Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene is waving goodbye to a stubborn summer. Autumn angling starts Saturday, as that’s the official change of seasons.
For a legion of disgruntled bass, crappie and catfish anglers, it’s not a bit too soon. Most are anxious to put the hot and humid weather in their rearview mirror.
With the arrival of autumn traditionally comes improved fishing conditions, as cooler days and nights influence cooler surface temperatures across the reservoir, and that sort of rejuvenates both the fish and the fishermen.
Jacket mornings and shirt sleeve afternoons seem to improve the overall atmosphere.
Fall is indeed a great season for a variety of reasons, namely stable weather conditions and lake levels along with uncrowded boat ramps and fishing spots.
People seem to enjoy fishing fish more than fighting a crowd.
Also on the list of attributes is improved fishing for several species that seem to respond favorably to the cooler surface temperatures.
Although above-average temperatures descended and lingered this week, odds are their stay is limited, as cool nights are fast approaching.
Surface temperatures this week started out about 78-79 degrees in the morning and warmed to 82 degrees by midday. Hopefully, cooler days soon will enter the forecast, along with a little rain.
Lake levels have fluctuated this week by a few inches, which is uncharacteristic for mid- to late September.
After rising several inches since last week, the TVA quickly began pulling water through Kentucky Dam, and the elevation is now falling a few inches each day.
The lake had a little surge late last week, but crested by the weekend and began falling slowly.
TVA is projecting an elevation of 356.6 by this weekend at Kentucky Dam, which is down more than a foot since late last week. Lake levels upstream around New Johnsonville will be about 356.4 and also falling.
Crappie anglers still are struggling to put together consistent patterns and productive depth ranges.
Some fish were taken this week by boaters slow-trolling Road Runners along main lake ledges around depths of 10-14 feet.
Other patterns such as spider rigging and slow-trolling crankbaits produced some scattered fish, but no big numbers.
Those vertical-fishing jigs and jigs tipped with live minnows had similar results, as fish were finicky and reluctant to bite at times.
Several small fish were taken, but numbers of keeper-size crappie continue to evade fishermen.
Watch for improvement in the weeks ahead, however. Once surface temps dip into the low to mid-70s, crappie should show more interest and begin to move up to midrange depths.
That pattern started to materialize last week, but hot weather returned and slowed the transition.
Bass anglers also are experiencing tough times. Some low weights have been recorded lately in bass tournaments up and down the reservoir, a clear indication the bite has been off.
Boaters have been trying shallow gravel banks and also searching around boat houses, piers and roadbeds in hopes of finding some shallow fish. Results have been hard to come by.
Those backing off the banks and stalking main lake ledges in a typical summer pattern also have found steep hills to climb.
Deep ledges and sandbars haven’t given up buried treasures, either. Some fish have been taken on crankbaits, spoons and Texas-rigged worms, but there hasn’t been consistency among the ranks.
A few shad were seen on shallow flats around 3- to 5-foot depths and that should lure some roaming bass.
Tossing Rattle Trap-style lures should help anglers cover a lot of water while searching for open-water roaming bass.
Catfishing improved slightly this week, thanks to increased current. The moving water seemed to stimulate some shad movement, and the catfish responded favorably at times.
Depths of 30-35 feet were producing. Baits such as nightcrawlers, chicken liver and some big minnows were producing.
Now that fall has officially arrived, the fishing scene should heat up a bit as temps cool.
Anglers are overdue for some good days out there, and the coming weeks should hold up to fall’s reputation as a good time to be on the lake.
NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY
In honor of National Public Lands Day on Saturday, Tennessee state parks, friends groups and Tennessee state natural areas are hosting a variety of volunteer stewardship projects, and free hikes and interpretive programs.
“We invite Tennesseans of all ages to join us in showing respect and appreciation for the beautiful public lands we call home,” said Brock Hill, Department of Environment and Conservation deputy commissioner.
“We’re grateful to Governor Haslam for declaring September 22 Tennessee Public Lands Day in recognition of the
valuable role our public lands play for Tennessee’s environment and economy, as well as the strong volunteer spirit that’s alive and well across our state.”
This year, a variety of events and service projects are planned, including litter cleanups, trail maintenance activities, ranger-led hikes and canoe floats.
Events will be held at different times throughout the day, and some parks are hosting multiple events.
Last year, more than 1,000 people participated in this day of service.
National Public Lands Day began in 1994 with just three federal agencies and 700 volunteers.
Now in its 25th year, the special day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands, which make up more than 30 percent of America’s landscape.
For more information, including a list of hikes and events statewide, visit www.tnstateparks.com/about/special-events/national-public-lands-day-hikes.
FRIENDS OF NRA
The Henry County Friends of the National Rifle Association will host their annual appreciation banquet on Sept. 29 at the Paris Convention Center, 1510 E. Wood St. Tickets are $30.
Hulme Sporting Goods has donated two rifles for door prizes. Early bird tickets that were sold before last Saturday make the ticket holders eligible to win a Remington .308 Model 783 Rifle.
And a door prize – Ruger 10/22 Takedown Camo Rifle 22LR — will be given away, and you must be present to win both door prizes.
Tickets can be purchased locally at Hulme and from JMC Firearms. You also can purchase tickets online at www.friendsofnra.org/tn/events.
For additional info on the event, contact Robert Horner at 333-9151.
MONARCHS, BEES AND POLLINATORS
The Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge invites you and your family to attend an event from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 29 at the refuge visitor center located at 1371 Wildlife Drive in Springville, as they celebrate important pollinators.
The day will feature speakers and activities that focus on monarchs and other butterflies, bees and insect pollinators.
Partner organizations assisting with the day include the Friends of the Refuge, Quail Forever and the Kentucky Lake Beekeepers Association.
For additional info, call the refuge office at 642-2091.
STATE GETS CONSERVATION FUNDS
Secretary of the Interior Ryan K. Zinke announced a $1.9 million distribution from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to Tennessee for state-identified outdoor recreation and conservation projects.
This is part of a $100 million distribution from the fund to all 50 states, the territories and the District of Columbia.
Funds are non-taxpayer dollars derived from Outer Continental Shelf lease revenues and are awarded through federal matching grants administered by the National Park Service.
“The LWCF State and Local Assistance Program leverages public and private investment in America’s state and local parks and exemplifies my priorities to improve and expand outdoor recreation and access, and bolster state and local community recreation, tourism, and economic goals,” Zinke said.
“I support permanent reauthorization of LWCF and am hopeful that Congress will pass this important bill before the deadline.”
The fund was established by Congress in 1965 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations.
The fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to permanently conserve outdoor recreation areas for public use and enjoyment.
The funds enable state and local governments to improve park and other recreation areas in their communities by rehabilitating and upgrading existing parks, creating brand new parks in places that have none, and developing and expanding trail systems that link communities to each other and to additional outdoor recreation opportunities.
Saturday — Archery deer season opens.
Saturday — National Hunting and Fishing Day; National Public Lands Day.
Wednesday — Waterfowl Blind Quota Hunt/Sandhill Crane Application Deadline.
Sept. 28, — First segment of dove season ends.
Sept. 28-29 — C&O Marine bass tournament, PLSP.
Sept. 29 — Friends of NRA banquet, Paris Civic Center.
Sept. 29 — Monarchs, Bees and Pollinators Event, Visitor Center, Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge.