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Archived Fishing Report

Thunderstorms/Rising Lake Levels Alter Fishing Scene

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 06/29/2011

Anglers, campers, marinas and more have to asking why high lake levels are returning as another popular holiday for lakers approaches. Back during the Memorial Day time frame lake levels were out of proportion and inundating ramps and camp spots and while the lake is not as high as the mayhem in May, it will be almost two feet above normal as the Fourth of July holiday arrives.
Heavy rains have drenched the area lately and a series of thunderstorms apparently caught TVA off guard as lake levels will be in the 360.8 at Kentucky Dam and upstream at New Johnsonville Steam Plant as the weekend approaches. That reading is almost two feet above normal summer pool and will impact some low lying campgrounds and access ramps to docks and marinas.
Meanwhile, shallow shoreline habitat has reentered the picture for bass fishermen as a lack of current this week seemed to diminish the main lake ledge pattern that had been paying dividends for summer bass anglers. While a few fish were lingering on the drop-offs it appears the pattern began changing late last weekend and earlier this week as more fish are relating to weedbeds, trees, and buck bushes on river islands and in the bigger creeks.
Pitching a Texas rigged craw or lizard imitation has worked well the last few days around some visible habitat as have blue/chartreuse skirted spinnerbaits sporting gold willow leaf blades. And some floating worms and buzzbaits have also produced some topwater action.
There were some larger fish taken this week by anglers flipping a jig and pig combo around bushes and trees as well.
Carolina rigged worms and lizards, along with big deep diving crankbaits had been producing quite well on main lake ledges but some windy days mixed with rising lake levels hampered anglers. Cooler surface temps also made some shallow areas appeal.
Also working in favor of some shallow cover have been the arrival pin minnows that are now schooling around grass and bushes.
Surface temps are actually cooler now than they were in early June when hot weather dominated for a week or two. Readings this week were in the 81 to 84 degree range. Water color in the main lake is clear but some dingy water is present in a few shallow areas courtesy of high winds and rainfall runoff.
Mayflies have been hatching in portions of Kentucky Lake as well, which brings another food source to the table for shallow bass and bluegill.
Watch for lake levels to begin falling after the holiday weekend passes, which will stimulate activity on ledges again soon. Until then, bass anglers may enjoy some unusual shallow shoreline fishing in early July.
With the exception of a few stormy days earlier this week when lake levels jumped the bass fishing has been pretty good. However, high winds and dark clouds full of lightning sure do dictate your route.
Crappie are still biting pretty good with some nice size fish showing up. There are still fish holding in midrange depths of 10 to 15 feet but seemed to be more scattered than last week at this time. However, the rising lake levels and cooler conditions may well see a few fish head back to such areas which they were beginning to abandon in favor of deeper drop-offs.
Jigs tipped with Berkley crappie nibbles were producing bites as were jigs tipped with minnows and must plain minnow presentations. Stakebeds and brushpiles out on the main lake were producing best this week but watch for activity to increase next week on those deeper ledges once lake levels start falling.
Bluegill were biting in a variety of depths and annoying crappie anglers trying to fish the deeper structure. Those “machine gun” style strikes were knocking jig and minnows on a regular basis as the bluegill seemed to be fired up as mayfly larva emerged from the lake bottom.
A few bluegill were hanging around bushes and weedbeds near river islands and also along steeper banks of bays where adult mayflies were falling into the water. Tossing a cricket or redworm beneath a bobber will put you in touch with a variety of species ranging from the ever popular yellow bass to long ear sunfish and bluegill. And, you can tie into a largemouth or catfish around the mayflies too.
Some catfish are roaming the shallow shorelines and flats back in bays this week due to the rising lake levels. Seems the catfish quickly go on prowl once lake levels rise as they follow that new forage base. Jugging has been a popular technique lately for hefty stringers. Nightcrawlers, chicken liver, and assorted commercial stink baits have been the cat’s meow.
With higher lake levels things are a little different but watch for increased activity around shallow shorelines for a few more days until hot weather and falling lake levels pull fish back to their typical summer pattern.

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Photo by Melodie Cunningham

This pileated woodpecker is one of the more common woodpecker species in North America. It is also one of the largest forest birds in the region.