The Hunt for Spring Crappies by Garett Svir
I like to start my spring panfish hunt in the black bottom bays that warm up first. Start with the northern most bays that are receiving the most sunlight. Early in the spring crappies are not spawning yet, but rather chasing food into these areas.
Early in the year, I look for “spot on the spot” places that will hold the food the crappies are after. These could be areas like docks, tree branches, or a small deep depression in the bay. If you find an area that has several of these elements in the same vicinity, you should hit the jackpot. Don’t forget to use your electronics. One bay I fish regularly has a 12 ft hole in the center and early in the spring crappies will suspend over this water. I cannot even count how many times I’ve cruised into this bay and set-up over the top of a bunch of aggressive crappies while everyone else probes the shorelines with minimal success. Often times, cold fronts or storm systems will push crappies to the deepest part of the bay. I’ve also seen cold fronts push crappies tight into tree limbs.
I usually start in the spring with small hair or marabou jigs tipped with a crappie minnow and fished under a float. Depending on how aggressive these fish are, I may even add a split shot to anchor my minnow. I’m watching for the slightest irregularity with my float, and I set the hook. Cold water crappies will often just move a float slightly and they’ve got it.
Once the water warms a little, I go to a straight hair jig with no minnow. I like to fish these on small clear floats with surgical tubing on the top and bottom to hold them in place. The type of floats the center-pin guys use for match fishing in England. I like the fact that surgical tubing doesn’t knick my line when I’m making constant adjustments to my depth. I also like how the slim profile doesn’t ripple the water when I slowly reel these in.
My personal experience is that crappies prefer something that glides horizontally in the water over something that has jerky up and down movements. That is why, unlike most, I prefer a fixed float to a slip float in these shallow water applications. I just cast and reel this rig back to the boat very slowly. I like to play a little game with myself and see if I can reel these in without rippling the water with my float.
This is a great time of year to get out on the water and find a delicious meal of spring crappies, enjoy!
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