Crappie crappie crappie Now…

Crappie crappie crappie

Now… let’s get on with your tips for this
week.

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A lot of the time, the difference between catching
crappie, or coming home empty is simply some
knowledge, rather than your equipment.
Depth-Finders, $10,000 Crappie Boats, $100.00
specialty Crappie rods and other Tournament gear
is great if you like it, and can afford it, but a
little knowlege will do more for your success than
all of that gear put together.

The first, and most important thing is to
understand your quarry. Crappie are schooling
predators that cover large areas of water at
times, chasing schools of baitfish. Crappie are
almost exclusively fish-eaters. Nightcrawlers
aren’t going to work. There are two species of
Crappie.

They are : Black Crappie (Promoxis
nigro-maculatus)- The Black Crappie is, as the
name implies, darker than the White Crappie, has
7-8 dorsal spines, has very pronounced spotting on
the sides, and prefers larger, cleaner and more
acidic lakes. They are more predominate in the
Northern states, but their range frequently
overlaps with the White Crappie. Their habits are
very similar.

Inter-breeding between the two species is very
rare, but not unheard of. Black Crappie have also
interbred with Flier Sunfish (Centrarchus
macropterus) in a few rare instances.

White Crappie (Promoxis annularis)-The White
Crappie is lighter colored, has 6 dorsal spines,
8-9 vertical darker-colored bands on the sides,
and is found more frequently in the southern
states. The White Crappie prefers quite
backwaters, and slow rivers, but is present in
many larger impoundments as well. The White
Crappie can tolerate more turbid waters then the
Black Crappie.

Both the black and white crappie grow to over
five pounds while three quarters of a pound to a
pound is more typical. Crappie are very season
oriented. Their behavior can be broken down into 4
distinct seasons: 1. Pre-Spawn is when the water
temperature approaches 60 degrees. In the south,
this can be as early as Feb., and in the north, as
late as May, or June. Crappie that have been
holding in their winter habitat will begin to move
along lines of cover towards shallower water
(8-10ft), starting with the males. They will
congregate for a short while, then move into water
as shallow as 2-3 ft. near cover to build nests.
The females soon follow, and pick a male to breed
with. Crappie can be caught with live minnows and
jigs fairly easily at this time.

2. Spawn is when the females have picked a male
to breed with, moved into the nest, layed eggs,
and allowed the male to fertilize them. Then, the
females take-off for deeper water, leaving the
males to guard the nest until the fry hatch. This
occurs when the water temperature is between
60-65 degrees. At this time, the males will attack
ANYTHING that comes near the nest, so catching
them is child’s play. A cane pole with a minnow,
or jig works as good as anything.

3. Post Spawn is when the males are done, and
both the males and females school back up, and
move along cover to deeper water to sulk, and
recover. They have a maddening habit of suspending
at a particular depth, with no relation to any
cover, and refuse to move more than a few inches
to take a bait. At this time, they are very moody
and uncooperative. This is some of the hardest
crappie fishing of the year. As the water gets
warmer, they go into their summer mode of
migrating in search of baitfish, and preferred
temperature. You will usually find them at, or
near the thermocline, along structure, and large
schools of baitfish, especially small shad. They
can be as deep as 30 feet during the day; and as
shallow as 5 feet at night. But when you do find
them, they will actively feed.

4. Winter-When the water temperature drops to the
low 60s, crappie will move to 15-20 ft. of water
and suspend over structure. They will stay here
all winter, until the Pre- Spawn. They will still
feed, but the key here is ‘Small and Slow’. Use
very small jigs or minnows, and they must be
presented almost in their face.

But there is some great crappie action to be had
at this time of year due to less fishing pressure,
and they don’t move around as much.When crappie
get ‘Lock-Jaw’, here is a trick to entice them
into action that is very effective at times. You
need two rods, one rigged with a jig, or minnow,
under a bobber, and the other rigged with a larger
crankbait or spinner. Cast the bobber rig out and
let it settle for a bit at a suitable depth. Then,
cast the lure out beyond the bobber, and reel it
rapidly towards the bobber rig. Keep doing this,
and you will get lots of hits on the bobber rig.
Crappie think the lure is another fish about to
chow-down on your bobber rig, so they will try to
beat it to the punch.

When you are night fishing, put your extra
minnows in a glass jar, seal it with the lid, and
tie a rope to the jar and suspend it a foot or two
under the surface, just within the circle of your
fishing light. Drop your line near the jar.
Crappie will see the minnows in the jar and make a
serious effort to ruin their day, grabbing your
offering in the process.

When all else fails, try a double jig rig, with a
chartruese jig on top, and a yellow or white one
underneath. Suspend them under a slip bobber, and
give them a little jerk once in a while. Double
hook-ups are not uncommon with this rig.

You can also try fly fishing. Any streamer fly
pattern works, but the very best patterns are
small Clouser minnows, and Crappie candy.

Happy Fishing.

 Fishing Ohio
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