Spring Into Crappie Action

April 17, 2013 9:53 am0 commentsViews: 23

Winter is hanging on painfully long this year in Minnesota, but it can’t last forever, and that means it is almost Crappie time.


Fishing for crappies is a great way to get warmed up for the upcoming fishing opener (May 11 in Minnesota), assuming the ice is out by then. The good news is that once you find one crappie, you are likely to find a bunch, and they are relatively easy to catch.

Some of my best fishing memories date back to participating in the annual crappie contest on Lake Minnetonka with my brothers Gary and Dean. We would rent a boat and seek out protected bays that got a lot of sunlight and would fish around docks.

Crappies like spawning near structure, generally in water less than 10 feet deep.  If the water is still cold, say less than 50 degrees, they probably haven’t actually started spawning yet, and are also probably very sluggish.

The best approach to use is a small minnow on a small jig suspended from a small bobber. Cast into shore and let it sit for a while, then slowly retrieve. Stop frequently and wait.  Slow is the name of the game.

Adjust the depth, to get it down to the bottom which is where they will be.

Once the water is a bit warmer, in the mid fifties you can often shift to an untipped jig or a jig with a small plastic tail. This is usually when the crappie fishing is best.

One thing that makes crappie fishing a great choice for the occasional fisher, is that they can be effectively fished from shore.  The lack of convenient access to a boat is one of the major reason many would be fishers are occasional fishers.

So when opportunity presents itself, the wise occasional fisher takes action. During April and early May make sure you keep an eye out for people standing on the banks of local lakes. It’s a sure sign, the crappies are in, and that it’s time for you to wet a line.

Check in with your local bait shop. They sell crappie minnows and will know where people are having success.

You don’t need a lot of heavy gear for crappie fishing.  A light rod with 6 pound test line, a small bobber or two, and a small assortment of jigs. A stringer – cause if you catch one, you will catch a mess of fish, and a minnow bucket.

Stringer of Crappies

Be Sure To Bring a Stringer!

Jig color does seem to matter, so be willing to experiment. As a rule of thumb if the water is dark and murky start with a dark colored jig.  If it is clear, a lighter color will usually do better.  But that ain’t gospel.

I tend to start dark, because I tend to fish murky waters because they warm faster and the fish are more likely to be active.

In addition to shore spots, you will find a lot of spring crappie action on bridges.  Again one of my old time favorite spots was the Trestle bridge near lake Minnetonka. The reason is that bridges tend to offer structure and shallow water near deep water.  And that combination of  shallow with structure near deep water is a winning formula.

Spring Crappie hangouts can usually be identified on a good topo map of your favorite lake.  Look for area where deep water adjoins shallow and pay attention to which parts of your lake warm up the fastest.

Crappies will hang around well into May, (the males actually stick around to protect the nests) and then they slip back out into deeper water. They remain a great fishing adventure throughout the season, but are much harder to find.  So take advantage while you can.


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