As temperatures rise and the snow and ice begin to melt, I start dreaming of those big spring slabs. Once ice out happens it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a reality. Here’s some tips to find and catch spring crappies.
Once ice out happens and the water begins to warm, crappies will be in and out of the shallows waiting for the right water temp to occur. Because this time of year the outside temps can be all over the place, a quick drop in temp will send them back out to the deep water and this makes it hard to find them during this time. Crappies will spawn in very shallow water, anywhere from 1′-5′ with dark muddy/soft bottom being a prime location. If you can find a bed of emerging pencil reeds, that’s typically a hot spot for them.
Now that you’ve found their spawning area you’ll want to look for adjacent deeper water and target that area. Anywhere from 10′-15′ depending on water clarity, the clearer the water the deeper you may need to go.
Once the water hits around 55 degrees in the shallower areas where you’ll be targeting, the male crappies will come in to make their spawn beds. If the water is clear enough you’ll be able to see these beds as the males clear out a round circle in the dead weeds/muck about the size of a basketball. Pencil reeds are also a great area for spawning crappies.
The females are easy to pick out because they are quite large and full looking and should be released during this time period. They are only on the spawning beds for a day or two then they leave for deeper water. On the other hand the males will move back in to protect the beds and become very aggressive towards anything near them or the spawning bed.
This is the time when you can hit them up very shallow water, pencil reeds, creek mouths etc. Once the males move back out to deeper water it becomes much tougher to catch crappies as they disperse throughout the water column for the upcoming summer.
Grab yourself an ultra light rod, some 2 – 4 lb mono-filament, slip bobber and your favorite pack of colored hooks. You can use any type of small plastic bait or crappie minnow on the hook and you’re set. Typically a bright colored hook on bright sunny days and a darker color like red, blue, or black on overcast days.