Kentucky Lake anglers got a little help from the weather man this week and rebounded a bit, courtesy of mild temperatures and light winds.

Crappie fishermen wasted no time in capitalizing on the opportunity and hit the water earlier this week with a lot of “catching up” on their minds.

Anglers for the last few weeks have not had the weatherman on their side.

From rainy days to high winds and low temperatures, it seems the stars have not been in line for late-fall anglers lately.

But this week, fishermen jumped at the opportunity and hit the lake with a vengeance.

Several boats were out stalking everything from shallow stakebeds to midrange depths and even some deep main lake ledges in hopes of finding a few of their favorite panfish.

The overall consensus seemed to be tough fishing for most, but there were some success stories.

A few boats fishing the Tennessee River portion and bays along the east side of the reservoir seemed to fare better than anglers stalking the deep drop-offs or manmade fish attractors in midrange depths throughout the Big Sandy and West Sandy sector.

A few successful reports came in from boaters working the mouth of bays along the east side of the reservoir, where deeper crappie were hiding on the down current sides of submerged creek channels and dodging the current, which has been flowing pretty well recently.

Depths of 14-18 feet were holding fish for a few anglers who presented both live minnows and jigs to entice the late-fall fish to bite.

By the way, winter officially begins today, so the transition of seasons is about to take place.

Surface temperatures this week hovered around the 47-degree mark. Water color was clearing across most of the reservoir since last week’s rains.

However, rain was entering the picture as this report was written, but should move out by the weekend.

Lake levels have been above normal winter pool for several weeks, with more than the average amount of fluctuation for late fall.

Elevation rose a few inches last week, but crested earlier in the week and began falling slowly on Wednesday.

TVA was projecting the elevation to be about 355.4 by this weekend at Kentucky Dam.

Upstream around New Johnsonville, lake levels will likely be a few inches lower, depending on how much rain enters the region after the wet forecast fades away.

After a brief cool snap to kick off the weekend, temperatures are forecast to moderate slightly by late this weekend and stabilize to moderate temperatures to kick off Christmas week.

A few bass fishermen took advantage of the moderate weather at midweek and were out in force tossing crankbaits, suspending jerk baits and some jig-and-pig combinations.

No huge stringers were reported, but anglers did manage to tie into a few decent-size bass to help break their late-fall fishing blues.

Meanwhile, crappie anglers will be testing the deep main lake ledges in the days ahead, in hopes of locating some schools of stubborn crappie, once the current settles down.

It’s tough being a weatherman this time of year. Anglers want warm temperatures and light winds; waterfowlers prefer bone chilling north winds and falling temperatures!

The fall fishing scene has now traded pages on the calendar. Let the winter fishing scene begin.

 

WATERFOWL ESTIMATES LAG

The most recent aerial surveys, flown on Dec. 11 along the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge at Kentucky Lake, showed numbers of ducks and geese down significantly from the long-term averages.

Since then, mild weather has dominated the waterfowl scene both here and across a four-state region. Plus, a lot of water is out along the Mississippi River drainage areas of Arkansas, Bootheel of Missouri, Western Kentucky and West Tennessee. Illinois had its share, too.

Mix warm weather with wet conditions, and the ducks have lots of places to go and don’t have to move around much. That appears to be the case for most hunters here in Dixie as of late.

Meanwhile, aerial surveys estimated a total of 64,350 ducks on the entire refuge and a mere 3,797 geese. There were 30 eagles observed on the refuge, as well.

Of the three units on the TNWR, the Duck River unit was holding the lion’s share with 40,731 out of the total estimate. The Big Sandy unit was estimated to be holding 22,093 out of the total count.

The small Busseltown unit south of New Johnsonville had 1,526 ducks out of the total estimate.

Topping the species list were mallards at 41,788, while second were gadwalls at 7,401, followed by pintails, 4,133; greenwing teal, 3,622; and ringneck, 2,956.

Compared to the long-term average on the refuge, the duck numbers were down 26 percent for the five-year; 28 percent for the 10-year; and 19 percent below the 25-year average for this time of year.

 

STATE PARK OFFERS HIKES

Tennessee State Parks host five annual ranger-lead hikes throughout the year. A variety of educational activities and interpretive programs complement each park’s hike.

We can’t think of a better way to start out the new year than enjoying the outdoors at a Tennessee State Park.

Join rangers at one of 55 free, ranger-led hikes on Jan. 1.

Hikes on the horizon are:

First-Day Hike — Monday, Jan. 1

Spring Hike — Saturday, March 23

National Trails Day Hike - Saturday, June 1

National Public Lands Day Hike - Saturday, Sept. 28

For additional info on hiking, log onto State.Parks@tn.gov.

 

REFUGE VISITOR CENTER CLOSURES

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced holiday closures for the refuge office and visitor center, which is normally open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.

The center will be closed Monday and Tuesday for Christmas and reopen Wednesday for normal hours.

The refuge office and visitor center also will be closed Dec. 31-Jan. 1 and reopen Wednesday.

For more information, please contact the refuge office at 642-2091.

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