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Archived Fishing Report

Lake Levels Recede; Current Returns for Bass and Catfish Anglers

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 07/08/2015

Kentucky Lake’s summer fishing scene saw rising lake levels greet anglers this past week, which is a bit unusual for this time of year. However, lake stages crested on Tuesday and a gradual drawdown is underway, which means current will be present for several days along the main Tennessee River channel.
TVA has increased discharge rates the last few days after a series of thunderstorms across the region dropped a lot of water both north and south of the Kentucky Lake region.
Lake levels jumped more than two feet above normal summer pool late last week. TVA projects a reading of 361.7 at Kentucky Dam as the weekend approaches. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation will be in the 361.6 range. Falling lake stages will continue for several days until TVA pulls the reservoir back down to its normal curve, which sees a gradual fall and winter drawdown begin each year in early July.
Surface temperatures have been in the 83 to 86 degree range. Water color has some stain in the main river channel due to runoff but clear throughout the Big Sandy area around Paris Landing.
Both catfishermen and bass anglers should benefit this week from increased current along the Tennessee River channel. Current seems to stimulate baitfish activity and that will spread up the food chain.
Catfish action should improve as fish transition back toward the main river channel after moving up during the recent phase of rising lake levels. Odds are anglers will do well while targeting the edge of the main channel and looking for submerged cuts or irregular turns in the riverbank that might break the flow and create underwater eddies where catfish will hide and wait for baitfish washed their way.
Some fish have been taken this week on the down current side of bridge piers at the Ned McWherter Bridge at Paris Landing. Nightcrawlers, chicken liver, cut shad and catalpa worms have been popular baits.
Bass action should improve for main lake ledge fishermen in the days ahead since current is working in their favor. Falling lake levels will keep current in the picture for several days and that should stimulate shad school movement and trigger the ledge bite.
Once current enters the picture it seems to stir up sediments, along with algae and plankton, which increases roaming from schools of baitfish. Anglers keying in on the down current sides of main lake ledges or deep structure should benefit as will shallow water patterns.
Not only does the deeper bite improve but shallow structure around main river island rims where aquatic vegetation is present will also be worthy spots as schools of pin minnows will be congregated. Tossing Texas rigged worms, topwater and spinnerbaits should be productive.
Deep water presentations will see the big deep diving crankbaits appeal, along with big spoons, 9 and 10-inch Texas rigged worms, swim baits, jig and craw combos and Carolina or Alabama rigs increase in appeal.
Summer crappie are still hitting as anglers have done pretty good lately while vertical fishing jigs tipped with either live shiner minnows or Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles. The fish have been relating to structure in the 14 to 16 foot depth range, with a few fish taken on the deep sides of main lake ledges in 17 to 20 foot depths.
A few scattered bluegill and bass were taken earlier this week along shallow shorelines where mayflies hatched during a series of thunderstorms. More hatches should continue in the weeks ahead.
Dodging a few thunderstorms is part of the summer fishing scene so keep an eye in the sky and use common sense but error on the side of caution.

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Geese in Flight
Photo by Murray Blake

These Canadian geese are just beginning their yearly migration south to avoid the long, cold winter. They will return in spring to the welcoming waterways of the Kentucky Lakes Area.