The water elevation at midnight, March 28 was 1,012.5-feet, which is 3-feet higher than it was last Wednesday. The water level is predicted to rise 5-inches by midnight, Friday, April 14th. Surface water temperature readings in the main channel have been in the mid-60’s in the mornings and as high as 68 degrees by late afternoon. Upper sections are a few degrees cooler. Creek hollows and shallower coves are a few degrees warmer.
The main channels have clear water, especially on the Clinch side where the visibility exceeds 6-feet in many areas. Cedar Creek, Big Creek, and Davis Creek are stained in their upper reaches. There is a brown algae bloom in many areas; it is not caused by a lake turnover and is harmless. In clear water sections, many anglers choose to fish in it because of the reduced light penetration.
Smallmouth and walleye have spawned. Largemouth have either spawned, or are in the midst of spawning at this time, depending upon where they are located on the reservoir. The Clinch side has some largemouth which have yet to spawn, but those on the Powell side appear to have completed their spawning. Cold, windy weather, coupled with bright skies, hindered fishing success for most anglers. Some were able to adapt to the adverse conditions and brought in excellent catches.
BLUEGILL and REDEAR (SHELLCRACKER): Moderate, improving. Large bluegill and shellcracker are being caught at about 10-feet on the lower half of the lake in coves and near wood structure. This action is still intermittent, but will improve as the water continues to warm. Many shellcracker are showing up in shoreline brush and submerged timber. Popping bugs, crickets, and nightcrawlers. Nightcrawlers or redworms, dragged slowly across the bottom at 10 to 15 feet are working well.
CRAPPIE: Moderate. 3 to 5-feet deep in coves and in the rear of stained creek embayments. Many of the crappie appear to have already spawned, or are about to do so.
LARGEMOUTH BASS: Good. Some are spawning now, in response to early warm water temperatures. Surface to 10 feet, on soft plastic jerkbaits and swimbaits. The rear of the coves, in floating brush and timber, are holding many largemouth.
SMALLMOUTH BASS: Good. Surface to 15-feet. Fish near rocky points and rocky, main channel shorelines. Post spawn smallmouth are on moderately sloped banks with large, chunk rocks, at the 10-foot depth. Hair or rubber skirted jigs, Norman or Bandit crankbaits and soft plastic swimbaits and jerkbaits to 10-feet. Red, dark orange, or shad colors are working best. Many good catches have come very close to the shoreline on crankbaits, plastic, and jerkbaits. Spinners and topwater plugs are catching some near nesting locations.
REGULATION REMINDER FOR SMALLMOUTH BASS: June 1–October 15: 1 per day, 20 inch minimum length limit. October 16–May 31: 5 per day, 18 inch minimum length limit.
SPOTTED BASS: Good. Very close to wood structure on rock and gravel shorelines on the Powell side and to Cove Creek. Small topwater plugs and popping bug, small jerk baits and swim baits (Flukes, mainly) or small hair jigs. Spotted bass catches improved on the Clinch side.
STRIPED BASS: Moderate. Shallow to 25-feet deep in the channels, over located baitfish schools. Shallower on the points where many have been taking during recent days. Some striped bass are starting to make the return trip from the headwaters of the river arms and larger creeks. Best lure: Umbrella rigs with chartreuse or white plastic swimbaits. Gizzard shad are the best live bait. ½ to 1 oz bucktail jigs, shad or alewife. Trolled or tightlined to depth where baitfish are found near humps and points. The upper end of the larger creeks and the two river arms are best at this time of year, but some are still being caught in the channel between Hickory Star and Highway 33 Bridge, Cove Creek near Point 3, and the Clinch channel from Point 5 to Anderson County Park on the points.
REGULATION REMINDER FOR STRIPED BASS: April 1–October 31: 2 per day, 15 inch minimum length limit November 1–March 31: 1 per day, 36 inch minimum length limit.
WALLEYE: Fair. The lake spawn walleye on the lower end have spawned early and have dropped into deeper water. Headwater fishing on the Powell and Clinch has been good on some days and nights, but the unpredictable water conditions are making it hard to plan a trip, and there are indications the spawn in those areas is about over. Walleye have moved up to Bunchtown Flats (a half mile above Pt 32), the rock piles near Pt 33, and the shoal water from the Beech Grove ramp to Hwy 25E Bridge. On the Powell, try the vicinity of Pt.17, Russell Shoals (the straight stretch below Slate Cr), and the water above Earl’s Hollow access ramp.
Moderate, but improving.
Surface (on popping bugs) to 10-feet deep for bluegill and shellcracker. Popping bugs, crickets, nightcrawlers, small Rapalas or Rebels. Shellcracker fishing is improving at the 10-foot depth. Fish for these on the bottom with nightcrawlers, redworms, or crickets, along sand and gravel shorelines on sunny afternoons, 10 to 15-feet deep.
