Spring Fishing Spoils Anglers; Weather Change on the Way
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 04/05/2012
Crappie fishing has been fantastic for Kentucky Lake anglers this past week. Bass fishermen have had some good days too. All anglers are wondering how long the great weather and sensational fishing can hold up? Spawning phases have been underway for about two weeks for crappie and it appeared peak periods may have occurred this week as warm sunny days and light winds sent the surface temperature up to the 74 degree range at midweek. Hefty stringers have been coming in for weeks but the last few days things really heated up as increased numbers of big females were showing up in the creel of anglers all over Big Sandy, West Sandy and throughout the Paris Landing sector. Anglers have had a long honeymoon with weather conditions for almost a month but it appears change is on the way. Cooler conditions are in the forecast and next week anglers may have to trade in the sunscreen for overcoats and sweatshirts. What effect will a lingering cold front have on the crappie spawn? How about the bass, bluegill, and shellcracker which have already moved up to shallow areas well ahead of their normal schedule? All anglers are asking those questions right now as we’ve been spoiled by a spring that has delivered ideal conditions that advanced the biological clock for every species. Water color has been quite clear and most crappie are spawning in the 6 to 12 foot depth range. Add unusually warm weather to clear water and you get an early spawn in deeper depths. That appears to be the case this year. Surface temperatures have been in the mid to upper 60’s for two weeks running. This week temps in the mornings were starting out in the 71 degree range and climbing to 75 at midday. Lake levels are right on schedule as TVA began its curve for reservoir filling last Sunday. A slow rise is underway and projections indicate levels of 355.9 for Kentucky Dam this weekend. Upstream at New Johnsonville the forecast will be 355.6. Those readings are up a few inches from last week at this time. Summer pool elevation of 359 is scheduled by May 1 each year. While a few crappie spawned last week some of the largest fish of the year were taken this week and most were out away from shorelines. One of the larger slabs reported was a 3 pound, 1 ounce black crappie taken by Larry Hicks of Yorkville while fishing in Big Sandy last Saturday afternoon. Although several boats have been casting grubs and beating the banks where dark male crappie are usually relating to gravel banks the action for such methods and areas has been off. The lion’s share of crappie have come from anglers working main lake flats and ledges while pulling long lines with jigs, spider rigging with multi-pole presentations or vertical fishing stakebeds and brushpiles with jigs or minnows. Other methods of pulling crankbaits have produced at times as have casting curly tail grubs around deeper cover. No doubt some good fishing days are in the future and truth is, a lot of crappie are caught in May and June long after spawning phases peak. However, many spring crappie anglers hang their hat on hitting the peak week each year and that in itself is always a gamble as to weather and water conditions. With a cold front looming in the aftermath of an extended spell of warm weather it’s quite likely the last few days delivered some of the area’s peak spawning phases. All week big females have been moving toward structure as they were bulging with eggs and ready to make deposits on submerged cover. Just this week big bluegill and shellcracker have shown up in shallow areas too, sporting dark colors from hormonal changes that already have the males on the prowl. These powerful panfish don’t usually sport such an attitude until late April but this year it’s different. Bass have been displaying spawning phases for almost two weeks too, hanging around shallow pockets and darting around bedding areas as though they were about to fan beds. Anglers were catching a lot of small bass this week but still having trouble getting larger fish to bite, which continues to point toward spawning phases for those big sows. Odds are next week’s cool spell could alter the fishing scene but just how much remains to be seen. Even if a few cool days and rainy skies enter the picture we can’t complain. It has been one of the best springs ever and a short hiatus from beautiful weather may not linger too long before things bounce right back.
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