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Archived Fishing Report

Anglers Wave Goodbye To A Productive Spring

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 06/14/2012

Kentucky Lake’s late spring fishing scene has been a good one and anglers will officially enter the summer season next Wednesday. Hopefully, things won’t change much as summer patterns have been underway for quite some time and the overall report card has chalked up some high marks for bass, bluegill and crappie anglers as of late.
It has been a pretty nice week of weather with the exception of a thunderstorm that roared through late Monday afternoon and sent boaters scrambling toward shore as gale force winds blew everyone off the lake. However, most days have been pleasant for fishermen with light winds and some cloud cover helping out anglers.
Mayfly hatches were underway this week across the reservoir, although not massive like those of yesteryear when millions of flies used to descend on every nook and cranny. Still, practically every species of fish seem to benefit once this natural buffet occurs.
Surface temperatures this week stayed in the 78 to 81 degree range. Water color remains clear as very little runoff has entered the watershed.
Lake levels continue to sleep below their normal summer pool elevation of 359 on both Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. Just about all types of angler have learned to adjust and take it in stride but it has been different this spring, especially for those bass and bluegill fishermen who are accustomed to working shallow shoreline habitat.
Lake levels are pretty much the same as last week at this time. Elevation is projected to be in the 357.6 range at Kentucky Dam as the weekend approaches. Upstream at New Johnsonville readings will be 357.4. There has been slight current in the main river channel at times but basically, the Tennessee River has had low flow for several weeks running.
Summer crappie are biting good for anglers working the 11 to 14 foot depth zones where stakebeds and brushpiles have been producing decent numbers. While several small fish are sharing the midrange depth zones there are some good fish mixed right in there with them.
Baits of choice have ranged from jigs tipped with minnows to jigs tipped with Berkley crappie nibbles in the white, chartreuse or gold metal flake colors. Popular color combos have ranged from red/chartreuse to some white/orange, black/chartreuse, and blue/chartreuse variations.
Crappie action will likely hold up week for several more weeks until the summer doldrums arrive. Overall the June bite has been right on track but overlooked by most anglers who are missing out on this underrated period of the year.
A few scattered bluegill are showing up with hefty appetites as anglers are catching them in a variety of depths and locations, a typical scenario once bedding phases are in the rearview mirror and mayfly hatches occur. Some nice bluegill have moved out toward deeper crappie beds this week but a few remain near shallow flat and piers or boathouses where shade is available and mayflies are hitting the surface.
Catfish have been hanging out in midrange depths too and crappie anglers are tying into a few that are sharing the submerged structures. A few pontoons have been jug fishing and finding some activity back in the bays as their bait presentations drift across the midrange hangouts.
Bass anglers continue to reel in some dandy stringers from variety of locations and patterns. Ledge fishing is still paying dividends as hefty stringers were taken this week by those tossing big shad colored crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, and Carolina rigged worms and lizards. Hopping a jig and craw combo is still working too as are some spoons fished on the deeper sides of drop-offs.
While a lot of decent size fish are holding on the breaks or moving up at times to feed in the 10 to 12 foot zones, reports continue to credit deeper depths at times for producing some of the better fish taken in the tournament scene.
Close behind the ledge pattern has been the increasing popularity of the milfoil grassbed pattern that jumped into the limelight two weeks ago. While not much grass has been observed north of the White Oak or Harmon’s Creek sector, there appears to be increasing mats of the aquatic vegetation showing up in the New Johnsonville sector.
Anglers are tossing spinnerbaits, floating worms, jerk baits, Texas rigged worms, and Rattle Trap style lures wherever vegetation can be located. No doubt the bass are relating to the grass that is full of shad and bluegill forage.
Summer patterns for bass and crappie, along with other species, are about where they should be for this time of year and the overall fishing scene is holding up to its reputation as the transition of seasons takes place.
Spring is about to fade away and while it has been somewhat unusual, it will go down as a season that was kind to anglers providing some very good weather these last few months that resulted in a productive fishery. Odds are future springs will not be as nice as the one we’ve just enjoyed.

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Photo by Jennifer Dunnaway

This shy little turtle visited our campsite recently in Land Between The Lakes. There are several different species of turtles that can be seen near Kentucky Lake.