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Steve McCadams' Fishing Report

Late Summer Fishing Scene Decent for Cats/Crappie

Published on September 14, 2021

Kentucky Lake’s late summer fishing scene has been pretty good for catfishermen and a few crappie anglers who have found buried treasures at times.

Nice weather has descended on the region this week and that’s the norm for late summer and early fall fishing. Cool mornings have appealed to anglers who have been hitting the lake early and donning a long sleeve shirt before the midday sun heats things up and summer sneaks back in.

Lake levels this week have continued to fall but the drawdown has diminished somewhat, which slowed the current a bit and that seemed to suit catfish just fine.

TVA reported the reservoir was resting around the 355.6 elevation range at midweek in the Kentucky Dam area. That’s down a few inches from last week at this time.

Across the lake water color has cleared. Falling lake levels the last week or so have pulled stained or dingy water out of the bays and main river channel.

Surface temperatures are starting out the day around 77 degree and climbing to the 79 to 80 degree range by midday. Winds have been kind to anglers this week. Light and variable has been the situation most days.

Already seeing some improvement thanks to the mild cooling trend have been crappie anglers. A few more success stories have surfaced recently as boaters have been able to venture out and fish main lake areas thanks to light breezes.

Last week the shallow bite on crappie was sluggish likely due to falling lake levels. Some anglers backed off the shallow spots and opted to try deeper venues when the going got tough. That seemed to work for a few fishermen too as decent stringers were taken in depths of 16 to 20 feet at times.

It’s not unusual for crappie to fall back to deeper depths or at least move to areas close to deep water when falling lake stages are underway. Once stabilization returns the fish will likely transition back toward shallow to midrange depths as they pursue schools of baitfish.

That seems to be happening now and a few crappie have already returned to midrange depths of 9 to 12 feet it seems. Watch for that midrange depth to continue to produce now that lake levels have settled down somewhat.

Those fishing the midrange depths of mostly vertical fishing jigs and minnows around manmade fish attractors such as brush pile and stakebeds.

Trolling crankbaits is still producing a few crappie for those who like that technique. Most boats are pulling Bandit 200 and 300 series crankbaits in a chartreuse/black or varieties of chrome or shad colored variations.

While a few fish will continue to occupy some deep ledges during warm spells, watch for a blitz to occur toward shallow venues once cloudy, cooler days enter the picture.

Until the surface temps cool down to the low 70’s odds are the fish will linger in somewhat deeper water and ride it out until fall officially arrives. September 22 is the official date of autumn’s arrival.

Meanwhile, those catching decent stringers are attributing their success to live minnows. Seems the fish are showing a preference for live shiner minnows but tipping a jig with a minnow has paid dividends too.

Despite the live minnow being the bait of choice lately there are always a few jig fishermen who find the right combo of colors or leadhead size and color to entice bites too.

Catfishermen are back in business this week as the current has slowed somewhat and that is just what the catfish seemed to want. A few nice stringers have been taken lately back around spots along the main river channel that had too much current a week to ten days ago.

Watching your sonar and locating big balls of bait fish will usually put you in touch with the catfish this time of year. Popular depth ranges have been 35 to 45 feet. Nightcrawlers seem to be the bait of choice.

Bass fishermen report finding a few more small fish taking a variety of crankbaits, jig and craw combos, swim baits and some curly tail grubs.

Still evading most bass fishermen are schools of larger fish. A nice chunk or two has been caught at times but most indicate it’s still tough out there.

Finding a limit of bigger fish has not been in the cards lately for several accomplished anglers who have tried all their tricks. Some are staying with a deep water pattern while others are tossing crankbaits around boat houses, roadbeds, and all sorts of gravel banks and points.

It’s getting to be topwater time for Kentucky Lake bass fishermen who love to find shad popping the surface along gravel banks. Tossing a floating fluke or perhaps a shad colored jerk bait along the gravel can pay dividends if you find the shad working.

Fishermen are watching the long range weather forecast and yearning for the arrival of another cool snap. It appears moderate temps and stable weather will dominate the forecast for the near future.


Steve McCadams' Bio

Steve has been fishing professionally for over 40 years on Kentucky Lake. He is a member of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Hame and Legends of the Outdoors. Steve also guides for ducks during the season.

With his residence in Paris, Tenn., Steve's report covers Paris Landing to New Johnsonville.

Steve McCadams
stevemc@charter.net
731-642-0360
www.SteveMcCadams.com

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