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Archived Fishing Report

Changing Lake Levels/Rainy Days Greet Anglers

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 05/27/2015

Kentucky Lake’s elevation swelled more than a foot above normal summer pool level this week in the aftermath of heavy rains across the region.
Lake levels continue to change on a daily basis after cresting at midweek in the 360.4 range, which is some 18-inches above the normal 359 summer pool mark. TVA began pulling water after Wednesday’s crest and is dropping the lake a few inches each day.
Projections for the weekend indicate the reservoir will be in the 359.8 in the Kentucky Dam area as the weekend approaches. Upstream in the New Johnsonville area lake levels will be a bit lower as the forecast predicts a reading of 359.4.
Anglers can expect quite a bit of current in the main Tennessee River channel in the days ahead. That should work in favor of bass fishermen working main lake ledges and catfishermen as well along the main channel banks.
Water color is in pretty good shape for fishermen across most of the reservoir with some stain in the upper ends of creeks and up Big Sandy as well. Main lake areas in the Paris Landing sector remain clear, although some stain is present in the main river channel.
Surface temperatures this week remain in the 73 to 75 degree range, which is a bit below normal for this time of year. Water temps reflect the cool cloudy days and rain that have dominated the weather scene.
Bass anglers hoping to win tournaments are pounding main lake ledges as the summer pattern has been working for a few fishermen for several weeks now. Despite cool conditions the winning stringers are coming from drop-offs where anglers are tossing big deep diving crankbaits, jig and craw combos, huge swim baits, Carolina rigged craws and lizards and big 10-inch Texas rigged worms are a few of the top choices.
Not all the ledges are full of bass as it is a hit and miss game out there. Anglers are using updated sonar units with high definition and side imaging features to survey the humps and deeper venues. Finding schools of bait fish or bass parking in a suspended spot waiting to ambush helps boaters eliminate dead water.
Higher lake levels may contribute more to the shallow bite right now as a lot of pin minnows are hanging out around weeds, trees and bushes. Island rims are holding fish as well as a lot of the shallow habitat has abundant water on it.
Tossing a spinnerbait, Texas rigged worm and craws or various topwater presentations are working well.
It’s that time of year when Kentucky Lake has a lot of different patterns going on at the same time---both shallow and deep---so anglers can pick and choose their weapons.
Crappie continue to improve and midrange stakebeds and brushpiles in the 12 to 15 foot depths are paying off lately. A day or two of thunderstorms and windy conditions threw anglers off balance and kept them from venturing to main lake areas. The recent fluctuation may throw a curve and scatter fish for a few days but look for crappie to pull back to structure in the days ahead once lake levels recede a bit.
Live minnow presentations have been paying off as have jigs tipped with minnows and Berkley Power Bait.
Catfish have been taken in good numbers this week and moved up pretty shallow at times as they tend to roam when lake levels are rising. The rocky banks have given up hefty catches lately as fish were still spawning in the crevices but look for fish to drop back to deeper areas soon as the post-spawn phase takes over and they move back off the banks.
Current will be factor in the days ahead as some catfish will likely fall back to the river channel areas.
Bluegill and shellcracker action seemed to back off this week as fish were sluggish to bite and did not appear to be fanning or guarding bedding areas like they were last week. That’s not surprising given some cooler days and rising levels but action should improve with another full moon arriving next Tuesday.
A second wave of spawning activity should occur and the bite improve in the days ahead. There’s usually another surge in bluegill action as fish return to bedding areas and fan their craters. A few shellcracker should return to shallow weeds and bushes, although the second wave is usually not quite as dramatic as the early May blitz.

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Bison Herd
Photo by Libby Mundy

Visitors to the Elk and Bison Prairie in Land Between The Lakes can almost always catch a glimpse of some bison. They are most frequently seen early in the morning and in the late afternoon.