An Inside Look at Kentucky Lake

A comprehensive update on lake conditions, weather outlook, and fishing tips to prepare anglers for the 2019 Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley

The first day of tournament action for the 2019 Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley is just over a week away.  More importantly, open practice begins in exactly a week. That means it’s time to start planning, preparing, and formulating an attack that could possibly land you the winning fish.  In this article we will provide a preview of Kentucky Lake, updating you on information regarding lake conditions and weather projections.

Our first item of business to discuss is the lake level.  High water back in March is the reason this event is being contested October 4th-5th.  Thankfully, as the first day of tournament action nears for the rescheduled Big Bass Bash, high water is not an issue.  Rather, the lake is going through the winter drawdown phase.  Minimum winter pool on Kentucky Lake is 354 ft.  As it sits right now, while we prepare this article, elevation is at 355.24 ft.

Though the lake level is now stable, high water is still a contributing factor when patterning these fish.  Since the lake was high through most of the summer, a majority of the bass never made the trek out deep.  Rather, they stayed up shallow in the flooded brush.  This means they’ve seen a lot of baits reeled by them, and experienced a great deal of boat traffic.  It would be safe to say that these fish are highly pressured, which in turn makes them very stubborn.  So while the high water was great for the fishing through the late spring and on into the summer, it could make getting a fish to bite in the fall much more difficult.

Weather is another element to take a look at.  It has been very warm throughout northwest Tennessee this summer.  Temperatures have stayed in the mid 90’s with minimal rain.  This pattern of warm, dry weather looks to continue on into next week.  Highs will range from 88-95 degrees, with a minimal chance of rain leading up to the first day of tournament action.

Now let’s get to the important part, ‘what baits will play a factor?  Topwater lures will definitely be a key bait.  Whether it be a buzzbait, walking bait, popper, or even a prop bait, it will be a good idea to have one tied on.  A topwater can also produce big bites.  Those big fish will be up cruising the shallows looking for an easy meal.  An unassuming topwater bait gliding through the strike zone could be just the meal one of those big Kentucky Lake bass are looking for.

One great example of a topwater bait that could be very productive is the Berkley® Choppo.  The ACA did a recent feature on the Choppo in a mini series titled “The Bash Stash.”  To view this article and learn more about the Berkley® Choppo, click here.

Another big player could be a swimbait.  The lake has been stable for quite some time with minimal rain, which has resulted in clean, fairly clear water conditions out there.  When conditions set up like this, it brings a swimbait into play.  Swimbaits can be worked effectively across the many points, flats, and bars that populate Kentucky Lake.  There’s also a good chance of hooking into one of those notorious three to four pound class smallmouths while winding one around.

Berkley offers a wide variety of swimbaits.  The PowerBait® Power® Swimmer is one of those swimbaits.  Featuring a ribbed body and a smaller profile, the Power® Swimmer could work great in the cleaner waters around Kentucky Lake.  To read more about the PowerBait® Power® Swimmer, follow this link.

Lastly, let’s take a look at a bait that is not as keyed in on a shad pattern.  That option would be a jig.  Kentucky Lake is full of subtle drops and channel swings near the bank in the backs of creeks.  Working a jig in these areas could prove to be a wise move.  A combination of falling water levels and fishing pressure from tournament anglers could push those bigger fish out to the first break or piece of cover off of the bank.  Also don’t forget, jigs tend to attract a larger class of fish!

Catching big bass will be the name of the game at the 2019 Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley.  The winning fish will likely be a largemouth bass, but don’t discount the value of a smallmouth.  They are becoming more prevalent on Kentucky Lake, and will likely weigh in around three to four pounds consistently.  And that weight range will likely be the target goal for every angler looking to place in the top 10 of a given session.

Now that you’re armed with this new knowledge, gear up and get ready to go catch a big one!  If you’re not currently registered to compete in the 2019 Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley, follow this link to sign up.

For more information about the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, please visit

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About the Association of Collegiate Anglers

The Association of Collegiate Anglers (ACA), a division of CarecoTV, is a tournament organization created to facilitate growth, development, and structure within competitive collegiate bass fishing.  The ACA created the original BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Series,14 seasons ago, which is now the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, and the longest running collegiate bass fishing series in existence.  The ACA provides support to dozens of school operating regional events nationwide and owns the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, Bass Pro Shops School of Year Program, and associated assets.   The ACA also provides the largest amount of televised coverage of any collegiate fishing series with dedicated programming on several television networks ranging from CBS Sports, Pursuit Channel, World Fishing Network, as well as other regional and national networks.  For more information on the ACA or the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, visit For more information on Bass Pro Shops, visit  For more information on CarecoTV, visit