Hoping to go Sun and curious if anyone has been since the cold weather blew in. I'd like to try for crappie and gills. Any help on general patterns would be appreciated. Thanks.
Patoka should be heating up for Crappie. They start feeding in shallower water when the surface water temps get into the low 50's.
I have not been to Patoka since April due to high gas prices but a Crappie is a Crappie and their behaviour is similar in all bodies of water.
I caught my limit the other day in just under 3 hours. Caught my first fish in less than 5 minutes and right next to the launch ramp.
I found the fish in the top ten feet of the water column over 20ft of water near a sharp drop off that went from 10ft down to 20 ft. There are stickups coming off the bottom in this area and the crappie hover over and around these stickup. Actually they are small scrubs that were there before the stip pit filled up with water.
The day I fished it was overcast with about 90% cloud cover. Air temps were in the upper 50s to low 60's in the afternoon. Water surface temp was below 50 deg F. Winds were out of the North and calm to light. The days before the winds were coming from the NW and before that from the East. Barrometric Pressure was falling slightly and steady as per my eTrax Vista GPS unit. There was a slight ripple to the water. I had to use the #3 setting on my 50lb Minn-Kota Trolling motor to move against the wind at times. Other times the #2 setting would move my small Aluminum Bass Boat. I fish out of a Fishermarine Water Strider III bass boat. It's a light weight boat that gets blown around by the wind.
The fish were very active the other day. I think it may be due to the colder water holding more disolved oxygen. And I think that the Stip Pits have turned over now.
I caught fish in 20ft of water on the bottom and over 20ft of water at the surface too. So the fish were using the entire water column last Wednesday.
If you fish on an overcast day the crappie could be up shallow in the mid afternoon. If it's bright and sunny then look for them in some shade. Shade can be found along a drop off or next to submerged tree. When the sun is bright and the skies are bluebird they fish may be seeking shade. It all depends on the stength of the sunlight filtering down into the water. Shade can be found in deeper water. Fish will get hungry and feed sometime during the day and maybe more than one time. They may be deeper if the sun is bright and directly overhead like in the middle of the summer months or they may be shallower if the sun is at a lower angle like in the winter months. The cloud cover will determine how much sunlight hits the water's surface and the water clarity will determine how much sunlight is filtered out before it reaches the fish below. Find a sharp dropping point and you can fish all depths easily no matter what the light conditions. Also wind can ripple the water's suface and allow the fish to be shallower. If the wind is blowing out of one direction for a lenght of time it will stack up the bait fish's food on the windward side of the lake. This will get the minnows to that area and the sport fish will follow.
Check the mouths of bays and follow the creek back into the bay as the shad (gizzard) will be using the creeks to migrate back into the shallower water to feed.
Last year at this time I fished Patoka Lake with a friend who has a camp at the lake's newton stewart entrance. He fishs Patoka Lake for Crappie year round. He could be a professional Guide easily if he didn't already have a good job. He showed me a few spots were the fish hang out. We caught our limit a few times. The area is a small bay and we fished some ditches that ran out of this bay to the old Patoka River Channel. The fish were caught in about 20ft deep water. The top channel along the side of the ditch came up to 10ft deep and the ditch dropped off into 20ft deep water. There is brush all along the top edge of the ditch. I guess before the lake was filled the farmer that farmed that land didn't cut down the scrubs that grew along the edge of that ditch. The crappie follow the ditch out of the river channel. If I were to go to Patoka I would feel very confident that I could catch a lot of crappie in this spot. The entire bay is full of brush on both sides of the bay. There are many spots like this at Patoka. Finding the ones that the crappie use is just a matter of searching for them. Once you find a spot it's good for years. This time of the year is the best time to fish for the crappie IMHO. Fish are feeding heavily getting ready for the coming winter.
All the female crappie that I caught last Wed had small egg sacks and they are already preparing for next springs spawn. Over the winter those eggs will develop slowly and coming next spring those egg sacks will fully develop and be ready to start the next generation.
The crappie at Patoka lake need to be thinned out. Last spring we caught so many small 4" fish up river from Walls that we could not find the bigger fish.
Might check out the dumplin creek area too as it may be good at this time of the year. Fish the Northern Part of the Entrance to the Dumplin Creek Bay. There are submerged trees in that area and the crappie like that area in the spring. Late march and early April will find some slabs using that area. And I would guess that the same fish may use that area in the fall too.
I like to tightline a minnow on a drop shot rig. I tie a loop knot in the line about 18" above the end of the line and attach a #1.0 Gold Aberdeen Thin Wire hook to the loop. I add a weight at the end of the line and vertical fish the setup from the front of my boat. I have my depth finder and the transducer setup on the front of the boat so that I can see what is right under my pole up front. I use the eletric motor to slowly move the boat into the wind or to hover over a spot. I used a 10ft long pole last Wed and it helped to get my baits out away from the trolling motor noise. Fish didn't seem to mind my boat being there even when they were only less than 10ft below the surface.