Explore Kentucky Lake

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

Archived Fishing Report

Lake Level Slowly Returns to Normal; Summer Crappie Bite Decent

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 07/20/2015

Kentucky Lake anglers should see the reservoir return to normal elevation by this weekend after some two weeks of above average readings due to heavy rains across the TVA valley.
A slow but steady drawdown has been underway the last several days. Projections for the weekend will see the reservoir resting in the 358.6 range in the Kentucky Dam area with a similar reading upstream at New Johnsonville.
Lake levels had been more than a foot above normal this week and another foot higher than that two weeks ago. Surface temperatures are starting the day off in the 85 degree range but climbing to 89 at midday.
Water color is in good shape for fishing with a slight stain in the main Tennessee River channel but clear elsewhere across the reservoir.
Summer crappie have been hitting pretty good as anglers are finding jigs tipped with minnows to be quite appealing. Several fish are relating to structure in the 14 to 16 foot depth range. Stakebeds and brushpiles are holding fish in the midrange depths, although some good ones have been taken on the deep sides of drop-offs too.
Tightlining jigs or bottom bumping minnow rigs have accounted for some decent stringers in the 17 to 20 foot depth range.
A few boats are slow trolling crankbaits along main lake ledges with mediocre results. Seems most of the summer crappie are favoring that live minnow these days, although tipping a jig with Berkley power bait is still producing as well.
Most anglers are hitting the water early and finding decent action lasting until midday. Seems the bites slows some once the bright sun bears down at midday and the heat increases but several mornings have offered cloud cover and light breezes making for nice fishing conditions.
Catfish were still lingering in midrange depths earlier in the week as crappie anglers continue to tie into a few, which is a nice surprise as they sure test your tackle.
Current continues to work in favor of catfishermen working the main river channel. The falling lake levels have been slow but just about right for drifts along the channel bank.
Depths of 25 to 35 feet have harbored several catfish lately and a few fish deeper at times. Popular baits continue to be nightcrawlers, chicken liver, cut shad and some big minnows.
Bass fishing has been fair with main lake ledges still giving up plenty of fish for those tossing swim baits, big deep diving crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, huge spoons, and jig and craw combos. A few anglers are tossing Carolina rigged worms and craws too.
Some boat docks, bridge piers, visible aquatic vegetation, and blowdowns are holding nice schools of pin minnows and that is attracting bass as well. Spinnerbaits and Texas rigged worms have worked well but some topwater presentations, ranging from buzzbaits to weedless frogs, have produced at times.
During the last two weeks of high water the lion’s share of aquatic weed patches have been submerged. However, lower lake levels are beginning to expose a lot of weeds in the backs of bays and along shallow flats and around island rims.
As with the catfish bite current is present daily so that should help the ledge bite as it seems to stimulate movement from baitfish.
Once popular during the dog days of summer were schools of white bass as their surface feeding frenzies offered fast action with an abundance of fun. However, hardly anyone reports stripes in the jumps anymore.
A few mayflies have appeared at scattered locations but there have not been any massive hatches this summer, a scenario that is somewhat puzzling and mysterious. Hatches have been small and inconsistent across most of the reservoir.
The overall summer fishing scene has held up pretty good lately. The warm weather is part of summer fishing but if you rise and shine early, keep plenty of cool drinks on hand, apply the sunscreen and get your fishing done by midday or perhaps opt to hit it late in the afternoon, well, it’s not too bad out there.

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.

Photo by Cliff Grizzard

Karson takes advantage of the last few minutes of daylight by paddleboarding on Kentucky Lake.