Crappie Bite Returns; Bass/Bluegill Action Good as Kentucky Lake Sleeps at Summer Pool
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 05/26/2011
Crappie have returned to the fishing scene and showed significant improvement this week as the reservoir returns to normal summer pool elevation. Anglers almost forgot what normal lake levels look like here on Kentucky Lake but as the Memorial holiday weekend arrives and kicks off the summer boating season, everyone is well satisfied to put high water in the rearview mirror. Fishing has been good for bass and bluegill too, along with some decent report from catfishermen. Observed lake levels are projected to be 359.1 at Kentucky Dam as the weekend approaches and 358.9 at New Johnsonville. Some thunderstorms in recent days may swell lake levels slightly but TVA is not projecting any drastic changes. Lake levels are down about two feet from a week ago and should remain fairly stable until early July barring any unforeseen flooding. TVA will begin its slow decent toward winter pool after the Fourth of July holiday period. Surface temps this week have rebounded into the 73 to 76 degree range, which is up a few degrees from last week. Water color is in good shape with some dingy water in places in the aftermath of runoff from heavy rains and wind that stirred up some shoreline sediments. Most pockets off the main Tennessee River had a good color while the main lake portion of Big Sandy was clear. Bays are sporting a little stain but not too muddy to fish, Crappie really improved this week once lake levels returned to normal. The fish returned to a structure oriented pattern and were biting good in midrange depths of 9 to 14 feet. Stakebeds, stump rows, and brush piles were holding fish much better than last week at this time. Anglers were boating some nice numbers in the Paris Landing area as they fished jigs and live minnows in vertical presentations around submerged structure. Tipping jigs with Berkley Powerbait seemed to entice strikes as did adding a minnow to jigheads. Popular colors combinations were red/chartreuse, white/red, and some neutral or chartreuse leadheads with chartreuse and red glitter tube skirts along with purple/clear sparkle, just to name a few. With warmer weather entering the picture look for some good crappie fishing to continue as June is a month often overlooked and underrated by anglers. The stable weather and lake levels will work in favor of fishermen and the crappie bite will hold up well as the fish stay put and congregate around cover in midrange depths. After a very unusual spring the stability of June will offer crappie fishermen a much better fishery yet many anglers fail to take advantage of it. Bluegill and shellcracker action has held up well this week and hefty stringers have been taken by anglers working the outside of bushes and weedbeds. Crickets, redworms, and meal worms have been popular in 2 to 4 foot depths. Although these popular panfish are on backside of peak spawning phases, there are still a lot of late spawners hanging around shallow gravel bedding areas near backwater pockets and flats in bays off the main lake. Bass continue to bite well and anglers are landing good numbers. While a lot of fishermen are having trouble finding bigger fish that eclipse the 5 pound mark, the number of bites is keeping the interest level high. Outside bush lines and weedbeds were holding a lot of fish as were some roadbeds and the mouth of feeder creeks. Tossing spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms and lizards were appealing as were shallow running crankbaits in the chartreuse/black, Tennessee shad, and bone colors. Some bass have begun showing up on main lake ledges and drop-offs in mouth of big bays where anglers are tossing big crankbaits and Carolina rigged lizards. And, those big 9-inch worms rigged Texas style will begin producing some bigger bites soon as rising surface temps will see more fish relate to ledges by next week. Since lake levels have dropped back to summer pool and weather is warming watch for the ledge bite to improve. Catfish were coming in from a variety of locations this week as bluegill fishermen were still tying into some dandies while working shallow spots. However, those rocky banks have also given up some fish this week as the big females have related well to the crevices for spawning sites. Nightcrawlers and chicken livers were working well. Bank fishermen were also landing a few from rip-rap levees on the east side of the Paris Landing Bridge and both sides of Danville railroad levee up the Tennessee River. As stability returned this week anglers are finding fish back on normal patterns and locations after quite a spell of “here today and gone tomorrow” behavior. It is indeed a different lake out there now compared to the last several weeks when every day was different. Kentucky Lake has many faces and it’s good to see that normal smile return!
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