March Fishing Scene Has Many Faces
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on March 8, 2022
Kentucky Lake’s March fishing scene continues to change from week to week as both the weather and lake levels have been riding a roller coaster.
Short sleeve shirts last week; insulated coveralls and gloves this week!
That’s not unusual as March has a reputation for bringing unstable conditions to the region as spring knocks on the door. Although fishermen had a nice week recently with above average temperatures and light winds it sort of spoiled folks into thinking an early spring might be in the cards.
The honeymoon with spring fever proved to be short. Spring doesn’t officially arrive until March 20th---a week from Sunday---but nothing wrong with hoping it gets here early.
Meanwhile, falling temperatures and falling lake levels are the story this week. Anglers around these parts know to keep the coveralls accessible until mid-April. Best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best when heading out on the lake this time of year.
Lake levels have been falling rather fast the last few days---as much as six inches daily at times---as TVA has really been pushing water through Kentucky Dam in an effort to pull the reservoir back down to its low ebb of winter pool.
Midweek lake levels were around 356 and will be near the winter pool range of 354 by this weekend it appears. Last week’s high water is gone, taking with it a lot of stain or dingy water that was present in the upper ends of bays and creeks.
Surface temperatures rose last week in response to sunny days and warm nights. Readings climbed out of the upper 40’s and have now crossed the threshold into the lower 50’s.
The rapid warm up was paving the way for rapid movement of both bass and crappie toward shallow water but cooler weather now in progress plus falling lake stages have curtailed that for the time being. The weatherman indicates a cold snap will enter the picture by this weekend bringing nighttime temps down below the freezing mark.
Although winter is still in command it appears temps will moderate by early next week as spring like conditions will soon return. Daytime temps are forecast to rise back to the upper 60’s and low 70’s by the middle of next week.
That should stimulate some movement toward shallow flats and backwater bays for both bass as crappie. With warmer weather coinciding with stable lake stages it should set the stage for prespawn crappie to begin the first phase of their annual ritual.
Anglers should be able to find more fish entering the 6 to 12 foot zones as crappie stair step their way toward spawning venues. Up Big Sandy some fish may move up even shallower as that shallow basin will warm quicker if warm weather arrives.
Crappie fishermen last week struggled to find significant numbers regardless of their techniques. Veteran anglers searched high and low but the fish were scattered and the overall bite was finicky.
Some fishermen reported finding a fish or two taken in extremely deep water such as 25 to 28 feet at times but no schooling fish. Same scenario for boats slow trolling or long lining in midrange depths; a fish or two here and there but no real pattern of success.
Vertical presentations of jigs or live minnows around manmade fish attractors had similar results. It was great to be out on the lake in the beautiful weather but the fish didn’t get the memo. This week kicked off on a cold and windy note so the overall bite has been off.
Watch for activity to improve next week once warmer days return and link up with stable lake levels that will entice crappie to begin migrating from deep water hideouts to midrange staging areas. The biological clock will start ticking by the middle of next week and should jump start the early spring transition.
Weather is always the guiding factor for the early spring bite. A few days of spring conditions will produce positive results while some cold days with nasty north winds will push crappie back to deeper depths where they will stage until surface temps climb into the upper 50’s.
Main lake ledges and humps where deep structure can be located in the 12 to 15 foot range should be productive areas---maybe deeper in some zones---until a rapid warm up returns. Once the next warm spell descends and surface temps climb to the upper 50’s anglers will see crappie make a blitz and move up fast.
Bass fishermen have been tossing a wide variety of crankbaits lately and searching at random for a few fish that are known to move up early toward rocky points and gravel banks. Last week’s warm spell saw a few fish do just that but not in significant numbers.
A few anglers managed to land a nice lunker largemouth or smallmouth for their casting efforts but limits of fish were not easy to come by. A good one here or there but not many at a spot.
With the water color beginning to clear many anglers are switching from loud florescent color combinations that had appeal during the dingy to muddy water week that just passed to shad variations and crawfish color choices.
Some are tossing Carolina rigged claws, suspending jerk baits and jig and craw combos. Others are offering swim baits off deep banks or perhaps deep diving crankbaits or Rattle Trap style presentations in an effort to cover more water.
March may have a reputation for unstable weather and lake conditions but it’s also known for yielding some of Kentucky Lake’s biggest bass of the year. The females will be sporting bulging bellies in preparation for spawning so this time of year has the potential to produce some of the lake’s largest bass!