Mild late fall weather on Kentucky Lake has extended the fishing season for many people. How long will the mild weather last?
That’s what a lot of Lakers players have been asking themselves over the past few weeks — and last weekend’s bout of cold weather and some late rain put things into perspective.
The lion’s share of November saw unusually pleasant weather. Moderate temperatures and light winds prevailed for several weeks, giving anglers and boaters ample opportunities to get out on the lake.
It has actually been a beautiful fall for the most part. Now that the cold weather has set in, people are slowly adjusting to the colder nights and days.
From the fishing arena are coming in very good reports from crappie anglers, who are still catching good numbers of fish at various depths. When light winds allow anglers to take boats out into the main lake areas or move around the reservoir, we see catch rates improve.
If the fish are scattered, anglers can try a lot of different areas or try different depth ranges in their pursuit of tough crappie. Some nice stringers taken recently have come from anglers still targeting main lake edges or deep brush piles and various artificial fish attractants. Depths between 16 and 20 feet have produced good numbers of crappie.
Some mid-range structures were also productive in the 9 to 14 foot depth range. In the West Sandy and Big Sandy, a few crappie are occasionally caught at depths of 4 to 8 feet.
While most attribute their catch to jigs, there are some boaters who use live minnows or jigs with minnows to entice bites.
Sometimes, it’s best to let the fish decide which species they prefer on which day. Meanwhile, anglers always seem to be experimenting with color combinations, as their tackle box is filled with so many different patterns and shades, from solids to tube skirts and hair jigs, too.
Meanwhile, a lack of rain kept Kentucky Lake clear nearly all fall. Rain finally entered the area last weekend and earlier this week, which may put a little stain on the lake for anglers.
Lake levels remained stable, at about 355 feet. Surface temperatures were in the mid 50s and changed little around midday. Cool nights still hold some bait, so cool mornings keep the water cold. With the cold weather now continuing, expect surface temperatures to drop a few degrees this week.
There was very little current in the main channel of the Tennessee River, which is not too surprising, given the lack of rain so far this week.
Anglers have been staying away, throwing swimbaits and some crankbaits with moderate success. Some activity was reported in the larger coves where White Bass were schooling and chasing shad, breaching the surface. They had a few small and large mouthed animals mixed in in this wave.
Currently, activity at the lake has declined, with many activities pulling people away from the water. From a variety of hunting seasons to football games, people go in many different directions.
Choose the weather that suits you and wait for the beautiful days, as the lake is fairly calm. There are still some beautiful days ahead mixed with some cold fronts. Aprons and thick coats are standard clothing at this time of year; But remember, you can always shed layers with warm-ups!
Shelter seasonal closures
Hunters, boaters, fishermen and hikers are reminded of seasonal closures in the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge, which were implemented last week. Certain areas are closed during the winter months to provide refuge for wintering waterfowl.
The areas close each year on November 15 and reopen each spring on March 15. Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge has some closures as well.
Locally, the area south of Sulfur Well Island, along with Swamp Creek, is closed. Bennetts and Robbins Creeks streams were also closed. However, the roads leading through this part of the refuge are open and allow for a nice view, as does the road through the Big Sandy Peninsula.
There are still ample opportunities to visit the refuge and observe waterfowl, eagles and a variety of wildlife from designated overlooks or just from your vehicle.
Here in the Big Sandy Unit is the VL Childs Observation Deck, not far from the Visitor Center itself. There is another observation deck at Bennett Creek, in an area referred to locally as Old Area 23.
The Chickasaw National Recreation Trail remains open during the winter and also offers 1.8 miles of hiking trails. Parts of the Duck River Unit are closed during the winter, as is the entire Busseltown Unit of the refuge.
For questions about shelter closures, log on to the TNWR website or call the office at 731-642-2091.
This fall’s mild weather has not brought large numbers of waterfowl to our area yet, but that will change in the coming weeks and months.
Deer hunting is in full swing
Tennessee’s statewide gun hunting season opened last Saturday, so hunters across the state are hitting the ground running. The season traditionally begins each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. During gun season, athletes can also use archery or archery equipment.
The statewide bag limit for antler bucks is two. It is not permissible to take more than one deer per day, but not to exceed two per season. Hunters are allowed the following antlerless bag limits: Unit L (including Henry County), three per day; Unit A, two per season; Module B, one for each season; Module C, one for each season (November 18 – December 3 only); and Module D, one for each season (November 18-24 only).
In the CWD Unit, there is a limit of three antlerless deer per day with no seasonal limit. The bag limit of three antlered deer in a CWD unit also applies. However, the bag limit of three antlered deer may be exceeded within a CWD unit if taken under the Earn-A-Buck or Alternative Buck Program. Details about each program are on page 30 of the 2023-2024 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide.
Anyone born on or after January 1, 1969 is required to carry proof of satisfactory completion of a hunter education class or have an apprentice hunter education permit (along with other required licenses) while hunting any species in Tennessee. Hunter education can be completed online for free, along with other options.
For more information about Tennessee’s 2023-24 deer hunting seasons, exact deer unit limits and complete licensing requirements, see the 2023-24 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide available online at tnwildlife.org or the TWRA app. Physical copies may be obtained from the agency office or retail location of the licensing agent.
November 20-25 – Pre-season closure at select WMA units.
November 25-26 – The first part of the statewide duck season.
November 27-December. 4 – Pre-season closure in selected WMA units.
December 5 – January 31 – Second part of duck season.
December 8-January. 15- The third part of the pigeon season.
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