My greatest day ever for crappies is etched in reminiscence, partly as a result of it was an April Idiot’s Day, now greater than 30 years in the past. Late within the season, after getting a blanket of moist snow, we augered holes over a deep basin, dropped transducers down holes, and the screens on our inexperienced Fish-Lo-Ok-Tors lit up just like the Christmas tree in entrance of Macy’s Division Retailer. In 32 toes of water, crappies hovered in an enormous pack, stretching throughout the center of the water column.

I grabbed the primary rod I might attain, one used the day earlier than for speckled trout. It was spooled with 6-pound Maxima monofilament and the lure was a 2 1⁄4-inch silver-plated Williams Wabler spoon weighing 1/4 ounce. Hardly normal crappie fare. I did not take time to tip the spoon.

Watching the fish react on sonar was a shock. The spoon barely acquired under the ice earlier than a number of crappies turned on the afterburner, screaming up out of the suspended meeting to intercept the fluttering mass of steel. The hits had been crushingly exhausting. It was like coping with aggressive lake trout.

I nonetheless have the grainy photograph from that day hanging on my workplace wall. Again then every little thing that hit the ice stayed there. On the finish of the day, I slid the slabs on a rope stringer and struggled to hoist it over my shoulder, the final crappie draping from the stringer touching the ice. The lesson from that day stayed with me for the remainder of my ice fishing profession.

At One Excessive

It at all times pays to think about one presentation excessive or the opposite. Typically, use a lot larger and sooner displays when the fishing’s good—and use a lot smaller and slower displays when the chunk’s robust. That is not a lot of a revelation on this age of ever-advancing ice data, however most crappie anglers nonetheless spend most of their time caught someplace in the course of the presentation pack. They will not think about starting with a #3 Jigging Rap, however attain immediately for a minnow anchored by a break up shot set under a float, or they attain for his or her normal small spoon.

On one finish of the size, I carry a whack of 1/7- and 1/4-ounce Williams Wabler spoons. I typically use 1/16- and 1/8-ounce Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons, and HT Hawger Spoons of the identical measurement. The #2 and #3 Jigging Raps are normal fare for me, together with smallest Northland Puppet Minnow, the PM1. I’ve had many spectacular catches with Raps and Puppets. Begin the day with one among these aggressive lures—and lots of instances you finish it with one of many identical aggressive displays. I would add that I usually tip these lures with a small minnow head to start, seeing if it is necessary because the day advances. Typically, particularly with the Raps and Puppets, it is not essential to tip.

Crappie Ice Fishing

If the fish don’t get after aggressive choices you quickly realize it and might attempt one thing else—tinkering again a bit. However do not be lulled into not contemplating the aggressive choices once more because the day continues. It is typical to have sizzling fish for half an hour then should go smaller and slower, particularly throughout noon. Many days, although, because the solar settles the fish are as soon as once more throughout an aggressive possibility, once they will not contact tiny and gradual.

Aggressive choices are notably productive in the course of the first-ice interval in December, when crappies are unpressured and hungry—and once more eventually ice in late March and early April, when their metabolism kicks again into excessive gear. Throughout these peak durations you may “over finesse” fish. A tiny, trembling, micro-jig tipped with a maggot barely hovered close to a crappie’s nostril is ignored, whereas the identical fish kick down the door and pummel a hunk of dancing steel.

The opposite rule right here is it doesn’t matter what lure finally goes down the opening, to at all times think about pushing the window with what you may do with that lure. Do not assume that the 1/16-ounce spoon needs to be fished slowly—carry, drop, lengthy pause. Dance it sometimes because it sinks to depth. Then as soon as it settles, jiggle, jiggle, jiggle, barely pause. Repeat. The usual lengthy pause typically is not obligatory. See how the fish reply.

Similar with a micro jig just like the Marmoska. Attempt some huge dancing. Pound the jig exhausting, shaking your hand exhausting to get the jig to vibrate intensely. Typically you barely have to scale back the pounding—or add the slightest pause—to get fish to eat. Once more, the fish quickly inform you what they need. However they can not inform you they like the intense finish of the spectrum in the event you do not attempt it.

