Here is where the best crappie fishing is expected to be in 2018 all across the country.
Crappie are usually the first species to become active in early spring and when found, anglers can usually count on catching a lot of fish. As the days get longer and the water gets warmer, crappie move from deep water to the shallows to begin spawning.
That's great news for crappie anglers from Mississippi to Illinois to the Great Plains.
Whether you're a "puller" or a "pusher," a boat-dock jig shooter or a brushpile doodler, we've taken a deep look at what you may expect this season.
(Editor's note: Click on each headline to read the entire 2018 outlook for your state)
Alabama anglers rarely lack opportunities to crappie fish. From one end of the state to the other, both large and small lakes feature good crappie fishing.
Of course, good is relative. At the least, most Alabama lakes are good in an average year and can be exceptional at their peak. The traditional favorites, such as Weiss, Martin, Eufaula and Millers Ferry, remain go-to stops, but many less-publicized fisheries offer quality slabs as well.
Looking for a blue-ribbon Arkansas fishing locale where you can scratch your crappie fishing itch this spring? Fortunately, in our state, you won't have to look far.
Black crappie and white crappie swim in waters statewide, serving up fun-filled excitement for our most avid panfishermen, especially at this time of year when the fish spawn in shoreline shallows.
Some waters have justly deserved reputations for producing trophy-sized crappie.
Others provide faster action for smaller fish. You can choose the peaceful splendor of a tiny oxbow lake deep in the Arkansas bottoms, or try hooking a slab on a gigantic reservoir with a mountain backdrop.
With the weather warming, crappie are getting ready to spawn, which means anglers are getting ready to catch them. Here are a few crappie fishing hot spots you should consider this year.
Anglers are itching to get out on the water, and for many the slightest hint of spring in the air indicates that the crappie are also getting the itch and soon will be moving shallow to spawn.
The weather is crazy this time of year in Georgia, being hard to predict if spring really is around the corner or if "Old Man Winter" has decided to set in for a while longer.
Crappie fishing ranges from great to average in the Great Plains this year. The best of it is predicted in North Dakota and Kansas. South Dakota and Nebraska will have good fishing, but it won't be at peak levels.
Across the entire region, crappies have grown in popularity over the decades. The approaching spring spawn is the very best time to go after this fun fish. Here is what to expect this spring in the best crappie waters.
Perhaps the most popular panfish in Illinois is the crappie. Found in abundant numbers throughout the state, crappies come in both white and black subspecies as well as hybrid and black-nose varieties.
The latter is a stocked subspecies introduced for biological studying of crappie development.
When they're stocked in a body of water in specific years the Illinois Department of Natural Resources can monitor their development.
During 2017, the overall size structure of many southern Illinois crappies increased.
More and more lakes produced 2-pound plus fish. One lake produced a new state-record hybrid crappie. The 4-pound, 8.8-ounce fish was caught in Kinkaid Lake by Ryan Povolish.
Crappie fishing is a relaxing way to spend a few hours before or after taking on the day. Many Indiana lakes are full of nice fish thanks to sound fishery management on the part of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The tackle is simple to use. And the results can be excellent table fare.
Crappie size varies from lake to lake and from north to south. Generally speaking, a 10-inch fish will weigh about 1/2 pound. Larger fish in the 16-inch length class might weigh 2 1/2 pounds.Fish in southern lakes tend to be larger due to a longer growing season. Size can also vary with the quality of forage available and fishing pressure.
Crappie will soon begin to move to shallower haunts, and the fishing will heat up.
Anglers statewide will have some great opportunities to pursue this popular species, and we've highlighted a few of the better destinations here.
If you are seeking slabs this spring, put these waters on your list.
With the weather warming, crappie are getting ready to spawn, which means Kentucky crappie fishing is ready to rock. Here are a few places you should consider this year.
Anglers enjoyed excellent crappie fishing across the Bluegrass State in 2017, and the news is much the same for 2018. Of course, it is getting time to pursue pre-spawn slabs, which are slowly migrating toward shallow spawning flats in preparation of the spawn.
