Lodging Fishing Attractions Towns & Bays Dining Events Real Estate Maps Lake Conditions

Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley Fishing
Facebook Twitter YouTube Contact Us About Us
Switch Mobile/Desktop

Archived Fishing Report

Dave Stewart's Fishing Report

Written by Dave Stewart | Originally published 05/07/2009

Kentucky Lake:  Water Level at Ky Dam - 361.44  Surface Temperature - 67

Lake Barkley:  Water Level at Barkley Dam - 361.40  Surface Temperature - 66
 
Both lakes are about 2.5 ft over summer pool.  The lakes have been up and down like a yo-yo since my last week's report.  In my last week's report, I reported the lakes were on a drawdown to summer pool levels, which they did get near by last Friday.  

Then the heavy rains hit here and especially upriver in the Tennessee valley.  Up went the lakes again to about 4 ft over summer pool.  Then the lakes were falling again over the past few days with a fast drawdown to their present levels.  

This morning the TVA was forecasting a further drop over the next few days but that has since been revised.  The latest revision shows the lakes rising to nearly 4 feet above summer pool by midnight Saturday.  So, like I said, it has been a yo-yo as far as lake levels over the past week.  My best advise is check the lake level projections frequently and then check them again because the projections are changing faster than I can read them.  We have more rain in the forecast for tonight and thru the weekend.  

So here we go again.  So what has all this up and down done to the fish you ask?  Well, they are moving in and then they are moving out as far as the shallow water patterns are concerned.  You have to be versatile when fishing the Largemouth and watch what the lake levels are doing.  There are some Largemouth locked on beds, which are not moving, but there are still plenty of late prespawn bass that are moving up into the brush and then backing off again when the water starts falling.

There are some post spawn bass also on the lead out banks mixing in with the late spawners that have backed out.  I have taken a number of large females recently that are squirting eggs as you lift them into the boat as they are so ripe and ready to spawn but the lake fluctuations have moved them back out off the brush.  So as you can imagine there are a myriad of patterns to fish and the better patterns each day depends on what the water levels are doing.  

We are also getting some Smallmouth on the main lake points near current breaks as the heavy current is stacking up some baitfish there.  The Crappie anglers are scratching their heads also about the fluctuating water levels this past week.  The better catches of Crappie are being taken over deep brush piles on old creek channels in 10-15 ft of water in the creeks and bays.  Some post spawn Crappie are also being taken on the main lake creek channel ledges in 15-25 ft of water.  

The Bluegill seems to be the best panfish bite right now with lots of big catches coming around brush and wood cover in 5-6 ft of water on crickets.  Some Crappie anglers are reporting catches of good Bluegill over the brush piles in 10-15 ft of water while fishing for Crappie.  Both lakes are heavily stained in the river channels as the upriver flood waters are passing through.  Most of the creeks and bays are clear though, although I have had some reports that the creeks south of the 68 bridges are getting a lot of color to them.  

There is a large amount of floating debris in Lake Barkley and some in Kentucky Lake also.  Please be careful when running the lakes and for heaven's sake, wear your PFD and hook up your kill switch while running.  
 
Largemouth Bass:  Largemouth Bass are being taken in the creeks and bays in and near the spawning areas.  This includes fish being taken in the button brush, in front of the button brush in flooded over vegetation and on lead in/lead out creek channel banks near the spawning areas.   

The fish in the brush are being taken by flipping jigs, tubes and creature baits as well as on spinnerbaits and swim baits.  The fish in front of the brush are being taken on Texas and Carolina rigged lizards and creature baits, spinnerbaits, some topwater, chatterbaits, shaky head worms, whacky worm rigs and finesse jigs.  the fish on the lead in/lead out banks are being taken on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Texas rigged lizards and creature baits, shaky head worms and jigs.  Lots of short fish are being taken in all these places but some nice fish are being taken too.  
 
Smallmouth Bass:  Smallmouth Bass are being taken on main lake primary and secondary points near current breaks on finesse jigs and tube jigs.  I have not had any reports of large numbers but some nice fish have been taken.  Note:  There are a number of smaller Largemouth and some Spotted Bass being taken on these current breaks also.
 
Some of the productive lures reported this week are:   Chatterbuzz buzzbaits in black, Rebel Pop R in black/silver, Hook Some Bass spinnerbaits in blue glimmer and white/chartreuse, Zoom lizards in green pumpkin, watermelon seed and watermelon/red, Bandit crankbaits in rootbeer chartreuse and parrot, Hook Some Bass vibe (chatterbait) in blue glimmer, Zoom trick worms in watermelon/red and green pumpkin (dead sticked whacky style),  D&L shaky head jigs with Charmer shaky head worms in watermelon/red and green pumpkin candy, D&L baby advantage jigs in oops pattern and Cumberland craw and Last Cast wooly bug jigs in green pumpkin (both these jigs tipped with  Net Baits paca chunk and baby paca craw trailers in green pumpkin, green pumpkin watermelon and summer craw.  
 
Crappie: Crappie are being taken over brush piles in 10-15 ft of water on old creek channels by vertically fishing with jigs tipped with minnows.  Crappie are also being taken on old creek channels on the main lake over brush piles in 15-25 ft of water using the same method.  Some Crappie are being taken in shallow water near bases of willow trees and brush piles in 5-6 ft of water on long poles with minnows and small jigs.
 
Bluegill/Red Ear:  I have had a lot of good reports on the Bluegill bite.  Good catches of Bluegill are being taken in 5-6 ft of water near the button brush and around willow trees on crickets and worms fished under bobbers.  Some good Bluegill are also being reported over brush piles in 10-15 ft of water along old creek channels in the creeks and bays on minnows and small jigs tipped with worms.  
 
Catfish:  There have been a few reports of Channel Catfish starting to move up into shallow rocky areas for prespawn feeding.  Although I have not had any reports of large numbers yet, these reports indicated that these fish are being taken in the classic, nightcrawlers under bobbers method.  

More Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports

Now That You're 'Hooked' on Fishing... Come See Us!

If you've dug this deep in our Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley fishing reports, you are probably just itching to come down and visit the South's biggest lakes.  Get started by finding that perfect place to stay!  Find a Kentucky Lake cabin or a Lake Barkley campground, a full-service resort or a marina.  Heck, there are even dozens of hotels off the water to choose from! 

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.


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.