Mayfly Hatches Underway; Current Helps Bass/Crappie Scene
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 06/12/2014
After a somewhat turbulent start, the fishing scene on Kentucky Lake is slowly returning to normal and anglers have enjoyed some nice catches of bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. Thunderstorms late last week dumped a lot of rain on the region and more rainy days entered the picture earlier this week, sending a lot of runoff into the reservoir that brought a slight surge in lake levels. Kentucky Lake’s elevation jumped more than a foot after regional flooding but crested and began falling slowly at midweek. The reservoir crested at 360.3 at Kentucky Dam and was higher than that in the New Johnsonville area for a few days. TVA’s forecast going into the weekend shows a steady drop now underway and lake levels should be back near the normal summer pool mark of 359 by early next week, barring any additional rain. Surface temperatures are in the 79 to 82 degree range and water color is clear in the main lake but has some dingy water in the upper end of a few bays. Mayflies ought to be called Juneflies around these parts as that’s when this natural phenomenon first occurs. I saw the first hatch of Mayflies---or willow flies as they are commonly called here in the South---last weekend in the Paris Landing area. Anglers can expect more hatches to occur in the weeks ahead and this biological mystery often appears overnight, especially in the aftermath of a thunderstorm. No doubt the low pressure triggers the hatch and this natural buffet is appealing to all species of fish. From bass to bluegill, seems all fish pull up a chair to mother nature’s buffet as some fish feed on the larva stage as they emerge from the lake bottom while others put on a feeding frenzy as the adult flies fall from overhanging trees and bushes to the lake surface. I often recall fond memories fishing beneath the massive Mayfly hatches with my dad here on Kentucky Lake. It was a little bit of Heaven for a kid with a flyrod, catching fish after fish as they smacked the surface and hit the popping bug or the slow sinking nymph tied a few inches behind. You can still have some fun with light tackle and catch a lot of assorted sunfish or tie into some nice bass that find the flies and feed on not only the hatch but other baitfish that show up to the feeding trough. Crappie have really improved this week and some nice stringers have been taken around submerged stakebeds and brushpiles in the 10 to 15 foot range. This June crappie gig is the real deal. Rising lake level this week combined with several days of cloud cover stimulated the midrange bite. Increased numbers of fish had moved up and several were taken back in bays, a likely response to rising lake levels that brought a lot of baitfish to shallow water. Vertical fishing jigs tipped with minnows and Berkley crappie nibbles have paid consistent dividends. Popular jig skirt colors have ranged from black/red combos to chartreuse with red glitter fished on neutral colored leadheads. Expect a few more weeks of good June crappie fishing before fish move to deeper summer venues. Watch for the fish to pull back closer to deep water in the days ahead as falling lake levels influence their locations. Bass fishing continues to hold up well and several fish were taken around shallow structure this week courtesy of higher lake elevation that inundated shoreline buck bushes, willow trees and abundant grassbeds. Tossing spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms and various topwater lures have worked well. Some anglers are pitching and flipping bushes in the backs of bays and also along river islands. Current entered the picture at midweek and that’s helped put baitfish on island points the last few days. At the same time the ever popular main lake ledges are still producing hefty fish as anglers continue to pound the drop-offs with big deep diving crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, Carolina and Alabama rigs and jig and craw combos. The bite should be good for the next several days as current will be a factor for ledge fishermen and work in their favor. Catfishermen now have current in the main river and the fish have responded favorably. Some dandies have been taken on the main river channel and around bridge piers. Baits of choices have been cut shad, turkey or chicken livers, nightcrawlers, leeches, and some big minnows. A few late bedding bluegill are still biting too and working the mayfly hatches will be another good pattern in the weeks ahead. A full moon arrives Friday and that might stimulate some bluegill activity. It has been a week of wind and thunderstorms, along with above normal lake stages. Despite the challenges the overall fishing scene has been good.
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