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by Steve McCadams

 September has a little bit of summer left in it but fall will soon be knocking on the door. For Kentucky Lake bass and crappie anglers it's a prime month and there's a long list of reasons why. 

 The vote is unanimous for cooler weather. Practically all anglers are
ready to experience a cool morning with a touch of fog. Less humidity makes it feel more fishy. A jacket by morning and shirt sleeves by afternoon.
 Fish like it better too. The bass run the gravel banks and bust the
water after shad in the early morning and late afternoon periods. Tossing a jerk bait along the sloping rock banks where the schools of shad jump after their tiny insect supper buffet is sure to bring on a strike.

 Each year the bass come alive on the shady sides of the gravel banks
during September days and it can be great topwater action. The surface temperatures begin falling after the cool nights and the bass get more active and put on a feeding spree.

 A few weeks ago the bass seemed inactive as the doldrum days of summer cast a spell. Come September the bass and crappie seem to wake up from their summer nap and get back to feeding in the shallows.

 Kentucky Lake is under a winter drawdown phase where lake levels fall slowly from week to week. While still a foot or two away from the minimum elevation of the winter months, the lake will be some two to three feet below those levels seen back in the spring where shoreline habitat was inundated with water.

 Yet the lower lake levels appeal to many anglers who have learned the
patterns of pre-fall fishing. The bass relate to the gravel points and sloping banks where a it's a crankbait paradise. And, the backs of creeks where manmade crappie beds or stumps expose themselves is yet another favorite hangout. A spinnerbait here or a slow sinking worm there.

  Bass get active and there's several patterns that work for anglers
wise enough to read the water and adapt to the movements of September bass. Working the creeks where boathouses provide shad during the mid-day periods blend with those early morning topwater banks to make a good day of fishing.

  Crappie anglers love the approaching fall too as their favorite fish
gets active. From the deep confines of the open lake come schools of crappie in hot pursuit of threadfin shad who roam the flats and bays.

 Cooler water means more activity from the crappie just like it did for
the bass. The areas of 4 to 8 feet didn't appeal to crappie a few weeks ago but that's about to change.

 The fish begin to move off the deep, main lake ledges. That's a
welcomed change for most  perch jerkers in the region. Finding the crappie moving back into the manmade beds or shallowstumps they vacated in the late spring suits the bulk of anglers just fine.

  Vertical fishing a jig or slip bobber style live minnow rig will likely produce a hefty crappie when tossed anywhere near some structure in the 4 to 10 foot zone. There are times when lowlight conditions of a cloudy day or perhaps the early morning and late afternoon hours seem
to pay off best. 

 Clear water colors seem to make the crappie more finicky. However,
crappie anglers have learned to change line sizes and colors to get more strikes. And, having a variety of jig skirt colors is wise as the fish make the final choice as to what's good or bad at that particular time.

  Not to be overlooked is the casting of light spinning tackle for early
fall crappie. A leadhead in the 1/16 ounce range with a twister tail grub will often prove irresistible to even the most stubborn crappie. While the chartreuse colors are always popular, keep the dull motor oil with metal flake close to the top of your tackle box tray.

 Whether you thrive on the drag setting strike of a largemouth bass as
he flushes on your topwater lure or prefer the pole bending experience of crappie around a brushpile, September is a month where seasons trade places on the calendar.

  It's high time to test the waters of Kentucky Lake without having to
share the bays or coves with jet skies and pontoons pulling skiers over your favorite fishing holes.

  Expect surface temperatures to be in the upper 70's to low 80's at the
first part of the month. Then, a gradual cooling begins and by the last week or two the water temps are in the low 70's.

  It goes without saying that boaters should be careful and pay close
attention to channel markers when traveling in unfamiliar waters. Each fall the open water flats and secondary channels are somewhat deceiving. You may be a long way from shore but encounter a shallow
sand bar or a stump with an appetite for lower units.

  There's plenty of room on the lake and at the boat ramp so strike a
trot and head on out.

The information above is compiled by outdoor writer
Steve McCadams

    Steve is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris
Landing area and host of the The Outdoor Channel's television series