MAYFLY HATCHES SIGNAL SUMMER FOR KENTUCKY LAKE ANGLERS
Nothing says summer for Kentucky Lake fishermen more than a mayfly
hatch. Seems they always descend around the Fourth of July and earlier
this week they did just that around the Paris Landing sector and
elsewhere on the reservoir.
Old timers among our ranks recall fond memories of flyrods and popping
bugs. Commonly referred to as “willow flies” because of their attraction
to overhanging willow trees along the lake’s shoreline, anglers of all
ages got a thrill from the feeding frenzy with cast after cast producing
strikes from hungry bluegill and bass.
You quickly came under the spell when the flies swarmed and fell to the
water, causing the placid waters to erupt with splash after splash from
lucky fish gorging themselves on nature’s buffet. Birds of all kinds hit
gold too, bouncing from limb to limb and helping the fishermen and fish
as they stirred things up.
Although not as abundant as yesteryear, mayfly hatches still occur from
mid-June through late August. Bass fishermen often find their targets
lying beneath the overhangs, feeding on both the files and other small
fish that come to the picnic.
Just about every species of fish benefits from a mayfly hatch. The adult
fly has quite a biological journey from a dormant larva stage sleeping
all year in the mud to taking flight and mating. It has a short life
span once it hatches but lives long enough to keep the cycle going.
Meanwhile, Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene continues to hold up well for
bass and crappie anglers. A few catfish are showing up too, along with
Lake levels have been relatively stable this week with a slight rise of
a few inches in the Kentucky Dam area. TVA projects a reading 359 this
weekend, which is normal summer pool. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake
levels are slightly lower with an elevation of 358.7 projected. Water
color remains clear.
Surface temperatures this week have been in the 84 to 85 degree range.
Anglers got a little reprieve from the heat and humidity on Wednesday
and Thursday as a north wind brought a slight touch of fall to the
Winds have been kind to anglers this week too. A slight breeze out there
most days helped stir the air and kept things tolerable.
Bass anglers are still landing decent stringers as they target main lake
ledges in search of larger schools of fish. Some have found success too,
locating a few schools of fish while tossing big spoons, crankbaits,
swim baits, jig and pig combos and those 10-inch Texas rigged worms.
Ledge fishing is always hit and miss. At times you find the right
drop-off at the right time when fish are aggressive and chasing shad in
a feeding mode. Other times you make cast after cast on what appears to
be a decent spot but the bass won’t bite.
Most anglers targeting main lake drop-offs this time of year prefer to
have current. The moving water stimulates baitfish activity and when the
shad are roaming and feeding on plankton the bass bite improves.
There are times when veteran anglers mark fish with their side-scan
sonar units, a valuable tool for some modern day fishermen who depend on
their electronics to help eliminate dead water. Locating a sleepy school
in deep water hideouts can be the cat’s meow.
Those who master the art of interpreting electronics often find and
catch fish when others struggle. With the use of swim baits, big spoons
and deep diving crankbaits anglers can sometimes trigger sluggish fish
That’s been the scenario lately for many deep water bass anglers on
Kentucky Lake. However, there are a lot of fish lingering in midrange
depths of 10 to 14 feet and relating to structure such as submerged
crappie beds, stumps and brushpiles.
Shallow bass are still there too and some are moving up to take
advantage of the mayfly madness. Tossing topwater in the early morning
hours has produced this week as have some spinnerbaits and Texas rigged
worms around the parameter of shallow grassbeds.
A few schools of pin minnows have been showing up this week around
shallow visible structure and when you locate the minnows you’ll find
Even in hot weather there is still a productive shallow pattern at times
for Kentucky Lake bass fishermen.
Crappie continue to show up for early summer anglers stalking the
midrange depths of 10 to 14 feet. Those deeper stakebeds and brushpiles
have paid dividends throughout the month of June and fish will linger
there for another week or two it appears.
Tipping jigs with minnows or just presenting a minnow by itself have
worked well lately. A few anglers are tipping a jig with Berkley power
bait in the white and chartreuse colors. However, that live minnow has
been the bait of choice.
Some pretty nice size crappie have been taken too. Anglers can expect to
catch a lot of small fish mixed in there with a nice slab at times.
Somewhat annoying are the aggressive little yellow bass that act like
there is no tomorrow when they tag your bait. The little fellows dart
around and really put a bend in the pole once hooked. They are the
pigmies of the fishing world and will quickly show you their sharp gill
covering or needle point spines if you grab them incorrectly.
The little fellows are part of the summer fishing scene, however.
Unfortunately, they possess a never ending appetite for live minnows and
will lower the population of your bait bucket. Seems they go crazy once
mayfly hatches occur as they also feed on the larva stage emerging from
the lake’s substrate.
Summer crappie fishing has been pretty good overall so hit the lake
early and you’ll beat the heat.
A few catfish are still hanging around midrange depths. That shows they
haven’t pulled back to those main river channel banks just yet but will
likely do so as the summer progresses.
Jug fishermen have been catching a few as they allow their army of baits
to drift across flats. Nighcrawlers, shrimp, big minnows and chicken
livers have been productive as have commercial concoctions.
Kentucky Lake’s summer fishing scene has been favorable to a variety of
anglers this week and should hold up for quite a spell. Here’s hoping
you have a good Fourth of July weekend on the water but be extra careful
out there and respect other boaters competing for the same routes, ramps
and parking spots!
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.