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Archived Fishing Report

March Weather Keeps Anglers Off Balance

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 03/09/2017

One day it’s warm, next day it’s cold.

Some days are windy while other are calm. Sunshine sometimes but low clouds and rain often chase blue skies away.

Welcome to March madness. While the basketball world uses that slogan to describe tournament time in collegiate sports, anglers use it too when describing the month’s weather patterns.

Look no further than this week’s weather. Thunderstorms early in the week followed by a brisk cool front that blew the bad weather out of the region quickly.

At midweek warm days arrived once the winds diminished and it felt like spring for a short spell. Light winds delivered a couple days of great fishing conditions but the honeymoon was short as the weatherman says this weekend will be a doozy!

Best dig out the coveralls as it appears winter weather will descend. Gale north winds are forecast for Saturday and temps will plummet but only for a couple of days. By early next week warmer days will return.

This roller coaster ride is normal for March. Always has been; always will be.

Some good fishing days do occur but predicting just when they decide to visit is a tough call. Anglers just have learn to adapt and prepare, as best they can, for inclement conditions. Take the sunscreen and the overcoat; you’ll need one or the other.

Meanwhile, some decent stringers of crappie have been taken this week on Kentucky Lake. No doubt the fish are in transition.

Prespawn phases usually see both bass and crappie on the move, changing locales daily when weather conditions dictate. Warm sunny days often influence surface temperatures several degrees from early morning to late afternoon. Add a few warm nights and that really speeds up the biological clock.

Surface temperatures this week were starting out at 55 degrees in the morning and warming to 57 by late afternoon. Odds are the shallow areas will backslide this weekend with the arrival of the ugly cold front that could even drop some flurries at times.

Water color has been sporting a slight stain in the Paris Landing sector after some high winds stirred things up in the aftermath of thunderstorms. Overall it’s a good color for fishing.

Lake levels rose slightly last weekend but began falling slowly at midweek. TVA predicted lake levels to be in the 354.6 range this weekend at Kentucky Dam. Upstream around New Johnsonville lake stages will be slightly lower at 354.4.

Crappie fishermen at Kentucky Lake were swapping stories last month about an early spawn but their conversations were a bit premature. March has a way of putting the brakes on unusually warm conditions and it appears that’s just what’s happening since it roared in like a lion some ten days ago.

Although several crappie have been moving up toward shallow venues and some pretty good stringers have been caught in 5 to 8 foot depths, don’t expect spawning phases to kick in just yet. Cooler surface temperatures have now returned plus male crappie have yet to show much hormonal change that results in their darkening color change.

Anglers are still finding a lot of small fish in the deeper main lake areas where drop-offs were holding pretty good numbers but not many big fish were there. Most of the better quality ones are coming from depths of 5 to 9 feet. A few are residing in the 9 to 13 foot depth range too but fish were showing signs of moving toward shallows when warm sunny days influenced them.

Techniques were varying from vertical presentations of jig over stakebeds to long-lining Road Runners or spider rigging jigs and minnows. Vertical jigging has been the most productive as of late.

Bass fishing has been good at times with crankbaits still producing best. A few decent sized ones have been taken as anglers bang the banks but some winning tournament stringers are coming from boaters backing off the shorelines and working secondary creek channels, humps and sloping sandbars.

Just how much influence the approaching cold front with have on the shallow bass bite and transitioning crappie remains to be seen.

No doubt it will throw a curve ball to fishing patterns for a day or two but it’s that time of the year when things change quickly. Rebounds occur rapidly. The fish can turn back on just as quickly as they turn off.

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White Egret
Photo by Melodie Cunningham

Commonly mistaken for a heron, egrets can commonly be seen wading in shallow water near the lakes edge.