Rainy Days Dampen Outdoors Scene for Anglers/Hunters
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 02/21/2018
Soggy days have dominated the outdoor scene lately for both anglers and small game hunters who were hoping to get some decent weather before rabbit, quail and squirrel seasons end on the last day of February. At midweek the region was getting drenched once again from steady rainfall. Most of the area had yet to dry out from the previous monsoon that saturated things just a week ago. Warm temperatures this week set record highs on Monday and Tuesday across much of the TVA valley. The mercury climbed into the upper 70’s in some spots, giving folks a sneak peek at spring like weather. Unfortunately for Kentucky Lake anglers high winds accompanied the rapid warm up this week, a scenario that is usually the case when unusually warm conditions descend in February. As a result fishing activity has been curtailed by both heavy rains and gale force winds. Lake levels have fluctuated lately in the aftermath of heavy rains too as a lot of runoff has entered the Kentucky Lake watershed. TVA has really been spilling a huge volume of water through Kentucky Dam this week in efforts to avoid flooding and send the water on its way north into the Ohio River and ultimately into the mighty Mississippi River. At midweek lake levels at New Johnsonville were showing an elevation of 356.8. Downstream at Kentucky Dam the elevation is 354.1, which shows quite a wall of water moving downstream and creating current in the main channel areas. TVA has been discharging around 240,000 cubic feet per second, which in laymen’s terms means quite a bit of water and enough to create a noticeable current in the main channel area. With more rain in the forecast lake levels are likely to change on a daily basis. Actually, lake levels haven’t jumped too much this week as TVA has done a good job of pushing the water on through the system and Kentucky Lake was down near winter pool as the rains entered the picture, which allowed for more storage capacity. Water color has been quite dingy across most of the reservoir this week. The upper Big Sandy and West Sandy areas have been muddy at times with a little better color around the Paris Landing sector. The main Tennessee River channel is quite dingy. Surface temperatures this week reflected the sudden rise in the temperatures and rose to the 53 degree range across much of the reservoir. That’s up about eight degrees from last week at this time. Dingy water will warm a bit quicker too so if sunshine enters the picture by next week anglers could see more movement toward shallow water venues by both bass and crappie. Odds are lake levels will rise a bit in the days ahead too. Should lake levels rise and coincide with warm to stable weather the shallow bite will improve for crappie and bass anglers. The long range forecast predicts air temps to be in the mid 60’s and near 70 by this weekend but falling back to the upper 50’s on Sunday. Next week appears to offer decent temperatures in the low to mid 60’s for anglers anxious to get back out on the lake after yielding to a stubborn week of downright messy conditions. Success stories from die-hard crappie anglers show most fish were still lingering in that 18 to 22 foot depth range in the Paris Landing and midway up Big Sandy. Some decent numbers were taken early last week but the bite dropped off significantly for anglers late last week once falling lake levels occurred and dingy to muddy water moved in. There are always some boats targeting the shallow stakebeds and brushpiles around depths of 6 to 12 feet up Big Sandy and into West Sandy this time of year. However, not much success has been reported. Others have slow trolled jigs, long lined and spider rigged over deep flats and submerged creeks to find some fish suspended out away from structure. Sometimes the crappie will stage in those areas when lake levels are changing or weather patterns are on a roller coaster ride. Bait of choice for the main lake area presentations have been live minnows as of late. Some are tipping jigs with minnows as well. Popular jig colors have ranged from florescent green, pink and orange leadheads to white/pink skirts, pink/chartreuse and some varieties of loud color combinations when dingy water color is present. Winter crappie fishermen overall have still not found big numbers of big fish playing their game. A few isolated stories of success have come in at times but for most the days have been filled with finding mediocre numbers of small fish with a small percentage making the 10-inch minimum threshold. An occasional slab is showing up in the creel but no doubt the big fish are somewhat scarce for most. Bass fishermen loved the recent rise in surface temps and found a few fish moving up toward shallow rock points and gravel banks. Most anglers are tossing crawfish colored crankbaits with some opting for lure colors in the dark red/black and firetiger color range as well from their arsenal. A few are tossing suspending jerk baits while other are fishing shallow runners around rocks and some visible boat docks where submerged structure sleeps. Wise bass fishermen sometimes play the current and there’s plenty of it out there right now. Often bass will lay up in eddies formed by the main river current as baitfish congregate there. Bass will move up on flats and points at the mouth of big bays or navigate toward road beds and rip-rap levees or shorelines as they stage in preparation of their prespawn phase. It’s still February and unstable weather patterns are the norm. Still, anglers can’t help but try to rush the season when a few warm days sneak through the door and stir up fishing pox. That’s the norm too!!!
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