Spring is the favorite time of year for most crappie anglers when dogwoods start blooming and fish invade the shallows for the spawning season. Regardless of where you are located in the country, it’s time to get out on the water and chase some slabs.
The folks at B’n’M Poles are dedicated to helping your find and catch more crappie this season and that’s the reason why we maintain a roster of the best professional tournament anglers and fishing guides to show our customer’s the best tips and tactics to help them wherever they fish.
We picked a few of our staffers and asked them to provide us with one tip that helps them land more and bigger crappie and here’s what they had to say.
Kyle Schoenherr is a tournament angler and fishing guide on Lake Kincaid in southwest Illinois. Whether crappie are still in the spawn or post spawn, Schoenherr said you’re not likely to find too many fish if you aren’t fishing around cover like stumps, brushpiles and stake beds this time of year. It’s also a time when water color begins to change from mostly clear to stained or even muddy as spring rains and winter thaws occur. It’s for this reason he suggests using heavy line and light wire hooks in stained water.
“ If you get a hook snagged while trolling around heavy cover, the heavier line allows you to pull the hook free, often bending the hook out which is easier to re-bend into shape than retie an entire rig and over the course of a day, will save you a lot of time,” said Schoenherr.
Legendary crappie angler Sam Heaton said it’s a long time from deer season where he loves to fish in northwest Alabama, but that doesn’t stop him from rattling crappie in.
When he says rattling, he’s referring to adding some noise to his fishing rig to entice crappie during the spawn into striking his bait. To add this noise, Heaton uses a bobber filled with small shot to provide the rattle.
“I use an electric drill and make a small hole in a plastic bobber. I like the egg-shaped one you can get at most bait shops. I add a few lead shot from a shotgun shell. You can use smaller #8 shot to make a high pitch rattle or some larger BB shot to make a lower pitch rattle. Seal the hole with a little waterproof caulk,” he said.
“The secret is to add enough weight so that the cork floats at the midway point with two jigs under it,” said Heaton. “The shot also adds weight to the rigs so that when the cork is floating up over the top of a stump or next to a stick up, I can flick the rod tip, which causes the cork to rattle without pulling it away from the structure I’m fishing—I’m rattling in crappie.”
The best advice Pro-Staff Manager Kent Driscoll has for crappie anglers who followed crappie from deeper water to the shallows during the spawn is to reverse course. He trolled for crappie on the way in and he’ll also troll on the way back.
“ I’ll still spider rig, which is another trolling tactic that covers water, just not as much as crank baiting because I’m using the electric motor instead of the big outboard,” said Driscoll.
“Crappie are stressed out after the spawn but they still have to eat to gain their strength back,” he said. “When I spider rig, I’ll concentrate on fishing structure that’s located on their migration routes back to deep water – sort of the reverse of what you do before the spawn.
Driscoll advised to start from a spawning flat and follow the creek or river channel looking for topography changes and cover. This includes ledges, brushpiles, logjams along the creek channel, anyplace that would hold crappie and offer them a place to ambush baitfish.
Lake Pickwick, AL guide and crappie fishing promoter Brad Whitehead reminds anglers to stay above the fish. He’s referring to the shape and positioning of a crappie’s eyes, mouth and body, that prompts crappie to feed in an upward direction and rarely feed down. Whitehead suggests paying attention to the level of the fish marked on your electronics and make sure you place your baits at or just above that level.
“No matter what you’re fishing with or how you’re fishing it, depending on water clarity, I suggest keeping your baits from 6” – 2 feet above the fish,” said Whitehead. “Just 6 inches below them, and you’re likely to get skunked.”
If national crappie pro Mike Parrott had to pick only one spot on a lake he’s never seen before, he would suggest fishing marina docks,
“Everything these fish need can be found around big boat docks,” said Parrott, “depth, food, and cover. I think a lot of crappie even spawn under these docks in most lakes. All they have to do is move from shallower to deeper as the weather dictates.”
When asked what tactic works best for him, Parrott said shooting 1/32 oz. jigs into and around the stalls was his best go-to tactic for fishing marina docks.
Spring is here and the fishing is hot. Make sure you stop by your local B’n’M Poles retailer and stock up on all the gear you need before you hit the water. Visit us online at bnmpoles.com.