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May 16, 2013
LAKE LEVELS FALLING…IS KENTUCKY LAKE’S FISHING SCENE HEADED BACK TO
Lake levels are falling fast as TVA really pulled the plug this week and
anglers are trying to adapt to the rapidly changing reservoir. Anglers
are altering their game on a daily basis but some dandy catches continue
to roll in for bass, catfish, and bluegill fishermen this week.
Most of us can’t remember when normal lake stages were part of the
fishing picture as it has been a very unusual spring with an extended
spell of very high water that has altered fishing patterns for just
about every species.
Rising temperatures and falling lake levels best describe this week’s
fishing scene but bedding bluegill and shellcracker have kept
panfishermen busy as have a few scattered crappie that began to show
some interest too.
Hefty stringers of bass continue to come in with a variety of patterns
producing again this week. Catfish are in the spawning mode and testing
the tackle of anglers working rocky bluffs and shallow buck bushes.
Surface temperatures this week have been in the 69 to 72 degree range.
Expect temps to warm another degree or two this weekend as warm weather
is in the forecast.
Water color has been dingy on the Tennessee River and inside many
pockets off the main lake as the drastic drawdown has really been
pulling water from upstream. In the Big Sandy area the water color is
Elevation is changing daily as TVA has been dropping the lake six to 10
inches a day. Projections going into the weekend show an elevation of
361.9 at Kentucky Dam and 361.6 at New Johnsonville. Those readings are
down about three feet from earlier in the week.
Anglers can expect a lot of current to continue in the main channel
until TVA achieves summer pool status of 359, which could occur by the
middle of next week.
How as the rapid drawdown affected the overall fishing scene? Despite
the changes taking place anglers have kept up with the bedding bluegill
that have backed out of many shoreline buck bushes and trees and chosen
to fan beds in open water gravel bars and mudflats near shoreline
A few more shellcracker were showing up in the creel of anglers this
week and there have been a few dandies eclipsing the one-pound mark.
Watch for action to hold up well for another week or two as the fish
transition back to normal bedding areas now that lake levels are going
back down toward normal ranges.
Crickets have been the bait of choice for bluegill with redworms and
meal worms working well on shellcracker.
Bass anglers continue to reap dividends from outside buck bushes and
willow trees where tossing a blue/chartreuse colored skirt with a gold
willow leaf has worked well. Pitching a jig and pig combo, lizard, and
Texas rigged worm has worked too.
While the shallow structure has been holding a lot of bass look for the
fish to really pull out to the outside cover the next few day as falling
lake stages will see fish occupy spots near deeper feeder creeks or on
steeper banks where deep water is close by.
Throwing topwater jerk baits has worked lately too has have a few
buzzbaits. Those shallow grassbeds are about to return to the menu.
A deeper pattern continues to pay off too as some anglers are finding
big deep diving crankbaits working well on secondary ledges, especially
those that are near spawning spots where fish have fallen back toward
deeper venues in their post-spawn phase.
Other popular choices have been Carolina rigged lizards and worms along
with jig and pig combos and Texas rigged worms. Some fish were schooling
near island rims and ledges out near the main channel where current was
an influencing factor as to their whereabouts.
Crappie showed some signs of improvement this week and should get back
to a more structure oriented pattern once lake levels settle down. There
were still a few scattered fish lingering around buck bushes this week
but watch for those fish to leave most of the stickups and fall back to
midrange depth zones of 10 to 14 foot depths in the days ahead.
Although many crappie are still a little stressed from the spawning
ritual numbers will improve quickly as they begin to congregate around
deep structure such as brushpiles and stakebeds by early next week.
Catfish have been biting good this week, especially for those anglers
working rocky bluffs or rip-rap banks. The fish are searching for those
submerged crevices to broadcast their eggs and some big females are
territorial right now and wiling to test your tackle should you enter
the danger zone with night crawlers, chicken livers or various
All anglers have had to endure another week of changing conditions as
high winds a few days added insult to injury but it appears Kentucky
Lake is headed back to normal elevation. While some anglers have been
intimidated by all the high water these last few weeks others have
solved the puzzle and managed to pattern the bass, bluegill and catfish
on a pretty consistent basis.
It will be nice to see the lake with a normal face for a change once
stability returns. Hang in there for a few more days as things are
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.