Fish Shallow Waters for Post-spawn Walleyes and Crappies


In May, anglers are ready to get the boats in the water and fish. Unlike the early-season anglers who don’t mind battling the cold winds, snow and rain in March and April searching for walleyes, the fishermen this month are content to wait for the first real signs of spring and warming trends. This is when the tree buds really open up and start exposing their smaller leaves for the year and flowering shrubs burst with fragrant blooms. Some people go by the old adage that “when the lilacs are blooming, the crappies are spawning.” I personally think that these fish are ready on or near the full moon phase in May, which occurs on the 12th this year.

Of course, water temperatures matter, and the crappies prefer 60 to 68 degrees for spawning in our part of the state. After the female deposits her eggs, she leaves the spawning area and the male is then left to guard the nest. The eggs begin to hatch in two to three days then the males will slowly start to disperse throughout a main lake.

A portion of a morning catch of crappies near the Buckhorn Bridge on Castle Rock.

Around the first of the month the white bass are spawning or just finishing up on the rivers, so this can be some fast action for these with large catches possible. For the most part, the walleyes have finished their spring ritual and have started to drop back to the lake to rest and recuperate.

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Shallow-water areas near the mouths of rivers and feeder streams can hold lot of fish now because these waters warm faster. These areas will attract numerous minnow species and insects will start to emerge from the bottom content. Some areas to try for walleyes are areas to the east of the river channel in front of Northern Bay Resort, Mays Point and the Buckhorn Bridge on Castle Rock. On Petenwell, the area between the Dirty Oar (used to the Hide-A-Way) and the mouth of the river can be productive. Casting or trolling crankbaits or pitching jigs tipped with plastics or large Tuffy minnows are good options.

Spots to try for crappies on Castle Rock include both sides of the Buckhorn Bridge, the Little Yellow River inlet, Klein Creek, the Little Roche-A-Cri, Fish Lake and Waller’s Pond. If you prefer Petenwell, you might try Skeeba Slough, Devil’s Elbow, Chester’s and Browns creeks. Minnows on a number 4 Aberdeen hook under a slip bobber or a small jig tipped with a 2-inch twister tail work well.

If you’ve been waiting for more consistent seasonable temperatures to enjoy a day of fishing, then the time to go is now so let’s get out there and have some fun. Keep an eye on my message board—reports, tips, and discussions—on my website listed below for conditions and fishing reports.