Anglers turned the page Thursday and officially welcomed the transition of seasons. It’s now springtime on Kentucky Lake and fishermen are treating spring fever as best they can with frequent fishing trips that seem to be the scratch for that itch.
March weather is living up to its reputation as unstable conditions are playing games with future fishing plans. Just this week it has been a mixture of warm, wet, cool, calm and windy days. It’s vintage March weather so best take your overcoat, raincoat and sunscreen with you whenever you go.
Local conditions have seen lake levels rising slowly since last week as significant rains have fallen in the southern TVA regions this week.
Projections going into the weekend will see a slow rise continue; lake levels at midweek were 355.3 feet, which is up about a foot from a week ago.
Normal startup time for TVA to begin spring reservoir filling is April 1 every year.
Current is still very much present in the main Tennessee River channel area and around island rims.
Water color is stained in the upper end of several bays but in good shape in the main lake areas. Surface temperatures are still in the 53-degree range across most of the reservoir. A few sunny days could see that bump up to the mid- to upper 50s.
Each passing week moves the popular spawning phases of crappie up on the timetable. Actual spawning takes place when surface temperatures occupy the 62- to 66-degree range so we’re not there yet.
March is a month when things happen fast, so several warm sunny days can really trigger the spawning phase to kick in.
Generally speaking, peak spawning will take place in the first two weeks of April but can be pushed back later if cold conditions descend.
Crappie are now in prespawn phase and should begin to stairstep slowly toward shallow venues in the next week to 10 days. Some anglers are already finding decent size fish in the 7- to 9-foot zones. Although some bigger fish have been found there have not been big numbers taken based on reports over a vast area of the Paris Landing sector, Big Sandy and West Sandy regions.
Several boats have been seen slow trolling spider rig presentations over shallow flats in the upper portion of both Big Sandy and West Sandy. Depths of 8-9 feet have been giving up a few scattered fish with occasional bites coming from 6- to 8-foot zones.
Others are scoring decent stringers while vertical fishing jigs and minnows over brushpiles and stakebeds. The single pole methods are working well on crappie that are holding tight to structure.
Popular lure choices have been Bobby Garland solid body jigs in orange/white among others. Tipping jigs with Crappie Magnet and Berkley Crappie nibbles has helped stimulate strikes from stubborn crappie.
Some success has also been reported by boats and pontoons long lining curly tail grubs and Road Runner style jigs. Pink/chartreuse, blue/chartreuse and white/orange have been some popular color choices lately.
OUT IN THE DEEP WATER
From deeper water venues in the Paris Landing area from boats stalking the main lake ledges have come some scattered reports of some fish lingering in depths around 20 feet. Numbers taken from the deeper drop-offs have been low, as fish do not appear to be schooled in deep water like they have in times past during the mid-March to late March time frame.
Watch for a lot of movement to take place these next two weeks as crappie head toward spawning territory.
Bass fishermen are finding a few fish headed toward rocky points and gravel banks.
Some boats are holding out and fishing long sloping points and mud bars that are holding bass waiting to move up toward shallows.
Crankbaits have been the most productive choices lately with crawfish and shad-colored variations paying dividends. Also producing have been Strike King’s Red-eye shad in various colors as have Rattle Traps in firetiger and chartreuse/black.
Also popular have been jig and pig combos and some suspending jerk baits worked along rip-rap banks or big rock bluffs.
Swim baits with chartreuse grubs plus Texas rigged craws have also been on the rods of anglers searching for patterns and baits that will fool a few fish.
Some anglers are turning to catfishing lately and playing the current that has been steady on the main river channel for several weeks.
Depths of 25 to 40 feet have produced at times with most anglers using nightcrawlers for bait.
Now that spring has sprung, watch for fishing patterns to change frequently as lake levels and surface temps rise.
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post- Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is email@example.com.