Cooler Surface Temps Help Anglers Jumpstart Fall
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 09/12/2012
Kentucky Lake anglers got a dose of fall weather this week and it sure felt good. After last Saturday’s drastic weather change when a gale north wind blew through, dropping temperatures and lowering humidity, the September weather has been sensational. Surface temperatures responded to the cooler conditions and dropped back into the 78 to 79 degree range, which is about 10 to 12 degrees below readings of the past two months. A little fog lingered over portions of the lake this week, painting a nice early fall picture and perhaps a taste of more such mornings to come. Lake levels have fluctuated a few inches recently, a likely result of some thunderstorms that dropped significant rain upstream. After rising several inches the reservoir is projected to be in the 356.8 range this weekend at both Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville. Lake levels at the present time are up several inches from a week ago. A slight drop in lake levels will likely occur by early next week unless heavy rains return. Water color remains clear across the reservoir. After Saturday’s cool front passed through, a high pressure system has dominated the weather picture with clear blue skies and light winds. Increasing clouds are expected as the weekend approaches with only a slight chance of rain but the cloud cover should work in favor of anglers. Often times the first few days after a cool front are beautiful to be out but the high skies make it tough on fishing. That seemed to be the scenario this week as activity showed some improvement at midweek for both bass and crappie anglers. Winds returned to a southerly flow and cloud cover entered the picture. Crappie were showing signs of improvement this week as more shad were venturing toward shallow flats in the Paris Landing sector and up Big Sandy and into West Sandy. A few more keeper size fish were taken in the 9 to 12 foot depth range compared to last week. No doubt the cooler nights and lower surface temperatures will enhance the bite for crappie anglers working shallow structure in the days ahead. The rising lake levels likely stimulated some movement as well toward shallow structure the last few days. Even a slight cool down can stimulate the sluggish mood of crappie this time of year. The fish might have been in midrange depths for quite some time but just not showing much interest. Watch for a more aggressive attitude in the weeks ahead as the fall action continues to improve. Baits of choice continue to be jigs tipped with minnows or just live minnow rigs. Bass action slowed some last weekend and earlier this week due to the cool front and high pressure but rebounded some at midweek. Popular patterns continue to be grassbeds, main lake ledges, and some gravel banks where fish are moving up on structure such as shallow crappie beds. Schools of shad were meandering around gravel banks at times and while the topwater bite was off earlier this week watch for that to improve once cloudy days filter out some of the bright light and keep the baitfish active. Once shad move up on gravel banks they often display a feeding frenzy in lowlight conditions when feeding on midge hatches, a small insect that emerges in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Working the gravel banks with topwater can be productive as can shad colored crankbaits when the fish are there but not surface feeding. Aquatic vegetation continues to thrive as hydrilla and spiny leaf are the dominant grass in many areas but some milfoil is out there too. Bass will continue to relate to the abundance of grassbeds in the weeks ahead and spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms, and a variety of weedless frogs or rats will be productive at times as will floating fluke style baits. Buzzbaits and assorted jerk baits will be good choices at times if schooling fish are encountered around schools of baitfish. Some boats are still backing away from the thick grass and working fragments of vegetation found in deeper water or on sloping points. A few boats are working ledges altogether and avoiding the grass while working deep diving crankbaits, Carolina rigs, and hopping a jig and craw combo with moderate results. A little current should be in the picture this week so that could work in favor of anglers fishing near main channel areas. Fall catfishing has been fair but inconsistent as some anglers were struggling this week after finding fish last week. With more current working in their favor boats along the main river channel this week should see improvement as the fish congregate on the down-current side of submerged creek channels or bends in the riverbank itself. Although fall doesn’t officially arrive until September 22, fall fishing conditions are already here.
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