It has been a long hard winter and one of the most anticipated events in the spring is wetting a line on open water. While ice fishing is fun and productive, there is nothing like being out in the boat after taking a few months off. What really adds to the open water fishing experience is the thrill of catching slab crappies.
There are many fishermen who wait in the spring for the crappies to move in to spawn. Don’t get me wrong; if you find crappies on their spawning beds, the fishing can be fantastic! But why wait to the spawn when you can have your cake and eat it too. Crappie fishing right after ice out can be equally rewarding.
The water temperature right after ice out will be very frigid. After a few bright warm sunny days the lakes ecosystem will start to come alive. Many crappies in the early spring will be found deep. These deep water spots typically will be the last spots the ice fisherman were having success. By using light jigs and minnows in these deep-water spots, chances are you will have good success. But if you are really looking for fast action think shallow water.
As the water starts warming up, the insects will start hatching and small baitfish will move closer to shore. When that happens the crappies will move in right behind the food to feed. The best thing about early season crappie fishing is that the best times of the day to be out is during the peak of late afternoon and early evening when the weather is the nicest. Every lake is different, but the best early season lakes are the more shallow and muddy bottom lakes because they tend to warm up quicker.
If the lake has a small bay or channel the crappies will be drawn in there like magnets. Fallen trees, sticks brush and last years weeds will attract more insects that are hatching that the crappies will feed upon. This combination will become your “A” fishing spot. The water temp that typically starts this early season action is about 50 degrees. There are many fishermen who incorrectly think the crappies at this time are coming in to spawn. They are simply coming in to feed at this time. Crappies will move in to spawn a little later in the spring when the water temperature is about 65 degrees.
There are many fishermen that will use a jig and minnow. They will catch fish, but if you really want the fast action switch your presentation to a tube jig. The best depths typically here are about 6 feet or less. When you rig you tube jig, place a small bobber a foot and a half up from the jig. Cast and retrieve it slow. The bobber basically simply keeps your jig at the same depth. In detecting the bite, crappies will often grab your jig and swim side to side or the bobber will tip up and then move slowly down. The tube jig body is plastic so give the crappie a little time to suck it down. The best thing about the tube jig is that if you miss you will often get another bite right away. When using minnows for bait, you miss your done.
Once the crappies move in, the action can get very fast. This spring crappie pattern usually lasts a few weeks. After that the crappies move slightly deeper staging for the spawn and then move back in. So why wait for the crappies to spawn? You waited all winter. Early spring crappie fishing is a real bonus. Have Fun!