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Bluegill Fishing

Six Surefire Tactics For Pre-Spawn Crappie

by Mike Lambeth   |  March 7th, 2012 4

These experts know how to put pre-spawn crappie in the live-well and on the stringer. Their tips can help you do the same.


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As trite as it sounds, you can’t catch crappie if you don’t fish areas where they are. Crappie have a penchant for brushy areas around shoals, in standing timber, and near aquatic vegetation. Black crappie prefer clear water, while white crappie tend to be found in murkier water. In addition, both species like areas with little or no current.

In lakes and rivers, crappie will move to creek channels to stage when water temperatures warm to 50 degrees. In ponds and bodies of water without creek channels, they’ll stage in deeper water and then move shallower to spawn. Spawning depths can vary from 1 foot to as deep as 15 feet. Ideal spawning temperatures vary.

Spawning dates range from as early as mid-January, in extremely warm climes, to as late as June in some states. However, in most states the spawn occurs between late-March and early May.

Well-known crappie pro Wally Marshall heads for the thickest cover he can find on any lake and vertically jigs in the thickest tangle there. Marshall patiently works his jig and catches a remarkable number of fish using that approach.

Boat docks and marinas can also be productive spots for crappie angling. Many of these floating structures are “baited” with trees that serve as a crappie magnet. These sometimes are recycled Christmas trees but the goal is to attract small baitfish, which in turn attract crappie.

My favorite tactic is to swim small jig around the edges of the docks. Minnow fishing can be very productive there as well, but you must remember that some docks are private and their owners may not like you fishing them.

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