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Archived Fishing Report

Lake Levels Back to Normal; Anglers Anxious to Get Going

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 03/21/2018

Kentucky Lake’s elevation is back to normal winter pool after a long run of roller coaster levels that had the reservoir off on quite a tare!

Anglers are chomping at the bit to get the show on the road too. Spring officially arrived last Tuesday but it wasn’t much fanfare as snowflakes were falling in the aftermath of a brisk northwest that dropped temperatures back to winter range.

Not to worry as warmer days are fast approaching as the weekend ahead and well into next week will see a nice warm up. Is there anyone who doesn’t have spring fever?

Both bass and crappie anglers have battled crazy weather and water conditions lately. March is a month known for unstable weather and it has certainly lived up to its reputation thus far.

Surface temperatures started the week out around 54 degrees and lost ground once cold nights descended. By this weekend, however, look for surface temps to rebound to the 55-degree range and perhaps even warmer by early next week.

Water color is good across the reservoir. The falling lake levels last week really pulled the dingy and muddy water out of the upper Big Sandy and West Sandy plus all the big bays across the reservoir.

Lake levels are now slightly below winter pool and down some ten feet from two weeks ago. TVA projects readings of 354.5 this weekend in the Kentucky Dam area. Further south lake stages will be slightly lower in the New Johnsonville area with a forecast of 354.3. Normal winter pool is 355.

Seems strange to go from one extreme to the other these last two week but that’s exactly what’s happened. Anglers and pleasure boaters now need to be cautious about low lake levels and pay close attention to channel markers.

Resist the temptation to take those shortcuts across main lake flats and sandbars where shallow obstacles await.

Kentucky Lake will sleep around the winter pool mark until April 1 when TVA begins its annual reservoir filling curve. The target dates for summer pool elevation, which is 359, is May 1 each year.

Bass fishermen have been putting up some pretty good numbers lately despite changing lake levels and inclimate weather patterns. Several lunker bass are coming in with another 9 pound, 9-ounce largemouth taken by Ohio angler Cole Floyd last weekend in the LBL division of the FLW.

The winning stringer (5-fish) caught by Indiana’s Kayne Hackemack tipped the scales at whopping 29.8 pounds!

Most anglers are tossing Rattle-Trap and Red-Eye Shad style baits or regular shallow and deep running crankbaits fished around rip-rap banks, rocky points and gravel shorelines or roadbeds. Spinnerbaits have worked too as anglers fan cast out over flats and parallel shorelines in an attempt to cover a lot of water in their quest to locate bass.

Shad colored variations are popular this week as most of the dingy water has moved out. In addition to crankbaits and spinnerbaits some anglers continue to toss a jig and craw combination at times.

With lower lake levels present there are a few exposed crappie beds offering some visible structure but stick-ups are a bit sparse. Some fish are holding around boat houses and piers now too.

Crappie anglers are beginning to rebound. Warmer surface temperatures are on the horizon as are stable lake levels. That should work in favor of fish moving up toward shallow to midrange depths in the days ahead.

Several fish were taken this week from the deep sides of main lake ledges where the 18 to 22 foot depth range was holding them. No doubt fish pulled back to deeper water late last week as lake levels were falling fast.

Watch for more fish to transition toward 4 to10 foot depths in the days ahead. The fish should really be on the move as they respond to warmer days that trigger their desire to seek prespawn structure. Fish will be staging in the main lake area and back in big bays too waiting for rising surface temps.

Kentucky Lake crappie usually spawn when surface temperatures reach the 62 to 66 degree range with some stability in weather. Their biological clock is indeed ticking!

We’re not there yet but watch for significant improvement the first week to ten days of April. The timetable could see surface temps heating up and crossing the 60-degree threshold by then.

More fish should show up this upcoming week in stakebeds and brushpiles that had been void of fish last week. Those midrange depths are now very appealing to roaming crappie as they slowly work their way out of deep water and head toward spawning sites.

Slow trolling techniques will pay dividends next week as will vertical presentations over manmade fish attractors. In fact, a lot of different depths and techniques are about to break loose and produce results.

Although a lot of crappie apparently moved out of the upper Big Sandy and West Sandy areas this past week during the falling lake levels watch for them to return soon once that surface temps heats up.

For Kentucky Lake crappie anglers their finest hour is fast approaching. Hopefully the weatherman will deliver some warm days and light winds as anglers deserve it. March Madness has been pretty tough on fishermen this year.

Start your engines!

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Remarkable Sunset
Photo by Jennifer Dunnaway

This is one of my favorite photographs of a Kentucky Lake sunset taken from the eastern shore of Kentucky Lake near Fenton.