Stubborn Spring Battles Anglers; Crappie Spawn Delayed
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on April 6, 2022
Scores of spring fishermen across Kentucky Lake have had it with this stubborn spring. Weird weather has worn out its welcome. Enough already with the cold, rain and windy conditions.
Just when crappie anglers thought the spawning phases were about to kick in along comes another uninvited cold front, pushing the biological clock back. Looks like Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene will battle below average temperatures in the aftermath of a cold snap that will linger throughout the weekend.
Digging out the coveralls, overcoats and gloves are legions of anglers attempting to tolerate more unruly weather that has been reluctant to loosen its grip. Next week should see temps moderate some but we need consistency of several sunny days back to back to help jumpstart spawning phases.
Lake levels began rising slowly last weekend as TVA’s curve for reservoir filling begins each spring on April 1. By the first of May the reservoir is supposed to reach summer pool elevation of 359.
Elevation at midweek was in the 355.6 range. Anglers should see a gradual rise continue for the next few weeks barring any unusual flooding.
Presently, lake levels are normal for the first full week of April. Now we need normalcy in the weather forecast.
Surface temperatures have lost ground at times due to cold nights but were holding around the 57 to 59 degree range. Last Sunday’s rare sunny day and light winds made it feel spring was here but it didn’t last long before rain entered the picture on Monday.
While a few shallow areas managed to make it to the 60-degree range for one or two afternoons we just haven’t had cooperation from an extended spell of warm sunshine and light winds, which is what’s needed to push surface temps up to the 62 to 66 degree range.
In summary, it needs to get warm and stay warm.
A few boats using spider rig style presentations of jigs pushed slowly in the upper half of some bays throughout Big Sandy have managed to score some decent stringers. Depths of 5 to 7 feet produced fish last Saturday and Sunday in some areas as anglers here and there reported some limits taken.
There is still inconsistency in the pattern for most anglers. Some are using long-line techniques and pulling Road Runner jigs in midrange depths of 9 to 15 feet and while they have managed to score a limit some days it is taking a lot of trolling over a vast area to find fish. Most are logging lots of hours to catch fish.
No doubt the crappie have been staging out away from spawning areas and scattered. They’re awaiting a warm up before making their big move toward spawning territory. A few appeared to head that direction last weekend but reports indicated anglers who were successful one day could not duplicate their success the following day.
Establishing a consistent pattern has been challenging for most fishermen. There are always a few anglers scoring but for the average everyday angler it has been tough out there this spring.
Areas around the Paris Landing sector have been below average, especially for those one pole fishermen who like to vertical fish jigs or minnows around submerged structure such as manmade fish attractors. The fish just haven’t shown a desire to occupy structure in midrange depths in that sector.
The shallow to midrange depths ought to have been producing fish by now. In the Paris Landing sector they have not paid dividends as is usually the case at this time of year.
Up Big Sandy and West Sandy vertical style anglers have fared a little better, stalking stakebeds and brushpiles in 4 to 9 foot depths at times. Still, it has required a lot of stops before anglers could accumulate any numbers.
Just why it has been so slow north of the power lines and up around Paris Landing and other bays in the region is somewhat of a mystery.
No doubt things will improve as surface temps warm and more fish move toward structure by next week but thus far most of the boaters who have tried casting jigs to shallow areas or perhaps trying live minnows on slip bobbers over shallow zones have suffered.
It’s that time of the year when things can change quickly. It only takes a few sunny days to stimulate the sluggish bite. The fish are on the threshold of moving up. They just need a little help from the weatherman.
Male crappie are showing more color as their hormonal changes indicate spawning time is near. However, the males have been sluggish to occupy gravel banks or blitz to shallow structure as they usually move up ahead of the females.
The bass bite has been somewhat sluggish too as the standard early spring patterns of pounding gravel points, roadbeds and rip-rap shorelines have yet to give up decent numbers of bass.
There have been a few exceptions but individual anglers and some small bass club tournaments have seen lower weights and numbers in their outings. Practically no one likes the inclement weather patterns we’ve had to deal with throughout March and early April.
Repeated cold fronts have no doubt had an adverse impact on shallow bass trying to move up. The shallow pockets and upper ends of bays are vulnerable to the cold nights as surface temps decrease rapidly there.
Meanwhile, a few larger fish have been taken mostly by anglers tossing crankbaits on gravel and rock. Last week runoff from heavy rains put a lot of dingy water in the upper ends of bays so anglers were throwing some loud color choices ranging from florescent reds, greens and oranges to firetiger and other similar color variations.
Texas rigged craws and some jig and pig combos have also been in the arsenal as have some suspending jerk baits at times. Even some spinnerbaits have been tossed in the dingy water too around any wood or stickups.
A mean spring continues to test the patience of both crappie and bass fishermen all over Kentucky Lake. If you’ve faced tough times and are somewhat distressed at the overall fishing scene you are not alone.
Hang in there. Better days are coming!