Late fall fishing has been kind to anglers this week as sunny days teamed up with light winds to deliver picture perfect days out on Kentucky Lake. Temperatures were above normal for several days, allowing those outdoors to bask in the glow of a late fall sun and partake of the parade of colors on display from the hillsides. Seems the peak of the leaves was a week to 10 days behind schedule this year but no complaints as it has been a sight to see out there on the lake, seeing the images mirrored in the placid waters. Several mornings have seen fog hang around for several hours and that’s as much a part of fall fishing as falling leaves. Chilly starts gave way to warm afternoons. Fishermen best brace for a change in weather as it appears cooler days are ahead preceded by some thunderstorms, wind and rain, say the weather gurus. Tossing another log on the fire may be in store for the weekend. Daytime highs reached the mid-70s earlier this week but by this weekend outdoorsmen can look for a 20-degree drop — if not more — in daytime highs. By early next week some nighttime lows could drop below the freezing mark. So, the honeymoon with near perfect weather this past week will slowly fade away. Time to dig out the coveralls and heavy jackets. Surface temperatures this week on Kentucky Lake started the mornings out in the 57-degree range and warmed slightly during the days. Water color has been relatively clear across the reservoir. Lake levels are sleeping at a low ebb of winter pool range with readings at the 354.4-feet mark at Kentucky Dam and across the whole reservoir. It bears repeating that boaters best use extreme caution this time of year. The low lake stages of winter pool will fool some people and cause boat and motor damage when taking shortcuts out on main lake areas. It’s best to pay close attention to channel markers this time of year. Even a lot of boat ramps are challenging this time of year as launching or loading can present challenges. Use caution and don’t tear up your trailer or boat motor’s lower unit when loading on shallow ramps. Crappie anglers have benefited from the nice days lately and have managed to find enough fish to keep the interest level high. Thanks to light winds, boaters have been able to fish anywhere they like without worry of whitecaps pushing them out of their favorite fishing holes. FISH ARE HIGH QUALITY A pretty good grade of fish has been taken by anglers lately using both live bait and jigs. Productive depth ranges have been 10 to 14 feet for most of the anglers using vertical presentations over their manmade fish attractors such as stakebeds and brushpiles. Yet there’s always a few boaters doing something different out there on the big pond and some reports credit their catches to deeper structure in the 16- to 20-foot zones. Finding that deep cover will often deliver a few nice crappie this time of year. Most anglers are still having to make a lot of stops to accumulate a hefty stringer. While crappie are still somewhat scattered for the bulk of anglers, one consolation prize has been the size of fish being caught. Some nice ones are biting with a few eclipsing the 1-1/2-pound mark. And, a few slabs have been taken this week that even crossed the 2-pound crest, so that’s some nice ones in anyone’s book. Tipping jigs with minnows has paid dividends at times. A few anglers are opting to use jigs only and credit their success to the solid body grubs such as Bobby Garland’s style in such colors as Threadfin shad, Monkey’s Milk, blue/ chartreuse and clear with sparkle. November has a good reputation for crappie anglers on Kentucky Lake. Sometimes you have to play the weather and dodge the wind but it’s a month that can provide some good fishing as the fish transition toward midrange to shallow depths. BASS A BIT SLUGGISH Bass anglers are tossing their usual fall arsenal of shadcolored crankbaits and finding a few fish moving up to gravel banks and rip-rap shorelines. The traditional early morning and late afternoon patterns for topwater activity have been sluggish to produce this fall. Seems the usual influx of threadfin shad approaching gravel banks in the low light conditions of early morning and late afternoon have not been there. No doubt that has altered the topwater bite. A few boats are still backing off the banks and casting toward long sloping points or shallow flats where a few shad have been schooling at times. Seeing some white bass or yellow bass busting the surface signals the presence of baitfish. Another key sign is the sight of gulls as they will help you find the baitfish. Tossing chrome and blue colored Rattle Trap style lures will help cover a lot of water and mimic the blitzing shad that flee from the predator fish. Some topwater action can trigger strikes, too, and help created a little feeding frenzy once the white bass start busting and trigger the whole area to respond. Fall catfish are still biting, too, and a few boats are playing the current and fishing around bridge piers or just slowly drifting along with the current, allowing it to slowly take them along the river channel as they bump bottom with double hood rigs. And so it appears the fishing scene will encounter a few days of cooler weather which may curtail activity. Watch more temps to moderate by late next week once the cool front passes, allowing more nice fall weather to return.
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s Outdoors writer. His email address is email@example.com