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Archived Fishing Report

Dave Stewart's Fishing Report

Written by Dave Stewart | Originally published 04/19/2012

Kentucky Lake:  Water Level at Ky Dam - 356.50  Surface Temperature - 67

Lake Barkley:  Water Level at Barkley Dam - 356.55  Surface Temperature - 67
 
Both lakes are two and one half feet below summer pool.  Presently we are a couple of inches lower than the normal water levels we should have in accordance with the TVA River Operating Schedule in bringing the lakes up to summer pool.  The current TVA forecast is for the lakes to rise a couple of inches on Friday but then a drop back to current levels over the weekend.  The reason for the slower than normal rise is due to a lack of spring rains.  Reservoirs upriver from Kentucky Lake (Pickwick, Guntersville, Wheeler) reached their summer pool levels over the past few days but there is very little influx of water forecasted into these lakes over the next few days which means less water being discharged into Kentucky Lake than normal for this time of year.  

Unless this changes in the near future, we can expect our lake levels to be remain a little behind the normal schedule in the rise to summer pool levels.  I know many bass anglers are frustrated because they want the water levels to reach the shallow brush and vegetation before all the Largemouth have spawned but the TVA cannot create rain so we are all at the mercy of mother nature in just how long it will take to get the water levels here to summer pool.  

In accordance with the TVA River Operating Schedule, we should reach summer pool levels by the end of the last week this month.  Whether or not this happens on schedule of course depends on the amount of water  
 
This past week has been a week of either high winds associated with frontal passages or flat water blue sky post frontal days.  The water temperatures have gone down with the cooler days and north winds just after the frontal passages and then recovered on the flat water, warmer post frontal days.  As I mentioned in the past couple of reports, most of the Largemouth have been staged on the final lead in banks just off the dry spawning flats where they normally would be spawning with these water temperatures.  

Many of these Largemouth on these banks have started spawning on these banks in 3-6 feet of water.  We are still catching Largemouth also on secondary points and deeper channel banks back from the shallower lead in banks but not as many numbers as we are catching on the final lead in banks just off the flats.  Some of the Largemouth are on the shallow flats spawning around wood cover and some are spawning in shallow cuts just off the channel banks.  

I also mentioned in the past couple of reports that we have been getting some Largemouth from the ledges around the mouths of the creeks and bays with a mixture of prespawn and post spawn bass.  We are still catching some fish on these ledges this week but the numbers of prespawn bass there has been going down.  Just as with last week's report, we are still catching most of our Largemouth on the final lead in banks just off the flats.  Although crankbaits and spinnerbaits are taking some of these fish, we are getting more fish with slower presentations of jigs, Carolina and Texas rigged lizards and creature baits and shaky heads,.  Most of the bites are very light and one needs to pay close attention when fishing this pattern.  

We seem to be getting more and more pickups and drops of our jigs and plastic baits from spawning fish picking these lures up by the tail and moving them off the nests, but there are still enough late prespawn bass taking the lures to catch a limit or more of keepers most days.  The only problem that most anglers are having is the lack of numbers of larger fish in the 4 lbs plus range.  

This is reflected in the tournaments lately by seeing only one or two bags each tournament in the 20 lbs plus range but lots of 5 fish limits in the 14-17 lb range.  No doubt that the bigger fish are being finicky and tougher to catch than we normally experience this time of year.
 
The weather forecast is calling for another frontal passage tomorrow with a chance of thunderstorms late in the day and overnight.  We will be post frontal over the weekend and through Monday with north winds and day time highs dropping into the 60's and night time low's into the lower 40's.  The forecast for next week is a warming trend into the 80's by Wednesday and south quadrant winds.
 
Largemouth Bass:  Largemouth are being taken on lead in banks just off the spawning flats on medium running crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Texas and Carolina rigged lizards and creature baits as well as jigs.  Some Largemouth are being taken on the shallow flats in the creeks and bays on spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, lipless crankbaits and blade baits.  

Largemouth are also being taken on staging ledges around the mouths of the creeks and bays as well as on deeper creek channel banks and associated secondary points.  These fish are being taken on medium running crankbaits, Texas and Carolina rigged lizards and creature baits and jigs.  As mentioned last week, a myriad of patterns are taking fish but the most productive pattern has been on the final lead in banks just off the flats with slower techniques such as Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, shaky heads and jigs.  
 
Smallmouth Bass:  Smallmouth Bass are being taken on main lake points and banks as well channel banks and secondary points in the creeks and bays.  These fish are on post spawn patterns and are being taken on crankbaits, Carolina rigged creature baits, jigs and tube jigs.  Most of the fish being taken seem to be young females or bucks right now with a few larger single females.  No large numbers of Smallmouth catches are being reported.
 
Some of the productive lures reported this week are:  Strike King series 4 crankbaits in sexy shad, Bandit crankbaits in rootbeer/chartreuse, Strike King red eye shad in sexy shad, Chatterbaits in blue glimmer and green pumpkin, Charmer lizards in green pumpkin, Strike King speed craw in green pumpkin and watermelon seed, Slong's spinnerbaits in blue glimmer and white, Charmer shaky head worms and Zoom trick worms in green pumpkin and green pumpkin/blue on D&L shaky head jigs, D&L advantage and football head jigs in "oops" pattern with Net Baits kick n b jr. trailers in green pumpkin and summer craw.  
 
Crappie:  The Crappie bite slowed some this week with the cold front coming through the lakes area, but anglers have been getting some nice fish by vertically fishing over brush piles in the 8-15 ft range along creek channels in the creeks and bays with curly tail jigs and minnow/jigs combinations.  
 
Bluegill/Red Ear:  Bluegill are being taken on shallow gravel banks and flats in the backs of the creeks and bays on crickets and worms fished under bobbers and on split shot rigs baited with worms dragged on bottom.  Red Ears are being taken on gravel banks and gravel bars in 3-5 ft of water in the backs of the creeks and bays with worms under bobbers and split shot rigs baited with plastic bug type jigs tipped with worms dragged on the bottom.  

The bite on these two species slowed some this week with the frontal passages but these fish should recover nicely with the warm up next week.  I did notice that today, the Red Ear and Blue Gills were much more active in picking up our plastics while we were bass fishing on the gravel type lead in banks just off the flats than they had been earlier in the week.  
 
Catfish:  I did not receive any reports on the Catfish this week, but we did catch a few large Channel Catfish and I had a number of reports of other bass anglers catching Channel Cats on the rocky lead in banks just off the shallow flats on jigs and Texas rigs.  Last week's reports indicated these fish being taken on shallow rocky banks and flats on night crawlers fished on bottom and under bobbers so I would expect this is still the pattern taking into consideration the Catfish we caught while bass fishing.

More Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports

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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.


Fishing at Sunset
Photo by Sherry Bailey

So many childhood memories have been made on the banks of Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. These boys are determined to fish until the sun goes down.