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Archived Fishing Report

Hot Weather Deals The Cards For Anglers

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 06/20/2018

Seasons officially changed Thursday as spring passed the torch to summer. Throughout most of June it felt like summer had arrived several weeks early as Kentucky Lake anglers have been battling above average temperatures for several weeks.

Mother Nature deals the cards and anglers have been dealt a bad hand lately with and hot and humid weather that felt more like late July and August than mid to late June. It has been tough out there!

Surface temperatures reflect not only the hot days but warm nights that haven’t cooled down. Readings this week were in the 85 to 87 degree range. There were a few days it peaked at 88!

It appears some rain and slightly cooler days are in the forecast so anglers are looking forward to a reprieve. The last week to ten days have seen the mercury climbing into the 92 to 94 degree range, which is 5 to 6 degrees above normal.

Water color remains clear across most of the reservoir.

Lake levels haven’t fluctuated much as the reservoir has been holding around the 359.2 mark at Kentucky Dam this past week. Upstream around New Johnsonville stable levels have also hung around with an elevation of 359 in that sector. Normal summer pool is 359.

The overall fishing scene has been a victim of the extended spell of hot weather. Bass, crappie and catfish anglers have been yielding to the warm days and tossing in the towel at midmorning. 

On days when cloud cover and light winds were present it hasn’t been too bad out there. Other days a blazing sun and no wind made it tough to stay out on the lake unless you were pleasure boating and swimming.

Crappie activity has been inconsistent this week but there were a few mornings when the bite was decent. Fish seemed to bite when cloud cover and wind helped stimulate shad movement.

Other times it appeared the early stages of a mayfly hatch provided an abundant buffet of bait and that curtailed activity. When the larvae stage of the mayfly emerges from the lake bottom and hatches into an adult fly, practically all fish feed on it in some capacity.

That additional food source is tough competition for anglers at times. That appeared to be the case one day last week and again this week. However, the crappie often rebound quickly and turn back to their shad forage base once the hatch occurs and adults flies cling to shorelines bushes and trees.

Some crappie were taken in the 11 to 14 foot depths by anglers fishing live minnows or tipping jigs with minnows. A few anglers were using a jig tipped with Berkley power bait crappie nibble but the fish were showing a preference for live minnows.

Some deep ledges gave up scattered crappie from the deep confines of 18 to 22 feet but bites were scattered and a lot of small fish were in the mix. Anglers can expect to encounter several small fish but there are some exceeding the 10-inch length limit out there so keep the culling board handy.

Traditionally June has been a good month for crappie on Kentucky Lake but high surface temps lately seemed to have a negative impact on the overall location and bite.

Bass fishing has been fair with most anglers targeting main lake ledges in hopes of finding bigger fish. However, despite the hot weather some bass have been taken around shallow weeds and blowdowns on shorelines and island rims.

Some late hatches of shad fry were showing up this week around shoreline weeds and boat docks or piers. The big schools of tiny fish are known to attract bass too. Usually the schools of fry start showing up in late May and early June but it appears a late hatch occurred as several have been seen this week.

That could work in favor of anglers working shallow shoreline habitat or any logs and stickups out away from shore. Find the schools of pin minnows and you’ll likely encounter some bass hot on their trail.

Spinnerbaits, shallow running shad colored crankbaits and Texas rigged worms are working around shallow structure, along with boat docks and piers. Some topwater has also paid dividends in the form of floating worms, jerk baits and buzzbait in lowlight conditions.

From the main lake ledges comes reports of scattered bass in 12 to 25 foot depths. Current has been present the last few weeks and that usually works in favor of ledge fishing. 

Anglers are not finding big schools of bass. There have been some decent size fish taken at times on humps and main channel sand bars at times but anglers are having to cover a lot of water before putting together a decent stringer or stay on a ledge for an extended period once baitfish are located.

The typical menu of ledge fishermen consists of big Texas rigged worms, assorted swim baits, jig and craw combos and huge deep diving crankbaits.

Catfish have continued to hit pretty good for anglers working some rip-rap next to deep water. Others are already falling back to the main river channel and working the shelf of the riverbank while bumping bottom with nightcrawlers, chicken livers and leeches.

Scattered mayfly hatches have some bluegill hanging around steep banks and overhanging trees at times. Watch for more mayflies to hatch these next few weeks too.

Anglers can toss ultralight tackle and fish worms or crickets to find some feisty bluegill and sunfish on the shorelines if you locate steep banks with deep water nearby.

Hot weather has indeed curtailed activity for most anglers but perhaps a few cooler days are on the horizon. Hit the lake early and get your fishing in before the midday heat takes over.

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Big Bass
Photo by Brandon Hunter

Nathan Long holds up two nice bass while fishing with guide Brandon Hunter recently on Kentucky Lake.