April 17, 2014 - by Kentucky Lake Guide Steve McCadams
Where can you get a sunburn, pneumonia and hypothermia in the same week? The answer: spring fishing at Kentucky Lake!
This stubborn spring has been a doozy. To an already roller coaster ride of weather patterns add yet another week of unstable conditions where frigid winds started the week off and finally lost the strangle hold Wednesday afternoon.
Can there be any more hurdles for bass and crappie fishermen in this spring’s weather forecasts?
By this weekend the crappie spawn here on Kentucky Lake will be back in action as the near record cold snap on Tuesday and Wednesday brought a short hiatus to the annual ritual. Bone chilling northeast winds Wednesday morning really put a chill in the air---temperatures fell below the freezing point in some areas---but started to rebound quickly by late afternoon.
Surface temperatures dropped back to 59 degrees for a few hours but eased back up to the 62 degree range late Wednesday afternoon as winds shifted to the southeast and delivered a warm-up. Shallow water has warmed quickly and will be back in the 64 to 66 degree range as the weekend arrives, stimulating active spawning phases.
Success rates improved the last few days for a variety of anglers. Those pulling long lines armed with curly tail grubs and Road Runner style jigs continue to score decent stringers as have those spider rigging with multi-pole presentations. A lot of fish are still scattered and suspended; a likely pattern in response to the crazy fluctuation of weather.
A few boats have been drift fishing as high winds have required some anglers to adapt as best they could. This style can produce at times too, especially when fish are a bit suspended and scattered. Some are using live minnows or tipping jigs with minnows and also utilizing slip bobbers to regulate depth.
Also producing has been vertical presentations of jigs over manmade fish attractors in depths of 7 to 12 feet. A few were taken deeper but at the same time some fish had really moved up last weekend during the warm conditions and blitzed toward 4 to 6 foot depths.
Water color is clear across most of the reservoir with a few bays showing stain in the upper ends. Some dingy water was present up Big Sandy and anglers there found shallow fish biting at times too.
Casting curly tail grubs and various small spinner type baits has produced a few fish too as the black crappie were beginning to transition toward rocky points and banks last weekend. Action backed off at midweek but should resume quickly as the fish dart back to the shallow areas that warm quickly.
The next few days should see crappie turn on in response to rising surface temperatures. This year’s weather has pushed the timetable back for active spawning phases and thrown things off balance for the last few weeks.
If you have been somewhat confused by it all and experienced some tough fishing days as to catch rates you are not alone; it has been tough out there for most folks this spring. There have been a few anglers who boated limits while long line trolling or pulling jigs but for the most part the overall crappie fishing scene has been below average.
Has the decline been due to the cold weather? Are the fish out there is good numbers? Have fishermen been fishing the wrong depths? Do fishing regulations of length limit, pole limits and creel limits need to be revisited?
These are questions on the minds of most fishermen stalking their favorite holes this year here on Kentucky Lake. It will be interesting to see how the fish react now that warm days are here. Up to now it’s been a bit mysterious but things are improving.
From the bass scene comes word of some hefty catches lately. Folks are still talking about bass angler Tom O’Bryant’s lunker caught last Saturday out of Paris Landing State Park that weighed 11.86 pounds! He won the American Bass Tour tournament with a stringer weighing 28.04 pounds and has reportedly landed four bass this year that exceeded the 10-pound mark!
Some of the bigger fish were taken back away from the shallow banks last week as anglers were tossing Alabama rigs, jig and craw combos, spinnerbaits and Carolina rigged craws on long sloping rock and gravel points.
It appeared the bigger fish were staging out away from shallow areas while a lot of smaller fish had moved up and were taking crankbaits on shallow shorelines. With warmer surface temps returning watch for some bigger fish to sprint toward shallow gravel and rock points in the days ahead as they prepare to spawn.
Lake levels continue to be above normal for the third week of April but TVA began spilling water through Kentucky Dam earlier this week, dropping lake levels a few inches each day. Projections going into the weekend show lake stages will be in the 358 range at Kentucky Dam and 357.8 at New Johnsonville.
Those readings are down several inches from the crest that occurred earlier this week.
Are warm sunny days finally taking charge? Most anglers sure hope so but don’t bury the coats and sweaters too deep in the closet. The saga of a string spring continues!