Chasing Crappies: A Spring Tradition


Once the ice has vanished and the days are warming, I find myself thinking about spring crappie fishing. My wife does also, as she loves to fish. For us, like many others, chasing crappies in spring has become a tradition.

We like to target various lakes in spring. Several are close to home while a couple are farther away. We don’t get to each lake every year, but we do make it a point to try several.

On this particular day, we began our search in a large, back bay on one of our favorite lakes. The numerous bulrush beds and large expanse of shallow water had been pretty good to us over the years.

The expanse of the bay was both a positive and a negative. Because of its size, there many possible locations might hold early-season crappies. The fish are looking for food at this time of the year, and the mud bottom and decaying vegetation held a plethora of options for finding invertebrates for lunch.

Although the bay’s large size was inviting to hungry panfish, it was a bit daunting in terms of finding a spot that held a school of crappies. The fish never seemed to be in the same spot and it always took time to locate them.

The one big negative on this day was the wind. It was blowing in from the main lake and might be keeping the sun from warming the shallow water.

Sneaking around in the shallows with our trolling motor, we kept as quiet as possible. Spring fish are quite spooky in the clear, shallow water. For this reason, we also made long casts in an effort to fish far from the boat.

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We were a couple of hours into the event and all we had to show for the morning were a few small bass. We opted to give up on the bay and moved to a quiet shoreline that had ample sun warming the waters.

In the clear water, we could see a very distinct inside weed line where the emerging weeds ended and a sand bottom began. This edge became our focus as we had caught early crappies in similar situations before. We were only a few casts into our move when we boated our first fish.

Although there were scattered crappies along the inside weed line, we soon learned there were more fish tight to the docks. Casting close to a dock without overdoing it proved to be a challenge. However, we managed, and ended up having an impressive outing.

Spring crappies are never a guarantee. Although they often frequent the same areas each year, water temperature and available food dictates where they will be found. For this reason, anglers need to be flexible. This flexibility means fishing multiple locations or even switching lakes.

It is also important to note that finding crappies by docks is not unusual. Shoreline cover in the form of docks, weeds or even downed trees gives crappies a sense of security in shallow water.

Fishing for spring crappies is a tradition in our household. Searching the shallows for active fish is a normal part of the game.