Stubborn Spring Lingers; Crappie Scattered But Biting; Bass Bite Slows; Bluegill Moving Up
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 04/20/2011
Spring fishing on Kentucky Lake has again required anglers to have suntan lotion and a snowmobile suit during the same week. From a mean March to an awful April, seems fishing has been an endurance test at times and this past week was a prime example. Where else can you get a sunburn and hypothermia on the same fishing trip? The last week or so did deliver a couple of sunny days where light winds produced nice conditions and fish responded favorably. Some of the spring’s best crappie were taken last week during the two-day sun fest only to fall victim to a severe cold front last weekend that blew through with a vengeance. Then, this week’s buffet of weather rolled in with tornado-like winds on Tuesday that again threw a curve to fishing patterns. There have been a few nice stringers taken since midweek, however, as some slabs were lingering in the 10 to 13 foot range. Although still somewhat scattered, boats were landing some nice ones in a variety of patterns ranging from drifting and trolling Road Runners to vertical fishing tube jigs over manmade fish attractors. Anglers were having to stay on the move as crappie were not concentrated. Not many fish were taken in shallow areas or around shorelines, choosing deeper areas back off the banks and along flats in the main lake. A few fish were taken in the upper end of Big Sandy this week where dingy water was present but beds in the 4 to 6 foot range were only giving up one or two fish at a time. A similar scenario was underway in the Paris Landing area but it was a one here and there from stakebeds or brushpiles in the 10 to 13 foot range with an occasional fish coming from 7 to 9 foot depths. It appears a lot of females have already spawned. Observations from fish cleaning tables revealed a lot of females had already dropped eggs. Although a few were still sporting eggs, they were in the minority. It has been hard for anglers to determine when peak spawning phases were underway this spring due to so many variables, namely cool nasty weather, wind, and changing lake levels. What is abundantly clear has been low numbers of fish harvested due to a series of weak year classes. Seems there are lots of smaller fish and a few good slabs out there but low numbers of midsize fish. Both Tennessee and Kentucky fisheries biologists agree that several weak year classes are to blame for this year’s low harvest numbers. Add weak year classes to a rash of nasty weather and changing water levels and you have the ingredients for tough fishing. Meanwhile, lake levels have been rising slowly this past week but are now falling slowly as the reservoir has been a few inches above normal lately. Elevation going into the weekend will be 357.9 at Kentucky Dam and 359.2 range at New Johnsonville. Surface temps fell back to the 64 degree range for a few days but moderated toward the 66 degree range at midweek. Water color was clear in the main lake but had some stain in the upper ends of bays from recent thunderstorm runoff. Bluegill are beginning to show some interest and moving toward shallow shorelines and docks. Watch for that to improve this next week as waters warm and both bluegill and shellcracker move up toward spawning areas. Bass action fell off some this week compared to earlier in the month. Recent cold fronts and below average temps at times no doubt had a negative impact. Anglers have been limited at times on where they could go due to gale force winds. Some dead grass and yellow flowers are starting to show up in shallow pockets off the main lake and that will appeal to bass in the days ahead. Still producing are Carolina rigged crawfish and lizards worked around gravel points and sandbars. A variety of crankbaits continue to produce as well ranging from deep divers to Rattle Traps and suspending jerk baits. It’s time for floating fluke style worms and topwater to enter the picture too. Watch for a lot of male buck bass to start showing up next week as their prespawn moods kick in. Catfish have been sluggish to bite but that too will change in the next week or two as they prowl toward bluegill beds and warmer water. It appears warmer weather is staying on the radar screen of anglers but uninvited winds are annoying anglers as they have throughout most of the spring fishing season.
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