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Brought to you by: Fishtale Lodge
May 6, 2010


Despite a confusing news release from the U.S. Coast Guard that has everyone buzzing, portions of Kentucky Lake are still open, especially bays and creeks that appeal to anglers here in Tennessee.

The USGC fired a shot over the bow that sent mixed signals and despite a correction to its initial release many tourists and anglers are in the fog as to what’s going on.

Henry County TWRA Wildlife Officer Clay Riley called to say the Tennessee portion of Kentucky Lake was still open to boaters. “We got word the Tennessee portion was still open so anglers can still go at their own discretion but should be careful out there nonetheless,”

As the reservoir approaches record high lake levels anglers, recreational boaters, resorts, and landowners are watching with open eyes in hopes the scenario will improve.

It appears the reservoir will crest Friday night or early Saturday morning and begin a slow fall, according to the TVA’s three day projection for lake levels. The reservoir is expected to crest at the 369.7 feet above sea level at Kentucky Dam Friday. Upstream at New Johnsonville the crest is projected at 369.6.

What is the record high elevation for Kentucky Lake? According to TVA data the highest recorded lake stage was 369.9 that occurred back on May 11, 1984.

Water should begin to recede by Saturday morning and begin a slow fall. High water to our north on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers has dictated the release schedule from both Kentucky and Barkley Dams the last few days, a scenario that further contributed to high lake stages here.

According to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Water Management Office has an ongoing flood control operation for the Ohio River. This means they are in control of operations at both Barkley and Kentucky Dams, a situation that reduced water releases at a critical time for those of us upstream needing to get rid of excess water.

Meanwhile, as anglers anxiously await the crest and fall of lake levels, fishing has been off balance due to the flooding but not all bad for some bluegill and bass fishermen. Some hefty stringers of bluegill and shellcracker were still being caught.

Finding clear and shallow water has been a challenge for many bluegill anglers but the backs of some bays proved to be the ticket the last few days. The mouth of Big Sandy and several bays in the area were offering good water color while the main Tennessee River and all of its pockets and bays along the main lake had the color of chocolate milk as muddy conditions dominated.

As lake levels fall in the days ahead a lot of the muddy water will begin to leave the backwater areas and improve fishing conditions there. However, it will take several days before lake levels return to the summer pool mark of 359.

And what about the spawn? High lake levels can be a double edge sword as fish seem to have better recruitment during high lake levels as the young of the year have more habitat in which to survive and hide from predators.

The other side is that if fish deposit eggs in shallow areas and the lake levels fall out fast it could leave eggs high and dry, diminishes the success of the spawn and result in weak year classes for future fishing.

While most all crappie have spawned bluegill and shellcracker are still in the active phase. And, a few bass were still attempting to complete the ritual.

This past week anglers have pretty much devoted their efforts to catching bluegill and shellcracker, along with bass that have moved up into submerged buck bushes and visible trees along shorelines where submerged grass is present.

As lake levels begin to fall watch for fish to slowly pull back to outside structure along shorelines and feeder creeks. Current will be a factor in the main lake for several days and some rocky points, rip-rap, bridge piers, and island rims will begin to hold fish that take advantage of the eddies where baitfish will congregate.

Weather has been nice lately and temps have been in the mid 80’s while surface temps climbed back to the 71 to 74 degree range.

With lake levels changing rapidly the fishing scene will also change on a daily basis. However, after a few days of falling lake levels fishermen should be able to establish some patterns and perhaps capitalize on the situation at hand.

Although the USCG’s release was intended to make recreational boaters aware of the present danger of the flooding that exists between Pickwick Dam and the entrance to the Tennessee River at Paducah, it had a gray area that made it appear the lake was closed to everyone.

That’s not the case but be careful out there!

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.
Gone Fishing