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Brought to you by: Fishtale Lodge
April 25th 2009


Despite another week of abnormal conditions Kentucky Lake anglers are still scoring some decent stringers of crappie and hefty limits of bass.

Warm weather finally entered the forecast this week after a long spell of cool and windy weather that has anglers anxious for the return of normal conditions. It has been an unusual spring and the saga continues as high lake levels are wearing out their welcome.

Crappie showed signs of improvement at midweek thanks to some warm and sunny days that traded spots with cold mornings and gale winds. From my personal point of view it has been one of the most unstable springs I can recall. After 35 years that wind seems stronger, cold seems colder and rain seems wetter!

Reports have come in from a variety of anglers---ranging from wading in the buck bushes up Big Sandy to deep water drop-offs in the Paris Landing area---who are doing everything from dunking minnows in shoreline habitat to spider rigging jigs over main lake flats.

It appears the bulk of the crappie have spawned but thereís no doubt a few females are still sporting eggs and likely braced for a late wave of movement toward shallow territory in the days ahead.

Tackle shop talk always seems to stir up controversy when it comes to the status of the spawn but it has been a difficult spring to gauge when and where peak spawning phases have taken place.

It appears some fish spawned back in early April when surface temps reached the 60 to 62 degree range for a short period. Since that time temperatures have been below average but some crappie apparently completed the annual ritual in cooler conditions as they too have been mixed up.

While the preferred range for peak spawning is in the 62 to 66 degree range sometimes the urge and timing override the situation at hand and that appears to have been the case thus far this spring. Mother Nature has a way of spreading out the spawn too as some fish will try early with a peak time in the middle, followed by a late wave of fish who---for whatever reason---ride it out in deep water and spawn two or three weeks after the initial bunch.

No doubt this springís high lake level coupled with crazy weather has altered the timetable to some degree.

Anglers may not see a real peak as usually there is a week to ten day period when fish really turn on and head shallow with a yearning. However, thereís still some good fishing ahead and with the high water inundating shoreline habitat watch for a few more fish to enter the buck bushes in areas where stained water exist.

Itís also likely some late spawning fish will move up to those midrange stakebeds and brushpiles this weekend and early next week. So, things could improve some if warm weather stays around and lake levels crest and begin falling.

Presently, lake levels at Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville are in the 360.8 range. That reading is almost two feet above normal. TVAís forecast indicates lake levels will fall slowly going into the weekend with a forecast of 360.6 by Saturday.

Surface temps have warmed this week and now in the 64 to 67 degree range. Water is clear in the main lake but showing good stain in many backwater bays and up Big Sandy near the gravel pit and Country Junction area and portions of West Sandy.

High water also remains behind the levee at Springville pumphouse as West Sandy wildlife management areaís trees and bushes are inundated.

Even with post spawn periods now dominating the crappie picture some good catches are possible. Itís that time of year when you can catch a crappie in three feet of water and at the same time find some in thirteen and twenty-three feet. Strange but true.

Bass fishing has been good and there are now about a million places that look good along the shorelines. Habitat is abundant as grassbeds, buck bushes, willow trees and more beg for a cast.

Big numbers of bass are being caught by anglers pitching and flipping jigs, lizards, and crawfish imitations around visible structure. Spinnerbaits are working well as are floating worms and topwater lures ranging from buzzbaits to suspending jerk baits and shallow running crankbaits.

Popular choices have been Zoomís baby Brush Hog in green pumpkin pepper, black with red metal flake, cotton candy, and red shad just to name a few. Working Texas rigged worms around grass and bushes has worked too as a lot of male buck bass are waiting with open arms.

Some larger females are holding out on the original shoreline which is submerged and deeper. Some bulging bellies indicate the bass are ready to spawn and will likely go on bed in the next few days as warm weather stimulates those big sows to set up housekeeping in shallow grass and bushes.

Although some decent catches are coming in, many anglers are miffed at why TVA has held the water levels up above normal for several weeks running. It has scattered fish at times and is now flooding access to docks, ramps, and boathouses, not to mention accelerating shoreline erosion

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Steve McCadams
 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.
Gone Fishing