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adam stegeman

Where to start?

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I am heading out this weekend and was wondering where you thought I should start to search for the crappies.

Should I start in the bays and shallow areas or look for the crappies suspended in 10-15 ft water?

The ice seems to be off most lakes and I am heading out with the boat for the first time this spring and am not sure where to begin.

By the way I am near the Hutchinson area, if you had any pointers I would appreciate it. I do not fish a lot so dont know where to start.

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Was out on Tues and found them in a 10-12 foot bay. Lots of fish on the graph just off bottom. Fish that we caught were 6-8 foot down on the weed edge. Water temp was around 44. Hope that helps.

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We did real well on crappies yesterday on a metro lake. We found them in a shallow area with weeds. 3-4'. All came on plastic tube and 1/32 jig head. Water temp was 45-47 in the area we got them. Fished other areas with same water temp and nothing just gotta search.

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shore break outside the spawning area, or bay.. don't spend to much time in one spot. keep moving till you find'em.. live bait would be the ticket now.. when there in the shallows. artificals work just as well if not better.. good luck

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I would do what tackle box said. If you aren't finding fish shallow, try the first break out from the bay in 8-15 ft.

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Here's a few things I have learned...

In the spring crappies will try to find the warmest water in the viscinity. Find an area of shoreline that recieves the greatest exposure to the sun. North or northeast facing shoreline or bays are traditional areas to search. Small bays are excellent places to begin. When searching for crappies, think on the shallow side, ten feet or less, as opposed to deep.

Also, find an area that has a muddy or murky bottom. This will heat up faster than water that is clear. In these murky waters don't neglect areas that are only a couple feet deep.

Pay attention to the wind and try fishing the wind blown shoreline because the wind can push warmer water into the shore. It also stirs up micro organisms creating a food chain thus attracting fish to the area.

If you have a temp gauge on your electronics, pay attention to the water temp. Find the warmest water in the viscinity. Even a temp difference of one degree can make a big difference!

Follow the food. Where is there food? If you can find areas where there is forage there might be crappies there too. Any area with active weed growth or green weeds will likely hold forage. Pay attention to creek inlets.

Have the right search tools. Right after ice out fish metabolism is more likely sluggish so I would tend to stay away from spinner baits ar anything that moves to quickly through the water. Save that for later when things heat up. Instead, try working a jig under a small float. This early I like to use a #6 or #8 calf hair jig with a piece of Gulp! waxie on for scent. You can also use small tube jigs, paddle-tails, and other small plastic critters on a collerless jighead. (Cubbies are great!) Work this under a #4 Thill mini-Stealth float, an excellent float for detecting bites! Also use light line. Anything heavier than 4# is too heavy. Have a couple different presentations set up on different rods to aid you in finding what works best. I would stay away from crappie minnows as a search tool. And yes, when things do heat up and the fish are more active use a small spinnerbait as a search tool. You will cover more ground that way.

Keep moving. Don't spend all your time in one spot. Take a few casts to expolore an area, and if you don't connect with anything, move on.

When I fish I like to pop or twitch the rod tip a few times and let it sit for a few seconds, pop, let it sit, repeat. If you notice anything unusual about your float, (tilts or lays on it's side, for example) it's probably a fish, set the hook. Try moving the float several feet through the water, then stop. Experiment with different speeds. This will sometimes trigger strikes.

Stealth is key especially in shallow water. Many times these fish are spooky. Keep your movements to a minimum. If you are working a shallow area with spooky fish and you want to make a long cast, the Mini-Stealth won't do. Use a bigger thill slip float. Set it at the desired depth with split shots until it is just neutrally bouyant. The top of the float should have the bobber stop and the bottom hould have the split shot. This setup should allow for a much longer cast.

Have a plan. Study a map of the lake you plan to fish and determine aeas worth searching, then systematically follow through.

Hope these tricks help you get onto some fish!

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Cal,

You just about covered the whole thing. The jig and float combinations are too often overlooked, and spring speed is always best at dead slow whatever the presentation.

I would add a UL rigged with just a 32nd oz jig and a chartreuse tube to the float rigs. While they normally suspend somewhat, they don't always. You might get an argument about jig head color, too, but that is more a matter of what one has confidence in. Personally I like black with yellow or white eye dots, and I fish 1/32nd oz year around. In the end the retrieve is far more important, especially the speed of it.

One very nice thing about the float rig is that one gets frequent settles, which is just about the best presentation one can use for crappies. IMO they take baits on the sink more than any other time. Watch a dying or crippled minnow sink in the water; that is exactly the effect one wants.

One other thing catching crappies often draws a school toward your boat, since they are very competitive. They don't always move away. Never quit a spot that has been hot, until you make a vertical presentation directly under your boat. Some people carry along a panfish ice rod, specifically for that purpose. Some very nice crappies have been taken so close under a boat that the transducer cannot read them.

Get back to active fish as quickly as possible to keep them going. Plastics are best, since crappies seldom maul one, and rebaiting with minnows can sometimes take too long.

If fishing minnows pay some attention to what happens to baits flipped off while landing fish. Crappies will at times come in so close that you can see them flash taking those sinking dead minnows. Then you have them up close and personal and all primed for action with little more than dipping the bait up and down. There are times you can then catch fish after fish without ever touching the reel handle. That also works with jig and tubes once you have them in close. Of course, you have to run a quiet boat. If you stomp around and make a lot of racket, they will never come in like that. If you have several in your party, don't be afraid to have everybody work the same school. The more fish coming out of it, the more apt the school is to stay active and even move in toward your boat following the hooked fish.

Once a person tangles with a school like that, other fish pale a little bit. Released crappies recover real well at this time of year, unless deeply hooked; so you can go on and on, if you can keep the school interested. Numbers of caught and released fish can be fantastic. Once you have experienced it, you will never forget it, especially if you get into big ones.

There is nothing like crappies.

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WOW...some fantastic advice here. It's giving me the itch to get out there and wet a line. Good Luck.

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I've been fishing a shallow murky north metro lake and haven't had any luck for crappies in shallow. The carp are all over in the shallows but I can't get them to bite either. The water temp was about 49-50 degrees yesturday, are they still out deep because it's too cold? (By shallow I mean 1-3 feet.)

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