Apr 29, 2024

Do You Remember?


Do you remember when Paris Landing State Park Beach looked like this?
Without dating ourselves, we have to say that we do.
This was taken in 1952 in the park's still-early days.
Photo from State Conservation Department Archives.

Apr 26, 2024


 By Steve McCadams, Professional Guide/Outdoor Writer (stevemc@charter.net)

When a full moon in April coincides with warming surface temperatures and rising lake levels the battle with bluegill and shellcracker begins. That’s what’s been happening the last week, or two along shallow pockets and shorelines of Kentucky Lake where weed beds attracted early spawning panfish in big numbers.

Actually, the third week of April is a bit early for active spawning phases to kick in for bluegill but the redear sunfish (shellcracker) are known to kick off the race a bite early. Despite the continuation of unruly winds and some chilly mornings the bite has been good and seemed to improve by midday once the sun warmed things up.

Working well have been meal or wax worms plus red worms. It has been so cold as of late most bait shops had not even begun to stock crickets when the early bite began. That’s all changed now. All systems are on go for the popular panfish who begin active spawning phases in late April (depending on weather and surface temps) and often do well through late May and into early June at times.

Anglers should have some good fishing in the weeks ahead as these aggressive panfish really turn on and provide a thrill to anglers of all ages. It’s a great time to introduce anyone to fishing but especially youngsters wetting a hook for the first time. From gravel banks to pockets off the main lake where weeds mix with various shoreline habitat is where you’ll find their crater shaped beds. The fish fan out little “pie-plate” shaped craters where they deposit eggs. The dark olive drab-colored ones are the males; females will display a pale-yellow appearance. Grab some terminal tackle and head to the lake. The show is underway. Disappearing bobbers never go out of style!

Kentucky Lake’s elevation reached summer pool ahead of schedule this spring and was 359.2 at midweek. Water color is clear. Surface temps are in the 66-to-68-degree range. Normal summer pool level is 359 so the reservoir is not only early (May 1 is TVA’s target date for summer pool elevation) but a bit above normal at present.

Crappie across Kentucky Lake are entering their post spawn phase and have started to scatter a bit for most anglers, but decent stringers are still coming in. Around the Paris Landing sector most of the crappie have been taken in the 9-to-13-foot depth range. Not a lot of fish have moved up to shallow shoreline structure or shallow spawning spots. Seems the clear water has kept a lot of fish spawning out away from shoreline structure. Up Big Sandy there were several fish taken in 2-to-5-foot depths the last couple of weeks. Seems the upper Big Sandy basin always has some crappie moving up to shallow venues earlier that the rest of the region. Odds are it warms quicker plus is known for dingy watercolor at times.

Cat fishermen are armed and loaded, waiting on ole’ whiskers to move up to the rocky banks and begin spawning phases. That’s about to hit high gear as once surface temps reach the low 70’s they really go on the prowl. Best get the nightcrawler bucket and heavy catfish poles ready. They’re on the threshold.

Bass fishermen have been banging away at the banks and fan casting weed beds with spinnerbaits, Texas rigged craws and worms, floating worms, jig and pig combos and some topwater at times. Other patterns have boats backing off the banks and targeting humps and shell bed sand bars in their quest for smallmouth.

Watch for more shoreline activity to kick in for most all species as rising water levels coincide with rising surface temperatures in the days and weeks ahead. Some great fishing opportunities await you here as the spring transition continues and warmer days enter the picture.

Jazz In The Alley

 Paris/Henry County Heritage Center Fundraiser

Apr 25, 2024

Refuge Spring Festival


To celebrate World Migratory Bird Day, the refuge is pulling out all the stops to put on a large family friendly festival we are calling "Refuge Spring Festival" on Saturday, May 11th from 10:00 - 2:00 pm at our Refuge Visitor Center located at 1371 Wildlife Drive in Springville, TN. Hotdog lunches for $5 plus bake sale items.

