Hal and Ryan from Arkansas October 2016
Kentucky Lake Crappie Fishing
LAKE LEVELS DOMINATE LAKE TALK
Dominating the conversation among fishermen and recreational boaters on
Kentucky Lake has been the low lake levels lately.
A few days earlier this week TVA had lake levels down below the normal
low ebb of winter pool, which changes not only the view of shorelines
and shallow sandbars but alters normal routes out there.
Low lake levels are part of late fall, winter and early spring here on
Kentucky Lake but when the reservoir drops below winter pool elevation
it causes even more concern.
Not to worry if boaters follow channel markers and use caution on the
backwater routes but unless you really know the lake itís best not to
take shallow water shortcuts.
Some boaters are doing just that lately and several have received
damaged from the mistakes. A long way from shore here doesnít
necessarily mean deep water!
Meanwhile, fishermen on Kentucky Lake continue to see an upswing in the
fall crappie bite as big numbers have been taken these last few weeks.
Stable weather and lake levels are the norm this time of year, although
anglers had to tolerate a few days of summer weather and unruly wind
earlier this week. Better dig out the jacket again this weekend at it
appears cooler conditions are on the horizon.
Hardwoods are beginning to parade their beautiful colors along the
shorelines and hillsides. It is indeed a wonderful time to be out on the
Crappie improved with more fish transitioning toward shallow to midrange
depths. Good numbers of fish were caught this week in the 7 to 12 foot
depths. When cloud cover and light winds were present fish seemed to
move up even more.
Fall crappie fishing is often overlooked and underrated by scores of
anglers but itís a great time to be out there right now. You can fight
the fish but not the crowd.
Once surface temps starting cooling the shad begin moving up to shallow
areas and hot on their trail are the crappie. Although anglers are
culling several fish just shy of the 10-inch length limit, crappie have
been growing and more are now eclipsing the magic mark compared to a
Several boats have logged catches in excess of 100 fish the last few
weeks! Even when releasing several fish itís still a fun day when doing
a lot of catching. And, mixed in during the course of a day have been a
few hefty slabs at times.
I found increased numbers of keeper size crappie occupying stakebeds in
the 6 to 9 foot range on some cloudy days.
Live minnows and jigs tipped with minnows were quite appealing. Jigs in
the white/blue, black/chartreuse, and black/red combo colors were a few
popular combinations. Tipping jigs with Berkley Power Bait paid
Some mornings the fish were quite aggressive and congregated around
submerged structure. Most all shallow to midrange beds were yielding
Surface temperatures this week started off in the upper 60ís and climbed
to the 72 degree range Monday and Tuesday due to above normal
temperatures. That will change drastically by the weekend as daytime
highs are projected to be some 15 degrees cooler, not to mention some
Anglers can expect surface temps to fall back into the 65 to 67 degree
range by the weekend. Water color remains clear across the reservoir as
very little rain had fallen by midweek.
Lake levels are sleeping at the low ebb of winter pool, which is
intimidating to some boaters. TVA projects levels to remain in the 354.1
range at Kentucky Dam. Upstream around New Johnsonville the reservoir is
slightly lower at 353.9, which is actually a few inches below normal
Bass fishing has been fair with anglers still targeting main lake ledges
and shallow flats where bass are moving up in pursuit of shallow schools
of shad. Those long sloping point and flats back in some big bays have
been holding some fish when the forage is present.
Some main lake ledges are producing as fish lay on the deep side or
break throughout the day but move up at times when a feeding spree takes
place. Sometimes the bass converge on deep water bait fish and push them
toward shallow water during the course of a day.
Tossing shallow running shad colored variations of swim and crankbaits
has paid off. Also working have been chartreuse spinnerbaits with gold
willow leaf blades.
Not much has taken place for topwater patterns but that could change
quickly when a cloudy, rainy day arrives escorted by cooler
Some gravel banks are attracting roaming bass too so covering a lot of
water is required before locating bait fish activity. And, wind blowing
up on gravel points and roadbeds will help the bite at times.
Good fall fishing awaits you. Donít let this nice time of year pass you
by. It is indeed worth the time and effort to plan a trip these next two
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.