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May 9, 2013
BLUEGILL, BASS, CATFISH ACTION HOLDS UP DESPITE HIGH LAKE LEVELS
Despite the duration of high lake levels Kentucky Lake anglers have
adapted well to abnormal conditions this week and landed some hefty
stringers of bass, bluegill and catfish.
The spring saga continues, however, as fluctuation in lake stages
continues to challenge fishermen yearning for the return of normalcy.
Since last week TVA’s attempt to draw the reservoir back down toward
normal summer pool elevation hit a speed bump when heavy rains drenched
the region for the second time in two weeks.
Lake levels were falling pretty fast late last week but the influx of
water from upstream has seen the reservoir actually rise a few inches
since midweek. Projections going into the weekend show quite a wall of
water coming down the Tennessee River as Kentucky Dam will have a
reading of 363.1 while upstream at New Johnsonville elevation will be
some 18 inches higher at 364.6.
TVA will continue to revise its projection of lake levels on a daily
basis but watch for a rapid drawdown to occur soon.
There is a lot of current in the main channel as TVA continues to flush
a large volume of water from Pickwick Dam through Kentucky Dam in the
days ahead. Water color is actually pretty good across the reservoir and
quite clear back in the bigger bays.
Surface temperature the last few days was rising slowly after some
sunshine brought it up into the 67 to 71 degree range.
Bass action has held up well despite the crazy see-saw changes in lake
levels with a variety of patterns paying dividends. Last week when
falling lake levels took over fish were pulling out and occupying the
parameters of buck bush shorelines, roadbeds, and secondary drop-offs.
The post-spawn pattern was clearly underway as fish began to move toward
some ledges near spawning territory and keen anglers picked up on it by
working Carolina rigged craws, jig and pig combos and tossing some big
deep diving crankbaits.
Some drop-offs on the main lake but near primary spawning areas were
holding good numbers of bass that were staging on points and submerged
humps where current was pushing baitfish their direction. Backing off
the banks is tough to do when visible, flooded habitat looks fishy but
some schools of post-spawn fish were doing just that this week and that
pattern will likely improve in the days ahead.
At the same time anglers were flipping and pitching jig and pig combos,
Texas rigged craws and lizards, and slow rolling big gold willow leaf
spinnerbaits around buck bushes and finding fish too. With high lake
levels come abundant shorelines full of structure yet many boaters were
backing off and attempting to work the original shorelines that harbored
an abundance of submerged grassbeds and buck brush.
By midweek a slight rise in lake levels saw the shallow bite improve as
it appears a few fish returned to visible stickups where even some
topwater baits were working.
Right now both the shallow water styles and some deep water ledges are
producing. Some of the shallow fish will fall back near deeper areas
next week once a rapid decent in lake elevation begins.
Bluegill action has held up well this week as some hefty stringers have
been taken around buck bushes and deeper gravel flats and points. The
bluegill have been a bit deeper than normal due to the high lake levels
and that has confused some anglers who experienced difficulty in finding
good numbers near traditional bedding areas.
No doubt the fish have been thrown off a bit too as they’ve been moving
around and not really fanning spawning beds in their usual manner.
Still, big numbers have been taken by anglers tossing crickets and wax
worms beneath slip bobbers in 5 to 7 foot depths.
The number of shellcracker taken this past week diminished for most
anglers who have been somewhat mystified by the hide-and-seek game being
played out by these magnificent panfish. Last week some good ones were
showing up from buck bush venues but this week the fish vanished and
dodged hooks even when bluegill were biting.
Catfish are still on the prowl and hitting good. More fish moved up to
rocky banks this week as they enter active spawning phases. Some good
ones are still surprising bluegill fishermen at times and really testing
the tackle as they move up into buckbush shoreline areas during these
high water periods.
Watch for good fishing to hold up around the rock bluffs for another
week to ten days if not longer.
Crappie fishermen have struggled again this week, falling victim to
several hurdles in the form of high water that coincided with the
post-spawn phase. Some scattered crappie have been taken lately around
shoreline cover and submerged buck bushes but the fish are there only
because of the high water as most have spawned.
It has been difficult to put a successful pattern together as the
crappie are roaming and not relating too good to deep structure out in
the main lake or midrange stakebeds and brushpiles. Activity will likely
improve once normal lake levels return but until that happens crappie
anglers will continue to endure what has been an unstable spring in more
ways than one.
While some anglers are faring well, most would like to see the reservoir
back to normal elevation with fish returning to their usual locales.
Hopefully floods are in the rearview mirror and better days are fast
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.