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Kentucky Lake Crappie Fishing
CATFISH PROWL, CRAPPIE REBOUND AS BASS/BLUEGILL BITE CONTINUES
Catfish have been prowling around rocky banks this week searching for
spawning territory and crappie have rebounded from their sleepy
Bluegill are still bedding and making some late spawning attempts in
shallow areas while bass begin to back out toward deeper venues. Overall
it has been a pretty good week for Kentucky Lake anglers.
Despite a cool snap on Wednesday that brought some rain and fall like
temps courtesy of a northwest breeze, the weather has been decent and
will be warming as the Memorial Day weekend approaches.
Surface temperatures this week have started out in the 73 degree range
each morning and climbed to 75 degree mark by midday. Water color has
some slight stain in pockets and bays where shallow feeder creeks are
located but relatively clear out in the main lake areas.
Lake levels, although normally stable by late May, continue to
fluctuate. TVA pulled the reservoir down almost six inches below summer
pool at midweek, which is somewhat of a surprise as it deviates from the
agency’s projected curve.
Elevation on Thursday fell to 358.4. Normal summer pool is 359. The
lower level pulled water out of shallow shoreline habitat for a few
days, which hasn’t set too well with some bass and bluegill or
shellcracker fishermen who had been finding success in parameter of
grass and bushes.
Anytime lake levels fall below normal summer pool this time of year it
can have an adverse impact on survival rates for crappie, bass and
bluegill or shellcracker fry. The tiny young of the year need the
shallow weeds and bushes for refuge from larger predator fish.
Meanwhile, some nice stringers of big bull bluegill were taken this week
by anglers working two to three foot depths baiting with crickets, wax
worms and redworms. Despite falling lake levels several bluegill stayed
shallow, attempting to spawn around shallow structure where they began
fanning beds last week when lake stages were a bit higher.
Anglers can expect the bluegill bite to hold up another week or two as
the fish usually make a late surge in spawning activity in late May and
early June. The next full moon occurs June 9 so watch for a blitz from
the bronze bobbers in the days ahead.
Crappie have shown improvement this week as they traditionally do once
late May arrives. Action should continue to improve these next few week
as the fish have slowly recovered from the stress of spawning and worked
their way back out to midrange depths of 9 to 14 feet.
Each year the crappie bite resumes around the Memorial Day period when
fish meander back to structure and park in midrange depths for several
weeks before mid-summer phases push them deeper.
Many anglers overlook the month of June as it offers stability in terms
of weather, wind and lake levels. That scenario delivers good crappie
fishing conditions. It is indeed much more predictable than early
Bass action has held up well but fish have pulled out of very shallow
shorelines this week due to falling lake levels. Anglers were finding
decent stringers on the outside shoreline cover but even some of that is
a bit too shallow at the present time.
Anglers are falling back and beginning to target deeper water the last
few days. Humps and ledges on the main lake are now attracting more fish
than they were last week at this time. Depths of 8 to 15 feet were
producing and some fish were even deeper.
Tossing big deep diving crankbaits and Texas rigged worms has produced
this week as have Carolina rigs. Some anglers were hopping jig and pig
combos on the ledges too, along with Alabama rigs and swim baits cast on
tops of ledges.
The ledge bite will improve even more once surface temps warm to the low
80’s, which will likely occur by early June.
Rocky banks were giving up nice stringers of catfish this week as
anglers used nightcrawlers to work the popular venues. Spawning was
still underway as fish were relating well to any rip-rap rock levees or
rock bluffs such as the old Danville railroad levee east of Big Sandy or
the east side of Highway 79 at Paris Landing where bank fishermen were
The overall bite has been pretty good for bass, crappie, catfish and
bluegill. Lake levels falling a few inches below normal summer pool is a
bit odd but TVA moves in mysterious ways at times, especially during
peak spawning phases the lakes most popular species of fish!
With the unofficial kick off of the summer season fast approaching, make
sure you use courtesy and respect as a busy boating weekend arrives.
Boat ramps, parking spots, fishing holes and most waterways will be a
bit crowded so be careful out there.
Expect to be checked by Kentucky Water Patrol or Tennessee Wildlife
Resources Agency as you boat on Kentucky Lake these next few days. Take
a moment before you hit the water to make sure you have updated
everything from your fishing license to the boat registration, not to
mention making sure there’s a life vest for everyone on board, which
works best when worn!
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.