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April 11, 2013
RISING LAKE BRINGS BASS TO BANKS AS CRAPPIE SPAWN BEGINS
Bass are heading to the banks as Kentucky Lakeís elevation approaches
summer pool and the annual crappie spawn begins.
The early phases of the crappie spawn will begin within the next few
days as their preferred surface temperature range of 62 to 66 degrees
will likely arrive early next week. Spawning phases this year are about
two weeks behind last yearís biological clock as another annoying cold
front was in progress as this report was being updated.
Lake levels have been rising all week and are lapping at the door of
359, which is the official summer pool level that isnít supposed to be
reached until the first of May. Just why TVA has allowed the reservoir
to rise so dramatically is somewhat of a mystery to most anglers who
fear the agency will pull the plug soon, a situation that could have a
negative impact on spawning crappie and bass that head toward shallow
Elevation going into the weekend will be 358.7 at Kentucky Dam and 358.6
at New Johnsonville. However, heavy rains were in progress Wednesday
night and Thursday morning across the region and that could send lake
levels even higher by early next week.
Anglers are concerned that allowing lake levels to rise ahead of
schedule will cause TVA to pull the elevation back down to its curve in
the days ahead in order to create storage capacity. The lake is about 3
Ĺ feet above normal for this time of year.
Surface temperatures really warmed this week in response to mild nights
and daytime temps that reached the upper 70ís. Readings the last few
days have been climbing into the 57 to 59 degree range out on the main
lake while secondary bays were a bit warmer with 60 degree plus water in
The cold front will likely put the brakes on the rapid warm-up for a day
or two but temps are expected to rebound on Sunday into the low 70ís.
Next weekís forecast will have several days in the upper 70ís so surface
temps will jump quickly and trigger the spawning phases of crappie that
have been somewhat confused by the crazy weather and fluctuation of lake
Water color cleared across the reservoir this week as rising lake levels
pushed most of the stain back. Anglers can expect some dingy water to
return in shallow areas this weekend in the aftermath of high winds and
runoff from heavy rains.
Crappie improved this week in response to warmer surface temps and
increased numbers were caught in stakebeds and brushpiles in depth of 7
to 14 feet as the fish were on the move. Several fish have now moved
into 5 to 8 foot depth ranges and will continue to move up as rising
lake levels and higher surface temps will send them to spawning
The cold front will bring a short hiatus to the blitz that began earlier
in the week. The timing of the front is unfortunate as fish were on the
threshold of spawning had the warm spell continued.
With the unusual lake levels now inundating shoreline habitat itís quite
possible some shoreline buck bushes could appeal to spawning crappie by
early next week. There are a lot of anglers who hope that happens as
fishing the stickups has been a passion here for many years. Under
normal conditions crappie usually spawn before water levels ever reach
shoreline structure but the stage is set for fish to dart toward
shallows next week.
Fish had a mood swing this week and began moving toward structure. Spots
that were too shallow last week and void of fish were producing decent
numbers at midweek. With the rapid rise has come a lot of debris
floating around out there so boaters need to be cautious.
Vertical presentations of jigs and minnows around the submerged
structure were paying dividends whereas last week most of the fish were
being caught by boats slow trolling and long-lining techniques when fish
were suspended out over deep water.
Some nice stringers were taken the last few days in West Sandy and the
upper Big Sandy basin. Also producing were the flats around the power
lines in Big Sandy as fish staged in midrange depths in preparation for
their desired spawning temp range.
Male crappie showed a significant darkening this week as hormonal
changes were underway, another sign spawning time is at hand.
Things will happen fast next week as the warm sunny days will stimulate
fish to move toward shallow shorelines and midrange cover where casting
jigs, drifting over flats, slow spider rig and long-line techniques will
produce as will vertical presentations.
Bass are roaming and moving up fast into shallow pockets and shorelines
where those abundant yellow flowers are now holding enough water to
attract fish. Areas that were high and dry last week are now holding
Shallow grass and some buck bushes will begin producing this week as
will some shallow roadbeds and gravel points. Tossing shallow running
crankbaits will be a popular choice as will spinnerbaits, Texas rigged
worms and assorted floating worms now that topwater enters the picture.
The bass are moving up in a typical prespawn phase and some big sows
will likely be caught using various topwater selections. Backing off and
tossing Rattle Traps and similar lures will work too on those gravel
points where fish may stage before moving up into those shallow pockets
where higher surface temps will be attractive.
Bass fishermen may have to apply an early May pattern in their approach
this next week even though itís only mid-April.
To say it has been an unusual spring would be an understatement. Weather
patterns and lake levels have been anything but normal but once the cold
front passes and winds switch back to a southerly direction expect a
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.