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Doug Wynn's Fishing Report

Overabundance of Food Causing Some Tough Fishing Days

Published on June 29, 2020

Hello from the Excel Bay Pro 230 “Fishful Thinking”. It has been a whirlwind around my place and the fishing has been spotty at best.

The lake levels are stable, the weather has been OK most days, and fishing has been good to so-so to poor. It just depends on what you are seeking and what day you decide to go. The major problem we are finding now is an over-abundance of food in the water. I'll take an over-abundance any day to the total lack of minnows and food of a couple of years ago.

We have experienced some huge willow fly (May Fly) hatches and it is enjoyable to see the whole of nature feeding on them. One morning we witnessed a pair of crows shaking tree limbs over the water, knocking the willow flies off into the water.

It almost seemed they were repaying a debt of some sorts to all the fish below as they ravaged thr poor fly hatch. A good willow fly hatch feeds the entire ecosystem but can make crappie fishing tough. Crappie gorge themselves on the hatch as they ascend from the muddy bottom to the surface where they can complete their life cycle.

Some have asked me what the brown areas are on the surface of parts of the lake as we travel from spot to spot. Those areas are the casings from the hatched willow flies.

Crappie fishing is moving into a hot weather pattern, but many fish are still being caught relatively shallow in 12-15 feet of water. Find cover like stake beds or brush piles, even lay downs on deep banks, and you may find what seems like every fish in that bay huddled up in one small piece of cover.

Some are still slow trolling with minnows and jigs. I see several fishermen spider rigging the flats near deep water. We are still pulling Pico crankbaits as well as some cranks I paint myself. There is a great satisfaction of catching nice fish on a bait you created. I don’t paint them to sell so please don’t contact me looking for the new hot pattern.

For those who still think the only bait for crappie are minnows, be assured a summertime crappie will still eat a minnow with a hook attached. It just won’t be up around the bank.

Catfish worry the fire out of me when pulling cranks. Justin and I fished the Crappie USA Mega Bucks tournament last week on KY and Barkley lakes. While our 24th finish was not what we hoped for, we could have filled a couple of coolers with the channel and blue catfish we caught while chasing crappie.

Throw in the white bass, yellow bass, largemouth and drums and my saying of everything in the lakes that will eat a minnow will eat a crankbait held true.

The catfish have finished their spawn and moved back out to the deep flats and drop-offs. I would suspect they will still hit most anything put in front of them. Try worms, cut bait, stink baits, leeches, or the Kool-Aid chicken recipe offerings.

Many folks think a catfish bait must be right on the bottom. That will hold true in many cases, but catfish also suspend just like crappie or bass over deep water. In hot weather, but times of low current flow at the dams, we can experience a thermocline just like lakes that have no continuous flow through them.

Fish will have to stay at or above that thermocline. The best way to find if an area has a thermocline is to put your fish finder on 2D screen and begin to turn your sensitivity setting slowly higher. If you begin to see a broad, broken line all the way across the screen at a depth off the bottom, you are seeing a thermocline.

It will usually be 2-3 feet of depth, top to bottom. Any area BELOW the broken line will be much lower in oxygen. Fish don’t choose to stay in that area long. That is why you see many catfish die on trotlines this time of the year. The deeper hooks are set in areas of low oxygen and the hooked fish may die from it.

I’m starting to see jumps of white and yellow bass in large coves and on the main lake. So far, they are very short in duration, but some have been impressive in their violence. Fish around the edges of these jumps with in-line spinners, slab spoons, or vibrating baits like Silver Shad.

Be warned! If you are not observant enough and choose to run your boat right up to or into a jump, you might as well keep right on running down the lake. These fish won’t tolerate noise of boats nearby. The days of our Grandfathers, when jumps would stay up for several minutes, haven’t been seen in these parts in recent years.

Check around the willow fly hatches for bluegill, redear, and yellow bass. Small fly imitations, popping bugs, worms under a bobber, or spider baits will draw strikes.

Boat traffic on our lakes has been at historic levels this year. It normally peaks at 4th of July then slowly drops till Labor Day, then falls off a bunch. Many fishermen choose to stay off the lakes until late September due to the traffic.

This might be a good year for that if you are bothered by noise, inconsiderate boaters, and massive amounts of huge waves. They can all be found in large doses this season.

Be careful out there. Wear your life jackets. I see fewer and fewer folks wearing them these days. Leave your alcohol on the bank for later. Watch out for that person who thinks since they have a limited amount of time on the water, they want to do it all in your small chosen fishing area.

This is still an area to treasure, regardless of all the negatives that can be part of a day on the lakes.

Welcome to our slice of Heaven.

Doug Wynn's Bio

Doug Wynn has been fishing Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley for most of his life. He is the owner of Crappie Gills 'n More. Doug fishes both Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley and specializes in crappie, bluegill, catfish and other panfish species.

Doug's fishing report covers Lake Barkley from Canton to Barkley Dam and Kentucky Lake from Paris Landing to Kentucky Dam.

Doug Wynn
Crappie Gills 'n More

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