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April 24, 2013
LAKE LEVELS, WIND AND WEATHER KEEP ANGLERS OFF BALANCE
Changing lake levels mixed with unstable weather for another unusual
week of fishing conditions for Kentucky Lake anglers. Despite the roller
coaster ride anglers have landed some pretty good stringers of spawning
crappie as bass are on the threshold of moving up and fanning their beds
in shallow grass and bushes.
Usually late April offers some stability in weather patterns but that
has not been the case this year as fishermen battled gale force winds
this week and drastic changes in temperatures. It appears a nice warming
trend will arrive late this weekend as temps are forecast to reach the
mid to upper 70ís by Monday, bringing a welcome change to the fishing
Crappie were biting good this week for a few anglers working stakebeds
and brushpiles in depths of 5 to 13 feet but also productive were the
long-line presentations by boaters trolling and drifting Road Runner
style jigs over midrange depths.
At times crappie moved up to structure and were spawning but there are
already a few fish in the post-spawn phases that were out over deep
water and somewhat suspended. Boats trolling and drifting jigs and
minnows were picking up few fish using these techniques.
Dark male crappie were sporting their handsome purple colors in full
force and occupied shallow structure in the 4 to 10 foot zones. A few
pale white females were taken in shallow areas too but most appeared to
favor deeper water as they began moving out after spawning.
The cool snaps have played havoc with the peak spawning phases the last
two weeks. There have been some good days but it has been difficult for
anglers to establish a consistent pattern of depth and location. Given
the variables of changing lake levels and weather it comes as no
Surface temperatures this week actually lost ground a few days when bone
chilling northwest winds chased away the warm spell. The water last week
was hovering around the 66 to 70 degree range in some places but fell
back to 62 to 65 at midweek.
Lake levels have jumped around too. After falling several inches last
week the reservoir began rising again at midweek and is expected to be
in the 360 range at Kentucky Dam by Sunday. That reading is a foot above
the normal summer pool mark of 359. Upstream at New Johnsonville the
elevation will be in the 359.8 range by this weekend.
Just how high the lake levels will go is on the minds of anglers who
have been watching the flooding scenario to our north along the
Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. TVA has not been able to discharge large
volumes of water this week and that has contributed to rising lake
As to the status of the crappie spawn it appears most of the fish have
done their thing and are now in the post-spawn phase. Most of the
females are thin but usually Mother Nature spreads out the spawn over
the period of a few weeks.
In normal springs seasons crappie stair-step their way toward shallow
venues as waters warm with a peak period of 5 to 7 days sandwiched in
there somewhere. This year it has been difficult to track as fish were
thrown off several times when cold fronts coincided with changing lake
levels to alter the normal transition.
Bluegill and redear sunfish, referred to locally as shellcracker, have
been victims of the cold conditions too as last year at this time early
bedding phases were well underway. Cooler surface temps have delayed
bedding action but a full moon this weekend will see action improve.
With next weekís warm-up watch for action to really heat up in the
bluegill and shellcracker department. Water levels are up some two feet
from last year at this time so traditional bedding areas should be
productive whereas last year anglers were thrown off guard when the
panfish bedded in deeper water.
Bass were already moving up to bedding areas this week as a few big
females have been seen fanning in shallow grassbeds and around buck
bushes. Those yellow flowers in the backwater pockets of bays are
holding a lot of fish and are quite appealing to the big sows now moving
up to spawn.
Rising lake levels will see ample water back around buck bushes and
willow trees next week so tossing Texas rigged lizards and floating
fluke style worms will be popular choices as will some spinnerbaits and
buzzbaits. Topwater action should see a dramtic increase in popularity
too as water will likely reach the upper 60ís and low 70ís by early next
week, triggering more aggressive behavior from those buck bass
protecting their zones.
Flipping and pitching jig and pig combos, craws and such should work
well too. Once lake levels exceed summer pool most of the good shoreline
cover is inundated with plenty of water for bedding bass.
Hopefully some stable weather will linger next week and improve fishing
conditions. Lake levels will continue to change depending on the crest
of the Mississippi River so that is another variable remaining for
While it hasnít been too bad for bass and crappie anglers this week most
are wondering when normalcy will return. Enough of dogwood winter; itís
high time spring stayed around for more than just a casual visit.
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.