Both anglers and hunters are hoping the drastic weather changes the last few days will also contribute to drastic changes on the fishing and hunting scene.
The cold snap now underway is long overdue. Fishermen have been the victims of above average temperatures for several consecutive weeks. Surface temperatures across Kentucky Lake this week reached the 80-degree mark, which is about 8-10 degrees above normal for this time of year.
The first 10 days of October felt more like August. As a result of the hot and humid conditions, the overall fishing scene has been tough for bass, crappie and catfishermen.
Boat numbers on the lake lately have diminished too, as most anglers just haven’t cared to venture out and brave the heat at a time when cool conditions should be the norm. From the overall fishing scene have come reports of above average temps and below average catch rates.
Things are about to change. At midweek, some rain preceded a significant cold front that is forecast to dramatically drop temperatures by this weekend. In fact, the weather man says it will be downright cold a few mornings next week.
Anglers are already digging in the closet, searching for the hooded sweaters, thick coats and coveralls. Funny, but very few are complaining about it. Seems everyone was tired of the balmy weather and ready to see it change.
Crappie anglers have been finding a few fish scattered around the 9- to 12-foot zones lately. Last week, a few fish were taken in 7- to 9-foot depths, but a combination of falling lake levels and rising surface temperatures had an adverse impact on the shallow bite.
The TVA began lowering lake levels again last week after a little surge in late September and early October that saw the reservoir crest around 357.4. Since then, falling lake levels have been steadily underway, which seemed to pull crappie out of the backs of bays and off midrange flats to deeper hideouts.
Currently, the elevation is down to the 355 range across most of the reservoir. Water color has been clear with slight stain in some areas where high winds stirred things up.
With the cold front now in progress and cooler nights entering the picture, look for surface temps to decline several degrees each day. By early next week, the water should be cooled down into the upper 60s.
With stable lake levels returning and perhaps even a slight rise ahead, more crappie should be moving up to shallow zones and take on a better mood swing. Lately anglers have found the fish quite lethargic some days as fish were finicky.
Crappie should improve quickly and take on a more aggressive mood. However, in the aftermath of the cold front, anglers may have to endure some north to northeast winds and a high pressure system for a few days. That might be challenging, but once stability returns expect better days.
Increased numbers of crappie are overdue to occupy stakebeds and brushpiles in the midrange depths. Most of the success has come lately from anglers either fishing live minnows or jigs tipped with minnows. A few fish have taken just a jig tipped with Berkley Power Bait but have shown a preference for the live minnow lately.
There are still a lot of small fish out there so anglers can expect to measure a lot of fish that are right on the threshold of the minimum 10-inch length limit. However, a few fish have shown improvement lately as to their physiology and were beginning to bulk up a bit.
A few boats have been trolling Roadrunner jigs along main lake ledges and around the main Tennessee River channel at times and finding some decent size fish suspended in the 10- to 12-foot zones.
Bass activity has been mediocre and overall numbers of bass boats on the lake has been down. There have been a few reports of topwater action at times when bass were found chasing shad on main lake flats and along a few gravel banks but numbers have been down.
With lower lake levels now comes more exposed crappie beds and other stickups for anglers to toss spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits. Some Texas rigged craws and worms will pay off too.
More shad should begin moving up once surface temps cool. Bass should show more aggressive activity, too, in the days ahead.
Several catfish have been taken this week as crappie anglers worked the midrange beds. Seems catfish moved up a bit and have chosen to roam the midrange depth ranges despite the hot weather conditions.
It appears fall conditions will finally dominate the fishing scene and hopefully linger for the next few weeks. Bring on the jacket mornings and shirt sleeve afternoons. A few foggy mornings are close at hand too.
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is email@example.com.