Huge Numbers of Baitballs and Tons of Small Crappie Offers Bright Future for Anglers
Written by Doug Wynn - Published on October 12, 2022
Hey Folks from the Excel Storm Cat 230. If we can just get the winds of fall to take a few days off, fall fishing will be in full swing.
If you have been a reader of my reports since day one, you have read of my concerns for the baitfish populations in many years and my glee when we see huge numbers of baitballs in our lakes.
Right now, the shad and shiner populations in our lakes are at an all-time high in my opinion. I said earlier in the year, if Mother Nature will do her part, we should have great spawns this year.
I feel the steady water levels and water temperatures of April and May will reward us with great fishing for years to come. Based on the numbers of 6-to-9-inch crappie now in KY and Barkley Lakes, the future is bright.
I spoke with Adam Martin of KY Fish and Wildlife Dept, he backed up what I am seeing in numbers of baitfish. The spawns of Threadfin shad, Skipjacks, Gizzard Shad, Emerald Shiners , and Silversides were fantastic.
The crappie and catfish we are catching pulling crankbaits look like pre-spawn fish. They are bloated with baitfish. Healthy fall gamefish mean healthy fish for next spring’s spawn. Adam will be releasing the data they have gathered in a month or so concerning how well the gamefish spawn survived this year.
I fished the south end of my territory last week in Blood River. While the lake is at 354.7 elevation, some ramps are tough to get in and out of, but the fishing is good.
I had guests from several states who all loved the beautiful fall colors and fishing. The winds dictated where we could fish most days, but we made the best of it.
Thursday I was greeted by John and Marilyn from Ohio. John is a Moderator on Crappie.com. It was their first visit to KY Lake. They were the first of a group from Crappie.com who stayed at Lynnhurst Family Resort.
We held our annual KY Lake Shindig for Crappie.com members and guests on Saturday. Friday and Saturday my guests on the Storm Cat were other members, along with John and Marilyn. My chosen tactic was pulling Off Shore Tackle OR12 planer boards with Pico and other make crankbaits, both deep and medium runners.
Kudos to Dennis and James from Lynnhurst for providing their wonderful home-made ice cream for our group meal.
We found most of our crappie along the river channel drops and deep cuts. The fish were suspended, taking advantage of the clouds of baitfish. The crappie catch was in addition to several sizeable catfish, both blues and channels, and yellow and white bass. Several short largemouth bass also fell to the cranks.
Being as we were all Crappie.com members and Ed Moes owns both Crappie.com and “Slab Sauce” attractant, we were applying Slab Sauce to all our baits. Now putting liquid attractant on cranks seems strange to many, I’m here to tell you it made all the difference in our catches.
Ed will soon be introducing his new applicator bottle that I helped develop. It allows one to “paint” the lure without getting Slab Sauce all over oneself and boat, as well as not wasting the liquid.
My special guest for a couple of trips was Ted Love from Indiana. We all know him as BillBob on the Crappie.com forums. Ted is a Vietnam veteran of Air Calvary. He would normally be wearing his black Calvary hat with the Air Calvary logo proudly displayed.
He was severely wounded in Vietnam and still carries shrapnel. He has recently had some severe health issues directly related to his proud service. He now wears his protective helmet with the Crappie.com logo.
Ted is a hero to me and countless others and I will proudly always have a seat in my boat for him, regardless of what lake we are on.
If you are interested in learning planer board fishing, or booking a fall trip with me, you need to hurry.
I will be attending the Crappie Expo in Branson, Missouri late next week and weekend. I’ll be helping some of my sponsors and Crappie.com. Mitch at Pico Lures will be introducing some new INT cranks to his line there. One of those baits is a pattern called “Beachball”.
I began painting Beachball years ago. It saw its first action on Blood River. My buddy Tim Daughrity of Murray wanted to know if it had a name. He said it looked like a beachball to him. Beachball was born!
On November 9th, Dr. Derek Morgan of Murray-Calloway County Hospital will be replacing my left shoulder. I have dealt with shoulder injuries and pain for many years. When Dr. Morgan replaced my right shoulder last December, it ended nearly all my right shoulder pain and I regained much of my range of motion I had lost some 20 years earlier.
I found the rehab to be MUCH easier and less painful than the four rotator cuff surgeries I had on it. When he recently said “It’s time” for the left, I didn’t hesitate.
The surgery will put me down for a while, but I hope to be healed and back at it before the boat show season starts up. I’m booking trips for what days I have open between now and November 9th.
The lake level has held around 354.7 for a couple of weeks. There doesn’t look to be many chances of heavy rains in the forecast so we can probably expect to see similar lake levels for some time.
The surface temperature of 67 or so stands to drop with the upcoming cold weather. This should kick the baitfish migration into shallower waters in high gear. The game fish will be in hot pursuit.
We caught most of our crappie last week in 15-25 feet of water. Tuesday, I found most of our fish in 10-14 feet of water. If the winds will cooperate, it won’t be long until I pull out the longline tackle and spinner head jigs and curly tail grubs.
Please be careful out there. Consider keeping a change of clothes in the boat, as well as some raingear. Cold water will sap the life out of you. If you can get back in the boat and out of wet clothing, the change of clothes and putting on raingear to hold your body heat in. You stand a good chance of coming out fine. You might also have great story for family and friends.
The gremlins from the depths are now showing their heads in shallow water areas. Be extra careful when you are running at speeds above plane.
Help anybody you see out there. Cold weather is not the time to be broken down on the lake. Welcome to our slice of Heaven.