Kentucky Lake's Fall Crappie Bite Alive & Well
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on October 16, 2019
Kentucky Lake's fishing scene had a touch of all four seasons this past week as to weather conditions. From overcoats to no coats; that's the way the roller coaster has gone.
Sandwiched between some nasty winds and cold mornings have been some beautiful warm sunny days that were indeed typical fall outings when jacket mornings and shirt sleeve afternoons painted a pretty picture for anglers soaking up the sun and light winds.
Honeymoons with near perfect fishing conditions have been short in duration, however. This week has been a prime example. Started off nice and a midweek cool front knocked on fall's door with an annoying north wind, sending anglers back to the closet for coveralls and sweatshirts.
Not to worry as it appears a warm up will arrive for the weekend and pleasant days may soon return.
Surface temperatures this week dropped into the upper 60's. Most days the temp gauge had readings of 68 in the early hours but warmed to 70 degrees by midday. Look for the water to cool a few more degrees by this weekend.
Lake levels have been stable this week with elevation in the 354.8 range in the Kentucky Dam area as well as upstream around the Paris Landing and New Johnsonville sector. Water color remains clear across the reservoir.
The reservoir is staying around its low ebb elevation of winter pool. It bears repeating that all boaters need to use caution and observe channel markers this time of year!
Crappie fishing continues to hold up to its good fall reputation. However, most anglers overlook and underrate autumn angling here as not a lot of boats have been on the water most days. Those staying on shore are missing out too!
Hefty stringers have been taken on a consistent basis since last week. The bite shows no sign of backing off.
Several limits have been taken in a variety of techniques. Boats targeting manmade fish attractors such as stakebeds and brushpiles are scoring some dandy stringers from the midrange depths of 9 to 13 feet.
Jigs tipped with minnows have worked well but so have solo presentations of live shiner minnows. Presentations of 1/16-ounce jigs in the black/chartreuse, black-red-gray combos, red/chartreuse and some shad variations with sparkle are just a few of the popular choices but a wide variety of colors have been working.
Other techniques producing have been deep brushpiles where some anglers are vertical fishing both jigs and minnows around 20-foot depths. There are several good size fish relating to the deep structure.
At the same time some boats are trolling crankbaits along main lake ledges. Out over deep water areas but targeting depths of 10 to 14 feet as to their bait presentations seem to be paying off. Several crappie appear to be suspended and hanging out in the main lake areas up Big Sandy and elsewhere.
Contributing to the improvement of Kentucky Lake's fall crappie bite has been an increase in the number of shad being seen by anglers. There have been an abundance of baitfish showing up on the sonar screens of anglers these last several weeks.
That was not the case earlier this year. Neither were baitfish showing up last fall for most bass and crappie anglers.
With the increased forage base---namely threadfin shad---crappie are sporting a healthy appearance these last few weeks. It's nice to see bulging bellies on most of the crappie, which is a clear sign their forage base is returning to where it should be.
The last few years anglers were concerned when a lot of the bass and crappie taken showed inadequate forage. That's not the case this fall!
Expect the crappie bite to hold up for the next several weeks. No doubt fishermen will have to battle a windy day or two along the way but overall, the weeks ahead should be relatively stable as to temperature change and lake levels.
Occasionally, cold fronts will push through but odds are they won't linger and upset the applecart too long the way they do in spring.
Bass fishermen are seeing a few more fish moving up to gravel banks and hitting top water at times. The cooler surfaces temps have no doubt stimulated some surface activity in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Plus, some cloudy days have helped that shallow bite too.
Some bass fishermen are still tossing Texas rigged worms, jig and craws and some deep diving crankbaits out on main lake sandbars.
Other patterns have seen anglers tossing Strike King's red-eye shad and chrome/black colored Rattle Traps on main lake flats and back in some of the major bays where bass are busting some shad schools. Swim baits have worked out there too.
Some days anglers just have to cover a lot of water to find a bite here and there.
Low lake levels have exposed a lot of shallow crappie beds and shallow stumps so tossing spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits have yielded results at times.
There were times when Kentucky Lake's fall bass pattern thrived around the abundance of aquatic vegetation. Backs of big bays often had schooling fish and anglers loved targeting the grass with a variety of lures but the days of the weeds are gone.
Today's fall bass patterns seem to see as many boaters testing the water around boat docks and piers, shallow gravel road beds and rocky points when fish head shallow. For others the deep ledges and humps are a year round pattern.
Meanwhile, decent stringers of catfish are still coming from the main river channel, although not much current has been present this week.
Nice days of fall fishing await you!