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Archived Fishing Report

Warmer Days Ahead; Spring Coming in on the Tuesday Train!

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 03/14/2018

Lake levels are falling but temperatures are rising.

Spring is at the threshold and knocking on the door. It officially arrives on Tuesday and may indeed coincide with some spring-like weather.

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene may heat up a bit this weekend as warmer days are about to descend. Temps are forecast to reach the low to mid 60’s.

After about two weeks of flooding where abnormally high lake stages dominated the overall fishing scenario for bass and crappie anglers it appears normalcy will return. Anglers are overdue for a few decent days of light winds, warm sunny days and normal lake levels.

Since cresting the middle of last week at around 364.7 at Kentucky Dam---which was almost 10 feet above normal winter elevation---the reservoir has been falling almost a foot daily. That’s a lot of water for a reservoir the size of Kentucky Lake.

Projections for the weekend by TVA indicate falling lake levels will continue. Lake levels in the Kentucky Dam area are forecast to be in the 357.6 range; upstream at New Johnsonville the reservoir is almost a foot higher as water flows downstream with a forecast of 358.5.

By the middle of next week the reservoir should be back down to normal winter pool elevation of 355. It has been a long ride!

Water color is still dingy across most of the reservoir with a little more stain in the main Tennessee River channel. However, the falling lake levels have pulled a lot of muddy water out of the upper Big Sandy, West Sandy and many of the larger bays that were quite muddy a week ago.

Surface temperature this week has been in the 51 degree range having cooled considerably during some cold nights this week. Watch for an increase toward the 54 degree range by this weekend.

Fluctuating lake levels seemed to have an adverse effect on crappie fishing this week but not so much for bass fishing. Some hefty fish have been taken during their prespawn phase as females are egg laden and weighing heavy.

During last weekend’s Cabela’s Collegiate Big Bass Bash out of Paris Landing State Park several lunkers were taken exceeding the 6-pound mark with the big fish going to Bethel University Team angler Brian Pahl for a trophy largemouth tipping the scales at 9.22 pounds!

Despite the lake being out of proportion as to elevation anglers moved up with the water and found bass around shallow stickups at times or near the mouth of small feeder creeks back in bays where runoff had been dumping lots of water.

Tossing crankbaits was paying the most dividends for both tournament anglers and regular fishermen. Some had pitched jigs and craws to shoreline stickups at times but found the most success with loud colored crankbaits worked around submerged rock banks and roadbeds.

Now that falling lake levels are in the picture bass appear to have pulled back out of some of the shallow structure and relating to outside structure lines or even out away from some shorelines entirely. Rapidly falling water usually pulls fish back to deeper venues and that’s indeed what’s happening across the reservoir.

By the middle of next week bass fishermen will see the lake back down near winter pool, taking all the shallow stickups and shoreline habitat out of the equation. However, those rocky points, abundant gravel banks, roadbeds, rip-rap levees or sandbars inheriting current and baitfish should really be holding fish.

Crappie anglers should begin to see some improvement by this weekend as water color improves and lake levels descend. Warmer days won’t hurt either.

The lion’s share of crappie fishermen across the reservoir had pretty much thrown in the towel and waited on better weather and water conditions the last week to ten days. That’s about to change.

Expect to see fish move a bit toward midrange depths of 6 to 14 feet. Warmer surface temperatures and stability in lake levels will work to the advantage of more shallow water activity.

A few crappie were taken recently in deep depths of 20 to 24 feet during higher lake levels. Odds are some of those deep fish will transition toward midrange depths very soon in preparation for their prespawn staging areas.

Main lake flats and midrange depths back in some of the larger bays should see more crappie moving in. The upper Big Sandy and West Sandy sectors that have been the victim of high, muddy water should see improvement too by early next week. Dingy water in those areas should warm quickly.

So it appears crappie anglers can regain their footing in the days ahead and begin to implement a variety of techniques and apply them in a variety of depth ranges.

From long lining curly tail jigs to spider rigging, trolling crankbaits and vertical presentations over manmade fish attractors, these popular techniques should begin to pay off now that things on the big pond are getting back to normal.

Say goodbye to the flood. Spring has almost sprung. Better days are fast approaching for all Kentucky Lake fishermen. Turn the dogwoods loose!

More Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports

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Don't have a boat?  No worries!  Bank fishing is always an option for panfish. But if you're heart is set on largemouth or smallmouth, you can rent a fishing boat at many of our local resorts!

The perfect place to start looking for a place to stay at Kentucky or Barkley Lakes?  Right here on our main lodging page.


Down the River
Photo by Melodie Cunningham

This father-son team has found adventure out on the water at Kentucky Lake! There are so many places to explore in LBL that can't be accessed by land!