Contributed by Alex Vail, The Flying Kayak
With Spring in full swing, there’s no better time of the year to get out on the water and chase Crappie. One should, however, be prepared with the right gear and know-how in order to not only catch fish, but also have a blast doing so.
Finding the right water depth is key when fishing for crappie. An angler should look for deeper holes or drop offs in the 8-15ft range. Though fish can often be caught outside of this range, as a general rule, try to look for these areas. It isn’t uncommon to see crappie flip their tails and swirl around the surface and it’s this action that is often a giveaway of a good hole.
Though many people use live bait to catch crappie, particularly small shiners, artificials can be just as successful. Small, colorful beetle spins are dynamite for crappie fishing. If fly fishing, small clouser minnows or crazy charlies work quite well also.
Since the lure/fly selection needs to be relatively small, light tackle is key. Ultra-light to light weight set ups with 6-8lb test will usually do the trick. A whippy tipped rod will help with casting the light weight beetle spins further and thus, help catch more fish. If fly fishing, a 3-5wt rod should suffice and a sinking line is vital in order to get the fly down to the fish.
When actually fishing for crappie, don’t be afraid to mix up the action of the lure. Some days they prefer it to be worked slow, while others, a bit faster. It is important, however, to remember that most often the lure needs to be at the right depth. With that in mind, be sure to give enough time after each cast for the lure to sink to the proper depth. Like most other fish, crappie will feed better and more readily in the early morning and late evening hours. Once you’ve started catching fish in one spot, don’t be too quick to move to another. If you’ve caught one or two in a spot, chances are there are plenty of others there as well.
I’ve had crappie hit everything from crankbaits for bass, to live worms, so don’t be afraid to change up baits. Sometimes it can be something as subtle as a change in color that will trigger the bite. Fish finders can prove to be vital tools when out crappie fishing. Being able to pinpoint each hole or drop off can mean the difference between a successful day and a complete skunking. Anchoring up on these holes is probably the best option when trying to catch crappie. The absence of a running motor will reduce the chance of spooking fish while in a good spot.
So the next time you’re out brushing the cobwebs off the boat from the winter months, be sure to take some light tackle out with you. Start the warmer months of the year off right by chasing the crappie. After all, it’s tough to beat a good fish fry on a cool spring evening.