Summer temperatures arrive early for anglers; catfish/bluegill bite good

Hoisting up a 60-plus-pound flathead catfish he caught last week on Kentucky Lake is Tommy Scarbrough of Buchanan. Although the fish broke his pole, he still managed to land the lunker after a half-hour battle. He credited the catch taken in 35 feet of water to a nightcrawler. Observing his catch are Luke and Eleanor Scarbrough.

Summer temperatures arrived a bit early this week for late spring anglers who got a pretty good dose of heat and humidity while out there on the water.

The rising temps seemed to have a positive impact on the spawning phases of bluegill this week as the warm spell coincided with a full moon at midweek and the scenario stimulated a mood swing. Bull bream seemed to take on a more aggressive mood the last few days and the bite improved.

Once rising temperatures arrived it seemed to stimulate active spawning phases and the males took on a more protective attitude. 

That worked in favor of fishermen as a full moon in May is known to activate bedding activity anyway.

Increased number of nice bull bluegill were caught this week by anglers tossing crickets, redworms and wax worms around shallow weeds and shoreline bushes. 

A few redear were taken as well but it has been mostly bluegill for the legion of panfishermen casting light tackle armed with slip bobber style setups.

Anglers should see another week or two of decent bluegill fishing before they scatter somewhat and enter the post-spawn phase. Until then best hit the lake and partake of this great fishing phase.

Bluegill on the bed will cure whatever ails you as that bobber disappearing never seems to go out of style. Whether you’re 8 or 88 years of age makes no difference. Seeing a bobber disappear will return your youth for at least a day or two when under the spell of these aggressive panfish.

Meanwhile, lake levels have experienced minor fluctuations this week and TVA was projecting an elevation in the range of 359.2 feet for the Memorial Day weekend in the Kentucky Dam sector. 

Surface temperatures have reflected the hot days and warm nights and have climbed to the 74- to 76-degree range across the reservoir.

Warmer days have sent bass anglers out toward deeper water in an attempt to locate post-spawn fish transitioning toward humps and main lake ledges.

Some fish have been taken out there, too, on days when some current stimulated the ledge bite. Moving water always seems to increase movement of shad schools and that enhances the ledge style of fishing.

Several anglers were opting to keep pitching and flipping shoreline structure where some buck bushes and willow trees were producing decent fish. 

From pitching Texas rigged craws and worms to lizards and jig and craw combos, anglers opting for the shallow pattern were scoring.

Some small schools of pin minnows were observed by anglers working both island rims and bushes in the backs of bays. 

The schools of shad fry were small but the observation is a good sign for the weeks ahead as that should provide a good forage base and attract fish to shallow cover as summer approaches.

Out on the main lake ledges, anglers are already tossing big crankbaits and covering a lot of water in their quest to locate some bass that have already backed off the banks and began their summer holding patterns.

Catfish have been biting this week and some hefty stringers were taken along the main river channel when current was present. 

Depths of 35-50 feet have given up a lot of fish recently as most anglers were bottom bumping double hook rigs armed with nightcrawlers or chicken livers.

Not all the fish have gone deep yet, as some bank fishermen working rocky banks were still encountering plenty of fish. Some late spawners were still relating to rip-rap rock banks and rocky bluffs at times.

A few crappie were taken in depths of 12-14 feet, but the fish have been scattered for most anglers. 

Most fishermen were vertical fishing live minnows and jigs around midrange depths and picking up scattered fish at times around manmade fish attractors.

With rising surface temperatures now entering the picture, look for more crappie to reside in the midrange depths of 12-15 feet in the weeks ahead. 

The bite should improve as June is a month with stability as to weather and lake levels and the crappie will better relate to structure in the weeks ahead.

 

RIVER DAYS AT LBL

The Friends of Land Between the Lakes invite you to splash on out to the Woodlands Nature Station in Land Between the Lakes this Memorial Day Weekend for River Days.

Encounter live animals, kid-friendly activities and games and more, all dedicated to celebrating our area’s mighty rivers. Discover the Nature Station’s resident denizens of the deep — the alligator snapping turtles. Marvel at the elegance of Artemis, the American bald eagle. 

Celebrate the watery world with the whole family. There is so much to see and do that Nature Station is extending its closing time to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Canoe and kayak rentals on Honker Lake begin on Memorial Day weekend. Hourly rentals start at 10 a.m. and all boats must to be back to shore by 4:30 p.m. Rental rates are $15 a boat for each hour. 

Visitors must check in and pre-pay at the Woodlands Nature Station to rent a canoe or kayak (weather permitting). For more information, call 270-924-2299. 

 

CAMPERS INCREASING

Americans planning to get out and camp this Memorial Day weekend may find it difficult to find a spot alone. Consumer demand this spring for camping tents is up 97% compared to the same period in 2020 and up 85% compared to 2019, indicating consumers should be bracing for what might be the busiest camping season ever.

Ahead of Memorial Day, the data science team at Pattern, a global ecommerce company,  tracked consumer demand — or the number of people shopping for a given item during a given period — for camping gear during every day of 2019, 2020 and 2021 (so far) to understand how Americans might be planning to spend their Memorial Day weekend.

Here’s what they found:

• onthly demand for camping gear, overall — like tents, lanterns, backpacks and camp stoves — is up 25% this spring compared to the same period in 2020 and up 86% compared to 2019.

• emand for sleeping bags is up 73% this spring compared to the same period in 2020 and up 201% compared to 2019.

• emand for camping chairs is up 128% this spring compared to the same period in 2020 and up 123% compared to 2019.

 

TENNESSEE 10TH IN FOREST GROWTH

Despite experiencing dramatic population growth in the past century — which can lead to deforestation, both to use timber and to clear land for new development—the amount of forested land in the United States has remained at around the same level over time, between 700 and 800 million acres.

Whether as an environmental protection strategy or to reap continued economic benefits, some states manage significant forest growth each year. Researchers ranked states according to the net growth-to-removals ratio of forest trees.

There are approximately 13.9 million acres of forest land in Tennessee, or about 53% of all Tennessee land. Each year, Tennessee manages a 2.3 net growth-to-removals ratio of forest trees. Out of the 39 states with complete data, Tennessee is experiencing the 10th-most forest growth.

For additional data and a detailed report, log onto the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory & Analysis Program (FIA): www.cliqproducts.com/blogs/news/states-experiencing-the-most-forest-growth.

 

SPORTSMEN’S CALENDAR

Today — Last day of National Safe Boating Week.

Saturday-Sunday — Appleseed Marksmanship Rifle Clinic, Henry County Gun Club, Puryear.

Saturday-Monday — LBL Woodlands Nature Center River Days.

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