Low Lake Levels Require Caution From Fall Fisherman
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 10/09/2014
It’s that time of year. Kentucky Lake’s elevation falls near its low ebb each fall but this past week it seems to have dropped a bit ahead of schedule and that requires boaters to beware. I’ve been on the lake daily and witnessed a lot of boaters throwing caution to the wind as they took shortcuts across shallow flats and neglected to follow channel markers. Some were lucky; others had to be towed in once they smacked a shallow stump or rocky bottom that damaged their outboard’s lower unit. Fall is a beautiful time to be on Kentucky Lake and you can enjoy great fishing and beautiful scenery if you pay attention to channel markers and don’t take shortcuts in the open water unless you know exactly where you are. Each year about this time many boaters unfamiliar with the area pay a high price when their boat and motor receive damage from a shallow water encounter. Many are unfamiliar with the annual drawdown of lake levels which are part of TVA’s schedule to create more storage capacity in the reservoir. Just because you’re a long way from shore doesn’t mean deep water here! Better slow it down unless you know the terrain. Otherwise, your fishing trip could be a very expensive lesson. Meanwhile, the fall fishing scene has been pretty good this week after a cold front last weekend moved out but not before delivering some gusty winds. Cooler conditions took over for a few days but normal temperatures returned at midweek as southwest winds delivered a warm-up. Surface temps this week started out in the 71 degree range but warmed to the 73 to 74 range at midweek. Water color remains clear as not much rain has entered the reservoir. Lake levels are down a few inches from last week at this time. TVA projects an elevation of 354.9 this weekend at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville readings will be in the 354.6 range. The reservoir was actually a few inches lower earlier in the week but rose slightly at midweek yet still remains near winter pool level. Crappie fishing showed some improvement this week as fish seemed to respond favorably to cooler surface temps in the aftermath of last Saturday’s cold front. However, anglers had to battle high winds for several days, a scenario that’s unusual for fall fishing. By midweek winds were calm and a lot of anglers were out and about partaking of the great weather. Fish were taken in 7 to 10 foot stakebeds at times, especially when cloud cover helped filter the bright light. Several fish were holding in the midrange depths of 10 to 13 feet this week too as some deeper fish seem to be moving up. It’s not unusual to find a few fish still holding on the deep sides of the drop-offs in 17 to 19 foot depths as long as warm weather remains. A little rain and cooler conditions could see more fish move toward shallow structure by this weekend and into next week. Bass action has been spotty with several patterns paying off. However, anglers are finding it a challenge to locate big fish as numbers have diminished lately. Several small fish have moved up on gravel banks and around shallow stumps and grassbeds. A few boats have been pitching craws and jigs around boat docks while others are tossing shallow running crankbaits and spinnerbaits around roadbeds, grassbeds, and sloping gravel banks. Some topwater action has been underway as well and should be even more productive as rainy mornings or fog enters the picture. Main lake ledges are still holding a few bass too and anglers are working them with crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, jigs and swimbaits. More bass continue to transition toward shallow areas as surface temps cool and shad move up. Fall colors are already fading but appear to be about a week to ten days away from their peak if not more. It is indeed a great time to be out there!
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