May 3, 2024

Fishing Report

 By Steve McCadams, Professional Guide/Outdoor Writer (


Catfish are on the prowl. Bluegill and shellcracker are spawning and on the beds. Bass activity has held up well too. Crappie are in post-spawn phase but still biting. Once May arrives the fishing scene heats up across Kentucky Lake for a wide variety of fishermen. Just about everyone can find a species or technique that fits their fancy.

After a strange spring full of windy weather, the fishing scene has stabilized somewhat as to lake levels and overall fishing conditions. Dodging a few thunderstorms at times is part of warm days in May but it’s usually a brief inconvenience. Lake levels this week were staying around normal summer pool elevation of 359.  Watercolor is clear. Surface temps have warmed to the 70–73-degree range and will likely rise another degree or two at midday.

Bluegill and shellcracker are hitting good. Bluegill are bedding and the bite should hold up throughout May and into early June. The next full moon phase arrives May 23 which should signal a surge in spawning activity. The full moon back in the third week of April really kick started the powerful panfish bite a bit early and it has held up well. Most are using crickets, but wax worms and red worms have been producing too.

Catfish are up on shallow shorelines and on the prowl. Several bluegill anglers casting toward shallow shorelines have tied into them this week as they fish light tackle. Watch for the bite to be on for the next couple of weeks as the fish seek out rocky banks and crevices for spawning. Rip rap shorelines and levees will be good spots as well.

Although crappie are now in their post-spawn phase some decent stringers are still coming in. Anglers are having to make several stops to accumulate decent stringers, but it hasn’t been bad. Most of the crappie are coming from 9 to 14 feet but a few have already pulled back deeper and suspended in the 14 foot and deeper range.

Bass have been relating to weed beds and just outside of buck brush shorelines. A few have been taken in some deeper bushes, but most are just a bit off shorelines moving up in the early morning and late afternoon lowlight conditions. Tossing a Texas rigged green pumpkin pepper colored craw or lizard has worked well. Spinnerbaits and some floating worms are producing too as have some topwater jerk baits.

Some boats are already pulling out and hitting secondary humps and sloping sandbars as the post-spawn bass slowly pull away from the banks. With higher surface temperatures more bass will continue to filter back out toward deeper water. On the humps and deeper sandbars anglers are tossing Carolina rigged craws and worms plus big deep diving crankbaits, Texas rigged worms and some swimbaits or even twister tail grubs fished on lead heads.

A few nice smallmouth have been taken this spring by anglers backing off the banks and targeting deeper water. May across Kentucky Lake offers great fishing for several different species.

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