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Will Spring Finally Get Here and Stay Here?

Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 04/30/2015

Was that fall or spring that arrived back in late March? Kentucky Lake anglers have been a bit confused lately. Northeast winds and below average temperatures pestered fishermen again this week.
March was mean. April, at times, has been awful. Maybe, just maybe, May will be mellow.
It appears good weather is on the threshold as warm conditions are forecast to arrive this weekend, paving the way for better fishing. Temperatures are expected to climb into the mid 70’s the next few days and reach the low 80’s next week.
Stability has not been in the cards lately as a drastic drawdown in lake levels this week, coupled with high winds and low temps kept most fishermen off balance. The fish have been confused too!
TVA really pulled the plug this week, dropping lake levels by some six inches on several consecutive days after last week’s surge. The reservoir is back down to normal summer pool now and projected to sleep there for a spell.
Elevation will be 359.3 at Kentucky Dam this weekend and 359.2 upstream at New Johnsonville. Normal summer pool is 359.
Surface temperatures have reflected the unusual weather with below normal readings all week. Readings at midweek were 65 to 67 but will likely rebound this weekend by several degrees, crossing the 70 degree threshold on Saturday. Water color has been a bit stained at the mouth of Big Sandy but clear elsewhere.
Bluegill and shellcracker activity has been sluggish to get started as early spawning phases usually kick in during the last week of April. That has not been the case this year. Both species are in a better mood when surface temps climb into the 72 to 74 degree range.
Watch for a jumpstart this weekend and real improvement by early next week as warmer weather takes command. The biological clock has been off a bit. The powerful panfish have not been fanning beds but that is about to change.
Crappie have been scattered and finicky this week, which is not surprising given the unusual weather and lake level changes. And, they typically have a mood swing once post spawn time rolls around so it has been tough sledding out there lately and a pretty challenging one all spring for most folks.
After spawning the fish often display a stressed mood for a few weeks but should improve slowly as May advances. Right now they aren’t relating very well to structure and kind of roaming or suspended.
There are more than a few fishermen who feel the crappie population is in trouble and suffering from diminished numbers. Others experienced short periods of activity earlier this spring up Big Sandy but since that brief honeymoon the overall picture has been somewhat blurred.
Bass fishermen had a unique week as well. Patterns really changed during the rapid rise last week as fish blitzed toward shoreline buck bushes, willow trees and grassbeds for a few days. Once TVA opened the gates and started spilling water the rapid decent pulled bass back outside parameters.
Spinnerbaits and Texas rigged worms and lizards had been producing as were jig and craw combos and some topwater. However, the cool snap and falling water curtailed some of the shallow activity the last few days.
Several boats are banging away at sloping points and some ledges with Carolina rigs, big crankbaits and rattle trap style lures. No doubt a few fish have pulled back and staged in deeper depths since last week at this time. Still, small feeder creeks in pockets were still appealing to fish that were ready to move up and begin spawning.
Shallow weeds and bushes could see bass return now that lake levels have stabilized and surface temps are on the rebound.
Catfish were taken last week in big numbers around shallow shoreline cover when the lake was rising. They too have pulled back since lake stages receded. Watch for a sprint toward rocky banks and shallow venues next week as their spawning phases are about to accelerate. 
Soon bluegill anglers with their light tackle will be tying into hefty catfish on the prowl, searching out spawning spots and feeding on bluegill eggs and newly hatched fry.
If the weather forecast holds true it may well seem more like summer than spring by early next week. It could finally be time to say goodbye to the overcoat, sweater and long sleeve shirt!

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Kentucky Lake Sunset
Photo by Shawn Dunnaway

Sunsets at Kentucky Lake are special. You can find them on the eastern banks of Kentucky Lake looking west across a mile of ripples and waves. There's nothing quite like experiencing a sunset on Kentucky Lake.