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Archived Fishing Report

Crappie/Bass Bite Good Despite Warm Weather; Fish Transition Toward Summer Pattern

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 06/01/2011

Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene is holding up well for crappie and bass anglers despite warm weather arriving a bit early. 
Surface temps are up a few degrees from last week at this time and resting in the 78 to 80 degree range. Water color is clearing across most of the reservoir with small pockets of stain along the main river islands and shorelines. Overall the water color is good for fishing.
Lake levels are down slightly from last week and expected to be in the 358.9 range at Kentucky Dam as the weekend approaches. Upstream at New Johnsonville readings are projected to be in the 358.7 range.
Bass are already backing off some shallow shorelines and falling back to drop-offs and some main lake ledges, although you can still get a lot of bites around shallow grassbeds and island blow-downs where an abundance of treelaps await you.
In the aftermath of this year’s high water and recent storms there are ample trees that fell in the lake during high winds and soon schools of pin minnows will be holding in the visible structure where tossing a spinnerbait, floating worm, topwater lure or Texas rigged worm or crawfish will garner lots of bites.
A lot of buck bushes and grass that was holding fish last week is a bit too shallow now since the reservoir is slightly below summer pool elevation. However, some fish are staying on the outside weedlines and also around deeper gravel points but will move up into shallow shoreline cover in the early morning and late afternoon periods of low light conditions.
Watch for the ledge bite to improve as bass back off the banks and take on a summer pattern where big deep diving crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, jig and pig combos, and Carolina rigs increase in appeal. Summer doesn’t officially arrive until June 21st but the fish will be in a summer mode long before that.
Crappie have been improving lately and the June bite is pretty good already. Several fish have been taken recently from the midrange depths of 9 to 14 feet. A few fish were also found on the edge of drop-offs where structure was found right on the break.
June crappie fishing often sees decent numbers of fish return to a structure-oriented pattern and that appears to be taking place now as fish are relating to brush, stumps and stakebeds. Crappie action is definitely better than last month’s high water saga.
Anglers are tipping jigs with minnows and also offering up just jigs tipped with Berkley Powerbait. Popular choices have been tube skirts, hair jigs, and sleek minnow style imitations in the 1/16-ounce leadhead range. Some productive colors have been dull chartreuse with red metal flake or sliver sparkle, blue/chartreuse, white/red, and some purple/clear sparkle, just to name a few.
In addition to vertical presentations over manmade fish attractors techniques such as trolling crankbaits over main lake ledges has worked well. A few boats were slow trolling multi-pole rigs baited with both live minnows and jigs over structure and finding fish this week.
Crappie anglers are scoring decent catches and many are hitting the water in the early morning hours to beat the heat. Expect the crappie bite to hold up good throughout June as the fish are back to a normal pattern since lake levels settled down.
Bluegill and shellcracker are still being caught but it’s clear peak spawning phases have peaked. A few males are lingering around bedding areas but more smaller fish and thin females are moving into areas where only big bulls were residing up until last week.
It has been very good spring for big bluegill and there have been intervals of hefty catches of shellcracker as well. Once spawning phases pass the fish begin to back off the gravel bedding spots and occupy boat docks, steep gravel banks, bridge piers and such.
You can still find some decent fish mixed in so grab some crickets or worms and toss out the light spinning tackle for some fast action. You may have to cull a few small ones now and then but it’s still fun to see the bobbers disappear.
Catfish were still hanging around some rock bluffs, rip-rap levees and bridge piers but showing signs of backing off the banks as well. A few anglers were begging to try jug fishing as well.
Although some hot weather entered the picture this week you can hit the lake in the early morning or late afternoon hours or perhaps catch a cloudy day with light breezes to find good fishing. Sometimes the weatherman paints a picture of doom and gloom and accents the temperature extremes with warnings of all sorts but remember; most weathermen aren’t fishermen!

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In Flight
Photo by John Mitchell

Gliding gracefully over the water, this heron keeps a stealthy eye out for his next meal. Herons are one of the more common species of birds that can be seen at Kentucky Lake.