Changing Lake Levels Alter Fishing Scene
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 02/26/2011
Rising lake levels were the topic of discussion among the ranks of Kentucky Lake anglers the last few days as heavy thunderstorms and gale winds delivered a significant weather change. TVA continues to revise projections of elevation on a daily basis in the aftermath of torrential rains that dropped as much as 3 to 4 inches in a short period of time in the Paris Landing area and further north around Kentucky Dam. And, before the area dry it appears more rain will enter the forecast for Sunday night and Monday. Lake levels had jumped almost two feet in a 24 hour period in the aftermath of the storm and the reservoir is still rising. Elevation at Kentucky Dam was in the 357 range as the weekend arrived but that will continue to fluctuate. Once March takes its place on the calendar it’s not unusual for a roller coaster ride of weather patterns to enter the fishing scene. Lake levels and temperature can change drastically this time of year and old man wind is always a factor for fishermen. Water color has changed dramatically the last few days since runoff is bringing a lot of muddy water into the system. Upper Big Sandy and West Sandy were seeing dingy water enter that region and the main Tennessee River channel is muddy with a lot of current at this time. Surface temps were dancing around the 46 to 49 degree range. Warm to moderate temps are in the forecast with air temps predicted to be in the mid 50’s to low 60’s. Crappie will likely scatter some if lake levels continue to rise through next week. However, fish may suspend and that could work in favor of some boats using slow trolling or long line pulling techniques that cover a lot of water. Several fish were taken earlier this week in West Sandy using the long line methods but anglers reported catching a lot of small fish. Bank fishermen will want to monitor activity at the Big Sandy culvert and the discharge at Springville pump station as crappie and other fish often move to these popular spots when a fast rise in lake stages occurs this time of year. Down around the power lines and toward Paris Landing most anglers were using bottom bumping rigs with live minnows or spider rigs trolled slowly over drop-offs where a few fish were residing but not schooled. Odds are crappie residing on main lake ledges will continue to relate to deep structure but may move up on the top sides of ledges and into flats in response to the high and rising lake levels. Shad tend to move up toward shallow areas during rising lake periods and that will likely pull both crappie and bass in their path. Depths of 20 to 25 feet had been giving up a few fish at the mouth of Big Sandy where live minnows were producing. With more stain entering the reservoir watch for loud colored jig skirts to become appealing in the days ahead. Bass action has been fair with a few fish taken near feeder creeks and ditches where runoff water was entering the reservoir and washing in debris. Rattle traps and slow retrieved diving crankbaits in the orange, fire-tiger, and chrome/orange combos were popular around dingy spots. Current will continue to be a factor near the main channel for several days and that could concentrate bass around bridge piers, rock points, and sloping sandbars. Crankbaits and Carolina rigged craws fished around rock banks and gravel will continue to be popular as well, along with some suspending jerk baits. There’s a lot of change taking place as just when a crest of lake levels will occur is still an unknown. Once that happens watch for TVA to really spill some water through Kentucky Dam in preparation for more storage capacity as rain remains in the picture.
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