Despite Some Natural Debris in the Lakes, Some Crappie Coming On Board
Written by Doug Wynn - Published on April 18, 2022
Hey from the Excel Storm Cat 230. We nudge closer but I can’t say we are there yet. Spring hasn’t sprung completely. The torrential rains and bad storms of last week have cleared out for the most part and just a few more days of the high 50s and low 60s are going to give way to some 70s and maybe low 80s.
Right now the lake levels are stable, just above summer pool. As the threat of storms lessens, I feel certain we will see the lake levels drop back but hopefully not several feet as is often the case before May 1.
We have seen some spawns decimated in recent years by the lakes staying much above summer pool and warm up to the mid 60s, the crappie head for shallow waters to spawn, only to see the eggs and fry left high and dry when the plug is pulled out of the tub.
I have my fingers crossed that we will soon hit that mid 60s mark that will trigger the spawn while we are at reasonably stable water levels. The fish will take care of themselves if conditions allow them. I can only cross my fingers and pray for great spawning conditions. We are now seeing the results of a couple of decent spawns as much of our catch is 10.5-12-inch crappie.
I have had a lot of folks contact me about water conditions after what seemed like a week of heavy rains and storms. Kentucky Lake is in much better condition than expected except for one issue, trash both on the surface and suspended in the water column.
It seems the lake was being allowed to rise slowly as we got several inches of rain and this rise seems to have pushed back the muddy, chocolate milk looks like you could plant corn in it muddy, water. Jonathan Creek west of Highway 68 has a lot of color but east of the bridge is surprisingly almost normal color.
I ran into some coves on the east, LBL side, of the lake and most of those are pretty much normal. Of course, the bays on the LBL side don’t get agriculture farmland runoff from crop fields that tend to muddy the water a bunch.
The leaves, pine needles, oak curlies (I don’t know the technical name of them, but they fall off oak trees during pollination) (You didn’t come to read about tree biology, did you?), and all sorts of trash stirred up off the lake bottom have made my life miserable while trying to troll.
I would love to be trolling roadrunners tipped with minnows on my longline rigs, but it is almost impossible for me to detect if you have trash fouling your lines with that presentation. Pulling crankbaits makes it a little easier. I told a fellow boater that I was going to have to take a rake to get all the leaves off the decks of the Storm Cat after our fishing day. We fishermen might exaggerate a little from time to time, but it was nasty.
I’m seeing a lot of spider riggers and longliners working mid depths, 12-18 feet areas. Those working shallower are catching a few but many of them have been pretty tight lipped with information. I did see a limit caught by a good friend the middle of last week farther south of my chosen area.
It took him all day with fish being very scattered, but he had some dandies! He tried to duplicate his catch on Friday and after an hour of frustration trying to keep trash off his lines, he went home. His catch was from 12-16 feet of water with roadrunners and black and chartreuse curly tails.
I had a couple of great guys from northern Indiana Friday and Saturday. We burned my new Skinny Water Marine 36-volt Lithium battery down to 4% on the Bluetooth readout fighting wind and moving a bunch. We pulled Pico cranks, Bomber 6As, and 733s with equal success.
Colors that worked best were natural shad and crawfish patterns right up against channel breaks. Our catch was OK and seemed to be much better than most and my clients were happy. Our big fish was close to 1.5 pounds. Saturday the wind switched from the north and the lake wasn’t as rough but the fish had somewhat backed off and even though we could see them, getting them to bite was tough.
As soon as I turned my Humminbird Helix units on this past week, it was very obvious that one thing that the lake was full of is pollen. My down image screen was almost unreadable at the bottom depths. Some fine tuning helped but as we moved to different areas, tuning had to be done. I’ve seen this before but it was much more of an issue this past week.
The bass guys were out in force and if there was a bass caught for each gallon of fuel burned, fishing had to be good. My philosophy of if fishermen are moving, they aren’t catching fish and you don’t leave biting fish to go looking for other fish might have been in play. I have had zero reports from the bass guys but I know most didn’t stay in the areas we frequented for very long.
We are picking up several nice bluegills that are tackling our minnow imitations. I’m starting to see the yellow mustard flowers bloom along the shorelines. I have built in some days off each week and some of those days are going to be spent exclusively searching out spawning areas for bluegills and redears.
In my mind, there is zero doubt our bluegills and redears have been most affected by the Asian carp prowling the areas the gills used to spawn in. A good fisherman uses all the tools at his disposal to seek out the new areas the tasty panfish are now setting up to spawn in. Stay tuned.
We are yet to catch a catfish on our offerings, and I find that unusual. Maybe the cooler water temperatures have caused them to take their time waking up from the cold of winter. I know the time will soon come that I’ll be cussing them for hammering my crankbaits when it should be a big crappie. Most of my clients don’t care either way.
The pleasure boaters are coming out in force. I saw the first brave souls on a tube being pulled behind a tritoon on 58-degree water. That takes more want-to than I would want to.
Be careful out there. Wear your PFDs when the big engine is above idle. For you first-of-the years, double check your safety equipment. I know there is a new rule concerning dates. You can read about that here.
Watch out for those who need help and take the time to give them a hand. I saw two more boats being towed in this week. Being stranded on these lakes any time is not fun but in our current weather conditions, it can be life threatening.
Every year I try to warn new-comers to our area to be mindful there are many dead spaces and areas in LBL that have little to zero cell signal for many carriers. You can’t be helped if it is not known you need help.
Welcome to our slice of Heaven!