A Golden Rule for Spring Time Crappies
By Sean Colter
Does finding the fish consume a better part of your day when on the water? Many anglers I see and talk to seem to play the "Hope Game", meaning they hit the water looking for a group of boats and hope they are catching fish. I have written down one of my golden rules for eliminating inactive water. By using this tactic it may help take the hope game out of your tackle box.
Understanding where crappies stage:
During ice-out in Northern Minnesota, which normally occurs in mid-to-late April, crappies should be compared to a Yo-Yo. From one day to the next crappies will move from the shallows to the deep water on just a simple temperature drop making them hard to find on a daily basis. Knowing that one can eliminate some water, but there is still a lot of water to look over.
This is where the golden rule for crappies comes in. Most crappies spawn in shallow 1-4 foot areas, which have soft-dark bottoms such as; bays, creeks, or pencil reed patches.
Once you have found the prime habitat for crappies spawning now one must locate the staging area. To find the staging area one must head straight out from the spawning area, and find the first initial drop-off to deeper water, this in most cases will be the staging area for those spawning crappies.
So now that you have found this, how do you pick the right depth to fish? Well this is it, tie on a bright ¼ oz. Jig and drop it over the side of the boat, keep your eye on it till it is gone, as you lose sight of it, stop the fall and measure the distance from the top of the water to your jig. If you lose sight at six feet, eight feet, or two feet, add four feet to this number and this is where you want to start fishing for these staging crappies.
On murky lakes the hot depth seems to be the 6-7 foot range and for clearer lakes the 15-foot mark seem to work the best. Now this will help you with saving time searching for those fish, try working the edge in this depth and move in and out a few feet until locating the school, they're there, just be persistent.
Understanding the Spawn cycle:
Crappies have one of the largest water-spawning temperature ranges compared to most game fish in Northern Minnesota. They have been found to start spawning activity in 55 degrees F. and have seen the spawn last until reaching water temperatures of 70 Degrees F.
Once the water temperatures hit that secret mark for the crappies, the males move in first and start making a nest. Once the nest is built to their liking, the females will slide into the nesting area to perform their spawning rituals.
From the time the females move into the nesting areas to the time they move back out, only 24 hours will lapse. Once the spawn is complete the males will guard the nest until the fry hatches and are ten days old, making the now hungry males more vulnerable to being caught.
Most days the when the water temperatures are around 55-60 degrees F. you will find crappies in the shallows but this will be a very short time period for you to catch those normally larger females.
by understanding where the crappies will hold before’ during and after the spawn you will increase your odds to filling those voids in your live-well and retreat from the hope game.
Northern Minnesota League of Guides.
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