Summer Slabs Overlooked As Anglers Miss Out; Bass Action Good on Ledges; Mayfly Hatches Begin
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 06/19/2013
No dogwoods are blooming. Spring fever has come and gone. Spawning phases are history too. For those reasons and more the bulk of crappie fishermen overlook this late spring and early summer period when consistent stringers of can be taken in midrange depths. Lake levels are stable and weather patterns are predictable as the stubborn cold fronts and gale winds are gone. Kentucky Lake crappie have been right on time throughout most of June, occupying brushpiles and stakebeds in midrange depths of 12 to 15 feet. Vertical presentations of jigs tipped with minnows or Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles have paid big dividends lately yet not many anglers are taking advantage of the opportunities. Spring officially loses its grip this week and summer is slated to arrive Friday afternoon. While a few warm days are the norm this time of year, wise are the fishermen who rise and shine early, beating the heat when light winds and cloud cover team up for nice fishing conditions in the first half of the day. Each year the crappie stage in these midrange structures before moving out to deeper water once the real summer doldrums arrive. For several weeks the fishing is great as the crappie are staying put and really holding next to cover where anglers can depend on their whereabouts. It’s not unusual to catch and release a lot of fish as there is often a mixture of year classes using the same spots but there are ample numbers exceeding the 10-inch minimum length limit. And these summer crappie have an attitude and an appetite. Popular jig colors as of late have ranged from black/chartreuse to pink/chartreuse, white/blue with sparkles, black/red and motor oil with glitter just to name a few. Don’t let this good crappie time pass you by. As to bass action some nice stringers are being caught on a regular basis by anglers working main lake ledges. There has been a little current in the Tennessee River and that has helped ledge fishing. Working big crankbaits has been paying off as have Texas and Carolina rigged worms and craws. Some guys are hopping jig and craw combos too. Winning tournament stringers are weighing in the 20 to 21 pound range lately so good fish are still coming in. Popular crankbait choices have been Strike King’s XD series in chartreuse/blue, sexy shad, and gizzard shad colors. Bill Norman, Poe’s, and big Bandits have worked well too. Ledge fishing should hold up well for the next few weeks as summer patterns will keep some of the bigger fish schooling at times near deep water. The shallow shoreline and island rims are not out of the picture as small schools of pin minnows are now beginning to relate to shallow weeds, blowdowns and other shallow grassbeds and there are always some bass chasing bait in the shallows. Mayfly hatches began last week and should increase in frequency in the weeks ahead. Bass and bluegill always seem to hold near the trees where flies fall to the lake surface as this natural forage is attractive. Watch for a few bluegill to hold around islands and bridge piers as the hatches continues. Catfish have been hitting good too as they know the mayfly larva is hatching and providing an instant food source washed by the current. Some hefty stringers of channel cats were taken this week around the piers at Paris Landing bridge as current has stimulated the bite. Nightcrawlers have been the bait of choice. Lake levels have stayed around the normal summer pool mark this week. Elevation projected for the weekend at Kentucky Dam will be 359.1. Upstream at New Johnsonville TVA predicts an elevation of 359.2. Some heavy thunderstorms pushed through the area earlier this week and dropped a lot of rain in places but no significant changes in lake levels are expected. There is some stained water pushing through on the main Tennessee River but portions of Big Sandy remain clear in the Paris Landing area. Surface temperatures this week have been in the 80 to 83 degree range. As summer officially begins anglers are starting off the new season with nice catches of crappie, bass, and catfish.
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