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May 17, 2012
BLUEGILL BITE STILL ON…BASS ON THE BARS AS CRAPPIE IMPROVE…LAKE LEVELS
Although still some 18 inches or so below normal summer pool level,
Kentucky Lake actually had a rise in elevation this week after heavy
rains to our south finally sent some runoff into the TVA valley.
Temperatures heated up at midweek but the bluegill bite has been hot for
over two weeks as hefty stringers of big bull bream continue to dominate
the fishing scene for sportfishermen across the reservoir.
Crappie action has improved this week too as increased numbers of bigger
fish were showing up in the creel of anglers working structure in the 7
to 11 foot zones.
Overall bass activity has been good too as the lion’s share of big
stringers continue to come from anglers beating the main lake sandbars
with deep diving crankbaits.
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene enjoyed nice weather and light winds have
been pretty kind to anglers. There were a few mornings when a north wind
had a nip in the air but stable May weather patterns have returned as
temps are forecasted to be in the low to mid 80’s for the next several
Surface temps heated up to the 77 to 79 degree range at midweek after
cooling down late last week. Water color remains clear.
Lake levels experienced a slight rise for a few days and debris was
floating as grass and some shoreline driftwood indicated a sluggish
increase in elevation was underway. However, the reservoir is still
almost two feet below summer pool in the New Johnsonville area.
Projections for the approaching weekend indicate the elevation will be
357.3 at Kentucky Dam, which is the highest elevation thus far this
spring. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels will be in the 357.1
range, which is up several inches from last week at this time but still
well below the normal summer pool mark of 359.
Coolers full of big, rusty bluegill continue to come in from anglers
tossing crickets and wax worms in the 3 to 6 foot zones. Bedding has
been underway for over two weeks but in the last day or two more females
have moved up and entered the bedding areas, a sign that peak activity
may have occurred during the last week or ten days.
That’s not to say some good bluegill action doesn’t remain but the ideal
scenario is finding the big males dominating the bedding areas, which
has been the case since early May. Once the females start showing up in
increased numbers there seems to be a slight decline in the percentage
of big bulls in concentrated areas.
Anglers can expect to find plenty of good ones still lingering slightly
offshore but may move up toward shallows if lake levels continue to rise
in the next few days.
Shellcracker continue to win the hide-and-go-seek game this spring as a
few good ones are being caught but numbers have not been abundant.
Overall it has been difficult to find concentrations of shellcracker for
most panfishermen this spring.
Just exactly where the illusive olive drab redear sunfish hide has been
a mystery for even some veteran anglers this spring. No doubt the lake
levels have been a factor but the pattern has been puzzling while the
big bream have helped fill the void most days.
From the bass department comes continued success for boaters banging the
sandbars with big deep diving crankbaits. Most all of the recent
tournament wins have come from anglers concentrating their efforts on
ledge fishing and the shad colored variations have been the bait of
Although some trophy bass have been taken in a few recent events that
eclipsed the 8-pound mark, the common denominator among the ranks has
been lots of fish caught but struggles in locating bigger fish. Some
pretty good schools have been located where numbers were abundant but
most of the fish were in the 2 to 3 pound range or smaller.
Carolina and Alabama rigs have produced well lately and several boats
are tossing big Texas rigged worms in hopes of fooling some big fish but
the worm and jig bite has lived in the shadow of the crankbait bite
lately. Although no reports of aquatic vegetation have come in from the
Paris Landing area north, some Eurasian watermilfoil has been reported
south of the New Johnsonville sector.
With clear water and low lake levels the recipe is right for the return
of aquatic vegetation this spring and summer. Anglers could see a surge
in grassbeds in the weeks ahead.
Crappie showed improvement this week as some cloudy days seemed to
stimulate the bite. Structure in the 7 to 11 foot zones gave up some
good fish as anglers vertical fished jigs tipped with minnows for the
highest level of success.
There are a few scattered crappie lingering in stakebeds and brushpiles
in 5 to 7 foot zones but will continue to move toward midrange depths as
the surface temps increase the next week or so.
While some boats pulling long lines with jigs were struggling, others
fishing structure in a slow, methodical manner were doing well. Popular
colors have ranged from purple/chartreuse to blue/clear, and some
red/white and black/chartreuse variations.
Catfish were biting for anglers fishing nightcrawlers around shallow
flats and sugmerged structures in the 4 to 8 foot zones. Low lake levels
have influenced the fish to spawn out away from some shallow rock
shorelines this spring as the traditional areas have just been too
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene had another good report card this week as
high marks were documented for bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish.
Despite the continuation of low lake levels catch rates have been good
for anglers who have adapted to different depths and learned to play the
game where the rules have changed this spring for practically all
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.