A nip in the air has added pep to the step of Kentucky Lake anglers this week. Long overdue has been normal autumn weather with chilly nights and mild days where light southwest winds allow a slow warmup by midday.
Anglers finally got their wish this week but not before a couple of nasty cold fronts blew in with a vengeance, escorting the cooler conditions now in progress. Late last week, the first cool front descended on Friday and northeast winds whipped up whitecaps in the front’s aftermath, making it tough on anglers.
Once the front slowly passed, a high pressure and northeast wind dominated for a day or so but lost its grip quickly, allowing a couple of nice days for the Kentucky Lake fishing scene.
The honeymoon with light winds was short, however, as another nasty northeast wind on Monday dictated where anglers could fish. Gusts of 12-15 miles per hour kept both bass and crappie anglers hugging the leeward side of bays but a northeast direction is very tough on Kentucky Lake anglers. As the week matured, the wind settled down and fishermen wasted no time in hitting open water areas that had not been accessible for a spell.
Once anglers had the freedom to roam about the lake and fish the areas of their choice, numbers of fish increased for crappie anglers. Some dandy catches have been taken again this week in the midrange depths of 9-13 feet.
A few anglers reported finding some good size fish in depths of 18 to 20 feet on deep brushpiles this week as well.
The overall crappie bite has held up, although a day or two of high winds diminished the catch temporarily. As is often the case when a cold front blows through, high barometric pressure takes over and the bite turns sluggish for a spell.
Fish rebounded quickly this week and anglers scored several limits while targeting midrange depths. A few boats are trolling crankbaits and finding enough fish suspended near the main lake ledges to keep them going.
Others are using vertical techniques and having good luck with both minnows and jigs. Crappie have been relating good to stakebeds and brushpiles lately. Popular jig colors have ranged from black/red skirts to black/chartreuse, white/orange and some silver with sparkle just to name a few. Tipping jigs with minnows has worked too, along with Berkley Power Bait crappie nibbles.
Some crappie were taken in relatively shallow water last week but that bite has been inconsistent, which could be attributed to the weather change. Watch for that shallow bite to return soon. Surface temperatures this week reflected the cooler conditions as readings fell back to the 75-degree range. By this weekend, water temps will likely fall into the low 70s as another stubborn cool front is on the way.
COOL NIGHTS ON THE WAY
Fall weather is typically stable but it appears another cool snap will slip in the door by Saturday as temperatures are forecast to fall. Night time temps are expected to dip into the upper 30s and low 40s this weekend. Odds are fishermen will battle some north wind for a day or so.
The long-range forecast shows a quick rebound is in the cards and by Sunday or Monday normal temps will return, likely escorted by light southwest winds. Fishing should bounce back quickly.
Lake levels had minor fluctuations this week but stayed low and close to the winter pool range. Elevation will be in the 354.8-feet range this weekend in the Kentucky Dam area, with very minor changes for the days ahead. Water color is clear across most areas.
Conditions are similar upstream in the Paris Landing sector and throughout Big Sandy and West Sandy.
Bass fishermen started tossing more topwater lately and found a few fish playing the game, especially in the early morning and later afternoon hours. Some buzzbaits produced but most of the topwater success came from anglers using jerk baits.
Also holding fish have been boathouses and docks, where anglers were pitching Texas rigged craws and jig and craw combos. Tossing some spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits also worked at times. Gravel points and sloping banks are beginning to hold bass, too. as it seems more shad are moving up to such areas. Shallow structure such as exposed crappie beds should begin to produce some fish for anglers tossing spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits.
A few boats have been banging away at main lake flats near deep water hoping to find some schooling bass chasing shad at times.
Other patterns giving up fish have been the upper third of big bays when shad are present. Tossing Strike King’s Redeye Shad and Bill Lewis Rattle Traps are two popular fall baits in such areas when searching for schooling fish.
From the catfishing arena comes some positive reports as hefty stringers have been taken by anglers working the main river channel banks in depths of 15 to 20 feet. Nightcrawlers have been the bait of choice.
And so it is that cooler conditions have finally arrived and changed the whole fishing picture to some degree. The fish should respond favorably but the fishermen are already in the right mood as they’ve been waiting on nice fall weather for weeks. Time to dig out the sweat shirts and overcoats.
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.