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Jane and Tom from TN April 2017
Kentucky Lake Crappie Fishing
HIGH WATER DOMINATES FISHING SCENE…BLUEGILL/BASS BITE HOLDS UP
After a week of abnormally high lake levels anglers are adjusting their
battle plans on a daily basis as lake levels recede.
Despite a lot of fluctuation the bite has held up pretty good for
spawning bluegill and redear sunfish, along with decent action for both
catfish and bass. Crappie have been scattered in their typical
post-spawn phase but a few boats managed to find enough to keep it
Kentucky Lake went on a rising rampage earlier in the week when
discharge rates diminished dramatically out of Kentucky Dam. Barkley
Lake was in the same situation.
Flooding along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers caused TVA to pull back
on discharge, a scenario that saw the reservoir rise more than four feet
above normal summer pool elevation. The quick rise had a lot of floating
debris out there for anglers and boaters to dodge.
Piers, boat docks, campgrounds and several launch sites were victims of
Late last week lake levels began rising, throwing a curve to fishermen
that woke up to a new lake each morning. Normal summer pool is 359 and
the reservoir finally crested on Wednesday with a reading in the 363.4
range at Kentucky Dam.
Upstream in the New Johnsonville lake levels have been running about 6
inches or so below readings at Kentucky Dam.
TVA is revising its forecast on a daily basis but odds are a dramatic
drawdown will begin soon as the agency will attempt to pull the lake
back down to normal summer pool as quickly as possible.
That means a lot of current will be present in the main river channel
the next several days. And, bass fishermen can sometimes use that to
their advantage when targeting island rims where grassbeds, buck bushes
and willow trees will be holding shallow bass.
Odds are the fish will pull out of extremely shallow cover and relate to
the outside structure lines as lake levels fall. That should help
anglers establish a pattern in the days ahead.
Some main lake ledges and humps could also be holding bass that pull out
and reside in deeper venues.
It’s that time of year when bass patterns range from pitching and
flipping jig and pig combos or Texas rigged craws and lizards around
visible stickups to tossing big spinnerbaits or slinging big deep diving
crankbaits as fish transition toward main lake humps or secondary
Spawning bluegill and red ear sunfish have been hitting good for anglers
working shoreline habitat. The fish scattered for a day or two when high
water pushed them to the endless shallow shoreline cover but at midweek
the bite bounced back once fish began fanning beds.
Watch for the bite to continue but bluegill and red ear will move back
toward a little deeper water in the days ahead. Some of the open water
beds that haven’t produced very well this week will see fish return to
them once lake levels fall back down to normal elevation.
Once water levels surged fish blitzed toward the abundance of shallow
shoreline structure. That puzzled a lot of bluegill and shellcracker
fishermen for a few days. The fast rise had a negative impact but it was
short in duration.
Surface temps are now in the 73 to 76 degree range. The warming trend
now in progress should stimulate more aggressive activity from the
confused but aggressive male bluegill that have attempted to fan
Female bluegill and red ear were bulging with eggs at midweek. Several
were attempting to spawn during the full moon and should continue for
several more days.
Water color has been a bit dingy in most areas but watch for it to clear
rapidly these next few days. Falling lake levels will pull the dingy
water out of bays and feeder creeks.
There’s still a lot of good fishing ahead for bluegill and red ear
Catfish have really been on the prowl this week, moving up to shallow
venues and following the rise. Some dandy stringers have been taken in 2
to 4 foot depths. A lot of bluegill anglers have been tying into them on
a regular basis too.
Watch for spawning catfish to acclimate toward rocky bluffs in the week
ahead. Some may hang around bushes but it’s high time they made a move
toward rocky banks to deposit eggs.
Although scattered, crappie have been taken this week by some boats
dragging long line presentations of
Road Runners and curly tail grubs.
Fish were scattered and suspended during the rising lake levels too but
slow trolling allowed anglers to cover a lot of water and the post-spawn
crappie were suspended in depths of 8 to 14 feet.
A few boats were picking up scattered fish while using vertical
presentations of jig and minnows around submerged structure but having
to make lots of stops.
Not many anglers like rapidly changing lake levels but it appears the
reservoir is headed back down about as fast as it came up.
Once the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers crested it opened the door for TVA
to flush a lot of the excess water it had been holding back.
Both the fish and the fishermen are learning to adjust but is has been
challenging to say the least. Hopefully the roller coaster ride will end
soon! It appears we’re headed in the right direction.
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.