Explore Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley Fishing
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Contact Us About Us
Switch Mobile/Desktop

Archived Fishing Report

Anxious Anglers Embrace Spring Weather; Rapid Change Underway

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 03/12/2015

Snow and ice are long gone. Rising temperatures have replaced bone chilling winds and spring is fast approaching. It officially arrives on Friday of next week.
Spring like weather is already here, however, as temperatures this week climbed into the upper 50’s and low 60’s and more warm weather is in the forecast for next week. Anglers are anxious.
Kentucky Lake fishermen enjoyed some nice days lately on the lake as winds have been light and southern breezes chased away what’s left of winter. Pleasant fishing conditions have been long overdue as most of February and the lion’s share of March have been mean but things are changing quickly.
With the rising temperatures have come rising lake levels. Melting snow and heavy rains across the region earlier this week fell on an already saturated watershed, a scenario that has seen a lot of runoff enter the Tennessee River drainage.
TVA has done a good job lately of flushing water through Kentucky Dam as lake levels haven’t changed too much until this week. Normal lake levels this time of year usually have the reservoir resting around the 355 range.
Under normal conditions TVA holds the reservoir at or near the low ebb of winter pool until April 1. That is the starting date for TVA to begin a slow climb toward summer pool elevation of 359, with a target date of May 1 each year.
Lake stages have been rising the last few days in the aftermath of flooding conditions to our south. There is a lot of current in the main Tennessee River channel as TVA is discharging a large volume of water and that’s likely to continue for several more days.
Projected elevation for the weekend at Kentucky Dam will be 355.5 range but upstream in the New Johnsonville sector lake levels have swollen above the 357 range. That shows a significant flow coming through the system.
Dingy water color is dominant across most of Kentucky Lake, although the mouth of Big Sandy around the Paris Landing area is sporting a pretty good color for fishing. Elsewhere muddy water is present along the entire Tennessee River channel and throughout most of the bays and flats up Big Sandy and up into West Sandy near Springville pumphouse.
Surface temperatures are in the 45 to 47 degree range, which is up a few degrees from last week at this time. Expect stained water conditions to remain in the backs of bays and shallow creeks for several more days.
Crappie have been sluggish in the aftermath of last week’s messy weather and the combination of dingy water and rising lake levels but watch for significant improvement each day as warmer weather descends with positive effect on overall fishing scene.
Dingy water warms quicker than clear water and fish will often move up toward shallow zones during rising lake levels, especially when it coincides with warmer weather. Fish have been scattered the last few days for most anglers, which is not unusual given the rising reservoir.
Some boats have been working main lake ledges and tightlining jigs and minnows on drop-offs but fish have been a bit hard to come by in the deeper venues. Some boats pulling jigs or spider-rigs have fared better as they are covering a lot of water and likely finding suspended fish that are roaming.
A few reports of shallow crappie have come in as anglers cast jigs and minnows around shallow structure. Depths of 3 to 5 feet have produced a few fish. And, some bank fishermen at Springville pumphouse have landed decent numbers lately as water from the West Sandy bottom flows into the main lake area through the pumphouse discharge.
A few crappie were also taken by bank fishermen at the Big Sandy culvert this week. Water has been flowing through the culvert all week and that usually attract fish to the headwaters.
The next week to ten days will see a lot of movement as crappie transition toward their prespawn phase. Many anglers are asking what effect this month’s cold weather will have on the timetable for spawning? Odds are the spawn will be pushed back a bit to the traditional early to mid-April range as there have been times in the past when the biological clock got ahead of itself and fish began the annual ritual in late March.
That will not happen this year as surface temps have a lot of warming up to do but watch for rapid change in the overall fishery next week as the weatherman indicates temps will be in the low to mid 60’s all of next week.
Bass action is on the rebound with some shallow fish moving up on roadbeds, gravel points and rocky banks. Popular lure selections have been loud colored crankbaits such as firetiger and several assorted fluorescent shades of orange, red and chartreuse.
The backs of bays are muddy in places and bass have been moving up to shallow feeder ditches that empty runoff into the lake. No doubt shad and crawfish have been stirred up by the incoming runoff in places and the muddy water calls for unusual color choices for crankbaits.
Some rip-rap shorelines have also produced bass lately. March is a month known to give up some of the Kentucky Lake’s biggest bass as the females really put on the feed bag as their prespawn phase draws near.
Better get ready; things are about to break loose here on the big pond!

More Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports

Now That You're 'Hooked' on Fishing... Come See Us!

If you've dug this deep in our Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley fishing reports, you are probably just itching to come down and visit the South's biggest lakes.  Get started by finding that perfect place to stay!  Find a Kentucky Lake cabin or a Lake Barkley campground, a full-service resort or a marina.  Heck, there are even dozens of hotels off the water to choose from! 

Don't have a boat?  No worries!  Bank fishing is always an option for panfish. But if you're heart is set on largemouth or smallmouth, you can rent a fishing boat at many of our local resorts!

The perfect place to start looking for a place to stay at Kentucky or Barkley Lakes?  Right here on our main lodging page.

Shy Doe
Photo by J. Kent Harmon

The dense forests in Land Between The Lakes make the perfect hiding place for deer and other native species. You never know who might be peeking at you from the treeline.