This page brought to you by:
Jane and Tom from TN April 2017
Kentucky Lake Crappie Fishing
LAKE LEVELS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE…CRAPPIE/BASS BITE HOLDS UP
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has anglers facing lake levels near summer
pool some ten days ahead of schedule. TVA’s normal curve for reservoir
filling begins April 1 each year with a target date of May for normal
summer pool elevation of 359.
Lake levels have climbed all week and were dancing around the 358.8 mark
at midweek, which inundated shoreline grassbeds and some other
structure. Rising lake levels sometimes scatter fish that roam and
follow the rise to new habitat.
Overall it has been a pretty good week for both bass and crappie anglers
despite rising lake stages that sometimes had floating debris scattered
about the open water. Anglers dodged a few thunderstorms this week but
temperatures have remained mild.
Water color is clear across the reservoir. Surface temperatures have
been in the 68 to 69 degree range in the mornings and climbing to the 71
to 72 degree range a midday.
Crappie continued their spawning phases this week but were a bit
scattered at times for most anglers here in the Paris Landing sector.
Some good stringers were taken at midweek by boats slow trolling the
main lake areas using long line presentations of Road Runner style jigs
over 10 to 14 foot depths.
Other techniques of spider rigging were working at times as were
vertical style presentations over manmade fish attractors in the
midrange depth zones of 10 to 14 feet. Crappie have been a bit finicky
for some as several traditional spawning areas in relative shallow
depths of 4 to 8 feet have not produced as they have in times past.
Clear water conditions are likely contributing to fish spawning in
deeper water this spring. Some shallow shoreline activity took place
early last week but was short in duration as the fish seemed to pull
away from their initial shallow approach.
Most anglers are encountering a lot of small fish and releasing big
numbers that were just shy of the minimum 10-inch length limit. A few
slabs are showing up but several females taken in the last few days
appeared to have already dropped eggs as they were sporting a thin
profile compared to last week at this time.
A few days anglers found fish showing a preference for live minnows or
jigs tipped with minnows. Other days jigs tipped with Berkley Power bait
crappie nibbles in the white and chartreuse colors seemed to work just
Up Big Sandy toward the New Hope area a few crappie were taken in the 6
to 8 foot depth range. However, big numbers of crappie have not been
taken up in that sector as they have in times past when rising lake
levels and warm weather coincided.
Crappie fishermen are landing decent numbers across the reservoir this
week but the fish have been throwing a curve to many who have not found
the fish using traditional spots and depth ranges.
Most successful anglers this week had to make several stops to
accumulate 20-fish limit. Numbers of bigger crappie have a bit tough to
come by as it has been a one here; one there type pattern or a bunch of
small fish mixed in.
A few days the fish seemed to acclimate toward structure when spawning
was underway but they haven’t stayed there, often suspending out away
from structure in midrange depths. The fish have a way of making all
anglers humble at times!
With the rising lake levels have come increased opportunities for
shallow water bass fishermen. Anglers were tying in to a lot of fish
this week that moved up on a daily basis to shallow shoreline grassbeds
where those patches of yellow flowers were attracting fish.
Scores of anglers were targeting shallow patterns while tossing
spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms, craws and lizards plus some topwater
No doubt the shallow bite has improved quickly as many bassers were not
expecting lake levels to jump this fast and reach shoreline structure.
River stages on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers have been high and that
had TVA holding back on discharge rates which resulted in lake levels
rising faster than normal projections.
Some bass anglers are still tossing crankbaits and Carolina rigs toward
points and gravel banks hoping a few big fish were still holding out
away from shallow shorelines.
As surface temps continue to climb watch for the early phases of
spawning to begin for red ear sunfish, commonly referred to as
shellcracker. These popular panfish usually start in late April,
depending on weather conditions.
Bluegill will continue to move toward shallow areas next week too but
won’t likely begin bedding phases for another week or more. A cool snap
is in the forecast for early next week which will likely halt the
advance in surface temps for a few days.
Anglers have had a pretty good week of fishing despite having to don
raingear at times and dodge thunderstorms. April is about to fade into
May and the transition time continues for several different species.
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene continues to change month by month as lake
levels and surface temps climb. Looks like more good fishing days are
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.