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Archived Fishing Report

Dave Stewart's Fishing Report

Written by Dave Stewart | Originally published 05/06/2010

Kentucky Lake:  Water Level at Ky Dam - 366.93  Surface Temperature - 67

Lake Barkley:  Water Level at Barkley Dam - 367.00  Surface Temperature - 67
 
Both lakes are currently 8 ft over summer pool and still rising.  Heavy rains over the past weekend in the lakes area and especially upriver on both lakes have had the lakes on a rapid rise all week and major flooding is occurring on the lakes.  

The latest forecasted levels indicate that the lakes will rise another 3 ft over the next couple of days.  This is a major flood event and because of the hazardous condition of the lakes from debris, loss of navigational markers, possible property damage from boat wakes and numerous other reasons the following actions were taken by the U.S. Coast Guard over the past few days:
 
1.  On May 3rd, the U.S. Coast Guard enacted a "safety zone" on the Cumberland River from mile marker 0 to mile marker 313.6.  This declaration has banned all recreational boating in the safety zone including all of Lake Barkley.
 
2.  On May 5th (early morning) the U.S. Coast Guard enacted a "safety zone" on the Tennessee River from mile marker 0 to mile marker 206.  This declaration banned all recreational boating in the safety zone including all of Kentucky Lake. 
 
3.  On May 5th (evening)  the U. S. Coast Guard revised the previously enacted "safety zone" on the Tennessee River and reduced the "safety zone".  The newly revised "safety zone" includes all waters on the Tennessee River from mile marker 0 to mile marker 41.7.  Basically the new "safety zone" stretches from the confluence of the Tennessee River and the Ohio River to the U.S. 68 bridge located at Aurora, Ky.  All recreational boating is banned in the newly revised area which means no recreational boating on Kentucky Lake from the dam to the U.S. 68 bridge at Aurora, Ky.  
 
Basically, here is the situation right now (as of 5:00 a.m. local time May 6, 2010):  All of Lake Barkley remains closed to all recreational boating.  Kentucky Lake is closed to all recreational boating from the dam to the U.S. 68 bridge at Aurora, Ky.  

Yesterday, Coast Guard officials were warning people to get off the lakes because they were closed to boating and disseminating this information thru the news media and other sources.  The Coast Guard sources has stated that anyone found violating the currently established "safety zone" will receive a citation and escorted off the lakes.  The maximum allowed fine for violating the "safety zone" is $32, 500.  
 
You can find the latest news releases on the safety zones at the U.S. Coast Guard site:  www.piersystem.com  and also stay tuned to local radio and television stations.  
 
Fishing:  Prior to the closing of Kentucky Lake yesterday, the Largemouth Bass fishing was very good on Monday and Tuesday this week.  We were taking fish around the flooded over brush in the backs of the bays in large numbers with some good quality fish.  The fish were taking topwater lures, spinnerbaits, jigs, Texas rigged lizards and creature baits, Florida rigged creature baits and lizards and shaky heads.  

The bays on the east side of the lake were clear.  The creeks on the west side of the lake had some stain but were very fishable.  The main lake was muddy with lots of debris floating and the main river channel area was especially hazardous due to strong currents and lots of debris. Reports indicated that the Smallmouth Bass were actively feeding on main lake points and first secondary points in the creeks and bays on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs and tube jigs.  

The current was activating this feed. The panfishing folks were catching Bluegills and Redears around the flooded brush also but they were somewhat scattered with the rising water.  These fish were being taken on crickets and worms fished under bobbers around the flooded over brush.  I have received some reports that some of the creeks and bays may be starting to muddy from the flood waters backing up but since I was not on the water yesterday, I cannot confirm this report myself at this time.
 
The big question that is on everyone's mind right now is how long will it be until the water starts to recede and what is it going to do to the fishing.  I have received numerous emails and phone calls over the past couple of days about this subject as I am sure other guides have also.  

As far as when the water will start receding:  that all depends on the continued amounts of water coming in from upriver, especially on the Cumberland River and how much water can be released from the lakes with the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers now starting to flood in areas downstream of the lakes.  It is a wait and see game, but I would expect we will start seeing some reduction in the water levels next week barring any unforeseen major rains, which right now are not in the forecast.  
 
How will the dropping water effect the fishing?  I could come up with all kinds of scenarios as can anyone else..but the best way to see the future is visit the past.  I am posting below copies of my back fishing reports from May 2003.  

The lakes in May 2003 reached a level of 8 ft over pool and receded to summer pool levels over a two week period.  We had very similar water conditions, although not quite as high as it is going this time, similar water temperatures and patterns before the May 2003 flood.  I would expect that my reports from May 2003 during the peak of that flood and following reports for that month as the water receded will be very close to what we will see over the next couple of weeks here:

(Editor's Note:  To access the fishing reports from 2003, go to our Archives section, choose 2003, and scroll down to Dave's reports for May 15, May 22, and May 29.)

More Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports

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Elk Herd
Photo by Melodie Cunningham

This herd of female elk are enjoying a winter's day in the Elk and Bison Prairie in Land Between The Lakes.