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Scott McGlinchey's Fishing Report

Smallmouth Has Won Tournaments, But Expect Largemouth to Comeback

Published on May 27, 2023

Kentucky and Barkley Lakes are both fishing really well for all species of fish. While the first day of summer is a month away, under the water and on land it feels like summer to the fish and animals.

The spawn is over for largemouth and smallmouth but the bluegills and catfish are spawning now. If you can get your side imaging working in shallow water you can find the bluegill beds. Catfish like to spawn around rocks - the bigger the better. Find the right rocks in the right place and you can catch hundreds of pounds of catfish.

Now that the bass are done spawning you can look for them in deeper water near points of any kind, or better yet, an offshore ledge. Main lake points and secondary points can be good anytime on Barkley or Kentucky Lake but my favorite way to catch them is on an offshore ledge.

I learned a lot when I worked as a shell diver because I was crawling the bottom on ledges in the Tennessee and Coosa River system and lakes, some of which were the best bass lakes in the country. Because Kentucky and Barkley Lakes have so many ledges and many different types, you can catch fish from them year around.

Typically when summer arrives and the spawn is over largemouth bass will arrive on ledges closest to shore first and then on ledges near or on the main river channel.

My favorite baits for fishing offshore are a 10 inch worm, wobble head, deep crankbait, one ounce spinner bait single blade willow leaf, Carolina rig, and sometimes a finesse bait. My favorite colors are white, shad/Tennessee shad, green pumpkin green, black, and chartreuse.

I look for bass in 9 feet down to 30 feet of water. Some ledges can really turn on when there is a significant amount of water being released through the dam for flood control or for power generation. Ledges in creek arms are not affected by current as much as ledges on the main lake.

This year the smallmouth bass was what was needed to win spring tournaments but I predict that Largemouth bass caught from offshore ledges will be the fish to win as the summer progresses. I have already caught some nice largemouth on first arrival ledges using a 10 inch plum worm, 20 foot crankbait, and on a wobble head.

There are largemouth that are still prowling the shallows and some will stay shallow all summer. These shallow bass bite best in the early morning or late evening. For these shallow fish I like to use a buzzbait or a weightless soft plastic jerkbait or trick worm.

Last summer the ledge fishing was good and I found bass on a few of the old river ledges that have been void of bass for the last 4 or 5 years. I hit some small groups of quality bass that were biting nearly every other cast and were still biting when I left. That doesn't happen everyday but it was sure nice to see the bass group up on a river ledge again.

There was a spot at the mouth of a bay last year that had bass on it everyday for a few weeks or more. So fishing for offshore largemouth bass should be better this year than 2022.

One of the best things that could happen to Kentucky Lake is for submerged weeds to grow here again. A surface acre of submerged milfoil will hold 4 times more bass than areas that have no grass.

Having submerged milfoil will also make the lake a lot better for catching bass as it gives the bass a place to hunt and ambush bait. Submerged grass can be transplanted from one lake to another. The grass makes the fishing better and serves as a huge erosion control blanket.

Make time to get out and fish this summer come to Kentucky and Barkley Lakes as the fishing has been really good!

Scott McGlinchey's Bio

Owner of Shelldiver Guide Service in Dexter, Ky., Scott specializes in largemouth bass fishing on Kentucky Lake. In addition to teaching new techniques for clients, Scott also helps prepare tournament anglers. He's got 30 years of fishing experience and frequently posts photos of catches and underwater shellbeds on his Facebook page. Search for Shelldiver Guide Service on Facebook.

Scott's report covers both Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

Scott McGlinchey
Shelldiver Guide Service

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