Winter Anglers At Mercy of Changing Weather Patterns
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 02/03/2011
Kentucky Lake’s winter fishing scene got a boost last week when above average temperatures teamed up with light and variable winds to produce nice fishing conditions. There were a lot of boats on the lake too, as cabin fever had anglers yearning to get out and about. Crappie fishermen topped the list as to participation and some nice stringers were taken. The dose of spring had a short life, however, as winter weather has returned. Temps were falling fast at midweek, escorted by gale force north winds that delivered a cold front that would have been nice for waterfowlers had season still been open but it brought a short hiatus to winter fishing. Cold conditions are expected to moderate slightly by late this weekend but another cold front is on the horizon and expected to arrive on Tuesday of next week. Anglers may have to park the boat and tackle in the garage for a few days until the cool snap passes. Meanwhile, some good crappie reports filtered in last weekend from across the region as fish were taken in a variety of depths and methods that ranged from spider rig presentations in 11 foot depths to bottom bumping tightline techniques in 18 to 24 foot depths. “I checked several boats last weekend and practically all the crappie fishermen were catching some good size fish and decent numbers as well,” said Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s creel clerk Bill Heathcott of Big Sandy. Heathcott said the largest slab he weighed was a black crappie tipping the scales at 1.89 pounds and it was taken in Lick Creek by anglers spider rigging in eleven feet of water. He worked the areas of Lick, Leatherwood, Hurricane, White Oak, and Bass Bay as to his route last weekend and indicated crappie anglers in those areas were doing well with catches that averaged almost a pound. Most boats were using live minnows. In the Paris Landing area crappie anglers were finding fish on main lake ledges in depths of 18 to 24 feet while tightlining jigs and live minnows on bottom bumping rigs. Some midrange depths where manmade brushpiles and stakebeds were located produced fish as shad were likely moving up in response to warmer conditions and crappie were hot on their trail. Several boats using spider rigs armed with jigs and jigs tipped with minnows were finding fish at 11 feet over 13 feet of water. As to the sauger fishery there wasn’t much to report. Not many anglers are fishing for sauger as catches have been down this winter. However, Heathcott said he usually see more sauger taken in February and early March than in the previous winter months anyway. And what about the winter bass report? The creel clerk said while a few boats were out bass fishing he did not check a single boat that had taken a bass last weekend. He also indicated recent shad kills, which are not unusual during cold periods, may have impacted both the sauger and bass fishery. Kentucky Lake’s elevation was rising slowly this week and was expected to climb around the 356.5 range this weekend at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville Steam Plant readings were projected to be in the 356.7 range. Lake levels are up more than a foot from last week at this time. Water color has a slight stain to it in bays and more dingy on the main river in the aftermath of heavy rains that arrived last Tuesday as the cold front approached. Considerable stain is present in the upper Big Sandy and in West Sandy as well. Surface temps responded to last weekend’s warm spell and climbed into the mid to upper 40’s in some bays but watch for readings to drop back down in the mid to upper 30’s by this weekend as the recent cold snap has really put a chill back in the water.
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