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Archived Fishing Report

Fish Somewhat Sluggish; Anglers Hoping Bite Improves

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 09/23/2015

Fall fishing is officially underway. Summer said goodbye on Wednesday, paving the way for a cooler season and favorable fishing conditions.
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has been the beneficiary of nice weather this past week as cooler nights and mild days entered the picture. Although no one has complained about the weather the fish didn’t seem to get the memo.
Both bass and crappie anglers have struggled lately to put consistent patterns together. Some fish are being caught and the reports are not all bad but it seems the overall numbers of larger fish are down.
Bass and crappie seemed sluggish lately and perhaps some much needed rain and cloudy days will enter the picture this weekend. You know it’s dry when even fishermen yearn for rain!
Surface temperatures this week were in the 77 to 79 degree range. That’s slightly cooler than last week at this time. Water color remains quite clear due to a lack of rain and runoff.
Lake levels are down a few inches from last week at this time with projections for the weekend at Kentucky Dam to be in the 355.2 range. Upstream at New Johnsonville the reservoir is projected to be in the 355 range, which is TVA’s modern day winter pool mark.
Many anglers, recreational boaters and lake visitors often ask about the low lake levels this time of year yet TVA begins its annual drawdown curve in early July each year. The drawdown continues for several months as TVA creates storage capacity for fall and winter rains both here and upstream in the valley.
It’s not unusual to see lower lake levels this time of year, although a lack of rain lately is contributing to the reservoir being a bit ahead of schedule as to its timetable for winter pool.
Crappie have been caught this week in a variety of depths with a lot of smaller fish occupying the 7 to 9 foot depth range. Although a few keeper size crappie around the minimum 10-inch length limit have been taken the bigger fish are not showing up in high numbers.
Several boats are using vertical techniques and presenting jigs tipped with either live minnows or Berkley crappie nibbles right down in manmade structure. Some spots have paid dividends at times but a lot of spots are harboring the small yellow bass in big numbers and the aggressive little critters love to steal your bait and intercept your jig or minnow before it ever gets down in the cover where lethargic crappie are holding tight.
Anglers working deeper ledges or stakebeds and brushpiles in 10 to 15 foot depth ranges are finding an occasional big fish but still not racking up high numbers as fish seem to be quite scattered and somewhat finicky as to their attitude.
Some boaters are spider rigging and moving slow along the main lake areas with their multi-pole presentations loaded with both live minnows and jig but report tough luck overall. Same goes for a few boats trolling big deep diving crankbaits along main lake ledges or out over deep water in search of suspended crappie that are laying out away from structure.
The deeper water guys are finding a few fish in the 14 foot depth range but having to cover a lot of water to land decent stringers. They too are somewhat distraught as to the sluggish fall bite and question the status of the crappie fishery. Many feel bigger fish are just not out there in sufficient numbers.
A lot of  accomplished anglers with several years under their belts are struggling to find and catch fish on a consistent basis the last few weeks.
Cooler surface temperatures and some rain should see an improvement for crappie fishermen stalking the shallow to midrange depths soon. More fish will move up toward shallow structure as surface temps fall and shad move up but it appears a wide range of anglers are having a tough time out there.
Bass fishermen haven’t been doing much bragging either, although there have been some reports from a small percentage of anglers who have landed some hefty bass lately while fishing the summer pattern on drop-offs.
Still producing have been the typical jig and craw combos, swim baits, Texas rigged worms and big deep diving crankbaits. There hasn’t been much current lately as lake levels have falling quite slowly and no rain upstream has entered the watershed.
Most bass fishermen are still targeting the visible grassbeds along the Tennessee River areas where island rims and flats are covered with aquatic vegetation. Some ditches and cuts behind islands or the backs of bigger bays offer plenty of milfoil grass and some hydrilla.
The early morning mornings---especially when a little fog filters the sunrise--- are offering a few hours of topwater activity for anglers using jerk baits around the parameters of thick grass. Some buzzbaits have produced as well, along with weedless variations of jerk baits.
Tossing blue/chartreuse skirted spinnerbaits with gold willow-leaf blades has worked too as have Texas rigged worms in the green pumpkin pepper, red shad and Tequila sunrise colors. Floating fluke style baits have worked in the grass too.
An extended spell of warm days where mile high skies mixed with some northeast winds at times have been nice to be out and about but a bit tough on the fishing. The high pressure days can be challenging at times.
A cloudy day or two with some rain and a light southwest wind should work in favor of both bass and crappie fishermen this weekend. October is just about here and the pumpkin month usually brings cooler conditions.

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