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March 15, 2012
WILL BASS/CRAPPIE SPAWN BE EARLY?...11-POUND TROPHY BASS CAUGHT
Anglers may vary as to their fishing methods here on Kentucky Lake but
right now practically everyone is asking the same question: will this
spring’s spawn be earlier than usual?
No doubt the weather has moved up the timetable for both bass and
crappie who don’t necessarily go by the same calendar as those who seek
them. The fish go by the conditions and their biological clock is
In my 38 years as a guide here on Kentucky Lake I can never recall
recording 62 to 64 degree surface temperatures before mid-March but I
did it on Wednesday. Up Big Sandy I got word that some areas were
already reaching the 65 degree range!
The weather has been unbelievable. Above average temperatures and light
winds have been generous to March fishermen as the norm is to dodge gale
winds and stubborn cold fronts sandwiched between a few brief warm
Spawning phases for bass and crappie are rapidly approaching and will no
doubt be early this year if drastic weather changes don’t occur and put
the brakes on this unusual weather pattern. Traditionally, crappie begin
spawning in early April with a peak around the second week but anglers
have every reason to expect that timetable to be moved up this spring.
Once surface temps reach the 62 to 66 degree range and stay there for a
few days then crappie begin to do their thing. Spawning phases are often
drawn out over several weeks with a peak period in there somewhere but
it appears the bell will sound early this year as to the start of the
Meanwhile, crappie are coming in from a variety of areas as anglers
report some dandy stringers. Successful techniques have ranged from
trolling Road Runners in 9 to 13 foot depths up Big Sandy and West Sandy
to casting and vertical presentations over brushpiles and stakebeds in
similar depth ranges all around the Paris Landing region.
At the same time a few boats are still catching enough fish off deep,
main lake ledges in the 18 to 20 foot depth range to keep them
Although a lot of small crappie are being caught, the number of keeper
size fish has improved.
It’s clear crappie are on the move and staging in flats as their
suspended behavior means they’re on stand-by for spawning. Watch for
increased activity around structure in the days ahead as the fish are
ready to set up housekeeping chores.
Water levels this week have changed a few inches as TVA was pulling
water but the forecast for the next few days indicates elevation will be
355.7 at Kentucky Dam and 356 upstream at New Johnsonville. Last week’s
heavy rains in some areas sent a lot of runoff into the reservoir and
some fluctuation occurred.
Water color is good throughout the Paris Landing sector and dingy up Big
Sandy and West Sandy but sporting a good color overall for fishing.
Things have happened so fast that a lot of the male crappie are slow to
exhibit their annual hormonal change toward deep, dark color phases but
watch for that to occur in the days ahead.
Same goes for bass as they too are under the influence of warm days that
have triggered their stair-step route toward spawning territory. Some
hefty females sporting bloated egg sacs are now on gravel points and big
chuck rock banks just outside of small bays and pockets where spawning
will take place.
Bass fishermen are having success tossing jig and craw combos, crawfish
and shad colored crankbaits in clear water with some louder colors where
stain is present. Rattle Traps and similar style lures in Fire Tiger and
red and black combos have worked well this week in dingy water.
The success stories continue to come in from anglers experimenting with
the Alabama or umbrella style rigs. The popularity of the new technique
continues to grow.
With rising surface temperatures has come additional appeal for
spinnerbaits, suspending jerk baits and even some topwater presentations
in the forms of floating fluke style worms.
Some boats are still working secondary ledges out away from shore but
those flats and points coming off the banks appear to be holding bass
that are about ready to enter shallow pockets and begin fanning beds.
Anglers know to keep the overcoat and raingear handy as March is a month
with many faces but thus far it has been a most unusual year. No
fishermen are complaining but a lot of us are mystified by the extended
stretch of warm weather.
News of Henry County angler Adam Craig’s trophy bass caught Wednesday
afternoon on Kentucky Lake reached me at the 11th hour. While fishing in
the mid-week buddy bass tournament out of Paris Landing State Park Craig
landed a whopping 11.05 pound largemouth!
Needless to say he won the tournament and big bass honors. His catch for
the afternoon event was 19.99 pounds.
Meanwhile, last week’s Friday morning event was won by Leon Rogers and
Roger Buffington with 15.46 pounds. Big fish that morning was a 5.86
pound largemouth caught by Kane Ray.
Also check out our past:
Kentucky Lake Fishing Reports
Steve McCadams is one of the nation's best known Crappie Fishermen
and a full time resident of Paris, Tennessee. Steve is also a
professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area.