Rainy Days Dominate Fishing Scene; Lake Levels Rising
For February 11, 2019Report for Kentucky Lake from Paris Landing to New Johnsonville
Enough already on the rainy days. Seems we’ve entered the rainy season with little relief in sight.
Practically everyone is talking about the abundant rainfall and flooding. The late comedian Will Rogers once said folks always seem to talk about the weather but no one does anything about it!
Kentucky Lake’s elevation, after sleeping at low winter pool levels this past week, is now creeping back up on a daily basis. Heavy rains have pounded the area and an already wet region is now sending a lot of runoff into the Tennessee River watershed.
Low lying areas are now flooding and that has dampened the spirits of small game hunters too. Rabbit and squirrel hunters are about to wind down their seasons but saturated soil changes the whole picture for hunters.
Anglers can expect lake levels to continue to climb on a daily basis. Just how high Kentucky Lake will surge is still an unknown.
Lake levels started the week off at a low elevation as TVA had pulled the reservoir somewhat below winter pool last week in anticipation of the flooding conditions now upon us. Low lake levels created more storage capacity so it’s good that TVA was able to absorb some of the massive runoff now flowing into the Tennessee River.
At the start of the week a gradual rise had the reservoir at an elevation of 355. That will change on a daily basis.
Fishermen can expect dingy or muddy water to enter the picture too in many areas. Most all bays are now borderline muddy and the main river channel was taking on the color of chocolate milk as the week began.
Surface temperatures remained in the 46 to 47 degree range. Temperatures are forecast to stay in their normal winter range next week so no drastic changes are expected at this time.
Most anglers adopted a “wait-and-see” approach this week as to future fishing plans. Once the rains stops winter crappie and bass anglers will ease their way back out and test the water, checking both water color and the status of rising lake levels which usually has a tendency to scatter fish.
Rapidly rising lake levels usually send baitfish on roaming journeys like nomads. The shad seek new feeding opportunities as fresh water enters the lake, flushing an abundance of zooplankton and algae throughout the water column.
As the shad leave deep winter hideouts and move toward shallow venues on their endless journeys they pull bass and crappie with them. Commercial fishermen know it too and they quickly begin setting trotlines over shallow sandbars in backwaters areas where catfish really go on the prowl.
Some areas that were almost high and dry last week will now see catfish moving up and occupying shallow flats as the fish ride the rise and follow their forage base.
Winter crappie fishermen have been targeting deep ledges lately in depths of 18 to 25 feet and finding a few scattered fish relating to submerged structure but that’s likely to change this week. Odds are crappie will scatter out as they begin to move up too, following the shad schools over midrange or shallow flats in the days ahead.
The longer the water stays up the more both bass and crappie will leave deep water venues and move up with it.
With the dingy or muddy water entering the picture crappie anglers will be switching and experimenting with colors of jig heads and skirts too. Some loud florescent off the wall colors may see action as times like these call for drastic color changes.
Bass anglers should see some fish move up to gravel banks or pockets where shallow ditches and feeder creeks deliver rushing water at times and stir up sediments where crawfish linger. Loud color choices are on the horizon for bass fishermen too as such popular choices such as Firetiger colored crankbaits seem to have broad appeal in muddy water.
Spinnerbaits with big blades have more flash too so bassers will be tossing them toward shallow flats and fan casting over open water areas in hopes of covering a lot of water with each cast.
So, the Kentucky Lake fishing scene is in a state of flux as drastic changes in lake levels and water color are underway. Stability is not in the cards lately and anglers are forced to play the hand Mother Nature is dealing them.
A member of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Legends of the Outdoors, Steve McCadams is a professional guide and outdoor writer from Paris, Tenn.
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