Fall Crappie Action Heats Up As Surface Temps Cool
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 09/27/2012
It was the first week of fall and Kentucky Lake crappie anglers got off to a good start with a mixture of weather conditions confronting them. Seasons officially changed last Saturday and this week’s autumn angling saw some calm days and cool mornings followed by a windy warm up at midweek. The overall fishing scene has been a good one with some hefty stringers of crappie coming from the 9 to 14 foot depth range. Good numbers of fish were showing up for anglers working jigs and jigs tipped with minnows over manmade fish attractors in the midrange depths but there have been some good fish taken on the deep side of main lake ledges too. I found some good numbers of keeping size crappie relating to structure in the midrange depths this week and cooler surface temperatures likely pulled more fish to shallow venues at midweek. Rising lake levels late last week probably influenced some fish to move up to shallow flats as lots of baitfish were present. Surface temps this week were in the 72 to 75 degree range, a slight cool down from last week at this time. Water color remains clear. Lake levels have been falling slowly this week after a slight surge in elevation last week. The reservoir was changing several inches each day as TVA was pulling a lot of water and attempting to get lake levels back down to normal curve for early fall elevation. Projected elevation going into the weekend for the Kentucky Dam area will be 356.3, which is down almost a foot from last week. Upstream at New Johnsonville the elevation will be in the 356.2 range. Current has been present all week in the main Tennessee River channel so that has helped catfishermen and even some bass and crappie anglers working drop-offs. Crappie improved throughout the week and showed increased interest levels. There are good numbers of 2 ½ and 3 ½-year classes out there right now so you can catch a lot of fish. Several fish require measurement as to the 10-inch minimum length limit but there’s no doubting the hefty number of fish sporting an appetite. Popular jig color combinations have been black/red, red/white, and some blue/chartreuse just to name a few. Adding minnows to jigs has enticed bites when fish were finicky and Berkley crappie nibbles have helped too. Watch for action to hold up with for the next several weeks as more fish move up shallow in response to cooler surface temperatures that pull shad toward shallows. This fall crappie gig is a good one so don’t let this great season pass you by. Weather has been great and there aren’t many people on the lake so it’s quite pleasant out there. Bass fishermen continue to find fish around submerged grass on the shallow sides of sandbars. The fragmented grass patches seem to be holding good numbers of fish that are chasing shad up into the shallow areas but hanging around the drop-off in-between feeding sprees. Tossing spinnerbaits, Rattle Traps, and fluke style jerk baits has worked well around the grass patches in 4 to 6 foot depths. Some shallow sandbars are also appealing to schooling bass that are running shad in the early morning and late afternoon. Shallow running crankbaits have worked well for this pattern and watch for the presence of gulls to help you located the baitfish and overall activity. A few boat continue to hold on to the summer pattern of main lake ledges where tossing big crankbaits and Texas rigged worms continues to produce fish. Hopping a jig and craw has worked there too. Gravel banks in Big Sandy have given up some bass this week too as casting shad colored crankbaits and tossing some topwater at times has paid off. Some suspending jerk baits have paid off too as the fall season often sees good bass move up on the gravel shorelines in pursuit of shad that feed on the midge hatches that occur in the early morning and late afternoon periods. There have been some decent stringers taken in shallow water the last week or so. Catfishing has been decent this week courtesy of the current present in the main river. Boats have been drifting slowly along the edge of the main channel but those feeder creeks that empty into the main channel have been popular places as the fish often hang in deeper holes and wait for the current to wash baitfish their way. Fall has gotten off to a good start for bass and crappie anglers with several good weeks ahead. The nice weather and good fishing are a tough combination to beat. Kentucky Lake shorelines are starting to show a little color in the trees too so the scenery is yet another reason to get out and about.
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