Fall or Spring? Weather Still Throwing Curve to Anglers
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on April 19, 2021
Anglers across the region have been asking themselves all week whether this is really late April spring fishing or did we just skip summer and go directly to the fall fishing scene?
Below average temperatures escorted by annoying north winds have had a touch of October in the air for over a week now for the entire Kentucky Lake region.
Overcoats, coveralls and insulated bibs have been standard attire for fishermen, especially in the early morning hours.
Generally speaking the north breeze has had a bite to it. For a lot of folks out there testing the waters the fish have not!
Although several decent stringers of crappie have been taken this week anchored by some hefty slabs that eclipsed the 1 ½-pound mark, several fishermen continued to struggle. A vast number of tourists visiting the lake this spring have voiced discontent after battling inclement weather and stubborn fish.
It’s fair to say some nice crappie have been taken at times but the overall bite has been off this spring. A lack stability in both the weather and lake levels have played havoc with the crappie spawn as to normal patterns and depth ranges.
Some anglers this past week managed to find a few crappie returning to midrange depths up Big Sandy around the New Hope and Country Junction sector as well as down around Trace and Poplar Creek areas west of Sulphur Well Island.
Long lining techniques paid dividends at times for some pontoons and boats pulling Road Runners across flats and open areas in the 7 to 10 foot depth range at times. There were a few reports of some fish taken in the 5 to 7 foot depths by anglers who got on the lake by daylight and caught fish pretty good until the mid-morning sun seemed to slow the bite.
Other techniques such as spider rigging also produced for a few boats who were pushing multipole rigs armed with both live minnows and jigs. Finding some structure and trolling back and forth over depths of 7 to 8 feet produced a few dandy male crappie.
Most all of the hefty females were still sporting eggs earlier this week but their egg sacs were bulging and the fish were ready to deposit them around submerged structure. The kicker has been the falling temperatures in the midst of this cool spell that has likely kept some fish out away from shallow structure.
As was the case last week the females have not made a major blitz toward shallow to midrange structure like they normally do. Yes there have been some fish attempting to move up but not in massive numbers.
Bank fishermen were still having trouble catching fish around shallow points and gravel bars like they usually do by early to mid-April.
Anglers using vertical techniques to knock on the doors of submerged manmade structures such as stakebeds, brushpiles and other such cover have faced a hit and miss scenario as of late. Their style of single pole fishing has required a lot of stops most days as the fish have been very scattered at a time when they should have been congregated.
Meanwhile, those fortunate to find some decent stringers have been while spider rigging have indicated their efforts required fishing several different depths zones at times. Some fish have even been taken in 18 to 20 foot depths at times!
A few rare reports have come in from some boats casting jigs toward structure that was offshore around the 8-foot depth range. Some crappie were staging there and may even spawn that deep as the combination of clear water and cooler weather may just keep them there.
Lake conditions are showing a good water color that has cleared across the reservoir since last week.
Elevation has started back up slowly. At Kentucky Dam lake levels started the week out around 357.2 but were projected to rise to 357.6 at midweek.
TVA’s curve targets the date of May 1 for a summer pool goal of 359. Anglers can expect to see a gradual rise the next week to ten days.
Surface temperatures had cooled some the last few days due to cold nights and chilly days. Readings were in the 63 to 65 degree range but will rebound once sunny days return. However, the weatherman indicates hot weather will continue to be sluggish in its return as weekend highs will only be 69 to 70 degrees.
Bass fishermen have played the weather game too but some have managed to find enough fish to keep it interesting. Local tournaments are necessarily producing a lot of limits with hefty stringers but it hasn’t been all bad.
Since the high lake levels ten days ago are gone and the brief encounter with pitching and flipping techniques around shoreline habitat was short lived anglers are tossing crankbaits, Rattle Traps, jig and craws, spinnerbaits, Carolina rigs and some swim baits out away from shorelines.
Gravel points, roadbeds, rip-rap levees, and some island rims where current was present have been attractive.
Covering a lot of water and sometimes finding bass on sloping mud banks has paid dividends as anglers are making a lot of casts and covering a lot of open water with Red Eye Shad and Rattle Trap style lure selections.
Catfish are showing signs of moving up as several have been caught this week. Crappie anglers are tying into them on a regular basis in midrange to shallow depths as the fish have begun their migration toward shorelines or rocky banks. They’re not there yet but on the way!
Once surface temperatures climb to the upper 60’s and low 70’s---which could happen by the middle of next week---watch for a few shellcracker and bluegill to join the catfish in their quest for shallow spawning zones.
A strange spring fishing season continues. Hold on as warm sunny days and light winds will return one of these days and normalcy will resume for Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene.