Normal Summer Lake Levels Return; Early Risers Beat The Heat
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 08/05/2015
Kentucky Lake’s summer fishing scene is holding up pretty good for bass, crappie and catfish anglers despite some hot days. Most anglers are hitting the lake in the early morning hours and pitching in the towel when the midday sun takes command. Some boaters are opting to venture out in the late afternoon and avoid the heat that way. The “dog days” are still hanging around and howling but August in known for hot and humid weather so no big surprises there. However, a couple of cloudy days at midweek with light breezes helped escort a reprieve to the doldrums as some rain entered the picture with thunderstorms. Lake levels have been on a slow but gradual drawdown since last week. TVA projects an elevation of 357.6 going into the weekend at Kentucky Dam while upstream at New Johnsonville lake stages will be in the 357.4 range. The elevation is in the normal range for early August on TVA’s summer schedule. Surface temperatures this week have been in the 87 to 89 degree range. Water color is relatively clear across the reservoir. Slow current in the main river has helped the catfish bite as some decent stringers have been taken by anglers fishing nightcrawlers, cut shad, big minnows, and chicken livers. Depths of 25 to 35 feet have produced. Most boats are working the edge of the main river channel or the down current sides of bridge piers. Crappie action has been fair with some deeper stakebeds and brushpiles in the 13 to 15 foot depths producing scattered fish. Deeper main lake ledges have also given up a few fish at times as anglers used bottom bumping rigs armed with live minnows on the deep side of drop-offs in the 18 to 22 foot depth range. Even during the mid-summer season crappie will bite decent at times if you find the right depth range. And, the deeper drop-offs harboring structure in the form of stumps or manmade brushpiles will attract some pretty good numbers. The summer crappie will indeed bite jigs and jigs tipped with scent attractant but often have an affinity for live minnows. There are still a few crappie lingering in the midrange depths and anglers are having to make several stops to accumulate decent stringers but fish were hitting black leadhead jigs with chartreuse/red skirts tipped with either live minnows or Berkley crappie nibbles. Some boaters are trolling deep diving crankbaits along main lake ledges with moderate success. The trolling techniques sometimes produce catfish, crappie and various other species during the summer months. Most are working the edge of the drop-off or keying in on the deep side of the ledge when trolling with several different colored crankbaits pulled slowly. Bass fishermen are still finding some scattered fish chasing schools of shad around aquatic vegetation. Grassbeds are exposed along the edge of the main river shorelines and around several island rims. The visible vegetation is giving up some decent stringers in the early morning and late afternoon as anglers toss weedless topwater frogs and fluke style baits. Also popular have been Texas rigged worms and spinnerbaits around the pockets or parameters. The ledge bite improved slightly this week as lower lake levels seemed to pull shallow fish out toward deeper areas or spots that had deeper water close by. A slight current was helping the ledge bite earlier in the week but lake levels stabilized at midweek and current subsided. TVA’s projection for the weekend, barring any heavy rains, shows very little current in the forecast as discharge rates have diminished. Summer patterns will stay the same for most species over the next few weeks. However, current will continue to be a big factor this time of year as it stimulates baitfish activity. Most bass, crappie and catfish anglers hope to find a slight current present this time of year. Although everyone is talking about the hot weather, catching a day when cloud cover and light winds team up makes for a pretty good morning or afternoon. When the fish are biting you don’t notice the heat!
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