RISING LAKE LEVELS UNDERWAY…BASS AND CRAPPIE BITE HOLDS UP
Ray Boucher 11 lb. 7oz
Fish was weighed and released
Rain gear has been standard attire this week for fishermen as showers
have dominated the fishing scene.
Kentucky Lake has been on the rise in the aftermath of heavy rains both
locally and across the TVA valley. Despite changing conditions the bite
has held up well for both bass and crappie anglers across most of the
As the weekend approaches lake levels are somewhat above normal with
projections of 358.5 for Kentucky Dam and 358.7 upstream at New
Johnsonville. TVA’s normal curve doesn’t project the summer pool
elevation of 359 until May 1 but sometimes the reservoir rises quickly
when runoff enters the picture.
Lake levels are up about a foot from last week at this time. Surface
temperatures are resting in the 65 to 67 degree range. Water color has
some stain in the upper Big Sandy and West Sandy, along with several
creeks such as Swamp and Eagle while the main area of Big Sandy is
Crappie anglers had a pretty good week in the Paris Landing area and up
Big Sandy. Fish have been somewhat finicky at times, however, as some
north winds at midweek seemed to alter the aggressive activity enjoyed
last weekend and earlier this week.
Yet a variety of techniques are still producing as fish are spawning in
some areas and right on the threshold in others. Hefty females are being
caught sporting a bulging profile. Most appear on the verge of spawning
at any moment.
Temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid 70’s the next few days
and rain will continue throughout the weekend. Sunny days are expected
to return early next week and that should trigger a surge in spawning
Up Big Sandy boats are still flogging to the Country Junction and New
Hope area where long lining and spider rigging techniques are still
producing. Depths of 4 to 8 feet have been productive as anglers troll
Road Runners and curly tail jigs.
West Sandy has also given up a few fish as have the Swamp Creek and
Sulphur Well Island area. And, the upper end of Big Sandy in the gravel
pits sector is beginning to give up some shallow fish that just moved up
in the last few days, although water color there could turn muddy if
heavy rains continue.
Vertical style jig and minnow fishing has improved this week as anglers
worked stakebeds and brushpiles in 8 to 14 foot depths. Some nice
stringers were taken in the last few days around structure.
When fish are on the verge of spawning a lot of movement can take place
in a short time frame. Activity can improve from morning to afternoon.
Last week some fish were taken in 5 to 6 foot depths but fish appeared
to back out deeper at midweek despite rising lake levels. The cool snap
and chilling north winds likely influenced the retreat.
Watch for a quick return to shallow areas by this weekend. Several dark
male crappie were relating to shallow structure the last few days.
Although numbers have not been as high as in times past, some hefty fish
have been taken lately such as a 3.10 pound slab that earned big fish
honors in last week’s two day Crappie USA tournament. And, the winning
stringers were right on the threshold of two pound averages for several
teams in the competition.
Popular jig colors this week have ranged from blue/chartreuse to
pink/chartreuse to several variations of sparkle but some sort of
chartreuse seemed to be the preference.
Most anglers fishing manmade fish attractors are having to make a lot of
stops to earn a cooler full of fish. Beds are giving up two or three
fish with a few at times producing 4 to 6. However, some beds are void
of fish at times so anglers are having to stay on the move and knock on
a lot of doors.
Boats continue to troll the flats and main lake areas north and south of
the power lines in Big Sandy with mediocre results as most of the larger
catches are still coming from the upper Big Sandy area where fish are
staging. Active spawning phases were beginning earlier this week and the
days when light winds were present saw catches improve.
It’s not unusual to see fish scatter a bit when rising lake levels enter
the picture and that appears to be happening now. Some bank fishermen
were scoring decent catches last weekend and boaters were casting jigs
around gravel and submerged structure in shallow areas and finding fish
but that approach seem to fall off at midweek when cool conditions and
rain dampened the spirits of shallow water style fishermen.
Just how much high the reservoir will go remains to be seen as heavy
rains were expected as the weekend approaches.
Bass fishermen continue to land some trophy size fish. Ray Boucher of
Memphis fishes Big Sandy at times and reported an 11-pound plus bass
taken last week. Another 11-pound plus largemouth was taken in
Leatherwood Creek last week.
Patterns are changing quickly as rising lake levels bring more fish to
shallow shoreline habitat. In the last few days those popular yellow
flowers that grow along shallow shorelines and near buck bushes are
beginning to attract prespawn fish.
Tossing a spinnerbait, Texas rigged worms, lizards and craws, or
topwater buzzbaits and jerk baits will produce around those shallow
flower beds and assorted stickups.
Some of the bigger fish have been taken from gravel points and banks on
crankbaits and jig and craw combos, along with Rattle Trap style lures
along shorelines and up in pockets where water is a bit warmer and
runoff is entering the reservoir via feeder creeks.
The bass picture is changing daily as fish are now being caught in
places that were almost high and dry last week or too shallow to fish.
Upper ends of creeks are dingy as feeder ditches have been delivering a
lot of runoff.
No doubt shad are moving up quickly and blitzing toward the newly
inundated grass and shoreline habitat. Bass know it and are staging just
off the shorelines following the fresh water’s journey.
It should be an interesting week ahead for both bass and crappie anglers
as it appears warm sunny days and rising lake levels will soon meet.
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.