Be Aware of Winter Pool Levels
Written by Doug Wynn - Published on October 14, 2021
Hey from the Excel Storm Cat 230. Wind and weather have ruled the fishing for most days, more so than usual.
Last week found us with east wind and tight-lipped crappie. Trolling the ledges produced a few keepers but not much for size. Fishing minnows around stake beds with Livescope was infuriating. It took scanning dozens of beds to find one holding fish only to watch the fish approach our offerings then turn around and head for parts unknown.
The days we saw south winds, we did fairly well, with some decent crappie. One day we caught SEVEN different species of fish on KY Lake with one Redear about 1.5 pounds on a Pico Bone Orange INT crank. It had to be over 2 inches thick!
Sometimes I get the pleasure of taking someone who is there to learn my tactics and how I use my electronics to find and hopefully catch crappie. I did a trip on Barkley with a gentleman who was great to fish with because he said from the beginning he was there to learn and not catch crappie. That was a good thing because the crappie did not cooperate, but other species did. We even caught 2 gar.
Barkley can be intimidating at normal summer pool. It can be scary at winter pool. Many places I don’t even think about running over in summer are now dangerous. We ran into a bay that has a submerged bridge in the mouth of it. That concrete bridge is just barely under the surface and the white and red DANGER buoys have been removed, making it deadly to those who aren’t familiar with the area.
Many folks aren’t aware that the navigation maps on the GPS units are showing the lake elevations at summer pool. Right now, one will have to deduct 4 feet from that depth figure. That is one feature among many on the Humminbird/LakeMaster combination that makes them my choice. You can set the lake level offset to automatically deduct those 4 feet and the lake features and depth values are shown at that lower level.
Math was never my strong suite and I don’t want to have to keep it in my head that the level figures must be minus 4 feet. I keep my lake level shallow water warning at 4 feet, and it is colored red on my Helix’s. There is lots of red far from shore on KY Lake now but a scary amount on Barkley. Knowing how to use the channel buoys for reference will really help.
Fishing reports have been all over the place. Some folks are bobber fishing minnows around shallow cover while others are pulling jigs in mid depths. The trusty crankbait is still working in channels and deep flat areas especially on bright colors on sunny days. Livescope folks are taking some nice fish from tight cover with hair jigs, small jigs and plastics, and minnows.
As we get into late fall, weather is much more of a factor than say late spring. The fish are all taking advantage of the baitballs but there are just those days that nothing seems to work. Changing baits, locations, or tactics might trigger your quarry into making a trip home with you. You sure aren’t going to catch any sitting in the recliner snoozing.
Surface temperature are still in the mid-70s and some jet skiers are getting in those last trips of the season. Many recreational boaters aren’t nearly as aware as fishermen of the dangers of shallow water and the gremlins that live there. Wear your PFDs and kill switches. Consider carrying a change of clothes and always have your raingear. If you get wet, raingear will hold what body heat you have and give you time to get to safety and a warm place.
Be careful out there. Watch out for those who need help. What goes around comes around and the next time it might be you who needs help.
Welcome to our slice of Heaven!