worked well for anglers using tightline bottom bumping rigs. Tightlining jigs as worked too and several anglers continue to tip a jig with a shiner minnow to entice finicky fish to bite. No doubt some fish will linger in deep water for several days but with each passing day fish will stair-step their way toward midrange depths. Some boats are trolling Road Runner style baits out over main lake ledges while others are using crankbaits trolled slowly in big bays or out along the main river channel banks. The overall crappie picture should improve dramatically these next few weeks as more fish head shallow in possession of a better attitude. The deep bite has actually been pretty good but most anglers prefer to target the fish when they head shallow and occupy typical fall locations. Bass anglers have stayed on a summer pattern, concentrating their efforts on main lake ledges and open water sloping sandbars. Tossing crankbaits has been the norm as have shallow running Rattle Trap style lures. Texas rigged worms have produced too. Watch for bass to blitz back toward gravel banks and shallow roadbeds in the days ahead as cooler surface temps will bring more fish shallow. Schools of shad are already roaming toward shallow sandbars and moving back into big bays. Lower lake levels will expose some shallow stumps and crappie beds for those targeting shallow structure with topwater and spinnerbaits. A few boats are working the main river channel and focusing on the piers around the Paris Landing bridge where a slow current has been present some days. When current is present a few catfish have been taken in the 25 to 30 foot depth range. Nightcrawlers and chicken livers continue to be the most popular bait choices. It appears summer is reluctantly saying goodbye. Fall fishing patterns will quickly resume as will the attitude of Kentucky Lake fishermen. Autumn angling is finally here. Button up that shirt!
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