Dave Washburn says the cold weather may have dampened fishing conditions, but didn’t stop it completely.
Dave Washburn here, with the FLW Weekly Fishing Report.
The cold snap sort of put the brakes on the fishing, but it went from great to merely good, and that’s not bad. Hey, you old-timers, what is this latest cold spell: dogwood winter, locust winter or blackberry winter? I think it’s all three, because all three are blooming together now, as weird as it seems. Actually, the dogwoods have just about stopped blooming now, here at the first of April, but once in a while you see a few.
We’re also seeing a few bass being caught now. The really strong bite we saw a couple of weeks ago has tapered off somewhat, but it still takes 25 pounds or so to win a tournament now. The Hollowell brothers, Todd and Troy, won the jet-ta marine tournament last weekend out of moors. They had 23 pounds. Our tournament director, Bill Taylor, said the 300-plus teams in the tournament were catching bass in a variety of ways and at different depths.
I heard the Hollowells were using topwaters, swim baits, and wake baits. Some guys were pitching soft-plastics and jigs into shallow cover, and others were casting alabama rigs out on the ledges and flats. Everybody was catching fish, but nobody was catching fish by doing just one thing in one area. That pretty well describes the bass fishing. You can catch bass going down the bank and fishing docks, points and the backends of coves, but there isn’t any dominant pattern.
The water in the lake went up about a foot since the first of April, but at the moment it is slowly falling again, and that’s not good. We need a regular April, with some drenching rains, to turn the fish on again.
Recently there was a question about the smallmouth bass in Kentucky Lake and whether they were stocked or not. Regional fishery biologist Paul Rister says that the smallmouths in the lake got there on their own, probably through pickwick dam, and his department had nothing to do with it.
As it is, according to Paul, the smallmouth population in the lake only amounts to about 5 percent of the overall black bass harvested there, with largemouths making up the vast majority. Still, when you get a 3- or 4-pound smallmouth on the end of the line, the fight they put up makes you wish there were a lot more.
If you want to catch a mess of fish to eat, give bluegills a crack. Shellcrackers are also moving in, though the water fluctuation might mess things up for the time-being. This time last year we were catching bluegills out of people’s flooded yards, but it’s quite different this year.
If you don’t know where last year’s bedding areas were, here’s how to find them: just start fishing down a bank in one of the big coves or creeks and cast and drag a drop-shot rig baited with a redworm or small piece of nightcrawler. A light spinning or spincast outfit works best for this approach. Here’s how to rig up a drop-shot: first, tie a small barrel swivel to the end of your fishing line. Then tie a 4-pound-test leader about two feet long to the other end of the barrel swivel. Then tie a no. 6 aberdeen bait hook about 6 or 8 inches down on the leader with an improved clinch knot. At the opposite end of the leader, pinch on a buckshot-size splitshot.
That’s all there is to it. Pinch a redworm in half, or a piece of a nightcrawler, and use that for bait. Cast it out and reel it back slowly across the bottom, preferably across a pea gravel or sandy bottom, which bluegills and shellcrackers like for bedding. If there’s any wood cover, even better, but it’s not mandatory. Keep moving until you start getting bites, and then stay put for a while.
That’s all there is to it. In fact, it’s so easy, I think I’ll go fishing. This is Dave Washburn, signing off for FLW until next week.
Dave Washburn is a lifelong fisherman and Vice President of Promotions for FLW Outdoors.