Where to Fish for Crappie in the Early Spring

Daniel C Nielsen   Saturday, April 07, 2007 6:42 PM

Now that April is well under way, and the Walleye spawn seems to be winding down, Nebraska anglers will be shifting their attention to early Crappie season. As water temps begin to warm, hordes of these tasty pan fish will begin to move into the shallows, following creek channels, all kinds of cover along shore lines, and possibly featureless flats to find forage. That is what early season Crappie migration is all about, -- feeding not spawning.

A majority of Crappie will be caught in areas where little or no spawning occurs. These spots harbor, insects, or have other types of forage that attract crappie.

Spring crappie will be found in warm water bays on the north shore in forage and cover.

If you're fishing a natural body of water, the prime spots are shallow bays with soft dark bottoms, on the north side of the lake. The soft dark bottoms will absorb heat from the spring sun, and the north shoreline gets the maximum amount of sunlight during the day. Look for bays that are connected to the main body of water by narrow openings, or short channels that keep the colder lake water from moving into the bay.

How long crappie remain in these bays depends upon depth, cover, and structure. Shallow bays that have a maximum depth of 3 to 4 feet may get red hot early for a week or two, then the fish move out. Bays with a depth of 8 to 15 feet will hold crappie much longer.

Shallow bays are usually fished best from the bank, even if a boat is used to get there. Crappie are often in 1½ to 4 foot depths, and bank fisherman can easily sneak up to a spot and quietly pluck out the fish. Any cover in a bay that’s in at least 18 inches of water or more can hold crappie. Look for stumps, brush piles, fallen trees, flooded shoreline cover, docks, and old weeds. Even debris piled up in a corner can draw fish. Any kind of structure can hold crappie especially if the water is off colored which it usually is in these kinds of bays. Very often the shoreline with the quickest taper will be the best, and a slight cover free ledge that may only drop a foot or two and run a short distance may hold the bulk of the fish.

Try tossing tiny jigs, and look for deeper water and ledges. A 6-foot light action spinning rod and a reel spooled with 4 lb. Test monofilament is ideal. A small fixed float can be used along the edges or in open water, while a pear shaped slip float will work in tighter cover situations or in deeper water. It’s critical that a long soft tipped rod is used, particularly since the jig or minnow is often dabbled into spots without a float. You don’t want the crappie to feel the resistance from a stiffer rod, so it has to have the flex so the fish doesn't drop the bait.

Other spots that can be hot for crappie are man-made channels and culverts. Compared to natural lakes, the crappie fisherman needs to look for the same things. Sheltered areas away from moving water. Places that receive direct sunlight, and warm up faster than deeper water. Places that are 4 to 5 feet deep will be better than 2 to 3 feet deep (18 inches or deeper if the water is cloudy). Shorelines that tend to have a lip are really good. The back end of T-shaped, or L shaped channels that are protected by wind and current.

Cast parallel to the shore line, walk and troll the bank and dabble your presentation around cover. Boat docks are great for crappie. The lower the dock is to the water level the better because they create better shade.

During cold days crappie will often move out of the channel and suspend at its mouth if some deeper water exists. Swim a jig through various depth levels and/or try a minnow at different levels below a float.

Culverts are sometimes used to drain marshes or back water areas into larger bodies of water. Don’t overlook these. They are easy to fish and can be very productive. Crappie will hold in and around the current flow. Try using the old fashioned nickel sized red and white bobber, and experiment fishing at different depths. The current will move your presentation from the faster water into the staging area where the fish will be waiting for an easy snack. You should also try a lightweight soft-plastic jig. Fish it at several levels and different angles to the current.

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2 Comments

re: Where to Fish for Crappie in the Early Spring
7/11/2010 10:19:41 AM  Fishing Tutorials says,

thanks for the info mate!

re: Where to Fish for Crappie in the Early Spring
9/29/2012 11:28:21 PM  Naomi says,

that's alot of questions, i'll try my best to aneswr all of them for ya, as far as the line bait and jig you wanna go with the thinnest line you can for the size fish your planning to catch i usually use 4-6lb test in my area, also the best lure to use since all the line play is vertical in ice fishing is a jig (i prefer tear drop style) if you wanna spend a little money the kind that glow when lit by a little l.e.d flashlight have performed for me. for bait i usually use wax worms or minnows, i've fount that that works just as well as any crappie candy i've tried. hand augers will work (6 or 8in on preference), they will just take alot more straining than a gas auger would.. depending on the lake you may be able to ask friendly neighbors to drill a hole for you with their gas auger but im sure that goes with the area and the state. as for the buddy heater they're usually for personal warmth but it will help to keep your hole from freezing over some, which reminds me, your going to want to make sure you have a metal ice scoop along to scoop out your hole once its drilled and to clean it out as it begins to ice over, tie the scoop to your bucket or chair your going to sit on because these like to end up in the bottom of the lake, to tell the depth of the lake without a depth finder put a heavy weight on the end of your line and let it hit bottom, you'll wanna fish a couple feet up from the bottom so reel up and set your bobber stop accordingly.. another thing you may want to do is stop into your local bait shop, those guys will be the best refferences you can get to fishing your local lakes, they'll tell you what and where is biting.. hope this was somewhat helpful, good luck have fun

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