Overdue Warm Spell Improves Kentucky Lake Fishing Scene
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 03/28/2013
Would spring weather ever arrive and chase away the chill? Thatís a question anglers have been asking for quite some time here on Kentucky Lake and it appears spring has finally sprung. Warmer weather arrived the last few days but not before bone chilling winds and some snow earlier this week added insult to injury. Things are rebounding quickly and the fishing scene is changing for the better as bass and crappie action is improving. Anglers can expect significant movement to take place this weekend and throughout next week as crappie begin moving toward midrange depths in preparation for spawning. Same goes for bass that will now occupy more shallow gravel banks and rocky points in their transition from winter to early spring patterns. Crappie action picked up the last few days as overdue sunshine began to have a positive effect. The fish have lingered in deep water across most of the lake for the last week or two due to cold surface temperatures. I found a few hefty slabs in 20 foot depths earlier this week but they were scattered and bites were finicky. A spot check of a few midrange stakebeds was unproductive earlier in the week but was already showing signs of improvement after a day of sunshine and rising surface temps. The warm-up now underway had pulled the surface temps up from 47 degrees at the beginning of the week to 51 on Wednesday. By this weekend anglers could see readings in the mid 50ís, a threshold that will send more fish to midrange depths as they enter prespawn phases. Watch for a lot of crappie to move into the 9 to 13 foot zone the next few days across much of the reservoir. In some bays and flats up Big Sandy and elsewhere south along the Tennessee River where dingy water is found anglers are already taking fish in 4 to 8 foot zones. Thatís not to say several fish are not lingering along main lake ledges as several boats were slow trolling, drifting, and dragging long lines of jigs this week and finding some suspended crappie out there. Fish were relating to 18 to 22 foot depths earlier in the week but moving up daily as warmer weather influenced their urge to move toward prespawn staging areas. Spawning for crappie usually takes place once surface temperatures reach the 62 to 66 degree range with some stability. It appears thatís still at least a week to ten days away as male crappie have yet to show hormonal changes of their darkening color phases once spawning time approaches. Crappie fishermen should see a dramatic improvement the next few days and weeks. The biological clock has been pushed back this year due to the mean March weather but once the games begin fish hit the fast forward button! Lake levels this week began near the low ebb of winter pool but have risen daily since Tuesday. TVA begins its annual start to summer pool on April 1 each year so that will kick in on Monday. Barring heavy rains or the return of last yearís drought conditions Kentucky Lake will reach the summer pool elevation of 359 on or around May 1st. Projections going into the weekend will be 355.6 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville Steam Plant lake levels will be in the 355.9 range. Water color has a slight stain but has cleared since last week in many areas. From the bass arena comes continued success stories by anglers tossing shad and crawfish variations of crankbaits, along with the Alabama rig. Although stringers the last week or so have not been as hefty as two to three weeks ago they are still impressive. Most tournament wins the last week or so have required a 4-pound average, which is amazing but not as eye opening as the 5 pound plus average in several events the previous two to three weeks. No doubt the below average temperatures and high winds lately have curtailed activity. With warmer surface temps entering the picture watch for some good fish to occupy shallow gravel banks, roadbeds, and mudflats near deep water. Tossing Rattle-Trap style lures, suspending jerk baits, jig and pig combos, and Alabama rigs should continue to pay dividends as the deep water patterns lose their grip once fish move up. Carolina rigged craws and Texas rigged craws will begin producing too as the spring pattern takes hold. Both bass and crappie anglers are ready to shut the door on a cold and dreary month. March was a mean one. Letís hope April acts better as itís time to get this spring gig going.
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