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April 4, 2013
CRAPPIE SPAWN LOOMINGÖSUNNY DAYS ADVANCE TIMETABLE
Warm sunny days are in the forecast and anglers better get ready. A long
stretch of dismal weather is about to lose its grip and the biological
clock will begin ticking fast the next week to ten days here on Kentucky
Crappie anglers are anxiously awaiting the warm-up that is long overdue.
It appears nice weather will arrive this weekend with the extended
forecast showing temperatures climbing into the 70ís on Saturday and
hanging around for several consecutive days.
Last weekís forecast never materialized as cold, dreary days chased away
a brief warming trend, leaving anglers shivering in their shoes. It was
yet another week of nasty weather with annoying northeast winds that
continued to push the early phases of crappie spawning back.
Added to the cold and windy weather was a somewhat surprising jump in
lake levels that further scattered fish this week. Kentucky Lakeís
elevation was at 357.2 at midweek, which is almost three feet above the
norm for the first few days of April.
Lake levels were forecast to be in the 357.2 range this weekend but TVA
will likely begin pulling water soon and draw the lake back down to its
normal curve. That depends on rainfall this week. Water color has been
good for fishing with a slight stain across much of the reservoir.
Surface temperatures started the week out around 50 degrees but have
been sluggish to warm as cold weather just hasnít let go. At midweek
surface temps were edging up to 52 but falling back down at night.
Tuesday afternoon skies over me turned to sleet as it was a far cry from
spring weather but thatís how things have been for several weeks
Watch for a dramatic increase in surface temps this weekend and early
next week as the warm sunny days will really trigger movement from
crappie once the water warms into the mid to upper 50ís.
While most crappie fishermen have struggled to put consistent patterns
together lately, a few decent stringers have been taken by boats using
long-line and spider rigging techniques.
Itís not surprising that crappie have been riding out the cold weather
and below average surface temps by suspending out over deeper water.
Most of the fish have been reluctant to move toward structure, opting
for a suspended staging pattern as they wait on warmer conditions to
trigger their spawning phases.
The lionís share of fish last week and this week came from 14 to 17 foot
depths as they suspended out over deeper water or near the edge of the
old river channels and sloughs. Popular producers were curly tail grubs,
Road Runner style jigs, and some tube skirts and minnow tubes pulled
slowly through the suspending fish.
Other styles of presentations such as vertical jigging around stakebeds
and brushpiles or bottom-bouncing minnow rigs along deep drop-offs were
less productive. Normally those patterns are producing this time of year
but March and early April have been anything but normal this time
Other signs of a late spring spawn have been the lack of dark male
crappie showing up in the creel of anglers. The males begin to darken
due to hormonal changes as spawning time approaches but that has been
slow in coming due to the cold weather.
That will change this week as the fish make a blitz toward cover as they
prepare for spawning. Crappie prefer a surface temperature range of 62
to 66 with some stability in weather as cold fronts can alter the early
phases of the annual ritual.
Anglers should see significant improvement this weekend and throughout
next week as the extended forecast of warm weather will really put fish
on the move. Odds are the mood of the fish and the fishermen will
improve with each passing day.
Peak spawning phases are shaping up to happen by the end of next week
and linger on past mid-April.
From the bass department comes another week of decent stringers taken by
anglers braving the cold, windy weather. Hefty stringers were taken in
tournaments again this week as anglers adapted to the rising lake levels
and dingy water from rain and runoff.
Successful patterns have ranged from tossing Alabama rigs over deep
ledges to crankbaits, jig and pig combos, and Carolina rigged craws on
sloping gravel points. Cold surface temps have kept some of the bigger
out away from shorelines but watch for a lot of fish to move up in the
next few days as shallow water will warm fast.
Shallow gravel banks and points should begin holding fish as will
roadbeds and rip-rap rock levees. Tossing some suspending jerk baits
will remain appealing as will spinnerbaits rolled slowly once the water
Both bass and crappie will make their transitions from winter to spring
venues this next week. The fish have been slow to move up this year but
the extended spell of cold weather kept surface temps colder than normal
and schools of baitfish have stayed deep.
Soon the gray hillsides of Kentucky Lake will parade colors of budding
treetops. The calendar said spring arrived two weeks ago but the trees
and the fish have shown otherwise. It appears the time is at hand to
shed the overcoats and put on the sunscreen. Some of us were wondering
if it would ever get here!
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.