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Archived Fishing Report

Fall Crappie Bite Continues; Bass Action Slow; Lake Levels Fall Slowly

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 09/22/2011

Fall fishing officially starts Friday. According to the calendar the seasons have now traded places and autumn angling is alive and well thanks to some nice weather lately that has worked in favor of fishermen.

Light winds and mild temperatures have been the norm this week after some heavy rains drenched a thirsty region last weekend and actually delivered some runoff into Kentucky Lake and swelled lake levels a bit.
While the reservoir has been somewhat above normal elevation for over a week now it is falling slowly after a brief surge from thunderstorms the dropped a lot of water to our south.
Lake levels are projected to be 357.2 at both Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville as the weekend approaches. The level is still more than a foot above normal for this time of year and TVA will continue to pull water this next week in an attempt to get the reservoir back down to its winter drawdown curve.
Surface temps this week have remained in the 75 degree range and have not fluctuated much. Water color is clear in the main lake area of Big Sandy with a little stain present in the main Tennessee River channel area. Once cooler nights return surface temps will drop slowly.
Fall crappie have been hitting pretty good this week as light winds and cloudy days have delivered nice fishing conditions, allowing anglers to work open water areas of their choice. Good numbers of fish are being caught and it’s not unusual to land a lot of crappie just shy of the 10-inch legal length limit this time of year. 
That two and a half year class is pretty strong and it takes crappie about three years to cross over the 10-inch mark here. Thus, anglers are finding a lot of fish in that 9 ½ to 9 ¾ -inch range but there are indeed several eclipsing the magic mark with a few slabs mixed in at times that keep the fishing trip interesting.
A lot of fish are residing in that 9 to 13 foot depth range. Stakebeds and brushpiles in that depth zone are attracting a lot of crappie but some anglers are finding a few lingering around drop-offs in 15 to 17 foot depths too.
I’ve had several days where the boat landed big numbers of fish and while we’ve been culling several it has been a pretty good start to the fish fishing season. There are enough keepers to make it well worth the trips and each day a few dandy size fish have been taken, not to mention some hefty catfish at times sharing the crappie beds with hungry bluegill as well.
Popular jig colors have been chartreuse variations and while tipping jigs with minnows has worked at times, the fish have shown a preference for Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles.
Crappie should hold up well in the upcoming weeks so don’t let this good fall season pass you by. 
Bass continue to have a sluggish attitude toward anglers as diminished weights have been coming in for weekend tournament anglers and weekday fishermen just cranking and churning for fun.
A few small fish are schooling around the shallow sides of drop-offs out on the main lake and busting shad on the surface at times.
Several boats are still banging away at summer patterns and fishing main lake ledges with big crankbaits and Carolina rigs. However, the larger fish are quite scattered as anglers are having trouble putting together a pattern most days.
Shad colored crankbaits are producing a few fish as anglers work gravel banks and sloping points. Chrome and blue Rattle Trap style lures are working too as are a few suspending jerk baits.
Some success has come from anglers working shallow roadbeds and rip-rap at times. 
Catfish action seem to improve this week along the main river channel as current has been present and will continue into next week as TVA pulls water through Kentucky Dam.

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Photo by Libby Mundy

This male eastern bluebird is looking for an insect to munch on. Easily spotted by binoculars, the males are bluer than the females which are mostly grey in color.