May 13, 2024

Fishing Report

 By Steve McCadams, Professional Guide/Outdoor Writer (


Boaters are urged to use caution across Kentucky Lake right now as vast amounts of floating debris can interfere with pleasure craft and fast traveling bass boats. In the aftermath of heavy thunderstorms and tornadoes that swept across the region Wednesday, dropping lots of rain that swelled streams, Kentucky Lake is now on a rapid rise. Lake levels are coming up quickly and TVA is projecting the reservoir will jump to the 361.6 elevation---which is 2 ½ feet above normal summer pool—by the weekend. It could go even higher. Logs and snags had washed offshore and were hiding in the open water areas. Sometimes they were barely visible above the surface. That’s a recipe for danger.

While nice weather with lower humidity has entered the picture now, changing lake levels will no doubt alter the fishing scene to some degree. Bass fishermen now have ample shoreline buck bushes and willow trees which have been inundated in the high water. They can pitch and flip a Texas rigged craw or lizard to their desires. Spinnerbaits will help cover a lot of water too in the angler’s quest to find roaming bass. There’s always a few boats checking out the secondary humps and sandbars, but rising water may not be a friend to that pattern right now. It could rebound quickly once TVA starts pulling water which will add current to the main lake bass fishing scene.

The bluegill bite, which has been quite good lately, will continue to hold up but no doubt the fish will move up into shallow shoreline habitat as they follow the new water. Bluegill and shellcracker thrive on freshly flooded grass beds and aquatic wonderlands now at their disposal. Bedding has been underway but sometimes the cooler weather coinciding with rising lake levels will alter the whereabouts of the bedding bluegill and shellcracker. Watch for bedding areas around visible bushes and trees to offer new areas to scout out.

Watercolor was stained in the back of many bays since the storms at midweek but that will clear rapidly as the rising water pushes the dingy color back. Surface temperatures are in the 72-to-74-degree range. Main lake areas had pockets of clear water as did a few large bays.

Catfish responded favorably to the rising lake levels and really made a blitz toward little pockets off the main lake area. The catfish are on the prowl and have already started moving up on shallow shorelines even more since the rising lake pulled them to shallow venues in search of food and spawning spots. Rocky banks will continue to attract spawning catfish. It should be good for the next week or two.

Already in post-spawn were crappie that had scattered somewhat in midrange depths of 8 to 13 feet. Anglers can add another 2 or 3 feet to those depths since the lake is coming up. A few crappie were holding in main lake flats and bays as anglers fished jigs and some live minnows around deeper structures. Odds are the crappie will scatter even more in the days ahead or at least until the reservoir reaches a crest.

The longer the lake stays high the more fish will roam and scatter about. Fresh water entering the reservoir and inundating shoreline habitat always brings fish to the shallows for new feeding areas but it’s sometimes tough for fishermen to establish a pattern.

In summary, anglers are waking up to a new lake each day when rapidly changing lake stages occur. The honeymoon with stability of fishing conditions, weather and lake levels was a short one! Watch for things to settle down soon but for now the lake is changing and anglers must learn to change with it!

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