Spawning Off To Sluggish Start; Crappie Numbers Low
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 04/06/2016
Most Kentucky Lake crappie anglers were hoping to see active spawning phases kick in this past week. They didn’t get their wish. Slabs were sluggish and catch rates have been low, due in part to cold north winds that held surface temperatures below the optimum range. At midweek yet another cool snap slipped in the door and anglers will have to don coveralls and overcoats as the weekend approaches. Surface temperatures need to be in the 62 to 66 degree range and stay there a few days for active spawning to really kick into high gear. The roller coaster of weather hasn’t let that happen. There were a few days when surface temps climbed into the 63-plus range only to fall back at night due to chilly conditions. Fishermen are yearning for several consecutive sunny days with average or above average temperatures. A few crappie are on the threshold of moving up to spawning spots but others are staging out away from structure and waiting for things to improve. Water levels have been about a foot above normal for this early April period, which hasn’t bothered anglers. TVA is projecting levels of 357.5 at Kentucky Dam this weekend with a similar reading upstream for New Johnsonville. Water color is good across most of the reservoir too with a little too much stain in the upper Big Sandy and West Sandy areas to suit some but overall things are good. Crappie continue to be scattered for most fishermen, regardless of their techniques. A few shallow fish have been taken by boaters casting curly tail grubs around shallow structure or retrieving jigs beneath slip bobbers but numbers have been low. Same goes for main lake dwellers where boats have been drift fishing, bumping bottom with jigs and minnows, long lining Road Runner style jigs or spider rigging jigs and live minnows. It has been tough out there! Legions of accomplished crappie fishermen are scratching their heads and wondering what’s up with their favorite panfish. Most anglers report catching several small fish and the ratio of 10-inch plus size to small dink crappie has varied from one in ten to one in 15 to 20 for a lot of anglers. The lion’s share of anglers are not catching big numbers of keeper fish anywhere in the Paris Landing, upper Big Sandy or West Sandy sectors. There have been some two-pound plus slab crappie taken at times as some of the egg-laden females are bloated and ready to spawn if the weather would cooperate. The news isn’t all bad. Yet it’s fair to say the army of crappie anglers who have braved the elements these last few weeks are concerned about low numbers of 10-inch plus crappie. Should stability in weather patterns arrive next week then crappie are ready to make a blitz toward structure. A few have already done that but the bulk seem to be somewhat confused by the annoying cool fronts and nasty north winds that haven’t opened the gate or signaled prime time’s arrival. More crappie should be taken this week in the 4 to 8 foot depth range and those staging deeper should be on the move. Things are overdue to improve in the days ahead and watch for the bite to change quickly. Bass anglers are still landing decent stringers from a variety of patterns. Boats this week found fish on the banks where crankbait patterns were still paying dividends. Others continue to toss Alabama rigs on secondary ledges and sloping points where fish were staging and ready to move up to shallow shorelines. Higher lake levels this week saw some of those precious yellow flowers already inundated with water. That means some bass likely followed rising lake levels and occupied shallow grass and flowers in the backs of bays where tossing a spinnerbait, Texas rigged craw or worm, floating fluke style worm or jerk bait proved deadly. Things will happen fast for spawning bass too next week if sunny days enter the picture. Odds are those yellow flowers have already attracted a lot of buck bass to the shallows. Stubborn winds are reluctant to loosen their grip but it’s high time they switched to the south and stayed there. It’s time for these whitecaps and overcoats to go!
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