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Archived Fishing Report

Summer Patterns Underway for Kentucky Lake Anglers

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 06/15/2018

Kentucky Lake anglers are already in the groove for summer fishing patterns although the season doesn’t officially arrive until June 21.

Bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill fishermen have seen a lot of transition take place lately as surface temperatures have risen. There have been a few cool mornings but there’s been a lot of hot and humid days too that have opened the door to an early summer.

Lake levels this week have danced around the 359.3 range at both Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville. That’s a few inches above normal summer pool elevation but TVA has pushed a lot of water through Kentucky reservoir the last week to ten days in the aftermath of some heavy thunderstorms that drenched the entire region.

Water color has cleared this week in the Big Sandy area but there’s still a little stain along the main Tennessee River channel area.

Surface temperatures reflect the warm days and nights. Readings this week have been in the 80 to 82 degree range.

Both bass and catfishermen have encountered a lot of current in the Tennessee River this week. Current will likely hang around well into next week too.

Bass patterns have ranged from ledge fishing to shallow shorelines this week and will likely continue. A lot of boats have targeted shallow shorelines where abundant weedbeds with a few buck bushes have given up some fish.

Early morning and late afternoon outings have produced some fish for anglers tossing buzzbaits and various topwater jerk baits. Spinnerbaits and Texas rigged craws and worms have worked too.

Deep water patterns have been the target areas for most of the winning tournament stringers lately. However, most fishermen banging away on the main lake sandbars say the fish haven’t been easy to locate. 

Some hefty fish have been taken but most agree the ledge bite has been challenging at times. Although current has been present lately and that usually works in favor of the deep ledge pattern, there are a lot of good looking humps, points and drop-offs that just haven’t produced.

Big deep diving crankbaits, Texas rigged worms in the 9 and 10-inch length, jig and pig combos and Carolina rigged worms and lizards are topping the arsenal as are swim baits. Most anglers are relying on swim baits to fool some finicky fish into biting.

Crappie continue to improve as they usually do during the month of June. Increased numbers were showing up this week for anglers working midrange stakebeds and brushpiles. Depths of 11 to 14 feet have been giving up decent numbers.

June is a good month for crappie here on Kentucky Lake and often overlooked by most anglers. Once the post-spawn phase is over the fish transition back to a comfort zone somewhere between their spawning territory and mid-summer hangouts.

That seems to be the case now and it should last for a few more weeks. Several small fish are still present but there are more keeper size ones beginning to show up.

That’s good news as most crappie anglers are overdue for some decent stringers. Meanwhile, baits of choice have been live minnows or jigs tipped with minnows. Assorted colored jigs have produced too such as black/chartreuse, blue/black, blue/chartreuse and blue metal flake or silver sparkle combos.

Catfishing has been decent with some anglers already finding fish in a summer pattern along the Tennessee River channel. Others are finding several lingering in the midrange depths and back in bays as the slowly work their way from spawning territory back out toward summer venues.

Bluegill actions seemed to slow down this week as a lot of fish have left spawning beds and started to scatter. Several bluegill have been taken in deeper depths this week by crappie anglers, an indication the bluegill spawn is over and perhaps a Mayfly hatch may soon arrive.

Stable summer weather appears to be here to stay. So too will be Kentucky Lake’s summer patterns for bass and crappie.

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Honker Lake
Photo by Jennifer Dunnaway

In June these beautiful lily pads are in full bloom at Honker Lake in Land Between The Lakes. Honker Lake is a great place for wildlife viewing and hiking.