Steve McCadams' Fishing Report
Will It Be An Early Spring for Fisherman?
Report for February 27, 2024
Dominating the conversation among the ranks of Kentucky Lake anglers is the arrival of spring. It doesn’t official arrive until March 19th this year.
However, anglers everywhere are swapping theories about their idea of an early arrival. The general consensus favors it arriving ahead of schedule. Imagine that!
Hard to argue with all the warm days we’ve been having. Already signs point to an early spring as crappie have been biting. Flowers are blooming. Birds are whistling.
Wise are the anglers who hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Never discard your coat and coveralls until about mid-April around these parts of the country.
Best keep the sunscreen, overcoat, gloves, raingear, coveralls and the whole nine yards within arm’s reach. March can be a nice month but it also has a mean streak.
Not only can the temperature roller coaster swing up and down but the big silver gorilla in the room for fishermen is the wind.
With quick warm-ups this time of year often come gale winds. Southern breezes are nice and deliver warm temperatures but gale winds are no friend to fishermen.
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene had another mixture of conditions this past week. Unseasonably warm weather saw temps climb near record highs. A couple days the mercury rose to 76 degrees. Normal daytime highs are around the 52 degree mark this time of year.
Surface temperatures are dancing around the 52 degree range. Water color is clear.
Lake levels are down near the low ebb of winter pool with readings at Kentucky Dam falling to the 354.3 mark lately. TVA has the reservoir down to create more storage capacity in the event heavy rains or storms return, which was in the forecast as this report was formulated.
Decent stringers of crappie continue to come in from anglers targeting the 12 to 15 foot depth range where submerged structure can be located. However, there are some anglers finding a few fish in 8 to 11 feet in places with a few taken in depths less than that.
Seems there’s always a wide variety of depths and techniques paying off this time of year. While a few boats credit their luck to spider rig presentation of multi-pole buffets of jigs trolled slowly over main lake flats and ledges there are others opting to cast jigs over brushpiles and stakebeds in midrange depths.
Still producing are vertical presentations of jigs and live minnow rigs out over main lake structure. A few fish have been taken on the deep sides of main lake ledges at times where structure in the 17 to 20 foot depth range yielded several bites.
Lake levels have been falling slowly this past week and that sometimes pulls crappie back closer to deeper comfort zones as they move about and follow the schools of shad.
Not to be overlooked are a few anglers choosing to cast slip bobber style rigs armed with live minnows or the tube jigs color combo of their choice. Slowly retrieving the jig or minnow out over submerged structure or even in some open water areas can pay dividends.
Slip bobber rigs make it easy to recognize light strikes while easily adjusting depth. Finicky crappie often want it their way or no way!
Watch more crappie to continue to slowly move up to shallow areas and back into bays these next couple of weeks as surface temps warm. It’s still the prespawn phase for crappie on Kentucky Lake but things can change quickly in March once warm days descend and waters warm, stimulating their biological clock.
Bass fishermen are still finding some nice smallmouth, especially on the east side of the lake. Lots of deep gravel banks and sloping gravel sandbars are located there and the bronzebacks will soon be making a spawning move.
Tossing crankbaits always seems to work throughout March. Anglers can cover a lot of water chunking and winding with this presentation.
It often requires experimentation on color choices whether fishing crankbaits, hair jigs, twister tail grubs or whatever finesse baits one likes to toss.
Carolina rigs worked on shallow flats can produce finicky largemouth right now too. At the same time tossing a jig and pig combo and working it slowly on big chunk rock banks can be quite productive.
As spring draws closer best batten down the hatches as anglers will encounter some windy days sandwiched in-between some warm nice ones where light and variable winds offer pleasant outings on the lake.
Spring on Kentucky Lake (and elsewhere too) is unpredictable. Always has been; always will be!
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Steve's reports cover Kentucky Lake from Paris Landing to New Johnsonville.
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About Steve McCadams
A member of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Legends of the Outdoors, Steve McCadams is a professional guide and outdoor writer from Paris, Tenn.