Kentucky Lake’s summer fishing scene has been at the mercy of hot and humid conditions this week. Anglers have had to play a mean hand as the cards dealt by weathermen have not been kind.

Early morning activity hasn’t been all bad and anglers who hit the lake at daylight are able to get in several hours of fishing before the sun takes over and dictates the rest of the day.

Temperatures the last week or so have climbed to the upper 90s at times for daytime highs and that has separated the men from the boys as far as midday fishing is concerned. It’s pretty tough to stay out there in those conditions.

Although temps have been rising, lake levels have been falling. Elevation projected for this weekend in the Kentucky Dam area will see the reservoir creeping down to the 358.1-feet mark. That’s several inches lower than last week at this time and almost a foot below the normal summer pool mark recorded in early July.

The TVA is pretty much on schedule with its annual curve for winter drawdown as it begins every year in early July. A slow and gradual drop in lake stages will continue through late summer and fall in order to create more storage capacity when fall and winter rains occur.

Surface temperatures reflect the hot days and nights, too. Not much cooling has taken place at night lately as the readings are staying in the 85- to 88-degree range. Water color remains clear.

Catfishermen continue to catch decent stringers as the bite has held up along the main river channel areas. The presence of current has contributed to the bite as it stimulates movement from schools of shad. Moving water seems to stir up the plankton so movement in the lower food chain has had a positive effect as catfish stay on the prowl if their forage base is on the move.

Anglers are reminded to keep your fish on ice this time of year and don’t rely on livewells. The fish cannot tolerate the hot water in a livewell and the ice chest will preserve the flavor of your fish once they’re on ice.

Depths of 30 to 40 feet have given up decent numbers lately but some fish are residing in the 20- to 25-feet depth range as well. Baits of choice continue to be nightcrawlers, big minnows, chicken liver and catalpa worms if you can find them.

Bass fishermen are hitting some blowdowns in the early morning hours where schools of pin minnows are holding on the down current sides of any logs or treelaps that extend into deeper water. 

A few fish were taken on topwater around the perimeter of weedbeds but lower lake levels are pulling the baitfish out of visible cover this week.

Main lake ledges are where most summer bass anglers are focusing their efforts lately. The current has helped that bite somewhat as well. Seems the schools of shad move up in the early morning hours to the top sides of sandbars but fall back to deeper venues during the bright light periods of midday.

Bass have been chasing bigger skipjack and gizzard shad at times when they push the baitfish up over the shallow sides of main lake sandbars, especially when some wind and cloud cover are present.

Still producing are big crankbaits in blue/chartreuse, Tennessee shad, pearl, black/chartreuse, sexy shad and bone colors just to name a few. Texas rigged worms in the 9-1/2- to 11-inch range have also worked at times with pumpkin pepper, blue with metal flake, red shad and Tequila sunrise being some popular selections.

Jig and craw combos plus Carolina rigged Zoom baby Brush Hogs have been working as have various swim baits.

A few boats are trying night fishing in order to beat the heat. Casting big spinnerbaits along rip-rap rock levees or long sloping gravel points extending into deeper water on the main channel banks have given up a few smallmouth.

The summer crappie bite has been sluggish for the majority of anglers but a few fish have been taken in the early morning hours. Once the sun gets up, the bite has subsided as the fish are light sensitive in the clear water and seem to back off.

Live minnows have worked at times but so have a few jigs tipped with Berkley power bait nibbles in the white or chartreuse colors.

Scattered fish have been taken in 12-15 feet by boats using a vertical presentation over manmade fish attractors such as stakebeds and brushpiles. A few reports said fish were taken in 25-foot cover but quite scattered there as well.

Boats trolling crankbaits are still catching enough to keep it interesting. The main lake ledges are giving up some crappie and catfish in the 12- to 15-foot depth range with an occasional catfish grabbing on to the deep diving crankbaits too.



The Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge and Paris Landing State Park have announced that beginning in September they will be offering the Tennessee Naturalist Program Certification Course. The program will run through 2021.

This makes the widely recognized Naturalist Course available to local residents. Paris Landing State Park and the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge are the newest chapter of the Tennessee Naturalist Program to offer the course. 

“We are so excited about the high caliber of our instructors in this course,” said Joan Howe, who works as a ranger at the refuge. “We feel there was a need in this area to offer a more in-depth course for those wanting to spend some time studying our natural world. We also felt like we have the perfect classroom using our local public conservation areas on and adjacent to Kentucky Lake. Some classes will be at the refuge or state park, but we will also hold classes at Land Between the Lakes and Hancock Biological Station using many teaching resources available.”

The Tennessee Naturalist Program is a 501(c)(3) educational training course designed to introduce the natural history of Tennessee to interested adults. Graduates join a corps of Tennessee Naturalist volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the appreciation, understanding, and beneficial management of Tennessee’s natural resources and natural areas. Classes are hosted by 10 TNP Chapters and taught by experts in their fields. Each class is held once a month on a Saturday at various local locations.

The mission of Tennessee Naturalist Program is to teach Tennesseans about our natural world, inspire the desire to learn more, and instill an appreciation of responsible environmental stewardship.

For more information on classes or registering for the Tennessee Naturalist Program, visit 



Each week I’ll be listing a quote from the book, The Angler’s Guide of Favorite Fishing Quotations. 

It’s an inspired collection of wit and wisdom for those who love to fish.

It’s a nice collection for any fisherman’s bookshelf and available for $12.50 from Penguin Random House by emailing or call 800-733-3000.

This week’s entry reads: “I fish because I love to — because I love the environs where trout are found, because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don’t want to waste the trip … and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant and not nearly so much fun” — John D. Voelker.



Sunday — TWRA online application deadline for duck blinds and sandhill crane tags

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