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March 10, 2011
ROLLER COASTER LAKE TAKES ANGLERS FOR RIDE
Water is up in the buck bushes. For Kentucky Lake anglers thatís not
supposed to happen until early May but a rash of heavy rains have
swelled lake levels some five feet above normal.
Still, a few success stories from crappie and bass anglers are coming
in. Despite rapid changes in lake stages that have continued all week,
it seems a few fishermen are rising to the challenge.
TVA continues to revise its forecast on a daily basis as to projections
on elevation. After severe thunderstorm drenched the area last week more
rain arrived this week, falling on an already saturated watershed that
sent creeks raging with flow into Kentucky Lake.
Elevation at Kentucky Dam is projected to be 358.8 going into the
weekend while upstream at New Johnsonville higher water levels are
expected to reach the 360 mark. TVA is spilling water through Kentucky
Dam at a high rate but the bottom line is that water has been entering
the reservoir faster than itís going out.
Normal lake levels for this time of year should be in the 355 range or
Also influencing the high lake levels are flooding conditions along the
Although many areas of Kentucky Lake---such as the upper Big Sandy and
West Sandy sectors---are seeing muddy water move in, the mouth of Big
Sandy near Paris Landing was sporting a dingy color but not too bad for
The backs of most bays are muddy, however, as the runoff really brought
a lot of sediments into most feeder creeks.
Watch for TVA to really pull the plug by next week, assuming more rain
doesnít enter the picture. Expect a lot of current on the main Tennessee
River channel for the next week or so.
Surface temps have danced around the 49 to 53 degree range this week but
could moderate even more as mild temperatures are in the forecast.
Crappie were coming from main lake ledges this week where anglers were
working the deep drop-offs. Finding structure in the 18 to 20 foot depth
range was a popular place earlier in the week but with rising lake
levels better add another two or four feet to that this weekend.
March winds have been a factor. Anglers are lucky if light and variable
conditions last more than a day or two this time of year.
A cold front at midweek delivered northwest winds that hampered anglers
trying to fish open water. The weatherman indicates warmer days are on
the horizon but wind will continue to be a hurdle.
Bouncing double hook bottom bumping minnow rigs was paying dividends as
were 1/8 and ľ-ounce jigs tightlined in and around the structure.
Tipping jigs with a minnow seemed to help.
With dingy water entering the picture look for a variation of color
choices to produce as the loud, fluorescent reds, greens, and orange
combos may replace the dull colored skirts and unpainted leadheads.
Often times the crappie will stay put for a few days and continue to
linger on main lake ledges, despite quick changes in lake levels.
However, the longer the water stays high the more fish are likely to
scatter and move up toward shallow venues as muddy water will warm up
Once lake levels start falling watch for main lake ledge fishing to
improve even more as the fish seem to fall back to spots adjacent to
deep water when rapid drawdown occurs.
Traditionally, crappie begin moving up toward midrange depths by
mid-March and that could still happen if warm weather influences surface
temps next week as the reservoir crests or remains high for a few days.
Odds are TVA will attempt to drop lake levels fast and pull the
reservoir back to its normal winter curve so as to create more storage
Bass were moving up rather fast and occupying mouths of feeder creeks
and ditches where runoff entering the main lake was washing in lots of
Muddy water in backs of creeks was giving in to a dingy color in the
middle of large bays where anglers were tossing some loud colored
crankbaits in the firetiger, fluorescent red and black combo, orange and
white with some green and sliver. And, some red or orange belly crawfish
colors were producing too.
While the Paris Landing area and further north had seen most bass
relating to rock and gravel habitat itís likely some fish will move up
to shoreline structure or perhaps stage on some points near shoreline
Further south on the Tennessee River anglers had been fishing some dead
grass that is now submerged. Rattle traps and suspending jerk baits
where producing in that aquatic pattern.
Watch for rapid change throughout the weekend and into next week as the
roller coaster ride of lake levels continues. Water color, lake
elevation, and weather will team up to alter the patterns of both bass
and crappie in the days ahead but adjusting seems to always work for a
few anglers who figure it out on a daily basis.
Also check out our past:
Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports
Steve McCadams is one of the nation's best known Crappie Fishermen
and a full time resident of Paris, Tennessee. Steve is also a
professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area.