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March 24, 2011
LAKE LEVELS RECEDEÖANGLERS BATTLE WIND/WEATHER
Fishermen are waking up to a new lake most every day as inclimate
weather and changing water levels continue to dominate the fishing
Kentucky Lake crested at the 363. 4 range---more than eight feet above
normal winter pool--- late last weekend and has been falling fast the
last several days as TVA attempts to pull the reservoir back down to its
curve for reservoir operations. Under normal conditions elevation would
be in the 355 range on April 1 when TVA begins the slow climb toward
summer pool---which is 359----slated for May 1.
Lake levels forecast for the weekend will be 360.4 at Kentucky Dam and
360.5 upstream at New Johnsonville. Expect a rapid drawdown to continue
for the next several days.
Just how far back down the ladder TVA will go remains to be seen but
most anglers and recreational enthusiasts are ready to say goodbye to
the extended spell of high water that has inundated boat ramps, camp
grounds, and piers not to mention erosion of shorelines and islands.
Crappie anglers anxious to do battle with the areaís popular panfish
have been somewhat dismayed despite several days of above average
temperatures that pushed surface temps into the 57 to 59 degree range
High winds have wrecked havoc with anglersí plans to stalk the open
water areas as gusts in the 20 mile per hour range had main lake spots
rolling with whitecaps this week. Most of March has been mean as high
water and high winds have teamed up to lower productivity.
Water color has improved across most of the reservoir with a slight
stain present throughout Big Sandy while the main Tennessee River
channel has a dingy appearance. A lot of current is present in the main
channel and will continue for quite some time as TVA spills water
through Kentucky Dam in large volume.
With so much change taking place establishing a pattern in terms of
depth and location has not been easy for crappie fishermen. Finicky fish
have been on the move and not relating to structure.
Despite a crazy week of weather and water levels fish are on the verge
of moving up to midrange depths in large numbers and overall activity
should improve once water levels stabilize and average temps return. It
may take a few more days as another cold snap is in the forecast for
late this weekend and early next week, which is not what anglers want to
With surface temps now in the upper 50ís fish have already shown some
interest in 9 to 11 foot depths and will stage in midrange zones until
things settle down. Spawning occurs once surface temps reach the 62 to
66 degree range but itís likely the approaching cold front will put the
brakes on rising surface temps.
It appears any early spawning phases are still well over a week away if
not more. Male crappie have not shown any darkening color transition
just yet, another sign hormonal changes are sluggish to advance the
In times past spawning phases have begun in late March but that will not
take place this spring as all signs indicate the annual ritual will be
pushed back toward early to mid April.
Meanwhile, most crappie taken this week have been from anglers vertical
fishing jigs tipped with minnows around manmade fish attractors in the
10 to 15 foot zone. A few fish were lingering on drop-offs but quite
scattered in the 19 to 23 foot zone in the Paris Landing area.
Up Big Sandy around New Hope and Country Junction and into West Sandy
some anglers were picking up scattered crappie while trolling
Roadrunners and other jigs. A few fish were suspended in 10 to 12 foot
Backwater areas such as Springville bottom and behind the levee at Big
Sandy will offer ample water for fishermen for quite some time.
Bottom line is that crappie have been roaming and the bite has been
below average for just about all techniques. Watch for quick improvement
next week after the cold front fades as itís high time things picked up!
Bass fishermen have not suffered like crappie anglers as some good
stringers have been taken. And, some big fish are coming in as the
females are egg laden and really putting on the feed bag.
Popular techniques have been tossing Rattle Traps and various deep
diving crankbaits around rock points, roadbeds, and some feeder creeks.
Watch for bass to pull back out of shoreline cover and stage around
steeper banks and ditches as lake levels fall.
A few bass were occupying visible shoreline habitat before the drastic
drawdown began but steeper banks, along with some submerged grass, will
likely appeal as the fish fall back in response to lower lake levels.
Current will be a factor too as bass will be hanging around the down
current side of rock points, piers, and island rims this next week. High
winds have whipped up some dingy water in places and casting loud
colored crankbaits there has paid off.
Some suspending jerk baits, spinnerbaits, and shad colored crankbaits
will be popular as will Carolina rigged lizards in areas with clearing
Catfish had been on the prowl during the high water and moved up to
shallow creeks and flats but will now be pulling back to some deeper
areas in the days ahead.
A few stripers were taken around main river bridge piers where current
was creating eddies and delivering abundant baitfish.
March is a month known for its unstable weather and this year it has
certainly lived up to its reputation. Hang in there as better days are
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.