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April 21, 2011
Spring fishing on Kentucky Lake has again required anglers to have
suntan lotion and a snowmobile suit during the same week. From a mean
March to an awful April, seems fishing has been an endurance test at
times and this past week was a prime example.
Where else can you get a sunburn and hypothermia on the same fishing
trip? The last week or so did deliver a couple of sunny days where light
winds produced nice conditions and fish responded favorably.
Some of the spring’s best crappie were taken last week during the
two-day sun fest only to fall victim to a severe cold front last weekend
that blew through with a vengeance. Then, this week’s buffet of weather
rolled in with tornado-like winds on Tuesday that again threw a curve to
There have been a few nice stringers taken since midweek, however, as
some slabs were lingering in the 10 to 13 foot range. Although still
somewhat scattered, boats were landing some nice ones in a variety of
patterns ranging from drifting and trolling Road Runners to vertical
fishing tube jigs over manmade fish attractors.
Anglers were having to stay on the move as crappie were not
concentrated. Not many fish were taken in shallow areas or around
shorelines, choosing deeper areas back off the banks and along flats in
the main lake.
A few fish were taken in the upper end of Big Sandy this week where
dingy water was present but beds in the 4 to 6 foot range were only
giving up one or two fish at a time. A similar scenario was underway in
the Paris Landing area but it was a one here and there from stakebeds or
brushpiles in the 10 to 13 foot range with an occasional fish coming
from 7 to 9 foot depths.
It appears a lot of females have already spawned. Observations from fish
cleaning tables revealed a lot of females had already dropped eggs.
Although a few were still sporting eggs, they were in the minority.
It has been hard for anglers to determine when peak spawning phases were
underway this spring due to so many variables, namely cool nasty
weather, wind, and changing lake levels.
What is abundantly clear has been low numbers of fish harvested due to a
series of weak year classes. Seems there are lots of smaller fish and a
few good slabs out there but low numbers of midsize fish.
Both Tennessee and Kentucky fisheries biologists agree that several weak
year classes are to blame for this year’s low harvest numbers. Add weak
year classes to a rash of nasty weather and changing water levels and
you have the ingredients for tough fishing.
Meanwhile, lake levels have been rising slowly this past week but are
now falling slowly as the reservoir has been a few inches above normal
lately. Elevation going into the weekend will be 357.9 at Kentucky Dam
and 359.2 range at New Johnsonville.
Surface temps fell back to the 64 degree range for a few days but
moderated toward the 66 degree range at midweek. Water color was clear
in the main lake but had some stain in the upper ends of bays from
recent thunderstorm runoff.
Bluegill are beginning to show some interest and moving toward shallow
shorelines and docks. Watch for that to improve this next week as waters
warm and both bluegill and shellcracker move up toward spawning areas.
Bass action fell off some this week compared to earlier in the month.
Recent cold fronts and below average temps at times no doubt had a
negative impact. Anglers have been limited at times on where they could
go due to gale force winds.
Some dead grass and yellow flowers are starting to show up in shallow
pockets off the main lake and that will appeal to bass in the days
Still producing are Carolina rigged crawfish and lizards worked around
gravel points and sandbars. A variety of crankbaits continue to produce
as well ranging from deep divers to Rattle Traps and suspending jerk
It’s time for floating fluke style worms and topwater to enter the
picture too. Watch for a lot of male buck bass to start showing up next
week as their prespawn moods kick in.
Catfish have been sluggish to bite but that too will change in the next
week or two as they prowl toward bluegill beds and warmer water.
It appears warmer weather is staying on the radar screen of anglers but
uninvited winds are annoying anglers as they have throughout most of the
spring fishing season.
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.