We have asked many partners to come help us put on this FREE event. Here is a list of partners and activities:
Tennessee NWR - archery, Great Migration Adventure Game, Pollinator Wheel of Fortune
Friends of TNWR - Bluebird Box Building Station - box kits $10, birdy crafts
TWRA - Mobile Museum, little archers
TVA - Clean water educational station - water testing
LBL Woodlands Nature Station - live raptors
UT Martin Wildlife Society - live wildlife, show and tell, Pollinator Bingo
National Guard - bouncy games, goofy cart races, arm wrestling, and more
Civil Air Patrol - selfie station
PLUS - Lots of freebie give-aways!

Apr 19, 2024

Fishing Report

 By Steve McCadams, Professional Guide/Outdoor Writer (stevemc@charter.net)


Anglers have juggled a variety of unstable conditions this past week in their quest to find spawning crappie and bass. Some redear sunfish (shellcracker) and bluegill have entered the picture too as surface temps rise. Last weekend Kentucky Lake reached the summer pool mark of 359 at Kentucky Dam---some two weeks early---for a day or two only to fall back a few inches. As of this update the reservoir was resting around the 358.6 elevation.

Watercolor is clear across most of the reservoir. High winds are still a thorn in the side of fishermen. Water levels are always of concern to anglers and all lake users for that matter but especially during peak spawning phases of crappie. Once surface temperatures reach the 62-to-66-degree range it signals the active spawning range of crappie and bass aren’t far behind.

Normal summer pool level isn’t supposed to arrive here until May 1 according to TVA’s annual curve, but lake levels have not followed the usual stair-step climb this spring. TVA’s curve starts reservoir filling on April 1 where lake levels are normally at the low ebb of winter pool (354). From there is reservoir is supposed to climb slowly until it reaches its target of summer pool on or around May 1.

This spring the lake has fluctuated and jumped around a bit as it has been above normal since early April. That throws off fishing patterns to some degree. Some folks like higher water early; others prefer TVA stick to its normal projections, slowly bringing up the lake on a gradual basis. Rainfall across the region sometimes falls in drastic amounts and upsets the apple cart, swelling Kentucky Lake ahead of normal. When that happens rising waters send a lot of floating debris about the lake, a scenario which scatters fish and the fishermen trying to find them.

Such as been the case this week. Some bass and crappie anglers were hoping to see the lake stay high at summer pool and inundate shoreline buck bushes, weed beds and all sorts of habitat. They love fishing visible stickups. Since last week more crappie have moved up and while a few anglers found some crappie attempting to spawn in shallow areas there were scores of fishermen finding the bite challenging. The fish have been scattered and roaming.

No sooner had the reservoir reached the summer pool mark last weekend TVA began pulling the water back down toward its curve. The agency is creating more storage capacity pulling the lake down a bit here in mid-April as heavy rains could occur at any time. Meanwhile, the fishing scene has continued to evolve each week. Some crappie moved up to shallow flats in the upper Big Sandy and West Sandy last week and were taken in 2-to-4-foot depths at times. Down toward the Paris Landing sector most boats were targeting somewhat deeper depths and finding fish in the 7-to-13-foot depth range.

Successful techniques ranged from vertical jig presentations over shallow stumps and manmade fish attractors such as stake beds and brush piles to spider rigs pushed slowly out over flats where scattered crappie were staging. The buffet bait presentation was working pretty good for some folks. Trolling curly tail grubs, Road Runners and some crankbaits has paid dividends too. Some fish have been suspended and not relating tight to structure at times, a byproduct of changing lake stages and stubborn spring weather.

Generally speaking, it has been tough for most anglers to witness a distinctive blitz by the crappie towards shallow structure. Usually, they stage and dart toward cover where they deposit their eggs. Several females were still holding eggs at midweek.

Entering the picture as of last week were some hefty bluegill and redear sunfish (shellcracker) tagging the jigs of crappie fishermen as they worked midrange to shallow crappie beds. Bluegill are not on the bed yet but headed in that direction. Shellcracker usually hit the banks prior to the bluegill’s arrival. Watch for activity to increase for both those species in the next few weeks. Peak bluegill spawning usually begins in early May, but the timetable can get pushed up if warmer surface temps (70-degree range) arrive early. Shellcracker are on the verge of their early spawning phase as some big females have been taken lately and they’re bloated with eggs.

