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February 18, 2012


After a week of winter weather the fishing scene on Kentucky Lake is slowly rebounding as temperatures moderate and winds subside. Crappie and bass anglers were back out in force at midweek as temps climbed back into the low to mid 50s range.

Last weeks winter weather brought a temporary hiatus to good fishing as anglers had been chalking up some pretty good stringers of bass and crappie. However, cold conditions slipped in the door as temps were down into the upper teens a night or two and struggled to reach the upper 30s during the day, a drastic change to the mild winter that had dominated the outdoor scene.

Since last week surface temperatures dropped to 42 degrees, which was down some 8 or 9 degrees from a reading of 51 recorded recently. The cooler weather and falling surface temp seemed to curtail activity for many crappie anglers who had enjoyed success in midrange depths lately.

At midweek several boats were out but reported sluggish activity. A few boats found some scattered keepers relating to the deeper ledges on the main lake in Big Sandy where fish were holding in 20 feet around submerged stumps and brush.

For anglers working the 7 to 12 foot zone it appeared the bite had fallen off. Its likely crappie moved back to some deeper venues as the falling surface temps likely pulled baitfish to comfort zones deeper than the week before.

Boats working the West Sandy sector around Britton Ford and Springville pumphouse reported declining catches this week as did anglers working the mouth of Big Sandy in the Paris Landing area.

It appears moderate weather will return to the forecast in the week ahead as temps are expected to hold around the low to mid 50s with only a night or two of cool weather predicted. A cold front will make a brief visit late this weekend but temps are forecast to rebound early next week. That should see crappie slowly move back to midrange depths in the days ahead.

Anglers are still reporting big numbers of small crappie in their catch. It appears a strong year class exists that is slightly short of the three year mark, a threshold when Kentucky Lake crappie cross the 10-inch length according to fisheries biologists.

Although the bite has been off this past week things should continue to improve as weather patterns moderate. And, anglers have reason for optimism as that abundance of short fish that are just shy of the legal length limit now should grow in the months ahead and fall into the keeper category by spring.

Water color is in pretty good shape across the reservoir with a slight stain showing up in the upper Big Sandy basin but elsewhere around the Tennessee River channel and its tributary bays water color is clearing.

Lake levels are forecasts to fall slowly as the weekend approaches and rest around the 355.3 range at Kentucky Dam and upstream at New Johnsonville. The reservoir was falling slowly this week but rain has entered the picture on some days and that could see a slight rise take place.

Bass fishermen also felt the grip of last weeks cold snap as the shallow gravel banks and rock points fell off in productivity. No doubt the drastic change is weather and surface temps curtailed what had been a good spree of activity during winter months that are not normally known for good bass fishing.

Topping the list of presentations and patterns continues to be the famous Alabama rig. Bass fishermen are having success tossing the multi-bait presentation that mimics a school of bait fish and triggers strikes from bass.

Several lure companies are now selling the rig packaged with five separate wire and swivels, which is the standard anatomy of the rig but here in Tennessee that is illegal. Anglers here cannot fish it with more than three hooks or baits on a rig---Kentucky allows the five hook presentation---unless the hooks are size 8 or smaller.

For a video and explanation of the regulation on Alabama rigs go to the TWRA website at The agency has been inundated with calls from bass fishermen seeking clarification of the rig and its use. The language of the regulation is still somewhat confusing to the public and may require further review by TWRA if recent inquiries are any indication.

Meanwhile, Kentucky Lake bass fishermen are still catching fish on a variety of crankbaits in the shad and crawfish variations, along with jig and pig combos and Carolina rigs fished with crawfish imitations.

Sauger fishermen have had some slow current in the main river channel the last week or two which normally works in their favor. However, not many success stories are coming in as the fish have evaded anglers lately.

Watch for the overall fishing scene to improve by next week if moderate temps return and winds allow anglers access to their favorite spots.

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.

Gone Fishing