Stable Lake Levels Finally Arrive; Bass/Catfish Bite Improves
Written by Steve McCadams - Published on April 27, 2022
Stable lake stages finally arrived for Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene, which has been a rare scenario thus far this spring. It has been a topsy-turvy spring for both lake levels and weather patterns to say the least.
Maybe, just maybe, things are on the upswing!
This week the reservoir crested and has pretty much stayed around the summer pool mark of 359, which was almost a week ahead of schedule but apparently Tennessee Valley Authority chose to hold that elevation since it was close to the May 1 target date.
Water color has cleared and surface temperatures are hanging around the 62 to 64 degree range. Cooler days earlier this week had a touch of fall in the air but daytime highs are expected to rebound and now stay in the low to mid 70’s.
Cool spells are no friend to anglers this time of year and especially bass and catfish anglers who have been scoring some pretty good stringers from shallow water. The cool snaps lower surface temps overnight and that has a negative impact on the shallow bite for bass, catfish and some early bluegill who have begun to move up this week.
Catfish begin moving up in late April each year when surface temps warm to the mid 60’s but especially when lake levels are rising. They follow rising water and they’ve sure had plenty of that this month.
Bank fishermen working the rock banks have seen early movement already underway as the fish begin migrating toward spawning territory. Rip-rap rock levees and other similar formations along shorelines will serve as prime spawning spots in the weeks ahead.
Some dandy stringers have been taken by jug fishermen too. They’ve been setting their floating buffets out in backwater bays and pockets off the main lake lately and it has worked well. Nightcrawlers have been the bait of choice.
Bass fishing had a surge of activity the last week to ten days as the rising lake levels inundated shoreline habitat and the fish wasted no time moving up to new territory where endless shoreline cover such as buck bushes and willow tree awaited them.
New feeding areas appealed and anglers quickly adapted by pitching and flipping Texas rigged craws and lizards plus tossing spinnerbaits and even some topwater at times over submerged grassbeds.
Some dandy stringers have been taken in areas that would normally be a bit too shallow but higher lake levels delivered an early shoreline pattern. Some of the best stringers of the spring were taken around shoreline cover the last week or so.
Popular lure choices have been Texas rigged craws in the red shad, green pumpkin-pepper, crawfish and black and blue just to name a few. Spinnerbaits with blue and chartreuse skirts sporting gold willow leaf blades have worked well too.
Once the water entered the bushes and flooded the abundance of yellow flowers anglers began tossing topwater jerk baits and some decent fish rose to the occasion.
The shallow water shoreline bite should hold up now for several weeks but lake levels will be crucial as any drop in elevation could diminish the appeal plus further work against the spawn. Bass anglers have been concerned about the falling lake levels once the fish moved up fast and began some early spawning attempts.
Already beginning to filter in toward shallow shorelines are a few bluegill and some scattered red ear sunfish, commonly known as shellcracker.
Action hasn’t been red hot just yet but will continue to improve as surface temps reach the 68 to 70-degree range. The bluegill and shellcracker bite can turn on quickly once a few warm days back to back enter the picture.
Crappie continue to play games for a lot of anglers this spring. There have been a few nice stringers taken by some anglers using long line techniques while pulling Road Runner jigs in a variety of depths. While some stringers were taken last week on warm afternoon in 4 to 8 foot depths most credited a scattered catch to deeper depths of 9 to 14 feet.
For most it has been a tough spring to find a consistent depth pattern or location to catch crappie. Some traditional areas have not produced for many veteran anglers. It has been a changing lake all spring as to weather and lake levels.
Popular zones such as New Hope and the upper Big Sandy have not lived up to their traditional reputation. West Sandy has given up pretty good numbers at times mostly for those slow trolling jigs in either spider rig or long line techniques.
There were even a few days crappie blitzed into buck bushes up Big Sandy but too much water scattered them and anglers had trouble staying on their trail.
Those fishing single pole presentations over manmade fish attractors have scored a few days but they too have been off compared to their normal success rate during prespawn and spawning phases.
Now that the surface temps have warmed anglers were hoping more fish would take on a structure oriented pattern and begin to relate closely to cover where females normally move up to deposit their eggs on brush, stumps and manmade structures.
For a lot of Kentucky Lake crappie fishermen the fish have been quite illusive this spring. Their patterns of movement and overall staging areas have been hard to find this year. Some boats have lucked out and scored nice stringers at times but overall it’s been humbling out there!
It appears stability in lake stages and weather may be returning to the overall fishing scene. Let’s hope so!
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