April's Winds Still Rocking the Boats of Anglers
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on April 14, 2021
Stop me if you heard this one! Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene is still riding the weird weather roller coaster that went on a tangent back in March and has yet to right itself.
By now we’re supposed to be at the peak of the annual crappie spawn and while some decent stringers are being taken by a few select anglers the average everyday jig dipper and minnow dunker has endured a tough spring.
For starters March winds are still blowing in April and have worn out their welcome, playing havoc with the open water venues lately. Gale force breezes some days were sending whitecaps to potential fishing spots and limiting access to a lot of boaters. High winds dictate where and how anglers can fish.
A warm day here and there have been replaced by chilly mornings and annoying north winds that had fishermen digging deep in the closet for more clothes. Underdressed anglers have had to don rain suits on top of long sleeve shirts and sweaters in an attempt to ward off the wind chill factor.
Lake levels have dropped since last week but settled down at midweek after falling to the 357.5 range. Projections for the weekend will see a slight rise to 357.6 range or perhaps a few inches higher. The reservoir had climbed up above the 359 summer pool mark last week before cresting and falling back to present day elevation.
Surface temperatures this week danced around the 64 to 67 degree range some days when sunny conditions lingered. It appears anglers will encounter yet another cool snap that’s now in progress. Temps will feel more like fall for the next few days based on the forecast.
Some anglers refer to these chilly spells as “dogwood winter” when below average temps arrive while the hillsides are still in full bloom.
Meanwhile, water color is relatively clear across the reservoir with only a slight stain up Big Sandy West Sandy. The peak spawning phases are still the topic of conversation among the ranks of anglers, many of whom have frantically searched a variety of depths and location this week. The jury is still out on when a blitz will occur from egg-laden females toward spawning structure.
Some fish have been caught this week by anglers targeting structure such as brushpiles and stakebeds in depths of 5 to 10 feet. But the fish have been somewhat scattered in that depth range.
A few nice dark male crappie were taken in that depth range. Most of the larger females appeared to be in slightly deeper depths with some anglers stalking 12 to 15 foot depths at times and landing some hefty females still laying out away from shorelines and holding eggs.
I filleted several fish the last few days and all the females still had eggs. However, some females looked ready to broadcast their eggs at any time.
As to why more fish haven’t moved up to shallow depths remains somewhat of a mystery given the warmer surface temps we had for well over a week. Usually the crappie bite in shallow depth ranges has turned it up a notch by now. That’s not to say a few food fish haven’t been taken but for the average angler plus those who like to cast or fish from shore the fish just haven’t been up there for them.
Falling lake levels recently could have played a role but now that the elevation has crested and beginning to creep back up a bit crappie are overdue to better relate to submerged structure in the shallow to midrange zones.
Out away from shorelines and in the main lake portions of Big Sandy long line style techniques are still producing for boaters pulling Road Runners in the orange/chartreuse and black/chartreuse colors among others.
Others using spider rig techniques and slowly pushing multipole rigs over open water or around some submerged structure have done well at times too but even they will admit the bite has been inconsistent at times.
Last week’s surge in activity up around the New Hope and Country Junction area seemed to cool off once lake levels dropped a bit. More boats have been observed this week trolling around the mouth of West Sandy and near the open water sector of Trace and Poplar Creeks.
Their presence indicated several fish were scattered and suspended, still staging out over deeper water in depths of 10 to 14 feet.
Anglers vertical fishing jigs and live minnows were catching fish around structure but having to make a lot of stops to rack up decent numbers. The fish just haven’t congregated around the structure in shallow to midrange depths during their prespawn and spawning phases.
Watch for some increased activity around those shallow to midrange zones in the next few days despite the uninvited cool snap.
Bass anglers had a short honeymoon with the high water that put fish up on shorelines and around bushes and grassbeds. That coincided with a rise in surface temps too.
A few days anglers scored decent stringers by pitching and flipping Texas rigged craws and worms plus jig and pig combos. Tossing spinnerbaits paid dividends too.
Reports the last few days indicate fish pulled out of some shallow cover once water levels receded and are now out from shorelines and back on some shallow points and around small pockets. From shallow running crankbaits to some suspending jerk baits fishermen have had to adjust to changing lake stages.
There’s always a few anglers who target deeper water and put their backs to the banks. Some sloping points and secondary ridges or steeper banks have produced fish this week.
No doubt the fish had to pull out of shoreline habitat and fall back to the next deeper comfort zones until higher lake levels return and inundate the abundance of dead grass and bushes or willow trees that provided temporary housing to them last week.
Anglers are having to button up their shirts and face yet another spell of somewhat unstable weather as April reaches the half-way mark. Seems change is the only thing that’s constant these days for Kentucky Lake’s mysterious spring fishing scene!