SLUGGISH FISH KEEP ANGLERS AT BAY
Fall fishing is officially underway. Summer said goodbye on Wednesday,
paving the way for a cooler season and favorable fishing conditions.
Kentucky Lakeís fishing scene has been the beneficiary of nice weather
this past week as cooler nights and mild days entered the picture.
Although no one has complained about the weather the fish didnít seem to
get the memo.
Both bass and crappie anglers have struggled lately to put consistent
patterns together. Some fish are being caught and the reports are not
all bad but it seems the overall numbers of larger fish are down.
Bass and crappie seemed sluggish lately and perhaps some much needed
rain and cloudy days will enter the picture this weekend. You know itís
dry when even fishermen yearn for rain!
Surface temperatures this week were in the 77 to 79 degree range. Thatís
slightly cooler than last week at this time. Water color remains quite
clear due to a lack of rain and runoff.
Lake levels are down a few inches from last week at this time with
projections for the weekend at Kentucky Dam to be in the 355.2 range.
Upstream at New Johnsonville the reservoir is projected to be in the 355
range, which is TVAís modern day winter pool mark.
Many anglers, recreational boaters and lake visitors often ask about the
low lake levels this time of year yet TVA begins its annual drawdown
curve in early July each year. The drawdown continues for several months
as TVA creates storage capacity for fall and winter rains both here and
upstream in the valley.
Itís not unusual to see lower lake levels this time of year, although a
lack of rain lately is contributing to the reservoir being a bit ahead
of schedule as to its timetable for winter pool.
Crappie have been caught this week in a variety of depths with a lot of
smaller fish occupying the 7 to 9 foot depth range. Although a few
keeper size crappie around the minimum 10-inch length limit have been
taken the bigger fish are not showing up in high numbers.
Several boats are using vertical techniques and presenting jigs tipped
with either live minnows or Berkley crappie nibbles right down in
manmade structure. Some spots have paid dividends at times but a lot of
spots are harboring the small yellow bass in big numbers and the
aggressive little critters love to steal your bait and intercept your
jig or minnow before it ever gets down in the cover where lethargic
crappie are holding tight.
Anglers working deeper ledges or stakebeds and brushpiles in 10 to 15
foot depth ranges are finding an occasional big fish but still not
racking up high numbers as fish seem to be quite scattered and somewhat
finicky as to their attitude.
Some boaters are spider rigging and moving slow along the main lake
areas with their multi-pole presentations loaded with both live minnows
and jig but report tough luck overall. Same goes for a few boats
trolling big deep diving crankbaits along main lake ledges or out over
deep water in search of suspended crappie that are laying out away from
The deeper water guys are finding a few fish in the 14 foot depth range
but having to cover a lot of water to land decent stringers. They too
are somewhat distraught as to the sluggish fall bite and question the
status of the crappie fishery. Many feel bigger fish are just not out
there in sufficient numbers.
A lot of accomplished anglers with several years under their belts are
struggling to find and catch fish on a consistent basis the last few
Cooler surface temperatures and some rain should see an improvement for
crappie fishermen stalking the shallow to midrange depths soon. More
fish will move up toward shallow structure as surface temps fall and
shad move up but it appears a wide range of anglers are having a tough
time out there.
Bass fishermen havenít been doing much bragging either, although there
have been some reports from a small percentage of anglers who have
landed some hefty bass lately while fishing the summer pattern on
Still producing have been the typical jig and craw combos, swim baits,
Texas rigged worms and big deep diving crankbaits. There hasnít been
much current lately as lake levels have falling quite slowly and no rain
upstream has entered the watershed.
Most bass fishermen are still targeting the visible grassbeds along the
Tennessee River areas where island rims and flats are covered with
aquatic vegetation. Some ditches and cuts behind islands or the backs of
bigger bays offer plenty of milfoil grass and some hydrilla.
The early morning mornings---especially when a little fog filters the
sunrise--- are offering a few hours of topwater activity for anglers
using jerk baits around the parameters of thick grass. Some buzzbaits
have produced as well, along with weedless variations of jerk baits.
Tossing blue/chartreuse skirted spinnerbaits with gold willow-leaf
blades has worked too as have Texas rigged worms in the green pumpkin
pepper, red shad and Tequila sunrise colors. Floating fluke style baits
have worked in the grass too.
An extended spell of warm days where mile high skies mixed with some
northeast winds at times have been nice to be out and about but a bit
tough on the fishing. The high pressure days can be challenging at
A cloudy day or two with some rain and a light southwest wind should
work in favor of both bass and crappie fishermen this weekend. October
is just about here and the pumpkin month usually brings cooler
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.