Sluggish Fishing Scene But Catfish Bite Continues
For July 17, 2019Report for Kentucky Lake from Paris Landing to New Johnsonville
Weathermen across the region seem to be singing the same song this week; rising temperatures as the weekend approaches with the possibility of three digit readings in some areas! That’s not what Kentucky Lake anglers wanted to hear for the mid-July fishing scene.
Surface temperatures this week were in the 82 to 83 degree range to kick the week off but will no doubt climb by week’s end. Warm humid nights and hot days are ahead.
Lake levels are in the 359.3 range, which is only a few inches above the normal summer pool elevation of 359. Elevation has stayed in that range since last week with only minor fluctuation.
TVA has been pulling water pretty good this week in the aftermath of abundant rainfall across the valley. Thunderstorms from the backwash of Hurricane Barry drenched portions of the region but no real flooding occurred like it did for our southern neighbors.
Water color has remained relatively clear across the reservoir with some stain present along the main Tennessee River channel area.
The catfish bite has been the bright spot for a sluggish July fishing scene.
Thanks to the current some decent stringers of catfish have been taken lately. Some crappie fishermen stalking midrange structures have picked up several as have those fishing deeper main lake ledges in the 20 to 25 foot depth range.
Catfishermen targeting the edge of the main river channel, as is the norm during mid-summer, have scored pretty good stringers at times. Depths of 30 to 35 feet have produced.
Baits of choice have been chicken livers and night crawlers used on bottom bumping rigs. Some anglers like to use big minnows when they can obtain them at local bait shops.
The catfish bite should hold up for a spell as long as the current stays around.
Adding to the challenges this week have been thunderstorms that packed high winds at times. A few days anglers got in some fishing under cloudy skies that filtered out the hot sun only to have abbreviated days that sent anglers running back to the dock or ramps in order to dodge storms.
A few crappie have been taken by summer crappie fishermen who found some lingering in midrange depths. Stakebeds and brushpiles in the 12 to 14 foot depth range were still holding a few scattered fish. Jigs and live minnows have produced with live minnows being the most productive.
Some boats have backed out to main lake ledges and pursuing deeper drop-offs around the 25 foot depth range. A few crappie are out there relating to deep structure with the best time frame occurring in the early morning hours or when cloud cover is present.
Tying into some catfish around those deep structures is a bonus for crappie anglers this time of year, too.
Bass fishermen continue to find decent schools of pin minnows holding around docks, piers, outside parameters of shoreline weed beds and island rims. Find a blowdown or two and you’ll likely find minnows and bass on the deep end of a treetop this time of year.
Spinnerbaits, shallow running crankbaits, Texas rigged worms and some floating worms have been good choices as have a few jerk baits and buzz baits in early morning and late afternoon.
Even in hot weather anglers still manage to find a few bass up shallow if the forage base is present.
Scattered mayfly hatches will help the shallow bite too if you can locate them. Seems the bass and literally all species flock to a bank or shoreline when mayflies are present.
Bluegill are there in big numbers and that adds another item to the buffet for shallow bass.
Ledge fishing is still the top pattern for July bass fishing as big Texas rigged worms, huge deep diving crankbaits, swim baits, spoons and Carolina rigged worms and craws are producing at times.
Seems the current stimulates movement of shad and that improves the opportunities for bass anglers working the ledges. It’s always a trial and error approach as some ledges will be holding fish while others seem void of activity.
Certain times of the day the bass will push the bait fish up toward the shallow sides of sandbars and put on a feeding frenzy.
Scouting the deep humps and main lake ledges with your sonar searching for shad schools will help eliminate dead water. Find the bait and odds are you’ll find some bass.
Meanwhile, warm weather will be part of the fishing scene for the next couple of months but there are days when anglers will get a break from the hot sun and stagnant winds. Some mornings will have light breezes and cloud cover.
Best to rise and shine early. Get your fishing done before midday heat deals the cards!
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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