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Steve McCadams' Fishing Report

Crappie Bite Holding Up Well; Catfishermen Scoring Hefty Stringers Too!

Published on September 23, 2020

Fall fishing is now officially underway as Tuesday signaled the start of autumn angling. It is indeed a season that has long been overlooked and underrated by crappie, catfish and bass fishermen here on Kentucky Lake.

Mix stable weather where light winds and mild temperatures help start the day with stable lake levels and it’s a recipe for nice fishing conditions where patterns hold up from week to week.

Added to that are the attributes of a quiet and peaceful lake as crowds of recreational boaters have entered early phases of hibernation so the boat ramps and parking lots have less competition for space. Same goes for fishing holes out there on the big pond.

Already beginning to fade are sweet and black gum trees along the shorelines where a tint of red and orange are forecasting more color changes are on the horizon.

Bottom line is it’s just a great time to be out on the lake!

Surface temperatures have reflected the cooler weather this week. Mornings are starting out around 72 and rising to 75 at midday. Water color is clearing.

Lake levels had been falling slowly this week and are projected to be down to 355.2 by this weekend. That’s nearing the low ebb of winter pool as the reservoir had jumped up more than a foot a week to ten days ago.

Meanwhile, crappie continue to hit pretty good. Some nice stringers are being taken by anglers fishing jigs and tipping them with live shiner minnows. Depths of 9 to 13 feet are giving up some nice size ones too!

Anglers are having to make several stops as no big concentrations of fish are being found but the typical fall pattern has crappie moving up to midrange depths and camping out there for several weeks as that’s where the bulks of the shad schools now reside in their comfort zone.

Whenever cloudy or rainy days descend it seems to help the bite as the fish respond favorably to the low ceiling that filters out bright sunlight. Crappie are light sensitive, especially in clear water.

It’s not unusual to see crappie move up to shallow venues during low pressure days that send clouds or rain to the fishing scene. Best to pack the rain gear and take advantage of the good fishing conditions.

Watch for more crappie to move up to 4 to 8 foot depths in the weeks ahead as cooler conditions prevail.

Several hefty crappie are showing up in the creel of fall fishermen. They appear to be in good shape showing a thick physiology to their overall profile. That’s an indication of a good forage base.

There’s a good number of crappie showing up in the ¾ to 1 ¼ pound range. And, at times a few slabs are testing the tackle as some have eclipsed the 1 ½ pound mark!

All signs point to several good weeks ahead for fall crappie fishermen.

Also doing well have been catfishermen who have scored nice stringers as of late. The slow current has stimulated the catfish bite and boats working the 30 to 40 foot depths along the main river channel bank are finding good numbers.

Baits of choice are nightcrawlers, chicken livers and some commercial stink baits. Big minnows have also produced at times.

The bass bite is fair with a few more fish moving up and chasing shad on shallow sandbars and flats back in the bays. Watch for the concentration of gulls and they will help lead you to the schools of baitfish this time of year.

A few white bass and yellow bass have been busting the surface during feeding frenzies at times. If you locate that activity you’ll also encounter bass traveling with them and feasting on the shad buffet.

It’s time for topwater patterns to improve as baitfish move up to gravel banks and occupy the shallow sides of sandbars. Tossing shallow running crankbaits and chrome/blue Red Eye Shad or Rattle Traps are always popular choices this time of year.

Autumn angling is alive and well on Kentucky Lake!

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

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