Crappie Patterns, Depths and Locations Changing; Cold Front Concerns Anglers
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 03/25/2015
Bass and crappie anglers have been riding high as spring’s first full week kicked off with great weather. Above average temperatures and light winds delivered ideal fishing conditions since spring arrived last Friday but a cold front now in progress may temporarily upset the apple cart. Fish have really been on the move this week in response to rising surface temperatures. Crappie anglers have been using a variety of methods across Kentucky Lake this week and in a variety of depths and locations. From slow trolling multi-pole rigs to casting the banks, fishermen are trying just about every technique known to locate and catch fish. It’s that time of year when just about all the techniques produce on any given day too. While the most fish have been taken up Big Sandy this week in the New Hope and north of Country Junction, a few boats were vertical fishing jigs around midrange stakebeds with mediocre results. There have also been a few still clinging to deep drop-offs in the main lake where depths of 20 feet have given up some scattered fish at times as anglers tightlined minnows and jigs. Also emerging is the shallow water pattern by anglers casting curly tail grubs and road runner style jigs around shallow shorelines and stakebeds. Some are using slip bobbers to regulate their depth around shallow cover. Surface temperatures this week warmed to the 60 to 62 degree range in the upper ends of bays and creeks where shallow water areas heated up after long hours of sunlight. Main lake areas are a bit cooler with readings in the 55 to 56 degree range. Lake levels have been falling slowly this week and projected to be in the 355.7 range at Kentucky Dam this weekend. Upstream in the New Johnsonville area lake stages will be in the 355.8 range. TVA’s curve is scheduled to begin the climb toward summer pool on April 1. The target date is May 1 each year. However, the reservoir has been about a foot above normal the last week or two for this time of year. Water color has improved this week and the overall reservoir is in good shape. The muddy water present in some areas last week has disappeared and even the main river channel has cleared. The uninvited cold front now underway with nasty north winds will rob some of the gains made earlier in the week. March came in like a lion and it appears it had one more growl left as temps are expected to fall below freezing Friday night. No doubt surface temps will backslide this weekend. However, moderate weather is in the forecast for next week so a slow rebound will begin soon. And what will this do to the spawning timetable for bass and crappie? Odds are both will have a mood swing for a day or two until winds shift back to the south. The first day or two after a cold front usually means high skies and a rising barometer, not to mention a nagging northeast wind. Crappie were scattered for most anglers this week but headed shallow in some areas. Male crappie have been slow to head shallow and take on their darkening change in appearance, an indication that hormonal changes are sluggish getting started. All indications point toward spawning phases being another week to ten days away as to peak. The preferred range is 62 to 66 degrees with some stability in the weather. Meanwhile, crappie in the Paris Landing area have been stubborn for most anglers who have tried a potpourri of presentations with limited results. Fish have been reluctant to relate to structure in this sector. Up Big Sandy the trolling techniques have scored well as crappie were staging in depths of 9 to 13 feet and suspending in open water before making a blitz to spawning territory. Last week the fish seemed to move out of the West Sandy area and migrate toward the upper Big Sandy basin. Bass fishermen were landing some hefty ones this week. Topping the list was a trophy largemouth taken last Saturday by Union City angler Bill Lawrence that tipped the scales at a whopping 11 pounds, 2 ounces. He caught the fish on a spinnerbait around a shallow stakebed in Big Sandy when dingy water was present. Crankbaits on gravel and rocky points have produced this week as have jig and craw combos. Some sloping points off the main banks are holding bass too as are ledges nearby. Some boats are laying out away from the main shoreline and tossing crankbaits, Alabama and Carolina rigs or working Strike King’s Red-eye shad and Rattle Traps in shallow pockets and around mud banks. A lot of fish appear to be laying out away from the shallow banks and staging in slightly deeper water at times. As April arrives anglers are hoping the odds for stable weather increase. Most everyone is ready to wave goodbye to the roller coaster month of March. Better keep the coveralls and sunscreen nearby. You never know which one you’ll need this time of year!
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