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April 14, 2012
CRAPPIE ENTER POST-SPAWN PHASEÖ BASS/BLUEGILL ABOUT TO BED
This springís honeymoon of great weather came to a halt Wednesday.
Sooner or later it had to happen; a cold front that is and it roared in
at midweek, sending anglers back to the closet for overcoats that have
been suffering from neglect. A nasty northeast wind hammered fishermen
for a day or two but it appears nice weather is in the process of
returning as the weekend forecast looks good.
Bone chilling winds packed a punch and brought the mercury down to the
mid 30ís one night and daytime highs struggled to reach the mid to upper
50ís, a drastic change from the mid 80ís last week.
Mix a cold front with gale northeast winds and crappie on the back side
of peak spawning and itís a recipe for declining productivity. Crappie
really backed off for a day or two during the thrust of the front that
delivered high skies and white caps. The change should come as no
The lionís share of crappie appear to have already spawned as big
females were taken this week that displayed a thin profile compared to
last week at this time. Still a few food fish were showing up but the
drastic weather changed pulled a lot of fish out of shallow areas the
last few days.
I found some good fish holding in 10 to 14 foot depths during and since
the cold front but most shallow stakebeds in the 5 to 9 foot range that
were holding good fish earlier in the week were void of activity as
surface temps plummeted. A few may return to shallow structure as the
weekend approaches and temps rebound as lake levels rise.
Surface temps at midweek had dropped to 63 to 65 degrees, down some ten
degrees compared to last week at this time. Temps will likely climb back
into the upper 60ís or low 70ís by late this weekend. Water color
remains clear across the reservoir except for a few wind driven
shorelines showing a little color.
Lake levels are on schedule as to TVAís curve for reservoir filling.
Observed elevation at Kentucky Dam will be 356.5 this weekend and 356.1
at New Johnsonville. Expect a slow rise to continue for the next two
weeks until the summer pool mark of 359 is achieved on or near May 1.
Crappie had been hitting good until the weather change sent a finicky
mood throughout the ranks of bigger fish. While a lot of small fish were
hitting all week, the larger slabs seemed to show a reluctant attitude
as bites were very light. Itís not unusual for post-spawn fish to be
sluggish as theyíre often stressed after spawning.
While a few late spawning fish may be lingering in midrange depths or
suspending out over deeper venues, itís clear the bulk of the population
made a blitz the last week to ten days and some even began spawning in
late March due to the influence of an early spring.
Expect those midrange depths of 9 to 14 feet to produce crappie in the
days ahead as nice weather will likely help out the fishing scene but
itís doubtful many fish will head to shallow banks having already
completed their annual ritual in deeper depths.
Popular jig color combos this week have been purple/chartreuse,
rainbow/chartreuse, white/red, blue/chartreuse and some variations of
red and chartreuse with glitter. Tipping jigs with minnows has worked
well for vertical style presentations.
Boats pulling long lines, spider rigging, and trolling crankbaits are
still finding fish playing their game as well. Curly tail grubs and Road
Runners are the lures of choice.
While the crappie are entering post-spawn phases it doesnít mean the
game is over. There are still some good days ahead so not to worry.
However, anglers have been spoiled the last few weeks as both the
weather and crappie fishing have been above average.
Bluegill and shellcracker were going through the early bedding motions
before the cold front descended. A few boats were already catching them
in shallow flats out away from their normal bedding shoreline areas as
water levels were not high enough to inundate grass or bushes just yet.
Watch for action to resume later this weekend and early next week as a
few warm and sunny days will trigger the return of these powerful
panfish to spawning phases. They were already on the threshold but the
cold front will no doubt put the brakes on what had been a runaway
train. Odds are they will be ahead of schedule this month too so watch
for the invasion to begin soon.
Bass were holding up to their reputation until a midweek hiatus backed
them off what had been a decent biting spree. Patterns were ranging from
shad colored crankbaits on gravel points to shad colored swim baits,
suspending jerk baits, and jig and craw combos.
(This weekís big bass story comes from Jim Durdin of Camden, TN who
reported a 11 pound, 6 ounce largemouth taken over a week ago in
Harmonís Creek. Jim caught the lunker on a 1/8 ounce blue and chartreuse
grub while casting for crappie!)
Decent stringers were coming from mud banks near pockets where fish were
staging in the warm water and about to move up to spawn. Some boats
continue to toss the Alabama rig and catch fish on sloping points and
Carolina rigged craws and lizards were also worthy of consideration.
Topwater activity and spinnerbait patterns should emerge as soon as
surface temps rebound but itís likely bass will be on bed by early next
week once warmer days enter the picture. Fish will be fanning on shallow
banks and pockets as water levels will not be up around shoreline
habitat in time to accommodate this springís early spawn.
With the cold front now in the rearview mirror Kentucky Lakeís fishing
scene should return to a high level of success for bass, crappie and
bluegill anglers, not to mention the shellcracker brigade.
This weekís cold front reminded us of just how lucky weíve had it the
last six weeks or so!
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.