Ronnie Capps on Fishing the Crappie Spawn – Part 2

Ronnie Capps on Fishing the Crappie Spawn – Part 2

April 12, 2022

Ronnie Capps on Fishing the Crappie Spawn – Part 2

In this week’s article, Crappie fishing legend Ronnie Capps explains how to use real time sonar for fishing during the spawn.

By Phillip Gentry


Last time, B’n’M pro-staff angler Ronnie Capps stepped out of the boat and into a pair of waders to go hand-to-hand with spawning crappie. This week, with the aid of live forward-facing sonar, Capps opens a window into the world of spawning crappie.

Capps said it’s simply not true that real time sonar is ineffective for catching shallow water crappie. Depending on water clarity, the sonar may not be needed on his home lake at Reelfoot as visually fishing structure will often allow for sight fishing for fish on the beds. In other situations, though, live image sonar is definitely an asset.

“I guess the hardest thing, you know, is knowing what’s a crappie and what’s not,” said Capps. “Everything is moving shallow this time of year. You look on the screen, you’ll see yellow bass, catfish, bream, and crappie all hanging out on the same stuff.”

Capps disagrees with the sentiment that live sonar isn’t useful when crappie are holding in extremely shallow water.

According to Capps, being familiar with how crappie behave in the water is probably easier than recognizing the shape you see on the screen. Each fish has its own personality and after a little observation, it’s not hard to pick out the crappie from the crowd.

“There might be 100 fish on one log. You can see them all working but more than anything else, crappie will sit still with that classic upwards tilt and pretty much everything else will be moving back and forth or swimming around in circles,” said Capps.

One condition that hinders fishing with live sonar is when shallow water is muddy. Capps said crappie are hard to see on the scope unless they come up off the bottom and that will help you distinguish them from the bottom or bottom structure in murky conditions.

A jig pole has always been Capps’ favorite rod for spawn fishing, stating he can impart more movement and more control over the bait.

He also cautioned that crappie won’t tolerate an angler getting too close to its bed and for this reason he favors using a 14-to-16-foot B’n’M BGJP jig pole when he’s fishing for them.

“Here on Reelfoot, you can pretty much figure the crappie are going to be on the outside edge of the vegetation, especially white crappie,” said Capps. “The black crappie may be on a log or deeper in the vegetation, but the white fish will be on that deeper edge and that’ll help you understand what you’re looking at.”

Some anglers favor casting to spawning crappie on the beds, but Capps admits he’s done better with a jig pole than he ever has with a casting rod when crappie are spawning.

“You can’t hold a bait still with a casting rod and there are days the fish won’t bite unless that bait is staring them right in the face,” he said. “At other times I’ve seen it when they wouldn’t hit a bait unless it’s moving, and you can swing a bait with a jig pole or move it off to the side enough to make him grab it. There’s just so much more you can do with a jig pole although casting for spawning fish is a lot of fun.”

Capps all-time favorite crappie spawn bait is a 1/16 oz hot candy jighead paired with a dark blue and dark purple tube.

When it comes to baits for spawning fish, Capps is a fan of tube jigs over anything else. He said that both hair jigs and tube jigs can be effective, but in his experience, when jigging down in heavy cover, it’s much easier to get a hair jig stuck than a tube jig.

“I can’t exactly explain why, but a tube jig, with that rubber body, will roll all around over sticks and stems and stay clear, whereas a hair jig will hang pretty easily.”

His favorite color for spawning fish on Reelfoot has always and continues to be a Hot Candy pink head with and dark blue and dark purple body.

“I’ve caught a lot of fish on that color and they can get hard to find at times,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, but they hate that color and they just want to kill it when they see it in the water.”


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