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Archived Fishing Report

Above Average Temps Challenge Early Fall Anglers

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 10/03/2018

Kentucky Lake’s early fall fishing took a back step this week and fell back to summer like conditions just as October entered the picture. Instead of cool nights and chilly mornings temps went the other direction for a  few days.

Last week saw a few nice fall mornings wet the appetite of fishermen yearning to get the fall fling going. There was a chill in the air with some fog that really made it feel autumn had arrived but it was a short stay as temps this week climbed back into the mid 80’s, heating things back up and resembling summer days.

Above average temperatures is not what anglers want to see in the forecast this time of year.

Surface temperatures this week reflected the change too. Morning temps started out around 73 at the beginning of the week but by midweek had rebounded to the 79 degree range at midday. Nights haven’t been cool either with some humidity mixed in with the warming trend.

Also rising have been lake levels. At midweek the reservoir crested around 357.4 after several consecutive days with a slow rise. Heavy rains a week ago really drenched the area but it appears TVA is pulling water at a pretty good rate and lowering the elevation on a slow but steady pace.

By this weekend lake levels will be falling to the 357 range and even lower than that by early next week as TVA pulls the reservoir back down to its fall curve.

Water color has been dingy in the main Tennessee River channel area but a pretty good color for fishing. The Big Sandy area around Paris Landing remains relatively clear.

Crappie fishing seemed to pick up a bit the last week or so as more fish were moving up with the rising lake levels toward midrange depths of 8 to 13 feet. Last week’s cool spell and lower surface temps worked in favor of a little blitz that saw several fish occupying stakebeds and brushpiles in 10 to 12 feet at times.

A few fish were taken in shallow beds when lowlight conditions were present. The early morning and late afternoon bite improved for 8 to 10 foot depths a few days. 

Jigs were producing as were live minnows for anglers vertical fishing right down in the submerged structure. Popular colors ranged from red/chartreuse to black/chartreuse and similar variations.

A few boats trolling Roadrunner style jigs out over main lake ledges in the 10 to 12 foot depth range have also landed a few keepers lately. Fish have been scattered for the trollers but they managed to find enough to keep it interesting.

Some fish were taken along the deep ledges too by anglers bottom bumping jig and minnow rigs but fish there were scattered in the 17 to 19 foot depth range.

Once cooler days return crappie anglers should see improvement in shallow areas. The warmer days and bright sunny conditions seemed to curtail activity at midday as the fish backed off biting but rebounded if cloud cover returned or once late afternoon lowlight conditions returned.

Bass anglers reported some improvement this week as the topwater bite turned off for a few anglers tossing jerkbaits over main lake flats and along some gravel banks as well.

Fish are chasing shad schools at times and a few anglers have keyed in on the early fall pattern, tossing Rattle Trap style baits at times when searching for the schools and opting for topwater once a few fish start busting the baitfish.

Others have been tossing buzzbaits and shad colored crankbaits around gravel banks and shallow roadbeds and boathouses. Rising lake levels may have pushed a few shad back in pockets and bays this week so that helped the shallow bite at times.

There are still boats working the main lake ledges as though the summer pattern was still producing. Seems there’s always a few fish lingering on the ledges and this week there was ample current that likely helped that scenario.

With the steady current this week has come increased activity for catfishermen working the edge of the main river channel. Depths of 30 to 35 feet have produced but a few crappie anglers working the deep ledges have tied into several around the 16 to 20 foot depth range at times.

Hopefully autumn conditions will return soon and cooler days will prevail. Maybe this Indian Summer will fade and jacket mornings will return as a chill in the air sure beats this heat and humidity we’ve been having.

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Bison Herd
Photo by Libby Mundy

Visitors to the Elk and Bison Prairie in Land Between The Lakes can almost always catch a glimpse of some bison. They are most frequently seen early in the morning and in the late afternoon.