Sensational Spring Fishing Lingers; March Was A Dandy
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 03/29/2012
What has been one of the best March months ever experienced here on Kentucky Lake is about to say goodbye and anglers better tip their hat as it walks out the door. March is normally a month full of wind and changing weather, a scenario that also influences lake levels. This year it was an exception with several days of record high temperatures and light winds that delivered fantastic fishing conditions for bass and crappie anglers. As April enters the fishing scene anglers can only hope the weather is half as good as it has been throughout March. In fact, later next week a cold front is already in the long range forecast. Meanwhile, fishing continues to hold up quite well as big number of crappie are coming in and hefty stringers of bass are showing up as well. Surface temperatures this week have been in the 65 to 68 degree range. Wednesday set another record for high temperatures in the region as the mercury climbed to 85 degrees. Water color has been clear in most areas as TVA has been slowly lowering lake levels all week and that has pulled any stained water out of shallow bays and pockets. On April 1 each year TVA begins its annual curve for reservoir filling so anglers can expect a slow rise in the days and weeks ahead. Presently, elevation at Kentucky Dam is 355.2 but lower upstream at New Johnsonville where the reading was 354.8. TVA’s projected curve sets May 1 as the target date for summer pool elevation of 359, depending of course on rainfall across the region. Crappie are showing up in big numbers and even though a lot of fish are shy of the 10-inch minimum length limit there are still significant numbers of fish eligible for the cooler. In fact, many boats have reported catches of well over 100 fish per day and while several crappie were culled, anglers were taking it all in stride and happy to see the different year classes as the future indeed looks bright. Popular depth ranges this week have been 7 to 12 feet but there are a few reports of slabs coming from very shallow structure up Big Sandy and in some areas around Paris Landing. A few boats were scoring decent numbers around New Hope and in West Sandy at the same time successful stories were coming from the power lines in Big Sandy and further north. Not all the fish are shallow either as a few boats continued to land some keeper size fish from main lake ledges in depths of 14 to 16 feet at times. Falling lake levels this week have likely pulled a few shallow crappie away from gravel banks and shallow structure as some boats were catching them while casting jigs and minnows earlier in the week. Fish appeared to back off to slightly deeper water and midweek or occupy stumps, stakebeds, and brushpiles that were in close proximity to deep water. It’s that time of year when crappie are really on the move and it’s not unusual for a variety of depths and patterns to produce at the same time. Just this week coolers full of crappie have come in from boats that were slow trolling spider rigs or pulling long lines over flats and deep channels where some crappie were suspended and staging before moving up to spawn. At the same time anglers vertical fishing jigs and jigs tipped with minnows were scoring big numbers while stalking manmade fish attractors in a variety of depth ranges but favoring the 7 to 12 foot area. Road Runners and various curly tail grubs have been producing for the trolling techniques while drift boats have been using slip-bobbers armed with tube jigs or live minnows. Popular color combos have ranged from purple/clear sparkle to red/chartreuse, red glitter and white, and blue glitter/chartreuse. As to spawning it appears a few fish have already dropped eggs and some are now in the process as warm surface temperatures have been around now for over two weeks. Male crappie are darkening as hormonal changes signal spawning time but there are a few females holding out away from shallow shorelines and flats and they will likely move up any day. Not all fish spawn at the same time and while the popular peak occurs here once surface temps stabilize in the 62 to 66 degree range, a few late spawners are likely to hold eggs for another week or two. Bass activity has held up well this week and some anglers reported seeing bass occupying bedding areas last week but fish seemed to back away from those areas this week. Falling lake levels may have contributed to that to some degree but no doubt the bass are ahead of schedule this spring as to their prespawn phases. Some good numbers of fish were taken this week but it appeared anglers were having trouble catching larger fish. The big females may have already had a mood swing in some early bedding attempts as they can get finicky. Still, anglers were tying into some decent fish in shallow pockets near spawning areas. A lot of anglers were tossing shallow running crankbaits and swim baits in shad colors. Rocky points and gravel banks were still producing but some fish are relating to just mud banks and pockets where little structure exists and no doubt staging there before moving up to fan beds nearby. A few bass we relating to sloping points where shallow sandbars adjacent to deep water were attractive as they moved up to feed in lowlight conditions. Tossing Rattle Traps and Carolina rigged craws were producing in such spots as were jig and craw combos and Alabama rigs sporting shad colored swim baits. April will no doubt deliver some good fishing conditions but it has certainly been March to remember.
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