After a week of high winds and above normal lake levels, fishermen are hoping things settle down here on Kentucky Lake.
June doesn’t usually deliver March-type winds or rising lake levels but that’s just what anglers faced last week, dealing a mean hand to bass, crappie and catfish anglers attempting to stalk the open water areas. Anglers had to play the cards that were dealt, but it was mean out there most days.
This week started out somewhat better as lake levels have been falling slowly after cresting last week at 360.7 feet, which is some 18 inches or so above normal summer pool elevation of 359. The TVA was projecting a slow drawdown and the reservoir was back down to the 359.6 range to kick the week off with a lower forecast of 359.3 by this weekend. Rain had entered the picture at midweek and after a few wet days the forecast indicates rain chances will diminish by this weekend. Water color remains clear across the reservoir. Surface temperatures actually fell a couple of degrees last week during the cool snap as it felt like fall on some mornings. Temperatures have rebounded back to the 79- to 81-degree range now.
Bass fishing showed some improvement recently as higher lake levels inundated shoreline bushes and water willow, the popular green weeds that grow along shallow shorelines and island rims this time of year. Several schools of pin minnows, likely shad or other type fry that hatched recently, are swarming around any type of shallow habitat.
The abundant forage base has attracted bass to shallow visible structure lately where anglers are finding a few fish while tossing chartreuse/blue skirted spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms in the green pumpkin pepper colors and floating Gary Yamamoto Senko style worms in assorted colors.
As long as lake levels remain above summer pool it will inundate shoreline habitat and provide refuge to the schools of fry now roaming around. That will attract bass to shallow weeds, buck bushes and blowdowns for a few more days.
Buzzbaits and jerkbaits have also fooled a few fish into rising to the topwater presentations. A few mayflies were seen scattered about the Paris Landing area last week along river islands and near the mouth of Big Sandy and that worked in favor of the topwater bass patterns as well.
A few boats were working main lake ledges when winds would allow. With falling lake levels the ledge bite should improve this week as some current has been present and fish are likely to back off the banks even more. Swim baits, huge deep diving crankbaits, Texas rigged worms and jig and craw combos will continue to be players in the deep water bass angler’s arsenal as well as the Caroline rigged worms, craws and lizards. Crappie had a little improvement as several fish are lingering in the midrange depths of 12-14 feet. The trouble has been the wind; it wouldn’t let anglers move about and work the open water venues lately but hopefully that will improve this week. Some submerged crappie beds back in larger bays were holding on to a few fish lately, a likely result of rising lake levels that teamed up with cooler surface temperatures for a few days.
Several main lake flats and dropoffs that were unproductive last week should see improvement this week as fish pull out to their normal early summer patterns in the aftermath of weather and water level fluctuation. Producing have been live minnows and jigs tipped with minnows. Some anglers were fishing a live minnow tipped on jig heads without any skirt. The presentation was less bulky and seemed to appeal at times to finicky crappie whose bites were very light at times. Several catfish were still prowling in midrange depths and decent numbers were moving up and following rising lake levels last week.
Since then, crappie anglers have been tying into them on a regular basis while fishing midrange stakebeds and brushpiles. Depths of 12-14 feet produced catfish this week as the fish transition back out to main lake venues. Watch for the bite to improve as well on the edge of the river channel these next few weeks when current is present. A lot of catfish will occupy the 25-feet depth range soon.
Mayflies will continue to hatch as the summer progresses, although not many of the massive hatches of yesteryear are seen nowadays. Still, there could be enough at times for bluegill enthusiasts to target the aftermath of a hatch with both ultra-light tackle and crickets or fly rod and popping bug techniques.
Summer officially begins today, so it’s high time the weather, water levels and fish settled down and occupied their traditional seasonal summer hideouts. Can I get an amen on that?
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.