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 05/02/2013

Kentucky Lake:  Water Level at Kentucky Dam - 363.64  Surface Temperature - 65

Lake Barkley:  Water Level at Barkley Dam - 363.80  Surface Temperature - 64
Both lakes are a little over four and one half feet above summer pool and presently on a drawdown.  Kentucky Dam was spilling today at an average rate of 155,000 to 160,000 cfs.  Barkley Dam has been spilling at an average rate today of 98,000 cfs.  
The heavy rains last weekend coupled with the TVA not being able to send too much water downstream due to the flooding on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers shot the lake levels up to 5 ft over summer pool this week.  

The lakes crested yesterday and are now on a drawdown with the latest forecast showing the lakes to be one foot lower than present levels by midnight Saturday night... but...  and here comes the question on everyone's mind:  We are forecasted to get 3 more inches of rain over the next couple of days with an approaching cold front so will the lakes begin to rise again or will they still drop as forecasted.  

The only way to know for sure is to check the TVA website in the aforementioned paragraph periodically to see the latest lake levels.  The forecasts have been changing rapidly lately so the only thing to do right now is wait and see.  The forecast for tomorrow is a high of 68 and low of 49 with SSE wind @ 16 and 90% chance of rain and thunderstorms.  Saturday will be cool with a high of 57 and a low of 48 with an 80% chance of rain.  Sunday does not look much better with a high of 61 and a low of 54 with a 40% chance of rain.  

The extended forecast shows a return to high's near 80 by midweek with more stable weather patterns.  
Lake Barkley is muddy in the channel with lots of floating debris.  The creeks and bays range from stained to heavily stained.  Kentucky Lake is ranges from heavily stained in the channel and stained is the creeks and bays.  Kentucky Lake also has floating debris so be careful when you are running.  
There seems to be some differences of opinion among Largemouth anglers as to whether or not the Largemouth have already spawned from what I am seeing on internet discussion boards and hearing the talk in local tackle shops.  Here is my opinion:  Not all Largemouth spawn on the same day or even the same week.  

The majority of the Largemouth spawn over about a 3 week period here and are driven by water temperatures.  Right now we have post spawn bass on lead out banks and points as well as early ledges, we also have Largemouth on the beds....and as was reflected in my boat this week, we are still catching late prespawn bass with females full of eggs and very few of them showed any signs of tail rubs from fanning out the nests.  

My logs also indicate that our present water temperatures would put us in the middle of the spawn with some having already spawned, some spawning and some yet to spawn.  Our best pattern this week was fishing around and in front of the flooded over buck brush and vegetation where the Largemouth would normally be during late prespawn feeding.  

I learned a long time ago that the majority of Largemouth will always relate to the old shorelines during a flood.  Our smallest 5 fish bag this week was 17 lbs and our best just over 21lbs fishing this pattern.  Texas rigged lizards, spinnerbaits, swim baits and whacky rigs were our most productive techniques.  I expect this pattern will hold up for at least another week or so.
Largemouth Bass:  Largemouth are being taken in the flooded over buck brush and vegetation on Texas rigged lizards, spinnerbaits, swim baits and whacky rigs.  Some early post spawn Largemouth are being taken on lead out banks and points with a few taken on the ledges in the creeks and bays.  These fish are being taken on Carolina rigged creature baits and jigs.  Largemouth are also being taken by flipping jigs, Texas rigged lizards and creature baits and tubes around visible flooded trees and brush.  
Smallmouth:  Smallmouth are being taken on gravel points and bank on the main lake and around the mouths of the creeks and bays.  These fish are being taken on Carolina rigged creature baits, tube jigs and jigs.  Some few nice fish are being reported but not large numbers.
Some of the productive lures reported this week are:  Charmer lizards in green pumpkin and watermelon/red, Slong's and Strike King spinnerbaits in white and white/chartreuse, Zoom trick worms on whacky rigs in green pumpkin, watermelon/red and green pumpkin/blue, Big Hammer swim baits in sexy smelt and bay smelt, D&L advantage jigs in Cumberland Craw, Slong's football head jigs in Cumberland Craw and Charmer tubes in green pumpkin and roadkill.
Crappie:  The Crappie bite was reported as scattered this week with the rapid rise in the water levels.  I had reports of Crappie being taken around the flooded buck brush and around the bases of willow trees on minnows under bobbers.  I had some reports of Crappie being taken over brush piles in 6-10 ft of water by spider rigging with small minnows and small jigs.  Some folks are reporting scattered catches by long lining with small roadrunners tipped with minnows.
Bluegill/RedEars:  Bluegills and Red Ears are being taken on flooded banks where there is grass and around flooded trees.  Crickets and red worms fished under bobbers are taking these fish.  
Catfish:  Channel Catfish are roaming the shallows in the backs of the creeks and bays, especially near rocky bottom areas as well as on shallow rocky bottom areas on the main lake.  These fish are being taken on night crawlers fished on bottom and under bobbers.  

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.

Eagle's Nest
Photo by Melodie Cunningham

This bald eagle keeps an eye out for it's mate from their nest high in a tree top in Land Between the Lakes. The average eagle's nest is five feet wide!