The Crappie Spawn happens every spring when the water temperatures reach above the 60-degrees. Depending on where you live, the crappie spawn can be anytime from early March to the middle of May.
Like other panfish, crappie build spawning nests in shallow water generally ranging between 1-6 feet of water. Male crappie build nests by aggressively brushing their caudal (bottom) fins like brooms in order to clear the ground for a spawning nest. Once built, male crappie will defend their nests at all costs.
Now that you what crappie are doing during the spawn, here are 3 things to remember when fishing the crappie spawn:
1) Look For Brush, Cover, or Reeds
Fishing shallow cover during the spawn is one of the easiest ways to target crappie. Crappie will spawn around hardcover like brush, docks, long-stemmed reeds, and cattails. Either manmade or natural cover provides crappie with protection from predators and wind during the spawn.
2) Heat Check! (Find The Warm Water)
Crappie begins spawning once water temperatures reach above 60 degrees. Usually, this happens right after smallmouth bass and just before the largemouth bass spawning period. The northern section of lakes and the headwaters of reservoirs usually have the warmest water in the early spring, which means the crappie spawn typically starts first in those areas first.
3) Only Take What You Need
Fishing during the crappie spawn is the easiest time for anglers to catch both quality and quantity. With that being said, we love a good old fashion fish fry, but it’s crucial to respect guidelines and apply reasonable harvest during the crappie spawn.
Like most fish, crappie are the most risk during the spawn, and over-harvests can negatively impact the future of crappie fishing. Only take what you need, let the others swim off for another day. Harvest responsibly and release trophy-sized fish. Crappie in the 9-12 inch range are the ideal size keeper crappie.
Bonus Tip: Bring The Right Gear
Knowing when to catch crappie and where to catch crappie is great, but you can’t actually bring them in without the right equipment.
The Best Crappie Fishing Rods
Choose virtually any ultralight to the medium-light spinning combo spooled with light monofilament or fluorocarbon. Having a light combo will help you cast small lures and rigs at panfish much more effectively.
The Best Lures For The Crappie Spawn
I’ve had the most success using micro-jigs rigged with soft plastics under a small bobber. Since most fish will be pushed up shallow next to brush, I typically use a light jighead rigged with a soft plastic or live bait and suspend that 2-4 feet below the surface. Slip bobbers or the classic pinch-on style will both work but a slip bobber is much easier to cast in confined areas.
1/16-1/32oz jig heads are my preferred choice when fishing soft plastics under a bobber for spring crappie but I’ll switch to the classic bobber, weight, and small gold hook presentation with live fathead minnows or redworms.
When trying to locate spawning crappie using search baits like a small crank, swimbait, or inline spinner is a good way to eliminate the water quickly. I use a panfish crankbait like Karl’s Whipper Snapper to locate fish; once I’ve found the crappie, it’s bobber fishing all the way.
Everything You Need To Target The Crappie Spawn
Karl’s Lil Twitchy
Karl’s Bantam Jerkbait
Karl’s Mini Minnow
Crappie Fishing Bobbers
Stickies Aberdeen Hooks
Crappie Fishing Rods
That’s it! Now go get outside and get fishing during one of the best times of the year for chasing crappie. Tight lines!
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