Moderate. Mid-day catches slowed considerably, possibly due to clearing water conditions. Go early in the day.
3 to 5-feet deep in stained water brush. The best action remains in brush found in the coves. Popeye hair jigs, tuffy minnows fished by themselves or with small hair flies or on leadheads. Large creek hollows and coves off the main channels on the upper half of the reservoir have been best. Best on cloudy days and in stained areas. Mid-day action slowed considerably.
Good lures: small doll flies, mini tube jigs (red/white, blue/white) and 1/32 ounce hair or feather jigs tipped with minnows.
The best catches are coming from the coves and creek hollow brush in early morning, or all day on cloudy days. The size of the crappie has been excellent, with some approaching 2 pounds. Lost Creek, Davis Creek, Sycamore Creek, Big Ridge Hollow, the pockets and creeks from Hickory Star to Straight Creek, and the main channel brush above Union County Dock have all produced crappie.
LARGEMOUTH & SPOTTED BASS
Surface to 10-feet. Many largemouth are spawning in the coves and on main channel banks which have large rock interspersed with gravel areas. The rear of the coves, where there is brush, are holding good numbers of largemouth bass and spotted bass.
Soft plastic jerkbaits and swimbaits. Catches have also come on crankbaits, topwater, and willow leaf spinners. Medium running orange, chartreuse or dark red Bandit-type crankbaits worked close to the rocks and wood structure on the main channel and in creek hollows. Carolina rigs and ½ ounce hair or rubber skirted jigs are also working.
On some days, largemouth bass have hit a wide variety of lures, from Carolina-rigs to topwater plugs. Stained water sections will have largemouth hitting larger lures. Medium running crankbaits (Normans, Bandits) in dark red, orange, or chartreuse are working well in the stained sections, close to the rocky banks. In the mornings and at night, buzzbait and jerkbaits are catching some close to wood or rock structure. Hair or rubber skirted Shaky Head or football head jigs, soft jerkbaits, with smoke or bluegill color 3-inch Twisters (grubs), Flukes, or Gulps on lead heads. Hair or rubber skirted jigs up to 1/2 oz, in brown or red, with craw or pork trailers are working well.
Post spawn fish are on the large, chunk rock on the main channels and points, 10-feet deep during daylight hours, shallower at dawn and dusk.
Fish transition zones from rock to gravel and deep water adjacent to long sloping, gravel points. Flukes, Senkos, leadhead jigs with smoke or motor oil grubs are working best. Shallow and medium running crankbaits and jerkbaits are taking more in the stained sections. Brown, black, orange, dark red, and chartreuse colors are working best. Shiners or hair jigs tipped with minnows are taking many smallmouth on the bottom at less than 15-feet. Spinners and topwater plugs took some good fish at dusk, nighttime, and dawn.
Generally 20 to 35-feet in the channels and shallower across long points and over deep humps. As deep as 30 to 40-feet on some days, depending on baitfish depth. But some good catches are also showing up on drift lines and planer boards, at less than 15-feet.
Look for baitfish schools and troll or tightline in those locations.
Troll umbrella rigs (6-inch pearl or chartreuse swimbaits as the lure components), ½ to 1 oz bucktail jigs, or live bait (gizzard shad or alewife) tightlined to the depth of the forage fish schools in mid-channel and trolled with planer boards or balloons across the points and humps. Island F vicinity slowed. Lost Creek, Sycamore Creek, and mid- to upper-Cove Creek have produced good striped bass catches. Before using umbrella rigs, read the Fishing Regulations and the hook size/number restrictions which are in effect. The 1-fish, 36-inch minimum size limit continues through March 31st.
3 to 15-feet deep, on the bottom, upriver in the shoals. 20-feet on the lower end on average, but shallow in some coves where there is heavy brush cover.
On the lower end of the lake: Rocky, steep banks where there is old timber which extends to about 15 to 20-feet in depth. Some good walleye have been taken on crankbaits or willow leafed spinners fished near wood structure which is on steeper, rocky shorelines. Some are in the rear of the coves, in shallow water, where there is downed timber.
Headwater fishing on the Powell and Clinch has slowed as these fish complete their spawn and head back down river. Stragglers may remain.
Suggested technique: Lower end: troll RedFins, Thundersticks, or similar deep diving crankbaits very close to the downed timber, along steep banks with large broken rocks. Upriver: Rapalas, ½ or 3/8 oz hair jigs tipped with rubber grubs or minnows, Rapalas. Cast into the shoals, vertical jig, or troll. If muddy water is in the headwaters, trolling plugs with a rattle, near the bottom, will often bring catches.