Rituals of spring include March madness, The Masters, the NFL draft and, in LOA country, spring crappies return from the winter abyss and make themselves accessible once again! Crappies are a favorite in the Upper Midwest for their accessibility to catch and tastiness in the frying pan. How to find’em and what to use are what we will be covering.
return of spring crappies
When spring crappies return from their winter hangouts, which were spent suspending over deeper water basins or deeper holes within lakes, they are in search of the shallows to feed. The migration to the shallows will shortly be followed by their need to spawn. Finding where the water will warm the fastest will be key to finding baitfish for crappies and the areas they will make their nest to spawn. As crappies move to the shallows, propelled by instinct, their desire for food increases drastically. Both females and males will undergo extreme duress during the spawning period and an angler needs to use this to their advantage. The females will eventually be building their nests, which the males will then defend with vigor. Both of which leads them to feed with ferocity, meaning they are less wary and more aggressive biters than in those mid winter months. Where to start can be an intimidating question for any angler especially on a body of water that you are not familiar with. When starting out look to northern shores or northern bays first, especially ones with darker bottom composition. Additionally one should look for emerging weeds or any submerged timber; this includes trees and branches that are hanging into the water. Bridges and bridge pilings are also good early season options but likely after the water has warmed a bit since they tend to be in deeper water. Ultimately one the biggest keys is to pay attention to your depth finder and its thermometer readings. Crappies will tend to spawn between 42-50 degrees, and once the water reaches these temps they will become more aggressive. As they stalk the shallows they congregate in greater numbers than they do at other times of the year. When you are moving along a bank and find one or two to bite, there will be others nearby. Crappies are much like other panfish in that by catching one or two you ignite the school into a feeding frenzy and allows you to keep the school biting. Often times just getting that first bite can be the hardest thing. However, getting that first crappie to bite can be the key to locating and ambushing a school of hungry crappies. Conversely, if you are not finding anything, move on until you find some biters. Fishing for crappies, especially earlier in the open water season, you need to be active in seeking out schools of fish. The final component is a presentation that revolves around the right rod/reel/line combination. Small jigs that can be fished below bobbers fish well on light line. It is tough to decide between 2- and 4-pound test monofilament. With 2-pound test there is stealth, but one can get leery of breaking off a slab crappie on the way to the boat. The new Bionic Panfish Line has solved this dilemma as it is offered as an “in-between” 3-pound test. Not only that, Bionic Line handles extremely well and is available in a blue camo color pattern that blends into the blue sky background which can be important for upward feeding crappies holding in clear water. A 6-foot Jason Mitchell Elite Series modified ultra light or the 5’ ultra light action spinning rod and quality reel completes the LOA spring crappie set-up. This combination allows for long casts letting a crappie stalker cover lots of water in their search of likely crappie haunts. Heading to a crappie spot is something the LOA crew looks forward to each year. If you get out and chase crappies, we know you’ll “GET HOOKED” on crappie fishing!