Spring doesn’t officially arrive until next Thursday, yet legions of Kentucky Lake anglers have been treating the spring fever symptoms for weeks now.
Many plants are blooming, And just pause and listen as the birds chirp spring is near.
Winter is losing its grip and gray treetops and dull hillsides soon will be filled with every color in the rainbow, not to mention the air being filled with a potpourri of fragrances that further verify spring’s arrival.
Crappie anglers have been out in force when nasty March winds would allow. Known to be a mean month with unstable weather patterns, March showed several of its faces last week, keeping anglers off balance.
Last Saturday started out a bit cold; but by midmorning, sunny conditions took over, warming a chilly sky quickly and, before noon, anglers were shedding jackets and shirts.
Boats were everywhere, emerging from their garage hibernations.
Fishing reports show scattered crappie taken in the West Sandy and Big Sandy area in the Paris Landing sector.
Although perfect in terms of weather and lake levels, the scene was that of scattered and stubborn fish for most.
Some nice slabs were taken, mostly from deeper depths of 18-20 feet.
A few boats stalking midrange manmade fish attractors, such as brushpiles and stakebeds, managed to find a few very fish at 8-12 feet.
Boats opting to stray from a vertical presentation of jigs and minnows were observed both slow-trolling long-line presentations of Road Runner-style jigs or pushing multi-pole spider rigs out over deeper ledges in the main lake areas.
Popular color combinations range from orange leadheads armed with chartreuse bodies to curly tailed grubs on unpainted leadheads sporting purple/chartreuse, black/chartreuse and some florescent outlandish color combinations that sometimes work and trick finicky crappie.
Lake levels are stable at 354.4 feet at Kentucky Dam.
New Johnsonville is in the 359-foot range.
That means a lot of water is still passing through the system, and that current is present in the main Tennessee River channel.
TVA continues to push a lot of water through Kentucky Dam, creating storage capacity in anticipation of more rain across the valley.
Surface temperatures have climbed slightly in response to the warmer days. Readings are staying in the 53-degree range, climbing a degree or two at midday when the sun pops out.
Although several rainy days are dotting the weather forecast, no severe cold fronts are in the picture, which should continue to work in favor of pre-spawn crappie anglers anxious to see more fish move up to shallow venues.
The days and week ahead should see a lot of movement from sluggish crappie.
Warmer surface temperatures will trigger the transition toward pre-spawn phases.
Fish will begin to stair-step their way toward staging spawning territory, moving up to bays and flats.
Crappie should begin staging in the mouth of big bays or perhaps parking out on secondary flats where creek channels, humps and sloughs provide underwater highways for them to travel toward spring spawning spots.
Things can change overnight this time of year, when a nasty cold front blows in from the north with bone-chilling winds that upset the cart.
Wise anglers know to keep their coveralls and rain gear with them at all times. Don’t go out on the lake underdressed this time of year.
Meanwhile, water color is in pretty good shape, with more stain present in the main channel area.
Bass anglers are banging the banks lately with a wide variety of crankbaits.
From crawfish variations to loud red-and-black combinations, bassers are pretty much tossing everything in the tackle box at times, targeting gravel banks and rocky points.
Some fish have been taken around rip-rap shorelines, too. Rattle Traps and Red-eye shad-style lures have allowed anglers to cover a lot of water in search of patterns.
Suspending jerk baits have worked well, as have jig-and-craws.
From chatter baits to slow-rolling spinner baits around visible crappie beds, hoping to find a shallow fish moving up on sunny days, bass fishermen are hoping warmer days will trigger a more aggressive bite.
Bait fish are beginning to transition toward shallow areas, and that will pull the bass to their locale.
Right now, the deep-diving and sometimes shallow-running crankbaits fished on big chunk rock are working well.
That’s always a popular pattern for early spring here on Kentucky Lake, but finding that right color combination sometimes varies day to day.
As March advances and spring approaches, Kentucky Lake anglers will face a variety of changes in the weeks ahead.
Take sunscreen and a coat; you’ll need one or the other!
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s Outdoors writer. His
email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.