The unpleasant thing about early season crappie fishing is taking the fish off the hook.  Grabbing hold of those slabs is like trying to control a slippery icicle.

Early spring is a good time to get rid of winter blues with a little crappie action.  The ice is gone from the rivers and the crappie move into spawn in the feeder creeks.  Crappie action really puts fish on the table.

Of the two species of crappie, black crappie and white crappie, the white prefers the larger more open water.  Both species will suspend in relation to the points, sunken islands, bars, creek beds and debris found in the impoundments in the southern portions of the Illinois.  Both species inhabit the same waters.

Both species have similar spawning habits, laying eggs in water 3 to 8 feet in depth, once temperatures near the mid‑sixty range near cover.  Whites tend to like brush piles, bushes, or sunken logs.  The blacks like reeds or other weeds.  There can be a great deal of pre‑spawn angling in the channels and bays. This is due to early ice out and the water being too cold for spawning.

Deep creek beds are a key to cold-water crappie locations.  Begin by searching for likely summer holding areas.  Then back track to the nearest deep creek bed.  Follow the channel to the best available holding area.  On a large lake, this can be a considerable distance.  Some creek beds are more promising.  Ones with wood in or near the creek bed are best.

Standing timber and sunken wood is excellent.  Even stumps will do the trick.  The densest wood has the best chance of holding crappie.

If the river or creek does not seem to have any wood available, try bends and intersections.  Sharp bends or intersections with roads and secondary channels often produce.  A good topo map will help here.  Dark bottoms on the northern side of lakes are a good source of fish.  They get the early sun and hold warmth longer.

Channels with dead ends minimize current flow that draws off warm water.  Good bays with no channels, or at least not adequate ones, serve the same purpose.  If all else fails try the deep water and fish deep.

Jigs are the bread and butter of crappie lures.  A good assortment of leadhead jigs, in 1/16 to 1/64th ounce, in crappie colors of white, black and yellow are a basic.  Couple them with tube bodies of the same colors.  For natural baits, the basic is minnows or wax worms.

Still fishing with slip bobbers and minnows can produce many fish.  It is important to remember crappies are spooky this time of year.  If scared, they stop feeding.  The best pattern is to locate the fish, then make long casts to the fish.  Make short pauses in the retrieve of about 30 seconds each.

The strike will usually occur as the jig begins to settle to the bottom of the length of line below the bobber.  Small sensitive floats help the angler notice the very light bites that often happen this time of year.

Fishing for crappie just after ice out can be very productive. Unlimber your casting arm and get rid of the winter cabin fever blues.


2 responses to “COLD WATER CRAPPIE

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  1. I enjoy reading your blog, Don. Lot’s of great information and stories. Keep up the good work.

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