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Archived Fishing Report

Dance Continues for Winter Anglers

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 02/16/2017

Play it again Sam! And for winter crappie fishermen on Kentucky Lake the piano man is doing just that.

Here it is mid-February and the strange winter weather pattern continues. This week reflected the scenario that has been underway since late November; a day or two of cool wind and chilly mornings but several days sandwiched in there with above average temps more akin to fall than winter.

Anglers are more than willing to forfeit a day or two during the week if it means the rest bring unseasonably warm weather and calm winds. No complaints about the lack of cold conditions from bass and crappie fishermen these days.

Looks like the dance will resume this weekend and hit a high note early next week too. All weathermen across the region are crowing about next week’s forecast as temps are forecast to reach the 70-degree mark by Monday! How ‘bout them apples?

Just about everyone has favorable comments about the winter fishing scene these days. Most cannot believe how mild it has been these last few months or just how many fishermen have been out on the lake lately.

There was a time when only a token amount of boats would be seen at local boat ramps during the winter season. Nowadays it’s a different story. Lots of folks are hitting the waterways as though it was fall.

Bass clubs are holding tournaments throughout December, January and February which was almost unheard of a few years ago.

In the past if you witnessed cluster of boats this time of year it was from dedicated sauger fishermen who were known to brave the elements as they searched the riverbank for the rattlesnake of fishes.

From my personal perspective I’ve seen more fishing boats on Kentucky Lake this winter than ever before. Both bass and crappie anglers have been out in force. Mix extended spells of warm weather with the rumor that fish are biting and it’s a recipe for even couch potatoes to venture out and wet a line.

Bass and crappie fishermen have been doing quite well and it doesn’t take long for the word to spread when such things are happening.

Just this week surface temperatures have flirted with the 50 to 52 degree range. That’s most unusual for mid-February. Many veteran anglers can easily recall bays being frozen over this time of year and boat ramps iced over and too slick to launch when stubborn piles of snow prohibited access.

Fast forward to present day conditions and it’s a bit hard to believe just how nice the winter months have been for fishermen here on the big pond.

Lake levels this week fell a few inches and the reservoir is now back down to the winter pool mark. TVA forecast lake levels to be 354.3 this weekend in the New Johnsonville area. Downstream at Kentucky Dam the elevation will be in the 354.7 range.

 Water color has been good most all winter with a slight stain in shallow bays but relatively clear in the main lake portions.

Nice stringers of crappie have been taken lately by anglers working midrange stakebeds and brushpiles. Depths of 6 to 12 feet have been productive.

Those targeting deeper drop-offs have scored too. Tightlining jigs and minnows on the deep sides of main lake ledges have produced decent numbers for anglers stalking the 18 to 22 foot depth range at times.

Overall it has been quite productive for crappie fishermen applying a wide variety of techniques and working different depth ranges. Some boats have been spider rigging too and their multi-pole buffet has worked just fine as the slow moving presentations have appealed.

Several limits have been taken. By the way, Tennessee anglers are reminded that the new creel limit on crappie takes effect on March 1... a reduction from the present day thirty down to twenty. And, the 10-inch minimum length limit remains unchanged.

Bass anglers continue to toss crawfish and shad colored variations from their crankbait arsenal. Some have used chrome and loud colored Rattle Trap style baits with positive results too while targeting shallow boat docks and piers.

Others have stayed with a gravel or rocky point type pattern and done well at times. And, there are some boats working ledges near the mouths of big bays and sloping points that fall off into the main river channel in hopes of tying into a rusty smallmouth now and then.

Some hefty fish have been taken too. Anglers report landing several fish this winter eclipsing the 8 and 9 pound mark! However, while landing some hefty fish, anglers indicate they are not seeing the numbers of small fish like they have in times past.

Meanwhile, folks are talking about an early spring and perhaps the biological clock being somewhat ahead of itself as to spawning phases for both bass and crappie.

It may be a bit premature to assume spawning will be early this year as spring weather here has a way of reversing itself, especially during the unpredictable month of March.

One thing some of us veteran anglers have learned here is that the most predictable thing about March is that it is unpredictable! You just never know what will happen so it’s best to keep the snow mobile suit and the suntan lotion with you in the boat; you never know which one you’ll be needing on any given day!

Just how long this honeymoon of mild weather will last is anyone’s guess. Until the music stops anglers will keep dancing!

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Photo by Teresa Gemeinhardt

These two brothers are playing hide and seek with the photographer in this picture taken in Land Between The Lakes.