Bass anglers are banging away at the banks and finding the bite decent around shoreline grass. Still not quite enough water on the buck bushes just yet but bass are up around shallow pockets and grass enjoying the warmer surface temps in their prespawn phase. Tossing a Texas rigged craw or lizard has been productive as have floating fluke style worms. Some topwater jerk baits have worked too as have spinnerbaits and buzz baits.

There are some boaters backing off the banks and fishing secondary humps and ledges with Carolina and Texas rigged worms, swim baits and deep diving crankbaits too. Kentucky Lake always has a variety of patterns and depths producing at the same time. As surface temps heat up more shallow shoreline fishing will enter the equation, especially for bass, bluegill and redear sunfish.

Best start mending the terminal tackle and light spinning rigs. Those powerful panfish are about to hit active spawning phases and the catfish are on the prowl too. Soon rocky banks will attract catfish to spawning spots so that’s fast approaching.

Apr 15, 2024

Fishing Report

 By Steve McCadams, Professional Guide/Outdoor Writer (stevemc@charter.net)


Stability has not been in the cards for fishermen this spring. Anglers have battled the weather roller coaster for weeks now and this past week was no exception. One day warm and sunny and the bite was on for crappie: then several back-to-back days of wind, rain and some thunderstorms. Fishermen are wondering if an extended stretch of nice weather and light winds will ever get here and stay here!

Lake levels have fluctuated the last couple of weeks and have been above TVA’s normal curve as to management of the reservoir. The last week or so it was a bit high with a reading of 358 elevation at Kentucky Dam but fell several inches down to the 357.4 range for a day or two only to start another climb right back up in the aftermath of heavy rains at midweek. Surface temperature have been in the 63-degree range. That will rise in sunny days ahead. Watercolor is clear. The rising lake has again been inundated with floating debris. Lot of sticks and logs floating off the shorelines, so boaters need to be aware of floating objects.

The spawn has been underway this week, but it has been a bit tricky for anglers as to the specific whereabouts of slabs. Fish have been scattered. That’s not unusual when lake levels are yo-yoing, and weather patterns are weird. Some hefty crappie eclipsing the 2-pound range have been taken with a few knocking on the 3-pound threshold. At midweek big females were still sporting eggs but active spawning phases should occur in the next few days. 

Looks like sunny days and rising temperatures are in the forecast at least until midweek. Daytime highs will be in the upper 70’s and low 80’s! The crappie bite has been fair for those vertical fishing jigs over manmade fish attractors in the 7-to-13-foot depth range. Most boaters indicate it is taking several stops to accumulate a limit. Other techniques such as long lining jigs and some crankbaits has worked too. Spider rig techniques are paying dividends as well as anglers slowly push jig and minnow poles over midrange depths with some moving to the upper ends of bays trying the 4-to-6-foot depths.

With rising lake levels anglers are having to move about. Many are asking if the shoreline buck bushes and willow trees will be the place to try in the days ahead if the reservoir jumps to summer pool ahead of schedule? That could very well happen. Anglers are keeping a close eye on lake levels.

Bass fishermen have scored some success while stalking the weedy shorelines lately. Those patches of yellow flowers are holding fish and are always a great location in early spring. Tossing Texas rigged craws, lizards, worms and floating fluke style worms are quite popular right now. Spinnerbaits are working too as are some buzz baits and jerk baits as the topwater bite is underway in the clear water. Bottom line is that anglers are waking up to a different lake every few days when the elevation changes. Watch for a lot of transition in fish activity the next few days as more fish follow the rise and head toward shallow shorelines.

Bluegill and shellcracker have already been biting too. Shellcracker will hit the shallow weeds and begin early spawning phases before the bluegill. Peak time isn’t here yet but it’s drawing closer as surface temps rise.

Crappie anglers fishing shallow to midrange depths lately have encountered several bluegill and shellcracker (redear sunfish) nipping at their jigs. Some big female shellcracker weighing in the 1 ½-pound range have been taken lately!

It has been a strange spring. Things happen fast once the surface temps reach the mid 60’s. Hang in there as sooner or later the weather, lake levels and fish will begin playing by the rules!

Apr 8, 2024

Monthly Meeting

The monthly meeting of the Paris Landing Tourism League (PLTL) will be held Tuesday, April 9th, at 6 pm at the Senior Center inside the Paris Landing Emergency Complex.

Hope to see you there!