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March 1, 2012
LATE FALL OR EARLY SPRING? ANGLERS ENJOYING OFF SEASON WEATHER
Is the recent weather pattern for Kentucky Lakeís fishing scene a touch
of late fall or is it an early spring? Winter fishing conditions sure
havenít lived up to the seasonís normal reputation when unpredictable
cold fronts and harsh winds dictate.
This weekís fishing update saw storms enter the picture at midweek with
tornado warnings and thunderstorms passing through on Wednesday but
overall, it was another week of warm temperatures and moderate winds
that produced some nice days for fishing.
Temperatures reached the 70-degree mark on Monday and Tuesday with
anglers out in force and basking in what felt more like late March than
late February. Warm weather is expected to linger for a few more days
too with an occasional storm hidden in the forecast.
Crappie and bass fishermen are still on a winning streak courtesy of
weather patterns that seem to indicate an early spring is in the making.
Surface temperatures are above normal for this time of year with
readings this week resting around the 50 to 52 degree range. Warm days
and moderate nights are helping keep surface temps high.
Lake levels have been relatively stable this week but may rise slightly
by the weekend as some heavy rains passed through the region, escorting
thunderstorms and straight line winds at midweek. Observed elevation at
Kentucky Dam will be 355.2 as the weekend approaches. Upstream at New
Johnsonville readings are slightly higher with elevation in the 355.5
Water color is in good shape across the reservoir. Most areas were clear
at midweek but some bays may experience some stain from runoff by this
weekend. The upper Big Sandy and portions of West Sandy had slight stain
while the Paris Landing area was clear.
Crappie have been hitting pretty good and the common denominator among
the ranks of panfishermen is big numbers of small fish. Seems some boats
were landing in excess of 100 fish at times but culling the lionís share
of the creel and taking home 20 to 25 keepers. A few boats reported
reaching the 50-mark as to keepers.
A few good size fish are showing up in the daily catch but itís clear
the strong year-classes are just shy of the 10-inch minimum length
limit. Fisheries biologists in Kentucky and Tennessee agree it takes
three years for a crappie to reach ten inches.
The bulk of the fish showing up now are just shy of their third birthday
having hatched out back in the spring of 2009. In early April and May of
2009 and 2010 present numbers and size of fish indicate they came from a
decent spawn. Recruitment has been pretty good so the fish have survived
predation and managed to survive and become the hunter instead of the
By April and May, a lot of the crappie that are too short now may well
grow to meet the minimum length limit. Meanwhile, anglers will continue
to land some good numbers but likely have to measure and release several
fish. Most agree thatís not all bad as there are still a few slabs mixed
in at times too.
Iíll share a few more tidbits of biology. Black crappie are likely to be
shorter than white crappie from the same year class too. The black
crappie are known for their short and stubby profile. Many anglers refer
to them as ďsnub-noseĒ as they have a football-like profile.
White crappie are often longer as their bottom jaw extends out. Perhaps
the most conspicuous characteristic between the black and white is the
pigmentation; blacks will have a freckle or spotted type pigment all
over while the white crappie has vertical bars of pigment. Spine counts
on the dorsal fin also distinguish one from the other. Blacks usually
have seven or more while the white species has six or less.
Popular depths have been 7 to 10 feet in the upper Big Sandy and West
Sandy. Around the Paris Landing area there are a few fish using that
midrange depth but several boats reported success from fishing main lake
ledges in the 18 to 20 foot depth range.
Jigs in the purple/chartreuse, blue/chartreuse, and others shades and
variations of combinations sporting light green have paid dividends. A
few anglers were dunking minnows too but jigs seemed to be working best.
Popular leadhead colors being used ranged from unpainted to red, black,
and some florescent green and pink variations.
Bass fishermen have been tossing suspending crankbaits in the crawfish
and Tennessee shad colors. Some Rattle-Traps and other similar style
crankbaits have worked too when fished around grave banks and deeper
Jig and pig combos in brown/red, black/blue, and brown/chartreuse have
worked along with Carolina rigged craws worked on deeper ledges and
feeder ditches emptying into deeper water. The Alabama rigs continue to
hold popularity as well with twister tail or sassy shad style grubs
working on the multi-hook rigs.
March has a good reputation for producing hefty stringers of bass here
on Kentucky Lake. The fish will really put on the feed bag in the weeks
ahead in their prespring patterns that prepare them for prespawn phases.
Watch for some of the yearís heaviest stringers to be taken during the
Ides of March. Most winning tournament stringers are likely to require
weights in the 25-pound range!
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.