Crappie Ice Fishing

The Different Excessive

The mighty mites on the different finish of the size excel when the chunk’s robust, because it usually is throughout midwinter. This additionally typically is the case when crappies are being pressured by legions of anglers. Even right here, nevertheless, it nonetheless typically pays to at the least attempt aggressive maneuvers.

Nonetheless, throughout robust instances, many anglers do not scale down sufficient to curiosity crappies, nor decelerate sufficient to lastly set off fish. I’ve written earlier than about two of the most effective crappie anglers I do know, Winnipeg, Manitobans Mike Schamber and Tom VanLeeuwen. Fishing in a crowd on Wet Lake in the future a number of winters in the past I watched them catch and launch greater than 50 fish, whereas different anglers had been blanking. Sensing how sensitive the fish had been, they experimented with progressively smaller jigs, discovering that hair jigs weighing 1/60 ounce had been a part of the important thing. They did not must be tipped however they needed to be fished useless slow—virtually deadsticked.

Completely useless gradual typically is a essential a part of this finish of this presentation image. In-Fisherman Editor In Chief Doug Stange and I’ve had many fruitful days filming In-Fisherman Ice Fishing Information tv the final three years. We have demonstrated that at instances you simply cannot maintain a rod nonetheless sufficient to set off crappies.

Working with a spring bobber on the rod tip, step one is to get a fish to return in—or transfer from gap to gap till you discover one with a fish under it. As soon as a fish is inside vary, typically the one approach to get a chunk is to prop the rod on the ice and watch the tip. At instances, simply barely contact the spring tip with a finger to tickle the jig under. Different instances, do not contact it in any respect for minutes on finish. fish are hovering under as a result of you may see them on electronics.

Ultimately, the tip ghostly strikes because the fish takes. On such days, this method will get the job completed to movie a TV section and eke out a meal of contemporary fish.

To some it is shocking {that a} fish, hovering at nighttime, 30 toes beneath your boots can distinguish between 1/64-ounce distinction in jig weight, or can detect simply the proper motion (or lack thereof) of a jig suspended under a rod setting useless nonetheless on the ice. However discriminate they’ll and sometimes do. You see it repeatedly each winter in the event you look ahead to it.

Step away from the center of the pack and spend time tinkering with displays on the sting. You see issues you have not seen earlier than and have banner days the likes of which you’ve got by no means skilled earlier than.

6 Arc of Slabs, Northeast Mississippi

Just like the Bordeaux area grows world-class wine grapes, the Arc of Slabs is legendary for producing big crappies. Grenada, Sardis, Enid, and Arkabutla — it is a tossup which of those reservoirs is perhaps greatest for large white crappies throughout March and April. Jigging in brush and spider-rigging are the most effective bets. Wading, too, at instances. Contact: Information John Woods, 731/334-9669; Information John Harrison, 662/983-5999.

2 Lake Erie, Ohio

One of the best alternatives are between Port Clinton and Vermilion, says Ohio fishery biologist Travis Hartman. Many marinas and backwaters have wonderful crappie fishing within the spring, peaking in late April to early Might, and infrequently within the fall. Good open-water spots are East and West harbors and Sandusky Bay. Test related rivers, too. A number of fish to 12 inches, with 14-inchers not unusual, Hartman says. Craig Lewis of Erie Outfitters says Lake Erie is a surprisingly missed crappie fishery, contemplating the numbers of fish caught, as much as 18 inches, as huge as any within the state. Contact: Erie Outfitters, 440/949-8934; Ohio DNR,

4 Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee

Information Billy Blakley says the crappie forecast for the ‘Earthquake Lake ‘ is superb for 2013, with common fish working 1 to 11„4 kilos and catches as much as 23„4 kilos. The lake comprises each black and white crappies. From March via Might, spider-rig and jig round underwater wooden, and jig round uncovered cypress stumps. The chunk picks up once more within the fall. High-notch lodging and meals at Blue Financial institution Resort. Contact: Information Billy Blakley at Blue Financial institution Resort 877/258-3226,

