Crappie Head Shallow As Spawning Phases Continue
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 04/09/2015
Crappie are spawning on Kentucky Lake after a few warm days heated up surface temperatures to the 64 to 66 degree range at midweek. A lot of fish were moving into shallow venues the last few days. Male crappie are sporting a beautiful dark purple appearance indicating active spawning phases were underway. And, the males were sporting an attitude as their strikes were more dominant than last week at this time. All signs point toward next week being peak of the spawning phase, although it’s not unusual to see some fish spawning in the latter part of the month. Anglers continue to battle wind and weather, however. It has been challenging at times this week as gusty winds dictated where anglers could hold the boat and how they could fish. It appears a nice weekend lies ahead. Lake levels actually fell a few inches at midweek after a few days of stability. Projections for the weekend indicate lake stages will be in the 356.6 range at Kentucky Dam and 356.5 range upstream at New Johnsonville. Those readings are in the normal range for this period of April. Water color is clear in the main lake areas with a slight stain in the upper ends of a few bays around the Paris Landing sector. Up Big Sandy there is a little dingy water present while West Sandy and toward the mouth of Big Sandy itself water conditions are relatively clear. Surface temperatures were climbing slowly all week and have now crossed the threshold for the first phases of spawning. Shallow bays are two or three degrees warmer than the main lake. A variety of techniques continue to produce for crappie anglers and while most fish are transitioning toward shallow areas there are a few still working their way up and hanging out in the 12 to 14 foot depths. However, the majority of fish are now in the 5 to 10 foot depth range with some moving up to five feet or less. Bank fishermen are catching crappie around gravel points and submerged brush as they cast jigs and live minnows beneath slip bobbers. Several male crappie moved up on gravel and rocky banks the last few days or found shallow structure to their liking. Casting techniques are paying dividends. Drifting has been working well for boats playing the wind and dragging jigs and minnows over midrange flats in depths of 5 to 10 feet. Those using spider rigs and long lining techniques are still scoring as well. Activity improved this week for anglers vertical fishing jigs over stakebeds and brushpiles as the fish move into cover and set up housekeeping chores. A lot more fish were relating to structure the last few days compared to last week. Popular jig colors have ranged from purple/chartreuse to grape with glitter, black/chartreuse, and variations of light blue to pearl. Tipping jigs with Berkley’s power bait nibbles in the white and chartreuse has enhanced strikes as well. Painted leadheads in the red, orange, and chartreuse colors have been popular but so are the neutral or unpainted choices. Although decent stringers are being caught, most anglers are having to make a lot of stops as fish are still a bit scattered. Many fishermen continue to find a “one-here; one there” scenario. And, the shallow stakebeds that usually produce big numbers at spawning time are yielding lower numbers than most anglers would like to see. No doubt fishing has improved for a lot of anglers this week. A 3.03 pound slab crappie was weighed in this week at LV grocery at Pine Point and leads their big crappie contest. Several slabs in the two pound plus range are being caught as the females are bulging with eggs. Several of the long line or spider rig style boats are still finding a few up toward Big Sandy’s New Hope and Country Junction sector and in West Sandy. Most agree the fish have moved from some of their popular staging areas that were producing good numbers the previous two to three weeks. Bass fishermen continue to land good numbers from shallow shorelines. Shallow running crankbaits are still producing as anglers beat the banks with shad and crawfish variations. Suspending jerk baits are working too as are spinnerbaits around shallow structure. A few boats are still checking out the secondary drop-offs and long sloping points far out from shore. Carolina rigs, jig and craw combos, big crankbaits and various other presentations such as Strike King’s Red Eye Shad series and Bill Lewis Rattle Traps are working as well. With the rising surface temperatures bass have moved up to some very shallow points and staging in preparation for spawning in the coming weeks. As mid-April approaches, both water levels and surface temperatures are falling into the normal range. Bass and crappie are about where they’re supposed to be at this stage of spring. Hopefully someone will turn off the fan and return a few days of light and variable conditions without the threat of thunderstorms. Now that would be different!
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