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Archived Fishing Report

Rising Lake Levels Underway; Bass and Crappie Bite Holds Up

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 04/16/2015

Rain gear has been standard attire this week for fishermen as showers have dominated the fishing scene.
Kentucky Lake has been on the rise in the aftermath of heavy rains both locally and across the TVA valley. Despite changing conditions the bite has held up well for both bass and crappie anglers across most of the reservoir.
As the weekend approaches lake levels are somewhat above normal with projections of 358.5 for Kentucky Dam and 358.7 upstream at New Johnsonville. TVA’s normal curve doesn’t project the summer pool elevation of 359 until May 1 but sometimes the reservoir rises quickly when runoff enters the picture.
Lake levels are up about a foot from last week at this time. Surface temperatures are resting in the 65 to 67 degree range. Water color has some stain in the upper Big Sandy and West Sandy, along with several creeks such as Swamp and Eagle while the main area of Big Sandy is relative clear.
Crappie anglers had a pretty good week in the Paris Landing area and up Big Sandy. Fish have been somewhat finicky at times, however, as some north winds at midweek seemed to alter the aggressive activity enjoyed last weekend and earlier this week.
Yet a variety of techniques are still producing as fish are spawning in some areas and right on the threshold in others. Hefty females are being caught sporting a bulging profile. Most appear on the verge of spawning at any moment.
Temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid 70’s the next few days and rain will continue throughout the weekend. Sunny days are expected to return early next week and that should trigger a surge in spawning activity.
Up Big Sandy boats are still flogging to the Country Junction and New Hope area where long lining and spider rigging techniques are still producing. Depths of 4 to 8 feet have been productive as anglers troll Road Runners and curly tail jigs.
West Sandy has also given up a few fish as have the Swamp Creek and Sulphur Well Island area. And, the upper end of Big Sandy in the gravel pits sector is beginning to give up some shallow fish that just moved up in the last few days, although water color there could turn muddy if heavy rains continue.
Vertical style jig and minnow fishing has improved this week as anglers worked stakebeds and brushpiles in 8 to 14 foot depths. Some nice stringers were taken in the last few days around structure.
When fish are on the verge of spawning a lot of movement can take place in a short time frame. Activity can improve from morning to afternoon.
Last week some fish were taken in 5 to 6 foot depths but fish appeared to back out deeper at midweek despite rising lake levels. The cool snap and chilling north winds likely influenced the retreat.
Watch for a quick return to shallow areas by this weekend. Several dark male crappie were relating to shallow structure the last few days.
Although numbers have not been as high as in times past, some hefty fish have been taken lately such as a 3.10 pound slab that earned big fish honors in last week’s two day Crappie USA tournament. And, the winning stringers were right on the threshold of two pound averages for several teams in the competition.
Popular jig colors this week have ranged from blue/chartreuse to pink/chartreuse to several variations of sparkle but some sort of chartreuse seemed to be the preference.
Most anglers fishing manmade fish attractors are having to make a lot of stops to earn a cooler full of fish. Beds are giving up two or three fish with a few at times producing 4 to 6. However, some beds are void of fish at times so anglers are having to stay on the move and knock on a lot of doors.
Boats continue to troll the flats and main lake areas north and south of the power lines in Big Sandy with mediocre results as most of the larger catches are still coming from the upper Big Sandy area where fish are staging. Active spawning phases were beginning earlier this week and the days when light winds were present saw catches improve.
It’s not unusual to see fish scatter a bit when rising lake levels enter the picture and that appears to be happening now. Some bank fishermen were scoring decent catches last weekend and boaters were casting jigs around gravel and submerged structure in shallow areas and finding fish but that approach seem to fall off at midweek when cool conditions and rain dampened the spirits of shallow water style fishermen.
Just how much high the reservoir will go remains to be seen as heavy rains were expected as the weekend approaches.
Bass fishermen continue to land some trophy size fish. Ray Boucher of Memphis fishes Big Sandy at times and reported an 11-pound plus bass taken last week. Another 11-pound plus largemouth was taken in Leatherwood Creek last week.
Patterns are changing quickly as rising lake levels bring more fish to shallow shoreline habitat. In the last few days those popular yellow flowers that grow along shallow shorelines and near buck bushes are beginning to attract prespawn fish.  
Tossing a spinnerbait, Texas rigged worms, lizards and craws, or topwater buzzbaits and jerk baits will produce around those shallow flower beds and assorted stickups.
Some of the bigger fish have been taken from gravel points and banks on crankbaits and jig and craw combos, along with Rattle Trap style lures along shorelines and up in pockets where water is a bit warmer and runoff is entering the reservoir via feeder creeks.
The bass picture is changing daily as fish are now being caught in places that were almost high and dry last week or too shallow to fish. Upper ends of creeks are dingy as feeder ditches have been delivering a lot of runoff.
No doubt shad are moving up quickly and blitzing toward the newly inundated grass and shoreline habitat. Bass know it and are staging just off the shorelines following the fresh water’s journey.
It should be an interesting week ahead for both bass and crappie anglers as it appears warm sunny days and rising lake levels will soon meet.

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Photo by Melodie Cunningham

This coyote stares down a local photographer in the Land Between The Lakes area. Coyotes are quite common in this region.