LOW LAKE LEVELS; HIGH WINDS GREET ANGLERS
The first week of spring roared in like a lion with a toothache. Gale
force winds have dictated where fishermen could go this week on Kentucky
Lake. It has been a tough one.
Low lake levels are also part of the picture as TVA has pulled the
reservoir down to its low ebb of winter pool. The present elevation
requires boaters to use caution and pay close attention to channel
This is not the time of year to take those shortcuts over shallow flats
in the middle of the lake. Shallow sandbars and submerged stumps await
those careless boaters should they make such mistakes.
This will be the last week of low water as TVA’s curve for reservoir
filling begins each year on April 1. The schedule---under normal
conditions---sees lake levels rise slowly throughout the month with a
target date of May 1 for normal summer pool.
From its current elevation of 354 the reservoir will rise some five feet
to a reading of 359 barring any heavy rains throughout April.
Meanwhile, surface temps this week lost ground due to last weekend’s
cold front and blustery north winds. White caps were abundant even in
the backs of bays as high winds have hung around almost every day for
over a week.
The only changes have been in the direction; north for a couple days
then switching to the west but finishing up the week with southerly
Last week warm weather saw surface temps climb to the 61 to 62 degree
range for a day or two but readings this week dropped back to the 55
degree range. Waters could warm a degree or two throughout the weekend
and perhaps return to the 60-degree threshold next week.
Lake levels at midweek were sleeping in the 354 range at Kentucky Dam
with similar readings upstream at New Johnsonville.
Water color has improved since last week. Most of the muddy water has
moved out with a decent stain remaining throughout Big Sandy and West
Sandy. The main Tennessee River channel has a slight stain around the
Paris Landing sector but overall the reservoir’s color is in pretty good
shape for both bass and crappie anglers.
Crappie anglers got a little taste of shallow activity last week but
last weekend’s chilly weather seemed to back the fish off a bit in the
Big Sandy and Paris Landing area. Upstream around New Johnsonville and
further south anglers have reported some shallow male crappie already
moving up to very shallow structure.
Seems the shallow bite there turned on for a few days last week. Anglers
south of New Johnsonville landed some dark male crappie from very
Anglers working the Big Sandy basin have had high hurdles lately with
both the wind and muddy water. The water color improved all week but
falling lake levels in the aftermath of the cold front seemed to
diminish the shallow bite for most.
Watch for the biological clock of crappie to advance quickly the next
week to ten days if normal spring weather returns.
Some anglers were casting jigs toward shallow shorelines and stickups
but fish were scattered and just beginning to move up. Others have been
slow trolling multi-pole rigs over shallow flats in the backs of bays
hoping to encounter staging crappie in their prespawn phase.
Unforgiving winds have kept most boaters off the main lake areas. Long
lining and vertical fishing techniques have been victims of the wind as
have pretty much all techniques and depth ranges. Catch rates have been
below average this week across the entire Big Sandy basin.
If sunny days return surface temps could rebound soon and restart the
transition of male crappie toward spawning territory. This is the time
of year when things happen quickly.
Watch for more fish to blitz toward shallow to midrange structure next
week. Depths of 4 to 8 feet should see improvement but all midrange
depth zones should experience some improvement once the crappie respond
to warmer water.
Most anglers are overdue to a few good catches. Light winds and warm
days would be a welcomed change and it appears some of that is in the
Decent stringers of bass have been taken lately by anglers beating the
gravel banks with crankbaits and some spinnerbaits. Alabama rigs have
been popular as well, along with some suspending jerk baits and jig and
Rocky points, gravel banks, roadbeds and even some mud sandbars have
been holding bass. Boaters have been playing the wind and working the
areas where waves are stirring up sediments and blowing in forage.
Shad have been active some days and working out away from shorelines.
However, low lake levels are exposing a lot of crappie beds and stumps
so tossing shallow running crankbaits and spinnerbaits have worked well
Bass fishermen have tolerated the wind but like the crappie anglers
across Kentucky Lake, they’re ready to see the gusts subside.
Spring has sprung but the season’s first full week pretty much beat up
on all anglers venturing out and challenging the open water of the big
pond. March has lived up once again to its mean month reputation.
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.