Anxious for April Action!


As I’m writing this article, April’s not here yet, but I’m more than ready for it! It’s been a long, cold winter and everyone is ready for some warmer weather and a chance to get on the lake! The main part of the lake did open up around the middle of February, which is about average for it. The protected areas stayed frozen a little longer and they’ve been thawing and refreezing as we have warm spells then cold snaps. Of course, those protected areas are the areas you want to fish in this time of year.

As you know, everything depends on the weather which controls water temperatures. Changing weather affects fishing conditions from day to day.

In my opinion, April and May are two of the best fishing months of the year, here on Lake Shelbyville. They’re also months that can have big changes of weather, like having a warm spell and the fishing turns on, then a front can come through and turn it to cold, rainy days and the fishing patterns change with it.

Twin target species

Most anglers here in April are fishing for either crappies or largemouth bass, depending on if you’re fishing for food or for sport.

Tournaments for both species start going on in April and can have some impressive catches being brought to the scales.

Both species will start to think about moving into shallower areas in search of food to prepare for the upcoming spawning season. Water temperatures play a big role in their activities, especially this time of year.

The crappies, on average, tend to spawn a little earlier than the largemouths, but, some years, they might be spawning at the same time and can be found in the same areas. That’s why you frequently catch bass on your crappie baits. It’s fun to battle a largemouth on light tackle.

Early in the month, the crappies will be more active, usually, than the bass. As the water warms, the bass will become more active.

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Pitch to cover

Besides the weather and water temperatures, the water level affects how we fish for them. If the lake is down to winter pool, a lot more cover is exposed. In the standing timber areas, which is a popular place to fish early in the season, a lot more of the trees that are broken off at different heights will be showing and you’ll have more to throw your baits at.

Some people use minnows and some use jigs, that’s just a preference, either will work. If the water’s still pretty cold and the fish are sluggish, many use bobbers (floats) to control the depth their fishing and to be able to control how fast they work the bait.

If they’re suspended a little deep, some prefer to use slip bobbers to make casting easier. We prefer to use stationary bobbers until they’re, say, 10 feet or deeper, then we’d just remove the bobbers and vertical jig for them and we do use only jigs, it’s just our preference.

I do see some anglers using the big, long 10-foot rods to dip their baits around the trees, we prefer to cast and again, that’s just our preference.

With lower water, there are also more cover revealed near the banks, like laydowns and stumps.

As I’m writing, the lake is just above winter pool. It depends on how much rain we get as to what the level will be going forward.

The crappie spawn can be in April or May, the largemouths usually wait until May and sometimes as late as June, but both will have a couple of months of good activity leading up to it and the lake is large enough that fish in different areas can spawn at different times.

Whichever you like to fish for, get your tackle ready and get out there!