Scott Ellison talks about Kentucky’s newest high school varsity sport—Bass Fishing.
Not much has changed since last week. Good numbers of largemouth bass are still being caught on alabama rigs and soft-plastic swimbaits, and a lot more smallmouth bass are starting to show up in the mix. Smallmouths in the 5- and 6-pound range are starting to be caught along the channel ledges and even on the flats between deep water and the shallows. For the most part, they’re also being caught on alabama rigs, but both largemouths and smallmouths are also starting to take suspending jerkbaits around main-lake points and the shallower travel corridors that lead from the main lake to the spawning areas.
Crappie, too are being caught in good numbers, though most are under the legal size limit of 10 inches. But there are a bunch of 9-inch crappies in the lake, which bodes well for next spring and beyond.
Most of the better crappie fishermen are catching their limits by just slowly moving around on the flats in 10 to 13 feet of water. A lot of guys are finding troughs where there might be deeper water or a ditch and fish are staging before moving into shallower water. I’ve been seeing a lot of trailered boats lately with spider rigs mounted on their bows, so that tells me things are starting to stir.
Don’t let the warm winter and spring weather fool you. Crappies won’t start spawning until later on this month. They’ll begin around the time the redbuds are blooming. Water temperature sets the time for the spawn, not the air temperature, and we’re still going to get some cold rainwater coming down the Tennessee River. Because fish are cold-blooded, the water temperature regulates their metabolism and incubates their eggs to the right stage. Now the general water temperature is in the low 50s, and it still needs to come up at least into the mid to high 50s before crappies really start to stack up in the shallows.
By the way, you might have heard last week that the Kentucky High School Athletic Association has sanctioned bass fishing as a varsity sport. Illinois was the first state to recognize bass fishing that way, and now Kentucky. You can bet there will be a lot more states to follow because bass fishing is a sport that recognizes and awards excellence whether you’re a boy or a girl, and no matter how athletic you are.
It’s no wonder that already there are a number of high schools in Kentucky that have bass-fishing teams. Last spring, Murray State University hosted a high school open tournament on the lake and 88 teams from nine states showed up, including 46 teams from Kentucky. The tournament was an open, and it also was counted as the Kentucky state championship. Two fishermen from Meade County High School won the state title, and the team from Taylor County was runner-up. Marshall County’s high school team placed third in the state standings. Murray high placed 14th overall. Incidentally, the overall champions in that tournament, eastern high school of Ohio, won $10,000 in scholarships to Murray State, which is a pretty good catch any way you look at it.
Until next week, this is Scott Ellison for FLW, encouraging you to make sure your high school has a team signed up in the student angler federation, and do Kentucky proud. To learn more about high school fishing and the student angler federation, go to highschoolfishing.org.
Scott Ellison is a lifelong fisherman and FLW College Fishing Promotions Manager.