Anglers Negotiate High Water, But Welcome Rising Temps!
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on March 2, 2022
Fishermen are somewhat off balance. Between cold fronts and drastically changing lake levels the late winter fishing has been challenging to say the least.
Nice warm weather entered the picture this week and stirred up spring fever for legions of crappie and bass fishermen who were already anxious to get back out on the water. Temps rising to the upper 60’s and low 70’s backed by sunny days will do that!
Meanwhile, Kentucky Lake’s saga with changing lake levels continues. In the aftermath of torrential rains of late February the reservoir is still reeling from the massive runoff plus dealing with the influx of high water from upstream as Pickwick reservoir has also been high and dumping water.
High water coincided with rising temperatures this week that saw a lot of floating debris cluttering the main Tennessee River channel plus a lot of the backwater bays. Boaters had to keep a sharp eye out for floating obstacles while motoring out to their favorite fishing holes.
Dingy to muddy water has been another hurdle this week for fishermen. One positive note has been rising surface temperatures. Warm days are having a positive influence---surface temps have climbed from the mid-40’s to low 50’s---so that’s good news.
Lake levels have jumped from the low ebb of winter pool ten days ago up to the threshold of summer pool in a short time. Tennessee Valley Authority is revising lake projections on a daily basis but forecasts a reading of 358.7 in the Kentucky Dam sector as the weekend approaches. Normal winter pool for this time of year would be 354.
A lot of current is present in the main Tennessee River channel as TVA is attempting to push a big volume of water through Kentucky Dam in an attempt to pull the reservoir back down to its normal curve. Normally the reservoir would sleep around its low ebb of winter pool until April 1 when reservoir filling begins with a May 1 target date for summer pool of 359 elevation.
Heavy rains sometimes throw the whole plan off course but that’s why TVA draws the lake down during winter months to create storage capacity.
Meanwhile, late winter fishermen are trying to adjust their battle plans and react to the constant changes now underway.
While a lot of muddy water is present in the main river channel some of the bays and portions of the Big Sandy around Paris Landing are sporting a pretty good color for fishing.
Bass fishermen are tossing a variety of loud colored crankbaits mixed with a few crawfish variations in their attempts to fool a few bass that have been moving up toward shallow gravel banks in response to warmer surface temps.
Such colors a firetiger, florescent oranges and greens and unusual loud variations that sometimes stay hidden deep in the tackle box are now popular choices when water colors vary from one spot to another across the lake.
From Rattle Trap style lure choices to shallow and deep divers bass anglers are targeting all sorts of rocky points, roadbeds, rip-rap shorelines and even some wood at times with a big bladed spinnerbait.
The bass are following the rising water in pursuit of shad that are doing the same thing. And, the rising surface temps have stimulated movement as well toward shallow areas.
Odds are both bass and crappie fishermen will be riding a merry-go-round as anglers will soon be fishing falling lake levels once the reservoir reaches a crest. Fishermen can expect rapidly receding lake stages in the very near future.
Sometimes bass fishermen can play the current and take advantage of the pattern that puts fish in the eddies or behind places that just break the flow as fish will lay in wait for morsels to come their way.
Crappie anglers have been venturing out to main lake areas utilizing spider rigs and some long line presentations while others are vertical fishing jigs and minnows around deep to midrange structure. A few crappie have likely moved up in response to rising lake levels and warmer surface temps.
While most boats have been targeting depths of 14 to 20 feet there are some that have moved up this week and stalking 8 to 12 feet. Knocking on the door of midrange stakebeds and brushpiles as crappie are roaming and scattered sometimes requires a lot of stops before finding a few that may be here and there but not schooling.
It’s a ticking clock for the present day fishing scene as fish are in a prespawn phase and not quite ready to blitz up shallow just yet. Watch for a lot of movement to take place in the weeks ahead. For most anglers there’s going to be a lot of trial and error in their search.
Sooner or later both the weather and water levels will get together and share some stability. Until then, hold on and keep monitoring the sonar screen with an open mind!