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Archived Fishing Report

Full Moon Shines on Bedding Bluegill; Lake Levels (Finally) Back to Normal

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 05/23/2013

For the first time this spring Kentucky Lake is resting at normal summer pool level. Last year the reservoir never reached summer pool during prime spring fishing due to drought conditions and this year it’s been higher than a hawk’s nest for quite a spell.
The fishing scene has been good this week for those bronze bombers, better known as bull bream,  who have been actively bedding for the last three weeks but watch for action to really peak this weekend as another full moon will coincide with the popular Memorial holiday weekend.
Bass have held up well too and numerous success stories continue to come in from anglers tossing a variety of lures in several different patterns. Crappie perked up too as more fish are pulling back to midrange depths and showing an interest to hide around structure now that changing lake stages have quit throwing them off.
Catfish are still hitting good and in the spawning phase as they prowl around bluegill beds and move up toward rocky banks to spawn.
After a few days of thunderstorms and unruly winds, weather conditions have settled down and it appears some good fishing days are in the forecast. When you mix good weather with stable lake levels the combination should produce some good fishing for a wide variety of anglers this next week.
Lake levels are projected to be stable going into the weekend at both Kentucky Dam and upstream in the New Johnsonville sector. TVA predicts a normal supper pool reading of 359 at Kentucky Dam and 359.1 at New Johnsonville. 
Surface temperatures have been hanging around the 69 to 72 degree range this week. Water color is clear throughout most of Big Sandy with a slight stain remaining throughout the main Tennessee River and its bays but a good overall color for fishing.
While several species are biting the leader of the pack is none other than the territorial bull bluegill and shellcracker that have really gone on a spring fling this week. The fish are actively fanning beds and spawning is underway as is usually the case in late May when the fish make another blitz during the full moon phase.
Good numbers of hefty size bluegill have been caught this week in 2 to 5 foot depths. Baits of choice have been crickets, wax worms and redworms but some fish are aggressive enough to bite artificial grubs and larva imitations as well.
Shellcracker seemed to reenter the picture this week with a vengeance as more were showing up than last week in the coolers of panfishermen working weedbeds, gravel bars and edges of buck bushes. The fish really moved with the falling water last week and vacated the premises from weeks earlier when high water had inundated shoreline cover. 
Most of the bedding is now taking place in traditional zones that are just slightly off the shorelines and on those gravel and mud mixed flats with a little submerged grass mix in too.
Bass action was good this week around the outside edges of buck bushes and weedbeds as falling lake levels pulled fish out of the thick cover. Places that were holding good fish last week are now without water or too shallow.
There is a lot of submerged eel type grass beginning to show up and fish are relating to it quite well. Tossing spinnerbaits, Texas rigged claws and worms, topwater jerk baits and fluke style choices have been productive as have some buzzbaits.
Some of the bigger stringers are coming from secondary sandbars and points where fish are pulling out and staging in a typical post-spawn pattern. Popular choices have been Carolina rigged craws, lizards, and worms along with big deep diving crankbaits and jig and pig combos.
The drop-offs protruding from main shorelines and spawning areas are holding lots of fish in the 7 to 12 foot depths, especially if deeper water is nearby.
With lake levels at summer pool or perhaps rising slightly in the days ahead due to rains upstream, the shallow bite should hold up well for quite some time. It’s that time of the year when a lot of fish will stay shallow but backing off the banks for bigger fish is a popular pattern as well.
Crappie improved this week as more fish were showing up in the stakebeds and brushpiles residing in 11 to 14 foot depths. Numbers should really improve in the weeks ahead as more fish leave the shallow shorelines to fall back to their late spring pattern after a long scattered spell. The extended period of high water really had fish roaming but watch for a significant improvement now that conditions are back to normal.
Catfishermen have enjoyed another good week as their favorite fish has really been on the prowl. Good numbers were taken around shallow bushes and weeds this week where the fish were no doubt feeding on bluegill fry and the other critters that feast on their eggs.
Rocky shorelines continue to attract big females that are egg laden and looking for crevices to deposit their bounty. Nightcrawlers have been the best bet lately but chicken livers and shad guts have worked too.
The overall fishing scene has been good this week across Kentucky Lake and next week looks promising thanks to a nice weather forecast and normal lake stages. From bedding bluegill to aggressive bass, seems several different species are in the mood to tangle with anglers as the unofficial kickoff to summer begins.
Here’s hoping you find the fish of your choice awaiting your arrival this week. Things look pretty good so don’t let anything interfere with your fishing plans. Time, tide and the fish wait on no man!

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Photo by Melodie Cunningham

When exploring the Elk and Bison Prairie in The Land Between The Lakes, it's always exciting to catch a glimpse of a bull like this one!