Explore Kentucky Lake

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

Archived Fishing Report

Dave Stewart's Fishing Report

Written by Dave Stewart | Originally published 03/29/2012

Kentucky Lake:  Water Level at Kentucky Dam -  355.18     Surface Temperature - 67

Lake Barkley:  Water Level at Barkley Dam - 355.45    Surface Temperature - 66
Both lakes are a little over one foot above winter pool with little fluctuation.  Kentucky Dam has been generating at an average rate of around 28,000 cfs during the early and late morning hours and spilling at a rate of around 64,000 cfs during the afternoon and evening hours over the past few days.  

Lake Barkley Dam has been generating at an average rate of around 18,500 around the clock over the past few days. 
The weather this week has been nice with post frontal days on Monday and Tuesday and prefrontal days yesterday and today.  We have had more of the late spring and early summer temperatures in the 80's over the past couple of days.  

The water temperatures of course have continued to rise with the warm weather.  We have water temperatures now that we normally do not see until late April.  Tomorrow's high is forecasted to be in the 80's and SSW winds with a slight chance of isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon. A cool front is forecasted to pass through the lakes area sometime tomorrow night.  Saturday's forecast is for a high in the 70's with post frontal NNW winds.  On Sunday expect highs back into the 80's with more warm south wind.  

The high's in the 80's is forecasted for Monday with another cool front forecasted to pass through the area Monday evening.  This early week cool front is forecasted to drop daytime highs into the 70's for the remainder of the week.
The best way to describe the Largemouth fishing this week is that it has been an early morning and evening bite as well as a week of more keeper sized bass than small fish , but not large numbers of fish.  All the reports I received this week matches pretty much what we did in my boat on the north ends of both lakes.  

The best bite overall was on slow moving baits (jigs and shaky heads) on staging banks and points in the creeks and bays.  We did manage some fish on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and Carolina rigged lizards and creature baits but the overall best bite was the jig and shaky head and it definitely was an early morning and evening bite.  We did manage a limit or more of keeper sized bass in the 2.5 to 3.5 lbs range most days since last Thursday with a few 4-5lbs.  What was noticeably missing was numbers of short fish.  

When we did catch short fish, they were bucks in shallow water.  I had a lot of reports of the shallow bucks from my sources also.  I have had a couple of reports of a few scattered spawners sighted in shallow water on the north ends of the lakes over the past couple of days but no numbers reported.  What I have seen is numbers of bass stacked in the creek channels about halfway back in the creeks and bays staging to move in.  

With a full moon on the way next week, I expect we will see more of these staging fish moving shallow.  The TVA should start slowly raising the water levels early next week and barring any unforeseen large amounts of rain we should reach summer pool late in April.  I expect we are going to see a lot of Largemouth spawning in stake beds, around docks, logs and anything else they can find since the water levels will not yet be in the normal spawning brush areas over the next week or so.  Reports of the spawning fish I mentioned in last week's report on the far south ends of the lakes had the Largemouth spawning in similar fashion.  

It will be interesting to see how long the Largemouth spawn may be drawn out this year with slow rising water and water temperatures 3 weeks ahead of schedule.  Crappie anglers have been having a very good bite most days with the Black Crappie in the middle of the spawn and the White Crappie staging.  Lots of reports of big numbers of short White Crappie but also plenty of reports of limits or near limits of keepers.  I know that most of the week, there were Crappie anglers all around me and they were very actively pulling in fish most of the time.
Largemouth Bass:  Largemouth are being taken on primary points, secondary points and creek channel banks in the creeks and bays.  These fish are being taken on crankbaits, Carolina rigged lizards and creature baits, jigs and shaky heads.  Some Largemouth are also being taken on shallow flats in the coves and backs of the creeks and bays.  These fish are being taken on lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swim jigs and chatterbaits.  There is a little topwater action being reported in shallow water early and late in the day with overcast skies.   As mentioned above, the best bite this week has been early and late in the day on secondary points and channel banks where the Largemouth are staging and the best producing techniques have been jigs and shaky heads.  
Smallmouth Bass:  Smallmouth are being taken on gravel spawning banks in the creeks and bays and in cuts on the main lake.  These fish are in a spawn, early post spawn mode and although some nice fish have been reported taken, the numbers of fish reported are low.  
Some of the more productive lures reported this week are:  Bag 5 custom painted crankbaits in crawfish pattern, Spro Little John crankbaits in spring craw, Bandit crankbaits in rootbeer/chartreuse, Slong's spinnerbaits in blue glimmer, Strike King red eye shad in sexy shad and chrome sexy shad, Charmer shaky head worms in green pumpkin and watermelon purple and Zoom finesse worms in green pumpkin blue on Slong's 3/16 and 1/4 oz shaky heads, D&L football jigs in "oops" pattern and Last Cast hairy bug jigs in green pumpkin, both with green pumpkin Net Baits kick n b jr trailers.
Crappie:  Black Crappie are being taken on shallow brush piles in 3-6 ft of water by casting curly tail jigs, road runner type jigs and working curly tail jigs and minnows under bobbers.  White Crappie are being taken by vertical fishing with curly tail jigs and minnows over staging brush piles and stake beds in 8-12 ft of water.  
Catfish:  Although I have not received any reports from the catfish anglers, I have received a number of reports from bass anglers catching some nice Channel catfish on rocky banks in the back halves of the creeks and bays on bass lures.  We have had a couple of them in my boat this week also.  I would think with the water this warm, the Channel cats will be prespawn feeding early also which means you just might give some nightcrawlers under bobbers a try very soon on shallow rocky main lake banks and also same in the creeks and bays.  

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.

Fall at Kentucky Lake
Photo by Shane Dunnaway

A beautiful palette of colors can be experienced at Kentucky Lake during autumn. It's a site to see!