Both water color and lake levels have been changing somewhat for Kentucky Lake’s early March fishing scene, but it’s a month known for variables.
Nice weather this week really stirred up the fishing pox for both bass and crappie anglers, and spring fever already has taken hold of several fishermen who have been anxious to get this fishing scene going.
Spring doesn’t officially arrive until March 20, but symptoms of spring fever have been running rampart for weeks now.
Kentucky Lake’s early March debut gave up some pretty good fish for the year’s first big bass tournament last week in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League’s LBL Division event out of Kentucky Dam State Park.
Several decent stringers were taken, despite anglers having to negotiate muddy water and falling lake stages.
Indiana angler Marty Sisk took the top spot and earned a check for $5,541 for a five-fish limited weighing 22.09 pounds. Paris angler Michael Wasden placed second with 18.07 pounds, earning $2,270, and another Paris angler David Seaton did well with a fifth-place finish for his stringer weighing 17.05 pounds that earned him a check for $870.
Big bass of the day went to yet another Paris angler, as Edward Getty landed a lunker largemouth weighing 7 pounds even to earn him respect and a check for $660.
Meanwhile, the overall fishing scene dodged a bullet recently in the aftermath of heavy rains that inundated a vast region across the TVA valley, with most fishermen anticipated high water here, too.
That didn’t happen as the TVA really pushed a lot of water north into the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, a situation that was indeed a blessing to the local fishing scene.
Lake levels have been changing some, but not drastically. The reservoir last week fell to 354.9 feet on one day and then started rising slowly and has now rebounded to the 355.9 range.
A slow rise has been under way the last few days, so the lake is a foot or so above its low ebb or winter pool.
Water color has been a big factor this week. The main Tennessee River channel has been muddy at times, as has the upper Big Sandy basin and West Sandy.
There have been areas in the main Big Sandy River that have cleared some, but still possess a stained color. Upper Big Sandy remains muddy.
Watch for water color to improve each passing day. And, remember that stained and dingy water will warm up quicker as sunny days descend.
Surface temperatures this week have been in the 49- to 52-degree range. Beautiful days helped heat up the fishing scene, and some areas were warmer than that.
But a slight cool snap — all the way down to the mid- and lower 60s — is in the forecast for the weekend. That might bring a temporary halt to the above-average temperatures we’re enjoying.
Don’t worry, as warmer days are in the forecast for next week. Sunday’s and Monday’s high are projected to be back to 70 degrees.
The overall crappie bite has been mixed for most anglers, who have been trying a variety of techniques and depth ranges. Some nice fish have been taken that tipped the scales in the 1-1/2 pound range this week.
Some anglers using multi-pole spider rig presentations have scored decent numbers at times. Depths of 16-20 feet produced some days, while fish seemed to move up at midweek in response to the warmer weather and occupied the 12- to 14-foot depth range.
A few anglers vertical-fishing jigs over manmade fish attractors in 8-12 feet reported finding some fish there, despite having to challenge muddy water. They were using loud-colored jig skirts and leadheads, but managed to catch decent stringers.
Several boats have been long-lining in the open-water areas of Big Sandy this week, too. Calm days allowed boats to move about and fish any area they chose.
However, long-liners seemed to be struggling as the fish were scattered and somewhat tough to come by for that technique earlier this week.
In the days and weeks ahead, a lot of changes will take place. Fish are on the move and will continue to move up to midrange depths in their pre-spawn phase.
Traditionally, the fish ease out of deep venues and stair-step their path toward spawning territory once surface temperatures hit the mid- to upper 50s.
The Kentucky Lake fishing scene is on the verge of that now, but needs a few more sunny days and stable weather to stimulate a blitz of crappie toward shallow areas.
March has always been an unpredictable month in terms of weather. Stability is not its attribute.
Anglers best keep the coveralls and rain gear handy, but also have the sunscreen nearby. Winds will dictate where anglers can go some days, but that’s all part of March fishing, so be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.
By next week, look for trees to begin budding and the smell of honeysuckle to fill the air. Dogwoods are soon to bloom.
And hefty male crappie soon will be sporting a beautiful dark purple and possess an attitude once he strikes a jig or submerges a bobber with a live minnow.
Bring it on!
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is email@example.com.