7 Weiss Lake, Alabama

The crappie outlook is excellent for 2013, experiences Alabama district fisheries supervisor Dan Catchings. Samples point out one, and presumably two, sturdy year-classes of crappies in 2010 and 2011. Count on good numbers of harvestable-size fish from the 2010 spawn this spring, with the 2011 year-class contributing to the fishing in mid- to late 2013. Fishing picks up in February as crappies transfer shallow. March via early Might is greatest, with April being the height. Contact: Information Richard Inexperienced, 859/983-0673, or guide via Little River Marina and Lodge (256/779-6461); Information Mark Collins,, 256/779-3387.

8 Kentucky Lake, Kentucky / Tennessee

Anglers sit up for the ‘Crappie Capital ‘ dwelling as much as its identify in 2013, says information Steve ­McCadams. Count on numbers of high quality fish with a shot at slabs over 2 kilos. Whereas motion in the course of the spawn in late March into April is excellent, do not overlook Might and June, when secure lake ranges and climate patterns discover crappies concentrating round fish attractors at midrange depths, he says. Contact: Information Steve ­McCadams,

9 Kerr (Buggs Island) Reservoir, Virginia/North Carolina

Numbers of crappies from 1 to 13„4 kilos with an opportunity for 2- to 3-pounders. As soon as the spider-rigging chunk wanes in shallower creek channels by April, motion turns to jigging deeper brushpiles. Contact: Information Bud Haynes, 434/374-0308; Information Keith Wray, 434/635-0207; Bobcats Bait and Sort out, 434/374-8381.

3 Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma

This shallow reservoir boasts numbers of crappies within the 2- to 3-pound vary, with 37-fish limits frequent. In spring, the motion is shallow, doodlesocking flooded buckbrush in excessive water, or working rocky banks and brush cowl in low water, says information Todd Huckabee. Crappies transfer to deeper brush later in spring. Contact: Information Todd Huckabee, toddhuckabee.internet; Information Barry Morrow,; Blue Heron Bait and Sort out, 918/334-5528.

5 Lake Fork, Texas

Numbers of slabs from 11„4 to 21„2 kilos are inclined to get missed on this lake well-known for lunker bass. Mid-Might via June is information Terri Moon’s favourite time for crappies, when the fish head to brushpiles and bridge abutments in 20 to 24 toes of water. Pitching Fork Sort out’s Stay Child Shads on 1/16-ounce jigs is a high possibility. Ivan Martin and Rick Loomis additionally information shoppers to Fork’s crappies in November and December, when fish are on factors and in deeper brush. Contact: Information Terri Moon, 903/383-7773; Information Ivan Martin, 918/260-7743; Information Rick Loomis,; Lake Fork Marina for lodging, meals, and sort out,

1 Lake of the Woods, Ontario

The Woods is top-notch for black crappies to 16 inches, says In-Fisherman contributor Jeff Gustafson. Many crappies on this large water have by no means seen lures, so as soon as you discover them, the numbers and high quality are second to none, he says. Motion begins in mid-Might, with fish shifting to shallow areas with cowl. After spawning in early June, goal them on weedflats in 6 to 10 toes of water. Float-and-jig combos excel. Additionally attempt small suspending jerkbaits and swimming marabou jigs. Contact: Information Dave Bennett,, 807/466-2140; Information Jamie Bruce,, 807/466-7134.

10 St. Johns River, Florida

The stretch of the St. Johns River south of Lake George presents excellent fishing. Crappies from 2 to three kilos are caught commonly, with common catches nicely over a pound. This was the scene of an In-Fisherman tv episode that airs this spring. Weedflats maintain fish that may’t resist tubes fished underneath a float. Or troll channel edges utilizing jigs or minnows. Contact: Lodging at Castaways on the River, 352/759-4522,; Information Steve Niemoeller, 386/846-2861,

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