Crappies won't begin spawning until the water hits the high 60-degree range, so after ice-out (when the water temperature is 20 degrees colder) in mid-April or even mid-May lately here in Minnesota, it's all about food for these massive slabs.
Their metabolism is -- like the water -- heating up, so these fish are as catchable
as they will be all year. Here are what I consider to be the most productive ways
of catching these fish if they're shallow.
Let's start with what I call "dipping." This tactic employs long, 9-foot-plus rods
-- almost cane-pole-like, but with a reel. Long rods are perfect for this tactic
because we're going to use a float, then swing this setup into specific spots
with as soft an entry into the water as possible. These fish may be in 2- to 3
feet of water, so if we slam our presentation into the water, we'll spook them
In tandem with that float system, use a very small jig -- a 1/64-ounce is the
average size this time of year. Tipping it with minnows also can be productive.
Those ice lures you're about to store, along with waxworms, also will remain
productive for crappies (and sunnies, too) early in the open-water season.
Jigs Work In Warmer Temps
As we see warmer air and water temperatures, Marabou jigs, or tube jigs should become
The immediate natural food source for these fish is minnows, and then zooplankton.
I've found that black and brown jigs are the best colors, but keep them small.
We need them to fall naturally and slowly, so that means small, with light line. If
you want to add a dressing, keep it subtle. We don't want too much action or
I mentioned a couple of top colors, but I work a lot with mixing it up because
color is a major, major factor. Studies have shown that these fish can identify
color from a long distance. Crappies in general study their food source more
than just about any other species I've encountered. They taste it, watch it,
smell it, feel it -- which is a big reason why small floats and subtle
presentations are necessary.
If they feel anything bulky or unnatural and they'll blow it out fast!
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