Will Bass/Crappie Spawn Be Early? 11-Pound Trophy Bass Caught
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 03/14/2012
Anglers may vary as to their fishing methods here on Kentucky Lake but right now practically everyone is asking the same question: will this spring’s spawn be earlier than usual? No doubt the weather has moved up the timetable for both bass and crappie who don’t necessarily go by the same calendar as those who seek them. The fish go by the conditions and their biological clock is ticking fast. In my 38 years as a guide here on Kentucky Lake I can never recall recording 62 to 64 degree surface temperatures before mid-March but I did it on Wednesday. Up Big Sandy I got word that some areas were already reaching the 65 degree range! The weather has been unbelievable. Above average temperatures and light winds have been generous to March fishermen as the norm is to dodge gale winds and stubborn cold fronts sandwiched between a few brief warm spells. Spawning phases for bass and crappie are rapidly approaching and will no doubt be early this year if drastic weather changes don’t occur and put the brakes on this unusual weather pattern. Traditionally, crappie begin spawning in early April with a peak around the second week but anglers have every reason to expect that timetable to be moved up this spring. Once surface temps reach the 62 to 66 degree range and stay there for a few days then crappie begin to do their thing. Spawning phases are often drawn out over several weeks with a peak period in there somewhere but it appears the bell will sound early this year as to the start of the race. Meanwhile, crappie are coming in from a variety of areas as anglers report some dandy stringers. Successful techniques have ranged from trolling Road Runners in 9 to 13 foot depths up Big Sandy and West Sandy to casting and vertical presentations over brushpiles and stakebeds in similar depth ranges all around the Paris Landing region. At the same time a few boats are still catching enough fish off deep, main lake ledges in the 18 to 20 foot depth range to keep them interested. Although a lot of small crappie are being caught, the number of keeper size fish has improved. It’s clear crappie are on the move and staging in flats as their suspended behavior means they’re on stand-by for spawning. Watch for increased activity around structure in the days ahead as the fish are ready to set up housekeeping chores. Water levels this week have changed a few inches as TVA was pulling water but the forecast for the next few days indicates elevation will be 355.7 at Kentucky Dam and 356 upstream at New Johnsonville. Last week’s heavy rains in some areas sent a lot of runoff into the reservoir and some fluctuation occurred. Water color is good throughout the Paris Landing sector and dingy up Big Sandy and West Sandy but sporting a good color overall for fishing. Things have happened so fast that a lot of the male crappie are slow to exhibit their annual hormonal change toward deep, dark color phases but watch for that to occur in the days ahead. Same goes for bass as they too are under the influence of warm days that have triggered their stair-step route toward spawning territory. Some hefty females sporting bloated egg sacs are now on gravel points and big chuck rock banks just outside of small bays and pockets where spawning will take place. Bass fishermen are having success tossing jig and craw combos, crawfish and shad colored crankbaits in clear water with some louder colors where stain is present. Rattle Traps and similar style lures in Fire Tiger and red and black combos have worked well this week in dingy water. The success stories continue to come in from anglers experimenting with the Alabama or umbrella style rigs. The popularity of the new technique continues to grow. Adam Craig of Paris, TN landed an 11.05 pound largemouth Wednesday afternoon during a weekly buddy bass tournament out of Paris Landing State Park. Watch for more details on the catch posted here in the days ahead. With rising surface temperatures has come additional appeal for spinnerbaits, suspending jerk baits and even some topwater presentations in the forms of floating fluke style worms. Some boats are still working secondary ledges out away from shore but those flats and points coming off the banks appear to be holding bass that are about ready to enter shallow pockets and begin fanning beds. Anglers know to keep the overcoat and raingear handy as March is a month with many faces but thus far it has been a most unusual year. No fishermen are complaining but a lot of us are mystified by the extended stretch of warm weather.
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