By: Matt Foster
I’m not sure about you, but if it’s not going to snow then I’m ready for spring. Here in southeast Missouri, it has been a long, cold, rainy winter. As I type this article and listen to the rain, I can’t help but think of catching spring-time crappie.
It’s what nearly every crappie fisherman lives for- warmer weather, fast biting action, and slab crappie. During the spring, my presentation of bait doesn’t differ much from that of winter fishing. For the most part, I’m still spider rigging with my B’n’M 16′ Capps and Coleman’s, but I will increase my boat speed slightly. With the increased boat speed, I will add more weight to my line to keep the line verticle in the water. During the winter, I was using 3/4 ounce egg sinkers: in the spring, I will often use one ounce. The added weight allows me to move at a faster speed and still keep the bait presentation verticle. The added weight also increases the sensitivity of the rod. Due to crappie being more active during the spring, I will usually start at 0.2 miles per hour and will go up to 0.7 miles per hour or even faster when spider rigging. Start slow and you can always pick up speed if needed.
There are days, though, that I will not pass up a chance to use my B’n’M 6′ Buck’s Graphite Crappie Combo and throw a bobber towards a laid over tree or brush pile near the bank. For this method, I start off with a Grenada Lake Tackle Company 1/32 ounce willow blade spinner and a Brushpile Jigs 2″ Brush Hammer or a Crappie Magnet in Mermaid color. I like the lighter weight jig head because it takes the jig longer to sink giving crappie a longer look at it. The lighter weight jig also allows the crappie to inhale the bait as opposed to a heavier jig head.
A calm, sunny day tends to make the crappie move shallow (1-3 foot of water), and a spring rain or cold front will move them a little deeper. If this happens, I have found that the crappie will rarely move too far from where they were the previous day. I try to find a cove that is fed by a creek and I tend to have my best luck in the back of shallow creek arms. The key to finding pre-spawn crappie is to locate the warmest water. I will drive around the lake utilizing my Humminbird electronics until I find the creek arm with the warmest water. I have seen the water temperature fluctuate 3-4 degrees from one end of the lake to the other. That much temperature change could be the difference between success and failure. While driving around the lake, I will look for what I call “winter laydowns.” These are trees or branches that have fallen into the water during the winter. I take note of their location by marking a waypoint so I can fish that piece of cover when the spawn hits in a few weeks.
No matter which method you choose, it is a fantastic time of the year to bring a kid with you. They get to experience the outdoors and enjoy one of the best bites of the year. Some of my best memories growing up are when the whole family would go fishing. I sure hope that I can make plenty of those same memories with my family!