Fall Crappie Bite on the Upswing; Nice Weather Ahead
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 10/18/2016
Fishermen on Kentucky Lake are seeing an upswing in the fall crappie bite as big numbers have been taken these last few weeks. Stable weather and lake levels are the norm this time of year, although anglers had to tolerate a few days of summer weather and unruly wind earlier this week. Better dig out the jacket again this weekend at it appears cooler conditions are on the horizon. Hardwoods are beginning to parade their beautiful colors along the shorelines and hillsides. It is indeed a wonderful time to be out on the lake. Crappie have shown improvement the last two weeks with more fish transitioning toward shallow to midrange depths. Good numbers of fish were caught this week in the 9 to 12 foot depths. When cloud cover and light winds were present fish seemed to move up even more. Fall crappie fishing is often overlooked and underrated by scores of anglers but it's a great time to be out there right now. You can fight the fish but not the crowd. Once surface temps starting cooling the shad begin moving up to shallow areas and hot on their trail are the crappie. Although anglers are culling several fish just shy of the 10-inch length limit, crappie have been growing and more are now eclipsing the magic mark compared to a month ago. Several boats have logged catches in excess of 100 fish the last few weeks! Even when releasing several fish it's still a fun day when doing a lot of catching. And, mixed in during the course of a day have been a few hefty slabs at times. I found increased numbers of keeper size crappie occupying stakebeds in the 6 to 9 foot range on some cloudy days. Live minnows and jigs tipped with minnows were quite appealing. Jigs in the white/blue, black/chartreuse, and black/red combo colors were a few popular combinations. Tipping jigs with Berkley Power Bait paid dividends too. Some mornings the fish were quite aggressive and congregated around submerged structure. Most all shallow to midrange beds were yielding double-digit numbers. Surface temperatures this week started off in the upper 60's and climbed to the 71 degree range Monday and Tuesday due to above normal temperatures. That will change drastically by the weekend as daytime highs are projected to be some 15 degrees cooler, not to mention some chilly nights. Anglers can expect surface temps to fall back into the 65 to 67 degree range by the weekend. Water color remains clear across the reservoir as very little rain had fallen by midweek. Lake levels are sleeping at the low ebb of winter pool, which is intimidating to some boaters. TVA projects levels to remain in the 354.1 range at Kentucky Dam. Upstream around New Johnsonville the reservoir is slightly lower at 353.9, which is actually a few inches below normal winter pool. All boaters are reminded to observe the channel markers and resist the temptation to take those open water shortcuts this time of year. Bass fishing has been fair with anglers still targeting main lake ledges and shallow flats where bass are moving up in pursuit of shallow schools of shad. Those long sloping point and flats back in some big bays have been holding some fish when the forage is present. Some main lake ledges are producing as fish lay on the deep side or break throughout the day but move up at times when a feeding spree takes place. Sometimes the bass converge on deep water bait fish and push them toward shallow water during the course of a day. Tossing shallow running shad colored variations of swim and crankbaits has paid off. Also working have been chartreuse spinnerbaits with gold willowleaf blades. Not much has taken place for topwater patterns but that could change quickly when a cloudy, rainy day arrives escorted by cooler temperatures. Some gravel banks are attracting roaming bass too so covering a lot of water is required before locating bait fish activity. And, wind blowing up on gravel points and roadbeds will help the bite at times. Good fall fishing awaits you. Don't let this nice time of year pass you by. It is indeed worth the time and effort to plan a trip these next two weeks.
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