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March 17, 2011
FISHING FEVER SPREADS AS SPRING ARRIVES…HIGH WATER
Spring officially arrives Sunday and the only thing higher than
the interest level of anglers is the water level on Kentucky Lake. High
water continues to annoy anglers anxious to get out and about.
This late winter transition to early spring has been a rocky road. At a
time when warmer temperatures are entering the picture---temps are
expected to be in the 70’s through early next week---elevation on
Kentucky Lake has continued to rise at a steady pace adding a higher
hurdle for fishermen.
Presently, Kentucky Lake is some four feet above summer pool elevation
and eight feet above normal winter pool. Elevation going into the
weekend will be 363.3 at Kentucky Dam. Upstream at New Johnsonville
readings are in the 363.5 range. TVA continues to revise its projection
on a daily basis.
Surface temps this week started off in the 50 to 53 degree range but
will rise several degrees by this weekend and likely reach the 56 to 58
range, thanks to the influence of sunshine and warm weather. However,
wind will be a factor as March is known for its gusts that often
accompany warming trends.
Water color in the Paris Landing sector around the mouth of Big Sandy
and up toward the power lines around Mansard Island area was showing a
dingy color but not too bad for fishing. Further up Big Sandy in the New
Hope and Country Junction area muddy conditions were present, especially
in the gravel pit area while West Sandy wasn’t too bad.
The main Tennessee River channel is muddy with current but some of the
larger bays are showing dingy but improving water color.
Crappie fishing has been at the mercy of the elements lately as high
water and strong winds teamed up some days to challenge fishermen with
one or two days of light wind mixed in for a teaser.
Fish have been scattered and on the move, a scenario common for fast
rising lake levels. The overdue warming trend will no doubt help the
attitude of both fish and fishermen and likely see more crappie moving
up from deep drop-offs in the main lake to bays and shoreline habitat
that is now inundated with water.
Although crappie hadn’t entered shoreline buck bushes and various
visible structure at midweek that could change as the warmer surface
temps and extended spell of high water will stimulate movement in that
Bank fishermen were catching crappie at the culvert at Big Sandy this
week. When high lake levels occur that’s a hotspot as the current seems
to draw fish to the narrow channel banks.
Action was pretty good there earlier in the week and slowed some at
midweek when the lake rose so fast and leveled out, slowing the flow of
current there. Watch for action to improve once the lake begins to fall.
At the mouth of Big Sandy near Paris Landing some fish were caught in
the 21 to 24 foot zone this week on main lake ledges as anglers worked
jigs and live minnows around drop-offs and submerged stakebeds and
brushpiles but it was difficult to find any concentration. It has been a
one-here, one-there pattern.
Popular color choices have ranged from some loud, florescent
combinations such as bubble gum/chartreuse, to green and red variations
as dingy water often commands some off the wall shades in the
Anglers hoping to spider rig, slow troll, or pull long lines have been
disappointed as floating debris had a negative impact on those
techniques of fishing this past week.
A few crappie began to roam toward midrange depths and were caught in 12
to 15 foot zones at midweek and were likely on the move toward even more
shallow areas. Dingy water will warm quicker so fish are likely to
continue their journey toward shallow zones in the backs of bays or on
main lake flats.
High water can really throw fishermen off keel as what is normally eight
feet deep is now 16 feet deep! Making the adjustment as you read the LCR
and attempting to figure it out can play tricks on the mind of most any
Most of the crappie are in good shape and sporting hefty stomachs
bulging with shad and their prespawn egg sac adds more weight as well.
Bass fishermen are beating the banks with an arsenal of crawfish colored
crankbaits, along with loud colored Rattle Traps such as fire tiger,
red/black, and florescent orange belly variations.
While the gravel points have been popular locations more bass will be
moving up to the original shoreline---now submerged---and occupy
submerged buck brush, grassbeds, and trees.
Pretty soon anglers will be pitching and flipping crawfish, jig and
pigs, lizards and worms around visible structure as the fish are likely
already relating to some shoreline habitat.
Casting Carolina rigged lizards and worms out from sloping points will
be popular as well where bass stage before moving up to the pockets and
Catfish have been hitting pretty good as bank fishermen are scoring.
Catfish really move up fast toward muddy creeks during high water.
A lot of change will take place in the week ahead in terms of both
weather and water levels. Just when TVA will project a crest and begin
pulling more water so as to lower lake stages is still somewhat of a
Once the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers crest look for Kentucky Lake to
recede. Presently those rivers to our north are flooded and that
prevents TVA from discharging larger volumes of water.
Anglers are dealing with an unusual situation that has the fish thrown
off balance too. It doesn’t mean fish can’t be caught; it means
everything is just a bit different.
Stay tuned as March madness continues!
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.