Anglers Yearn for Normal Fall Conditions
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 09/22/2016
For the lion’s share of September Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has been dominated by above average temperatures. A series of 90-degree plus days have prolonged a stubborn summer season reluctant to release its grip. Fall officially arrived on Thursday but summer weather continues to deal the cards. Fishermen are ready to wave goodbye to the hot and humid days. Even the nights have been above average, a situation that has not allowed surface temperatures to cool much. Despite the duration of warm weather fishing has been pretty good this week for crappie and bass anglers. Crappie showed improvement with a lot of fish now residing in the 9 to 12 foot zone. Big numbers of fish were taken the last few days by anglers vertical fishing the midrange depths. In fact, a few triple digit days have been reported by anglers tipping jigs with minnows or Berkley power bait. While a lot of small fish are biting, there are enough keeper size ones mixed in to keep it interesting and enjoyable. Catching big numbers of crappie should continue throughout the fall. The first three days this week my clients kept count of fish caught, kept and released. Any time you’re landing over 100 fish per day it’s a good outing and that’s been case. We’ve had to measure several but occasionally a nice slab eclipsing the 1 ¼ pound range would bend the pole and remind anglers of the potential of a good one at any time. Biologists in both Kentucky and Tennessee say a strong year class from 2014 is dominating the crappie population. That means a lot of those fish just shy of the 10-inch minimum length limit should be paving the way for a rebound next spring too. Meanwhile, anglers are culling several fish but you will encounter some good ones at times sharing the same spots, not to mention a surprise catfish now and then. It takes about three years for a crappie on Kentucky Lake to achieve the 10-inch length as to growth rates. Also part of the fall fishing scene are the ever abundant yellow bass, referred to locally as “yellow jacks”. They’re aggressive and competitive. Always hungry. While some anglers consider them a nuisance they will keep you alert and put a bend in the pole as they dart about. Lake levels this week have lingered around the 355.5 range in the New Johnsonville area. Downstream at Kentucky Dam lake stages are in the 355.6 range. Water color is clear. Surface temperatures reflect the unusually warm weather we’ve experienced for several weeks. Readings are starting out around 82 degrees in the morning and climbing to 85 at midday. That’s about 7 to 9 degrees above normal for the third week of September yet the crappie have quite a tolerance for warm weather and have shown a surge in activity this week. Bass fishermen are finding enough fish to keep them amused too. Despite a lack of grassbeds anglers are adjusting their approach and stalking gravel banks and targeting main lake sandbars and flats. There have been several stagnant days where very little wind helped the cause. Not much current has been present either. Added to the challenge has been very little cloud cover, which has pretty much shut down the midday bite. There have been some decent stringers taken by anglers working submerged structure on drop-offs. Most of the decent stringers have been caught by anglers backing off the banks, tossing big spinnerbaits, swim baits and shad colored crankbaits. The shallow bite could take hold quickly if some cloudy, rainy days enter the picture. Hopefully the weather patterns will change toward cooler conditions soon and normal fall like temperatures will take over. Wave goodbye to a hot summer that separated the men from the boys on those sultry days that seem to come in bunches like grapes! By this time next week we could all be ditching the sunscreen in place of long sleeve shirts!
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