It may be cold and rainy, but some of the best fishing, especially for really big crappie, occurs well before the spawn. Locating travel routes that crappie use to get to spawning grounds can pay off big for crappie anglers in February and continue throughout the spring.
Crappies are one of the earliest spawning fish in Michigan, moving into the shallows right after ice-out.
Timing-wise, ice-out varies greatly in Michigan. In Southern Michigan ice-out can happen in early March. Farther north in the Lower Peninsula it's usually sometime in April before the ice begins to disappear. It's not uncommon to have ice on U.P. lakes even into May.
Whenever ice-out happens, you can count on the following Michigan lakes to produce exceptional crappie action into early summer.
There is some great Mississippi/Louisiana crappie fishing throughout both state's borders, but these two areas should definitely be considered in 2018.
Mississippi and Louisiana are blessed with fantastic crappie fisheries, and each year sportsmen hammer Grenada, Ross Barnett, D'Arbonne, and Poverty Point. Mississippi's Eagle Lake and Louisiana's Ouachita River do not get as much attention, but they are crappie factories in their own right, and conditions bode well for 2018.
Missouri is home to an excess of reservoirs that hold good crappie populations. Throughout the state, anglers have no issue catching a limit of crappie most times of the year.
However, as winter turns to spring in February and March, some of the best crappie fishing in the state ramps up.
Here's where to go and what to do at Missouri's top lakes this time of year.
Largemouth bass and giant catfish probably grab more headlines and mountain trout are more glamorous, but it's difficult to beat crappies. They are everyone's fish and found in 90 percent of North Carolina's waters.
Here's a look at the state's top 2018 crappie fishing venues with observations by N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission regional fisheries biologists.
Ohio spring crappie fishing is highly dependent on the weather, here's where you need to fish when you need to go.
Warm sunshine on the back of your neck on a 65-degree April day, crappie hitting, and spring bursting out all around add up to some of the most pleasant fishing of the year.
Depending on where you fish in Ohio, the annual spring crappie fishing peak may start as early as March and last into early June. This is a festive time that is celebrated by crowds of anglers at the most popular lakes. Anglers do not even mind gathering into clusters where crappie fishing is best.
You can expect to take your share of early Oklahoma crappie when you fish these Sooner slab locations.
I fired up my lead-melting pot a few days ago and poured several-dozen small jigs. It's an annual chore I don't mind at all. That's because those jigs will help me stock my freezer with a few bags of tasty crappie filets this winter and spring.
We can catch crappie all year long in Oklahoma, but late winter and early spring are my favorite times to target them at several large reservoirs.
There are a variety of South Carolina crappie waters that should continue to be productive.
A significant percentage of South Carolina crappie fishermen enjoyed a very productive year in 2017. Given that the state had no shortage of water in the lakes and rivers in 2017 — it was a year without the negative effects of drought — overall the fishing looks very promising for the 2018 season.
According to Ross Self, Chief of Fisheries for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the crappie population statewide looks healthy and, barring unusual weather situations, the 2018 crappie fishing forecast is promising.
Though there are some ups and downs, Tennessee crappie fishing again looks great for 2018; there are plenty of options.
While crappie populations are often cyclic, the TWRA does excellent management work to keep crappie available to anglers.
Longer days, more sunshine and warmer nights are combining to loosen winter's grasp and the water temperature is slowly edging upward. That means shallow water areas are soon to be teeming with crappie moving toward their annual spawning locations.
One of my favorite crappie lakes is Toledo Bend. That lake has been touted as the "best bass fishing lake in America" for not one but two years going. But truth be known, it's one heck of a crappie factory too.
On T-Bend, some of the best catches of crappie in the state are coming from an area known as the Chicken Coop. It's located on a deep bend in the mid-lake area on the Sabine River channel just north of the Pendleton Bridge.
The Mountain State has numerous fishing opportunities within its borders, from largemouth bass to trout and muskie to walleye, as well as crappie.
According to Central Fisheries Biologist James Walker, all Corps of Engineers reservoirs throughout the Mountain State hold crappie and, as is true with all fishing, angler success varies according to weather, water conditions and timing.