Explore Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley Fishing
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Contact Us About Us
Switch Mobile/Desktop

Archived Fishing Report

Crappie Spawn Underway; Unstable Spring Conditions Continue

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 04/18/2013

Kentucky Lake crappie action really improved this week as warm weather stimulated spawning activity and anglers landed some hefty stringers. The last five to seven days have been the most productive this spring for most anglers as fish really made a blitz toward shallow spawning territory.
It has been another unusual week, however, as anglers have had to negotiate drastic changes in lake levels, a scenario that had fish scattered at times. Stability has not been an ingredient in this spring’s fishing recipe.
Despite the see-saw lake stages this week crappie anglers have done well with a variety of patterns and locations paying dividends. From shoreline buck bushes to midrange structure, anglers have caught fish using several techniques that ranged from long-line trolling to vertical presentations around manmade fish attractors. Some anglers scored while casting jigs toward shallow shorelines too.
Lake levels jumped some two feet above summer pool earlier this week, which was about four feet above normal for mid-April elevation. That inundated shoreline habitat and crappie were on the move toward shallow cover as surface temps were warming rapidly.
In the upper end of Big Sandy and West Sandy there was some dingy water in places that proved to be attractive for buck bush fishermen who had not enjoyed their favorite style in quite some time. The honeymoon proved to be short as TVA quickly began a drawdown that pulled water out of a lot of shoreline structure by midweek.
Fish have really been on the move and somewhat confused by the fluctuation but were in active spawning mode at midweek around shallow structure in the 4 to 7 foot depths. Big male crappie were aggressive and territorial when a jig or minnow entered his restricted zone.
Of concern to crappie anglers at present is the approach of yet another uninvited cold front slated to arrive as this report was being updated. Forecasts indicate cooler conditions as the weekend approaches in the aftermath of nasty, windy weather on Thursday.
That is not what bass and crappie anglers wanted to hear as water levels were finally beginning to settle down and surface temps had climbed all week. It’s likely the approaching cold front will slow things down for a day or two, bringing a temporary hiatus to what had been a pretty productive week.
A quick rebound is likely as the weatherman indicates warm weather will return soon. Temps are expected to return to the mid 70’s by Monday but only reach the upper 50’s and low 60’s Friday and Saturday as the front rolls in.
Lake levels going into the weekend will be 358.9 at both Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville according to TVA projections. The reservoir is still about a foot above TVA’s normal curve for the third week of April as normal summer pool (359) is projected each year by or around May 1.
Surface temps this week really jumped as warm sunny days pulled the water up into the 64 to 66 degree range at midweek. Crappie will initiate active spawning phases in the 62 to 66 degree range so the alarm sounded this week for the annual ritual.
Action may diminish for a few days due to the cold front but watch for a rapid rebound by early next week. Anglers should have a few more active days of spawning fish in shallow areas next week before some fish enter post-spawn phases.
With all the change taking place this week it seems anglers have caught crappie on everything from jigs cast under slip bobbers around shallow shorelines to the top sides of ledges out on the main lake using bottom bumping rigs. Water color was clear in the Paris Landing area as falling lake levels pulled most of the dingy water out of bays and off flats.
It’s like some crappie will return to midrange structure early next week and likely spawn in some 6 to 12 foot zones if clear conditions remain. The clear water allows sunlight to penetrate the deeper depths and make deeper structure appealing.
Bass anglers were chasing their prey too this week as the rapid rise really scattered fish. Shoreline buck bushes and grassbeds that were too shallow last week were suddenly flooded and appealing to roaming fish.
A lot of smaller buck bass really sprinted into the yellow flowers and grassbeds in small pockets within the larger bays where water was warming rapidly. Some windy areas had stained water and that appealed to anglers tossing sprinnerbaits or flipping craws and jigs around buck bushes.
Other patterns working well were Texas rigged worms and lizards, along with shallow running crankbaits. And, some topwater buzzbaits and jerk baits entered the equation too this week.
There were a few boats still tossing Carolina rigged craws, Alabama rigs, and deep diving crankbaits off gravel points and clay banks in hopes of finding some fish staging there before moving up to spawn in the days ahead.
As the reservoir returns to near summer pool elevation fish should relate well to the outside structure on shorelines. Any stickups with a little water on them out away from shallow banks should appeal to bass in the days ahead.
It has been another weird week of weather and lake levels for Kentucky Lake bass and crappie fishermen but the warmer weather did improve things. If anglers can weather another annoying cold spell things should improve by early next week.
Until then, swap the sunscreen for overcoats and ride it out best you can. A crazy spring continues!

More Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports

Now That You're 'Hooked' on Fishing... Come See Us!

If you've dug this deep in our Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley fishing reports, you are probably just itching to come down and visit the South's biggest lakes.  Get started by finding that perfect place to stay!  Find a Kentucky Lake cabin or a Lake Barkley campground, a full-service resort or a marina.  Heck, there are even dozens of hotels off the water to choose from! 

Don't have a boat?  No worries!  Bank fishing is always an option for panfish. But if you're heart is set on largemouth or smallmouth, you can rent a fishing boat at many of our local resorts!

The perfect place to start looking for a place to stay at Kentucky or Barkley Lakes?  Right here on our main lodging page.

Photo by Jennifer Dunnaway

We photographed this doe peeking from behind some tall grass near Honker Bay in Land Between The Lakes.