Lake levels have started to fall slightly, with TVA predicting the water levels in the New Johnsonville area to be at or near the 354ft level by next weekend. TVA has increased the flow rates this past week to just over 45,000cfs and we have been averaging around 20,000cfs. Lake surface temperatures have responded to the cooler weather, with current surface temps holding around 60 degrees.
The fishing report has shown some improvement this past week, with a few crappie starting to show up in the bays. Most of the crappie activity has been found along the main river, but as the water cools and flow increases, the fish should seek calmer waters inside the bays. As water temperatures continue to drop, we usually will experience a ‘shad kill’ this usually happens as the average water temperatures drop close to the 40 degree mark, we still have 20 or so degrees of water temperature drop to go, but when this happens, fish can be tough to catch. It seems we have had an excellent shad spawn this year, and lots of gizzard and threadfin shad are being seen. This can make what sportsfish we do have a bit tougher to catch, as the fish have plenty to eat for now. Bass are still being found shallow, but only when the shad move up as the sun warms the shallows, many fish are holding just off the shallow flats near shallow water, often on wood cover. Catfish action has been holding up well, with what seems as a good catfish spawn, bringing plenty of ‘fiddlers’ to the plate. Most are holding in the main river channel, and often are holding a few feet off the bottom, so suspending baits a few feet off the bottom have been working well. A few people have been heading out in search of the elusive sauger, but I haven't heard how these brave souls have done. But it is that time of the year to start targeting sauger at the mouths of local creeks and rivers, as the sauger begin to overwinter in the deeper water.
The big news with hunting this week was the opening of Deer Gun season. The regular gun season opened on November 19th and will continue into 2023. Limits are the same as previous years, with 3 anterless deer/day and 1 antlered deer/day not to exceed 2 antlered deer for the season. One big change for this year, is that hunters will not be required to have a type 094 non-quota hunt permit to harvest anterless deer. This year, the permit is not required to harvest doe’s, except if hunting on some WMA’s. So far this year, through muzzle loader season, we have had 575 deer checked in, this doesn’t include the past weekend's harvest, but we should expect to see a good harvest, and I’ll post the total next week. Last year, opening of gun season saw around 200 deer harvested for the weekend. The Duck River TN National Wildlife Refuge Bottoms has closed for the winter, it will reopen on March 16th of next year, and all activity is now prohibited except driving on the main road. The hunt area 4, which is most of the lands bordering the Duck and Tn Rivers along Bakerville road, south along the TN river, will remain open to hunters throughout the hunting season. Hunters are reminded that in addition to the required state licenses, hunters are required to have a type 064 fed refuge hunting permit. Visit the TnNational wildlife refuges website, or pick up a refuge hunting guide for more information. Also rabbit and Quail season is open, and a few rabbits have been sighted by hunters.