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Crappies are the angler's little secret

February 20, 2005|by Bill Anderson

The two fishing opportunities that anglers most often concentrate on in the late winter and early spring are trout fishing and crappie fishing. Of the two, the early season trout fishing opportunities are easily the best known.

Advanced crappie fishing may be one of the least known of the local fishing opportunities locally. The anglers that I have met tend to be pretty quiet about the fish they are catching and are particularly closed-mouthed about the places they are catching their fish. Great crappie holes are well guarded secrets.

Crappies are not large fish, but they are serious predators and are taken mostly on small minnows or small jigs that imitate minnows. For many years, small marabou jigs were the lure most crappies fishermen used, but now plastics are the most popular. Crappies have small mouths, and the jigs 1/16-ounce range are a good starting point.

Many anglers use live minnows exclusively and bait shops often offer the very small shiners for just this purpose. They are often referred to as crappie minnows.

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Crappie fishing is more about finding the fish. In crappie fishing locations, this is particularly important. In any lake or river, crappies will move from spot to spot depending on the season. When you learn the seasonal movements for a particular body of water you can have success in all seasons.

After the crappies are located, they are not hard to catch and there are a number of presentations that work well. One of very best is the slip bobber presentation, which works equally well for bait or jigs. The slip bobber rig utilizes a bobber stop that allows you to adjust the depth of your lure by sliding the bobber stop to the desired depth.

One of the reasons the slip bobbers work really well with tiny crappie jigs is that fishing a small jig below the bobber allows the bobber to impart action to the lure. As the waves and current jiggle the bobber, the movements are imparted to the lure, making it a very appealing presentation to the crappies.

The late winter or early spring crappie fishing is usually the best shot at the biggest fish. It's easier to find the fish during the spawning season in April, but the average size is smaller. After spawning, the fish seem to scatter for a while and seem very hard to locate and catch.

As many know, crappies are considered a great table fish and are one fish species that do not need much catch-and-return protection because they reproduce fast which can result in the stunted fish.

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