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Archived Fishing Report

Crappie Bite Improves for Autumn Anglers

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 10/04/2017

    Thanks to nice weather the fall crappie bite has improved for Kentucky Lake anglers. It was a good week for anglers who began their days in light jackets and ended them in shirt sleeves. It’s that time of year!
    Cooler days returned last week and helped bring surface temperatures back down to the 73 degree range to start off the first week of October. While a warming trend has been underway this week, cool nights have helped keep fall fishing patterns on target.
    Water temps are starting out around 73 most mornings and edging up in the 75 degree range. Water color remains clear across the reservoir as very little rain has fallen.
    Lake levels remain at the low ebb of winter pool, which is normal for this time of year. Elevation for the weekend is projected to be 354.8 range at Kentucky Dam. Upstream around New Johnsonville the lake is resting a tad lower at 354.5.
    Barring any drastic rainfall Kentucky Lake will remain at its winter pool elevation for the next several months so boaters are urged to pay close attention to channel markers and not stray as shallow sandbars are waiting!
    Nice stringers of crappie have been caught this week in the 7 to 12 foot zone. Anglers vertical fishing jigs and jigs tipped with minnows or Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles have done well.
    Once surface temps began falling last week crappie responded favorably and returned to midrange depths in good numbers.
    Popular jig colors have ranged from pink or red leadheads with red/chartreuse skirts to green leadheads with blue/chartreuse, white and pink/chartreuse with sparkle just to name a few. Tippings jigs with minnows continues to produce as have just plain minnow presentations at times.
    Crappie showed more interest this week and the overall bite was more aggressive than last week at this time. Action should continue to hold up well for the next several weeks too as the fall transition is well underway.
    Although more fish have moved up to midrange depths this week there are still good numbers hanging on the main lake ledges. Depths of 16 to 18 feet continue to produce decent numbers too.
    Finding some structure on the edge of the drop-offs will pay dividends. Tightlining bottom bumping minnow rigs has worked well on the deep water venues. Most anglers are using live minnows but a few anglers are opting to tightline jigs.
    Size of fish seemed to show improvement over previous weeks. There are still a lot of fish just shy of the 10-inch minimum length limit but the ratio of keeper size fish compared to smaller ones has improved.
    A few slabs were showing up this week that tipped the scales to the tune of 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pound range. The larger fish traditionally begin to move up in early fall when days grow shorter and cooler nights help attract more schools of shad to shallow zones.
    Kentucky Lake crappie anglers have reason for optimism as the next few weeks should deliver good conditions as stability of lake levels and weather is the norm. Odds are patterns will hold true for fishermen from week to week.
    Bass fishermen are playing the shallow and deep water game these days. Catch a cloudy cool morning or afternoon and the shallow bite has been productive at times.
    Tossing Rattle Traps and similar style lures has worked well on main lake flats and back in bays where bass are chasing shad. A few boats are beating the banks where shallow running shad colored crankbaits are producing.
    Some boats are working shallow roadbeds, boathouses and docks or gravel banks while others are backing off and keying more toward sloping points out away from the shorelines. Some main lake ledges are still attracting boats too as some anglers are holding on to summer patterns.
    As surface temps fall back to the upper 60’s and low 70’s next week watch for the shallow bite to improve even more. Low lake levels have exposed shallow stumps and crappie beds so there is more structure exposed how that lake levels have fallen to winter pool.
    A few boats are working the back of large bays on the east side of the lake looking for shad schools where aquatic vegetation has held fall bass in times past. Although no aquatic vegetation is present, some of the large bays are still attracting roaming bass in hot pursuit of meandering baitfish.
    Autumn angling is in full swing. Great days await bass and crappie anglers so don’t let this fall fishing pass you by!

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Photo by Melodie Cunningham

These geese float gracefully on a warm autumn day. Honker Lake was actually named for the number of Giant and Interior Canadian geese it attracts.