Cool Windy Spring Delays Crappie Spawn; Better Days On Horizon
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on April 3, 2019
For most crappie anglers testing the waters of Kentucky Lake these last few weeks it has been pretty tough sledding. A mean spring has tossed some very challenging conditions in the path of anglers yearning to jump start this very popular fishing season. It appears better days are fast approaching. Warmer weather is expected as the weekend arrives and that will help warm surface temperatures that have been below average this past week. April started on a cold note this week with very cold nights---Sunday/Monday dropped below or near the freezing mark---that have kept surface temperatures in the 54 to 56 degree range. Cold northeast winds Monday escorted the new month’s arrival, delaying any hopes of an early crappie spawn. In years past there were times when unusually warm conditions arrived early and spawning phases actually began in late March and early April. Not this year, however, as a stubborn spring has pushed the timetable back. By this weekend temps should jump a few degrees and climb to the upper 50’s. Early spawning phases appear to be at least a week away if not more. Temps need to be in the 62 to 66 degree range to stimulate spawning conditions. Odds are temps will finally cross the 60 degree threshold this weekend. By early next week the whole crappie scenario should change dramatically as fish will make their overdue blitz toward midrange and shallow structure. That hasn’t happened yet and male crappie have not shown signs of hormonal changes with a darkening appearance. Overall, the crappie picture has been sluggish across the reservoir for most anglers but some decent stringers have been taken by those using long line techniques while pulling curly tail grubs and Road Runners. The fish taken have been suspended out over deeper water as they stage and wait for warmer surface temps before stair stepping their way toward spawning locations. Both spider rigging presentations and long lining have paid the most dividends lately for crappie anglers stalking main lake areas such as the old river channels up Big Sandy. Several fish were taken at times while anglers trolled their buffet of baits in the 11 to 14 foot depth range but out over 20 foot or deeper depths. Popular jig skirt colors have ranged from blue/chartreuse to purple/clear with sparkle. Some black/chartreuse have been productive too. Other crappie anglers who attempted to find some shallow to midrange depth fish have been disappointed. Very few fish have been caught by those casting jigs to shallow stakebeds in 4 to 8 foot depths. Fish just haven’t been there. Vertical fishing jigs and live minnows over deeper stakebeds and brushpiles in 9 to 14 foot depths out in the main lake areas around Paris Landing have not produced either. Crappie have remained deep, staging there until stable weather returns and warms things up. That warm up should begin Friday, according to the weather forecast. Meanwhile, water color is good across the region. Lake levels this week, after falling last weekend and earlier this week, began rising slowly on Tuesday. TVA begins its annual curve for reservoir filling on April 1 each year with a target day of May 1 for summer pool (359). Presently, lake levels are in the 355.2 range and should rise slowly in the coming weeks barring any drastic weather changes. On the minds of Kentucky Lake fishermen are the rising river stages on the Mississippi River. Flooding from the Midwestern states has entered the Mississippi and will no doubt alter river stages in the weeks ahead. Just how much it will alter Kentucky Lake’s elevation remains to be seen. Bass anglers have been testing a variety of depths and areas in their attempts to find fish. Tournament anglers practicing for weekend events have been searching main lake ledges at times while others continue to pound the banks and rock points. Some attempted to toss spinnerbaits, shallow running crankbaits and Texas rigged craws around shallow stickups and boat docks. Others have focused on secondary ditches where a little more water was present. Those boaters have tossed Red Eye Shad and Rattle Traps plus some swim baits. The crankbait pattern around shallow rock and gravel banks should resume once warmer surface temps return. The recent series of high skies and cold north winds have not helped the shallow bite but watch for that to resume quickly. Despite a few weeks of unstable weather and lake levels it appears Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene is braced for a rebound. It’s that time of the year when things can change quickly. Several back to back warm days are on the horizon. Prepare for an upswing!