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Jane and Tom from TN 2017
Kentucky Lake Crappie Fishing
"1 pole jig fishing"
FALL OFFICIALLY HERE…BOATERS USE CAUTION IN LOW LAKE LEVELS
Fall officially arrives Friday but where did that fall weather go we had
back in early September? That’s what anglers are asking now that hot and
humid days are back on the Kentucky Lake fishing scene.
Those jacket mornings and shirt sleeve afternoons faded fast as summer
conditions returned this week, bringing hot days back to the fishing
picture. Anglers are yearning for cooler times as we got spoiled for a
couple of weeks when everyone thought an early fall was here to stay.
Surface temperatures this week reflect the warm night and hot days.
Readings are starting out in the early morning hours around 76 but
warming to the 79 to 80 degree mark by midafternoon. Temps had cooled
down to 73 degrees a couple of weeks ago but have rebounded since.
Lake levels have been falling slowly this week but are relatively stable
now. Elevation is projected to be in the 355.3 range at Kentucky Dam
this weekend. Upstream at New Johnsonville TVA predicts somewhat lower
lake levels with a reading of 354.9.
With the reservoir creeping back down near its low ebb of winter pool
pleasure boaters and anglers need to pay close attention to channel
markers and resist the temptation to take those open water shortcuts.
Several shallow sandbars and stump fields are now just right to play
havoc on the lower unit of your outboard motor or boat hull.
Crappie that had shown additional interest and moved up shallow earlier
in the month have now pulled back to somewhat deeper depths in response
to higher surface temps and lower lake levels. Fish had been hitting
pretty good in 7 to 10 foot depths last week but action there has
Depths of 16 to 22 feet are holding increased numbers of crappie this
week. There are still a few fish holding on to the 12 to 14 foot depth
range in places but they’re quite scattered.
Transition time usually begins for crappie in early September as schools
of baitfish meander toward shallow venues, bringing crappie and bass
with them. However, once cool and cloudy days disappear it seems the
fish take on a lethargic mood, especially when a high sun takes over
without any wind on the lake.
Anglers are still managing to find big numbers of fish but the size
continues to plague most who are somewhat mystified at the low number of
big crappie showing up. Most days you can expect to cull the majority of
your catch, which are just short of the 10-inch minimum length limit.
There are a few making the cut but it’s pretty clear there’s a weak year
class of fish in that 4-year plus range. Crappie in the 1-pound plus
category have been tough to come by in significant numbers.
Once cooler weather returns anglers will likely see the bite improve
from a few more big fish but right now there’s an abundance of crappie
in the 8 ½ to 9 ¾ inch range sporting an appetite. Expect to utilize
your culling board a lot!
Also competing with the crappie are those pesky yellow bass which never
seem to get their fill. The aggressive little rascals are out in force
during the fall and will nail a minnow or jig that enters their depth
Fun to catch as they put up quite a tug. However, they are so
competitive you sometimes have to catch several before you can ever get
the bait down into structure where sluggish crappie are holding. Expect
to encounter these yellow bandits wherever you go on Kentucky Lake.
Meanwhile, crappie are taking live minnows when fished on bottom bumping
tightline rigs or when added to a jig. Popular jig colors have been
pink/chartreuse, black/chartreuse, blue with sparkle and some
pearl/chartreuse just to name a few.
A few boats are still slow trolling crankbaits and Roadrunners along
main lake ledges and back inside of big bays where some scattered,
suspended crappie are staging. Once cooler surface temps return and fish
will likely head to structure and take on a more aggressive attitude in
Bass fishermen have returned to a summer pattern lately in response to
the hot weather. Some are targeting the main lake ledges in the same
manner they did during the hot summer months.
Tossing crankbaits and Texas rigged worms, along with swim baits and
Rattle Trap style lures has been the most popular presentations. A few
boats are working the big bays and looking for some shallow schooling
fish in the upper ends but action there had been unpredictable.
No aquatic vegetation is present across most of the reservoir so bass
fishermen are looking at shallow sandbars and ledges in the main lake
while hoping for some help from slow moving current. The current
stimulates baitfish activity so ledge fishermen always yearn for
A few bass had begun to move up on shallow gravel banks and roadbeds
until the hot weather backed them off. Nowadays there is a little window
of opportunity in the early morning and late afternoons but the shallow
or topwater bite has a very short window most days unless a rainy or
cloudy day enters the picture.
Not to worry as some cooler days will be back soon. Add a little cloud
cover to the scene or perhaps a slow drizzle and both bass and crappie
fishermen will see a quick turnaround in the fall bite.
Fall is now the official season. Fall weather will return soon so don’t
bury those long sleeve shirts and jackets too deep in the closet. You’ll
need them again soon!
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.