Murray, KY – Caution is the current watchword for boaters on Kentucky Lake as high water carries dangerous floating debris. But soon it'll be a dandy time for bass fishing as we learn with this week's FLW Outdoors Fishing Report.
Scott Ellison here with the FLW Outdoors Fishing Report.
Kentucky Lake's shoreline is going to be underwater for a while as the army corps of engineers tries to alleviate flooding in the Paducah area and downstream to where the Ohio meets the Mississippi. The plan right now calls for the lake level to go well above summer pool stage to around 368 feet or so by the middle of next week. It might even go higher than that, depending on what's happening along the Ohio and how bad it's flooding.
Bottom line, spawning bass are going to be in bushes and wood cover along the bank and soft-plastics rigged Texas-style, or jigs with trailers, should be the best bet. But remember, a lot of floating debris is going to pose boating hazards for a couple of weeks. Be careful. You might be better off waiting a while, even if the road to your favorite boat ramp isn't under water and you can launch.
When the water and the weather settle down in a few weeks, it's going to be the best time for everyone to catch bass at Kentucky Lake, including those who haven't done much bass fishing. May is when even rookies can have a field day. That's because the spawn is pretty much over and the fish haven't moved to deep-water ledges yet.
Instead, they're hungry and foraging up and down the banks, chasing shad or other small baitfish in the shallows. In most years, this prime time starts around the first of May, but it might be later this year because everything about the spring fishing season seems to be about a week or so late.
Anyway, in the postspawn, lures such as spinnerbaits and medium-depth crankbaits catch a lot of bass. The best thing about these types of lures is that you just cast them out and wind them back in. Points, banks and dropoffs near spawning flats are the best places to fish. If you use spinning tackle, stick with 8- or 10-pound-test line. For baitcasters, 12- to 14-pound-test is about right for spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Tie one or the other to your line and then cast and wind and just cover water. You don't have to know how to pitch or flip, or how to rig a soft-plastic when bass are chasing shad up and down the banks. If the water is dirty where you're fishing, use chartreuse-colored crankbaits because they stand out better. If the water is clear, stick with Tennessee shad color or something more subdued in color. Ditto with spinnerbaits: chartreuse and white skirts and big flashy spinner blades in dingy water. In clear water, be more conservative with the colors.
May is also the month to start fishing topwater lures such as pop-rs, rattling chug bugs and skitter pops. That's because the annual shad spawn is about to take place back in the coves and long stretches of bank in the feeder creeks. Bass will station themselves in such areas and wait until big schools of shad spawn at first light on warm spring mornings. You'll know it when you see it. Shad will start showering out of the water as bass chase them to the surface. Cast a topwater lure past the commotion and work it back to the boat with short, popping strokes. Usually that's all it takes. But remember, first light is prime time and it doesn't last long. Once all the commotion has died down, start chunking and winding spinnerbaits and crankbaits again. The bass will be around somewhere.
Until next week, good fishing and stay dry.
Scott Ellison is a lifelong fisherman and FLW Outdoors College Fishing Promotions Manager.