Crappie time.

Crappie time.

let’s dig into this weeks tips…

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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 aproaches 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
tempertature 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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