Winter Weather Anything But Predictable!
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on February 6, 2019
One day it’s warm. The next day it’s cold. Some weeks have frigid temps with snow and ice. Then, a few days later it seems spring is here with record high temps while birds sing serenades as though April was on the doorstep. To say our winter weather has been unpredictable would be a gross understatement. Fishermen and hunters don’t seem to know how to dress if they’re going outside or know whether to go outside at all! Added to the temperature roller coaster now comes more rain. Lots of it too! As this update was formulated heavy rains were pounding the Tennessee Valley, drenching an already saturated region. Gloomy days with low skies are sure to drop lots of water across the region so anglers can expect lake levels on Kentucky Lake and elsewhere to start back up the ladder. TVA had been pushing a lot of water through Kentucky Dam this week and had the reservoir down to a low ebb elevation of 354, which is about a foot below normal winter pool. The low elevation was likely due to TVA’s anticipation of heavy rains that will send runoff into the reservoir so they dropped the lake down to create more storage capacity. Winter crappie and bass anglers should anticipate rising lake levels in the days ahead. Water color had been good for fishing and anglers can anticipate additional stain entering the reservoir by this weekend but it’s not likely interfere with main lake areas. No doubt the upper ends of bays and the upper Big Sandy basin will see some muddy water coming in. Surface temps have been in the 46 degree range this week. Several mild days have lingered, offering anglers a chance to get out and about and address their cabin fever symptoms. Last weekend’s unusually nice weather had boat ramps overflowing and parking at a premium. A glance at such places as Port Road and Paris Landing State Park boat ramps made it look like early April instead of early February. In fact, some anglers said it was downright crowded at times in the mouth of Big Sandy in the Paris Landing State Park sector as most all boats were targeting the main lake ledges and competing for spots. Depths of 18 to 22 feet have been giving up some crappie and seems most all anglers headed to the open water venues and avoiding fishing in bays or shallow areas. Some reports came in from anglers working the 25 to 30 foot depth range. Although no big catches were reported several boats did manage to land 7 or 8 keeper size crappie, an indication fish were a bit scattered and not in a winter schooling mode. Most veteran crappie fishermen feel the overall numbers are just not out there to consistently yield catchable limits. Even when the weather has been perfect with warm temps and light winds the lion’s share of anglers have struggle to catch a double-digit stringer. There have been some exceptions as occasionally some individual slips up on the right spot at the right time and manages to hook up with a few fish relating to brushpiles or other submerged structure in a deep depth zone. However, those landing limits of keeper crappie have been in the minority this past fall and winter. Successful anglers have reported using orange/chartreuse, chartreuse with red glitter tube skirts and some blue/chartreuse with sparkle skirts. When clear water was encountered dull colors such a motor oil with gold sparkle type skirts have been popular. Jig presentations are ranging from hollow body tube skirts to solid body styles such as Bobby Garland type grubs. Others use a hair style or feather body such as homemade hand tied jigs or store bought brands such as the Popeye brand. Some anglers are tipping jigs with minnows; other prefer jigs only. Adding a scent such as Berkley Power Bait has it’s time and place too. With rising lake levels likely in the days ahead, anglers should see a few crappie following the rise and moving up toward more shallow areas as they pursue schools of shad. Cooler weather will follow the rain now underway and dip down a bit for the weekend but temps are expected to moderate slightly by early next week. The long range forecast appears to have normal winter temperatures staying around for the next week to ten days. Odds of getting more spring weather that spoiled fishermen these last two weeks are unlikely in the immediate future. Bass anglers have been out too slinging away at everything from gravel banks and rock bluff to ledges where they hoped to encounter a smallmouth or two. Tossing hair jigs and a variety of twister tail grubs or perhaps suspending jerk baits have been popular lure choices for winter bass fishermen. Crankbaits have been popular too as they always seem to have a place in the Kentucky Lake bass fishermen’s arsenal. Veteran anglers can recall times when winter fishing on Kentucky Lake was quite limited due to bitter weather and ice around boat ramps. In fact, there have been weeks and months when very little fishing was done as weather just didn’t allow it. So, if you’ve had a few unfortunate days when rain or wind kept you off the lake or perhaps your long range plans were put on hold, don’t complain too much. There were times in winters past when anglers pretty much hibernated around late November and didn’t come out of their caves until mid-March! Present day fishing doesn’t seem to battle the severe winters of yesteryear. For bass and crappie anglers in the Kentucky Lake region it has become a year round sport with short intervals of inclement weather. This year has been exceptionally kind to anglers. Let’s hope the trend continues all the way through spring!