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April 14, 2012



This springís honeymoon of great weather came to a halt Wednesday.

Sooner or later it had to happen; a cold front that is and it roared in at midweek, sending anglers back to the closet for overcoats that have been suffering from neglect. A nasty northeast wind hammered fishermen for a day or two but it appears nice weather is in the process of returning as the weekend forecast looks good.

Bone chilling winds packed a punch and brought the mercury down to the mid 30ís one night and daytime highs struggled to reach the mid to upper 50ís, a drastic change from the mid 80ís last week.

Mix a cold front with gale northeast winds and crappie on the back side of peak spawning and itís a recipe for declining productivity. Crappie really backed off for a day or two during the thrust of the front that delivered high skies and white caps. The change should come as no surprise.

The lionís share of crappie appear to have already spawned as big females were taken this week that displayed a thin profile compared to last week at this time. Still a few food fish were showing up but the drastic weather changed pulled a lot of fish out of shallow areas the last few days.

I found some good fish holding in 10 to 14 foot depths during and since the cold front but most shallow stakebeds in the 5 to 9 foot range that were holding good fish earlier in the week were void of activity as surface temps plummeted. A few may return to shallow structure as the weekend approaches and temps rebound as lake levels rise.

Surface temps at midweek had dropped to 63 to 65 degrees, down some ten degrees compared to last week at this time. Temps will likely climb back into the upper 60ís or low 70ís by late this weekend. Water color remains clear across the reservoir except for a few wind driven shorelines showing a little color.

Lake levels are on schedule as to TVAís curve for reservoir filling. Observed elevation at Kentucky Dam will be 356.5 this weekend and 356.1 at New Johnsonville. Expect a slow rise to continue for the next two weeks until the summer pool mark of 359 is achieved on or near May 1.

Crappie had been hitting good until the weather change sent a finicky mood throughout the ranks of bigger fish. While a lot of small fish were hitting all week, the larger slabs seemed to show a reluctant attitude as bites were very light. Itís not unusual for post-spawn fish to be sluggish as theyíre often stressed after spawning.

While a few late spawning fish may be lingering in midrange depths or suspending out over deeper venues, itís clear the bulk of the population made a blitz the last week to ten days and some even began spawning in late March due to the influence of an early spring.

Expect those midrange depths of 9 to 14 feet to produce crappie in the days ahead as nice weather will likely help out the fishing scene but itís doubtful many fish will head to shallow banks having already completed their annual ritual in deeper depths.

Popular jig color combos this week have been purple/chartreuse, rainbow/chartreuse, white/red, blue/chartreuse and some variations of red and chartreuse with glitter. Tipping jigs with minnows has worked well for vertical style presentations.

Boats pulling long lines, spider rigging, and trolling crankbaits are still finding fish playing their game as well. Curly tail grubs and Road Runners are the lures of choice.

While the crappie are entering post-spawn phases it doesnít mean the game is over. There are still some good days ahead so not to worry. However, anglers have been spoiled the last few weeks as both the weather and crappie fishing have been above average.

Bluegill and shellcracker were going through the early bedding motions before the cold front descended. A few boats were already catching them in shallow flats out away from their normal bedding shoreline areas as water levels were not high enough to inundate grass or bushes just yet.

Watch for action to resume later this weekend and early next week as a few warm and sunny days will trigger the return of these powerful panfish to spawning phases. They were already on the threshold but the cold front will no doubt put the brakes on what had been a runaway train. Odds are they will be ahead of schedule this month too so watch for the invasion to begin soon.

Bass were holding up to their reputation until a midweek hiatus backed them off what had been a decent biting spree. Patterns were ranging from shad colored crankbaits on gravel points to shad colored swim baits, suspending jerk baits, and jig and craw combos.

(This weekís big bass story comes from Jim Durdin of Camden, TN who reported a 11 pound, 6 ounce largemouth taken over a week ago in Harmonís Creek. Jim caught the lunker on a 1/8 ounce blue and chartreuse grub while casting for crappie!)

Decent stringers were coming from mud banks near pockets where fish were staging in the warm water and about to move up to spawn. Some boats continue to toss the Alabama rig and catch fish on sloping points and secondary ledges.

Carolina rigged craws and lizards were also worthy of consideration.

Topwater activity and spinnerbait patterns should emerge as soon as surface temps rebound but itís likely bass will be on bed by early next week once warmer days enter the picture. Fish will be fanning on shallow banks and pockets as water levels will not be up around shoreline habitat in time to accommodate this springís early spawn.

With the cold front now in the rearview mirror Kentucky Lakeís fishing scene should return to a high level of success for bass, crappie and bluegill anglers, not to mention the shellcracker brigade.

This weekís cold front reminded us of just how lucky weíve had it the last six weeks or so!

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