Spring Crappie Fishing in Kentucky

Smaller waters hold crappie just like the big lakes

Spring Crappie Fishing in Kentucky
This group of black crappie came from a small central Kentucky lake last week. Smaller waters across the state offer productive crappie fishing right now for anglers who fish from the bank or from a small craft such as a johnboat or kayak.

From Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The wild striped bass in a ginger and red wine sauce at a restaurant in New York City runs $135 before gratuity. At a Japanese restaurant in the same city, a dinner of sushi costs nearly $600 per person.

These are some of the highest rated and expensive restaurants in the country, but we in Kentucky have a world class fish dish that is likely as delicious as those from a highbrow restaurant that is practically free by comparison.

It costs some time along with a few dozen small minnows or a bag of 2-inch chartreuse curly-tailed grubs. This outlay yields a plate of delicious fried crappie filets to go with homemade potato salad, baked beans and cole slaw, one of the best meals found anywhere at any price.


You also don’t have to own an expensive boat to catch crappie in Kentucky right now, either. Many of our smaller waters across the state offer highly productive crappie fishing for those with a canoe, johnboat, kayak, float tube or anglers who fish from the bank.


Central and northern Kentucky anglers have four excellent small lakes to catch numbers of crappie this spring. Ninety-two acre Boltz Lake and 134-acre Bullock Pen Lake, both in Grant County, as well as 183-acre Kincaid Lake in Pendleton County and 158-acre Beaver Lake in Anderson County all offer fast action for crappie right now.

“These lakes offer really good fishing for numbers of both white and black crappie,” said Jeff Crosby, central fisheries district biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “There is a really good population of 7- to 9-inch crappie in Boltz along with bigger ones. Bullock Pen’s crappie population is about the same as in Boltz. Kincaid has a lot of mid-range crappie as well with some bigger ones mixed in. It has a pretty decent crappie population.”

Crosby said anglers can help all three of these lakes by eating some of the crappie in them, freeing up food for the remaining crappie to grow larger.

Local anglers report catching nice 9- to 11-inch crappie from Beaver Lake on lime green with metal flake 2-inch curly-tailed grubs rigged on 1/16-ounce leadheads. Fish weed edges and woody cover on this lake for a mixture of white and black crappie.


Cedar Creek Lake is known for producing some robust largemouth bass, but the crappie population in the lake gets better with each year since the removal of the 9-inch minimum size limit in 2008.

“The crappie are growing pretty well in Cedar Creek,” said John Williams, southeastern fisheries district biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “We saw a guy the other day that caught 20 black crappie, with most of them about 13 inches or so.”

This angler caught them on pink crappie jigs, but live minnows fished under bobbers from 6 to 8 feet deep are fooling many nice crappie in the lake. Black crappie prefer clear water and the areas of the lake with less stain in the water make the best fishing spots at this time.


The fisheries division stocked 21,000 rainbow trout in Cedar Creek Lake earlier this year, providing an excellent bonus fishing opportunity. Anglers fishing the bank access areas on the lake should catch some trout by tossing white in-line spinners.

Shanty Hollow Lake contains 185 acres of water in Warren County and holds an excellent population of white crappie from 12 to 14 inches long. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife placed brush, brush reefs and Christmas Trees in Shanty Hollow near the boat ramp on KY 1592 (Shanty Hollow Road).

Anglers probing these structures with live minnows, chartreuse and red tube jigs or 1/16-ounce chartreuse marabou Road Runners will score fish. You may find the GPS coordinates of these fish holding structures on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov. Click on the “Fish” tab, then “Where to Fish.”

Eastern Kentucky anglers should hit 710-acre Carr Creek Lake in Knott County for both white and black crappie. The white crappie in Carr Creek can reach 16 inches, while the black crappie mainly run from 9 to 12 inches long. The lake has a 9-inch minimum size limit on crappie.

Fisheries personnel placed a mixture of pallet stacks and Christmas trees for habitat in Carr Creek and hinge cut trees along the shoreline. Anglers should probe these areas with live minnows, 2-inch chartreuse curly-tailed grubs or blue and white tube jigs rigged on 1/16-ounce leadheads for crappie.

Just like on Shanty Hollow, the GPS coordinates of these fish holding structures are on the fw.ky.gov website under the “Where to Fish” tab.

Crappie time is now on these smaller waters. All you need is some time along with a few lures or minnows to catch the makings of a world class meal. You will also need a valid Kentucky fishing license, as the new license started March 1.

Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Minn Kota Riptide Terrova Saltwater Trolling Motor

Minn Kota Riptide Terrova Saltwater Trolling Motor

Minn Kota's Brad Henry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that there's much to like in the new Minn Kota Riptide Terrova saltwater trolling motor that comes with I-Pilot and an 87-inch shaft.

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

Major League Fishing pros Alton Jones, Jeff Sprague, Anthony Gagliardi and James Watson share their thoughts on how to approach fishing a new lake for bass.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time. