Winter Weather Returns; Anglers Feel Chill of Cold Front
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 02/08/2012
Winter weather returned this week, giving anglers a dose of reality and reminding them what season it really is. Cold northwest winds and falling temperatures entered the picture Wednesday and the weatherman indicates temps will be below average as the weekend approaches. Cool conditions are expected to linger into next week. Kentucky Lake anglers have been spoiled the last few months. It has been one of the warmest winters in recent memory with unseasonably warm temperatures and light winds working in favor of fishermen since way back in November. It appears the honeymoon with warm weather will come to a temporary halt as approaching nights could see temps fall into the 20-degree range later this weekend with daily highs forecasted to be in the low 40’s. However, things could rebound next week once the front loses its grip. Until then, anglers may have to reevaluate their outings or put on some extra layers of clothing. Surface temperatures at midweek were in the 50 to 51 degree range, which is above normal for this time of year. Expect a drop back into the mid 40’s in the days ahead once cold nights arrive. Water color has had some stain throughout the upper Big Sandy but relatively clear elsewhere. Current has been present in the main Tennessee River channel all week as TVA has been pulling water on a daily basis. Lake levels have fallen gradually all week and are expected to be in the 355.3 range at Kentucky Dam as the weekend approaches. Upstream in the New Johnsonville Steam Plant sector elevation will be in the 355.5 range, which is down several inches from last week at this time. Crappie have continued to hit good with some nice stringers taken earlier this week in midrange depths. Typical winter patterns usually have fish relating to deep ledges in the main lake area around depths of 18 to 25 feet but that has not been the case this year. Most stringers are being caught in 7 to 12 foot depths. A few fish have related to slightly deeper structure at times but no doubt the warmer surface temperatures have attracted shad into the midrange depths, a comfort zone the baitfish have held on to since November. Usually gizzard and threadfin shad move into deeper depths to avoid quick temperatures changes during winter months. There have not been any shad kills this winter but that could occur next week if baitfish linger too long in shallow water and cold nights bring quick change, a scenario in the making if forecasts prove true. Anglers should see crappie move deeper in the days ahead once surface temps begin to fall and baitfish move deeper. Patterns have ranged from vertical presentations of jigs around manmade fish attractors to spider rigs and casting grubs on light spinning tackle. Bass fishermen have chalked up nice catches lately as well. Some dandy largemouth and a few smallmouth have been taken. Fall patterns have held up as anglers continue to toss shad and crawfish colored crankbaits around rock points and gravel banks at times. The popular Alabama rig continues to produce too as anglers work the swim bait style grubs on the multi-hook presentation that mimics a school of baitfish. Other produces have been Carolina rigged craws and jig and pig combos fished on sloping sandbars that empty into the main channel. Current has been a factor and worked in favor of anglers at times. A few sauger were showing up as the current along the main channel also worked in their favor. Some boats were landing a few beneath the Paris Landing Bridge and upstream around Danville and toward New Johnsonville and the mouth of Duck River. Stripers were being caught too by anglers tossing bigger swim baits around bridge piers as the current kept baitfish in the submerged eddies. It appears winter fishermen will now contend with some winter weather that will chase away the fall conditions that have lingered for several months. Anglers can’t complain as it has been a most unusual winter thus far and odds are mild conditions will return again soon.
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