DINGY WATER DOMINATES FISHING SCENE…SURFACE TEMPS RISING
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene had a dose of summer, sandwiched between
some winter and spring weather this week. March Madness is alive and
well in the great outdoors.
Muddy water entered the picture recently in the aftermath of last week’s
heavy rains and that has thrown a curve to fishermen in some areas. The
upper Big Sandy basin is muddy as is most of West Sandy. Eagle Creek
near Paris Landing is sporting a chocolate milk color that is stubborn
Murky water chased a lot of crappie anglers out of their favorite haunts
this week. The New Hope and Country Junction sectors along with the
lion’s share of West Sandy toward Britton Ford and Springville pumphouse
were too muddy for most.
Warm weather arrived and took command the last several days and that
really stimulated fishing pox among the ranks. Tuesday saw the mercury
climb to 87 degrees and broke the all-time record high for the region!
Surface temperatures have responded to the rapid warm-up but the muddy
water across much of the reservoir has proved to be a high hurdle for
the panfish army.
Bass fishermen have tolerated the muddy water much better as they’ve
been able to run around the lake and target some bays on the east side
where stained water presented more favorable conditions.
Although dingy water will remain in some areas for several more days,
things are improving. The lake has settled down some and slow falling
lake levels have pulled much of the murky water out of bays where feeder
creeks had deposited their overflow of red dirt runoff.
Surface temps on Wednesday climbed to the 62 degree range in some spots.
The water actually eclipsed the 60 degree threshold on Tuesday when an
unusually warm day descended courtesy of a strong southerly breeze that
whipped the lake up with whitecaps.
Lake levels haven’t fluctuated too much despite last week’s flooding
across the region. TVA had drawn the reservoir down to winter pool ahead
of the wet forecast and had ample storage capacity.
Projected lake levels going into the weekend show an elevation of 355.4
for the Kentucky Dam area. Upstream around New Johnsonville lake levels
will be in the 355.3 range. The lake rose a few inches last weekend but
crested and began falling slowly the last several days.
Crappie are in their typical prespawn phase and attempting to transition
toward shallow areas this week. The dingy water will likely help the
shallow bite as not only does muddy water warm quicker but it filters
sunlight, a scenario that will cause crappie to move up even more in
search of spawning territory.
A few more fish were taken at midweek in depths of 7 to 9 feet when
compared to last week at this time. No doubt the rising surface temps
are influencing the migration of crappie from deep drop-offs to shallow
flats and back into bays.
It’s quite likely some male crappie could begin to blitz toward
shorelines within the next week.
While it’s true active spawning phases for crappie on Kentucky Lake kick
in when the water warms into the 62 to 66 degree range, it takes more
than just a day or two to kick start the annual ritual. A cool spell in
the forecast for this weekend will bring the honeymoon with early spring
weather to a temporary halt.
Odds are surface temps will backslide a few degrees this weekend but
likely rebound by the middle of next week when mild weather creeps back
in and gains lost ground. Watch for significant movement from crappie
toward spawning territory between now and the latter part of next week.
Meanwhile, crappie anglers have been shuffling through their jig boxes
this week in search of some loud, florescent leadheads and bodies to
address the muddy water scenario. Orange, charteuse, red and pink
leadheads have been popular choices.
Skirt selections have run the gamut too. What might seem like weird
color combinations have sometimes appealed.
Most fishermen have experimented with their color selections lately in
hopes of finding the right combination that appealed to finicky crappie
whose strike zone has been reduced due to lower visibility. Although a
lot of crappie fishermen prefer live minnows, it seems the various
colors allowed by the arsenal of jig boxes have been more productive
lately than have live bait presentations.
Several boats have been long lining and trolling spider rigs out over
main lake flats in hopes of finding those staging crappie which have yet
to move up. However, their battlefields have been reduced due to the
water color in many sectors and action for that style of fishing hasn’t
been very effective this week.
March is a month when things can change quickly as to fishing patterns.
No doubt a lot of movement is now underway.
Bass fishermen continue to toss those loud colored crankbaits around
gravel banks, points and sloping sandbars where fish are staging. Warmer
surface temperatures have influenced the bass this week too as more fish
are headed shallow.
A few good largemouth in the 7-pound plus range were taken again this
week as anglers found good stained water in places and put together
patterns of crankbaits and Alabama rigs that paid dividends. Kentucky
Lake always seems to produce bass from both shallow and deep water at
the same time.
There are boats targeting ledges and searching out shad schools. Casting
swim baits and deep running crankbaits and some suspending jerk baits
have worked at times.
Most of the bays along the east side of the reservoir did not muddy up
as bad as western bays or upper portions of the Big Sandy. The eastern
areas have more gravel fed creeks than does the western side.
Prespawn females are putting on the feed bag and sporting hefty bellies
that add weight. There should be some big fish taken these next two
Jig and pig combos on gravel have worked too and shallow wood structures
should harbor some good fish as well so better keep that spinnerbait rod
The muddy water is fading back to a good stain for fishing each passing
day. Spring officially arrives on Sunday. Trees are blooming and birds
are whistling. All signs point toward food fishing days ahead!
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.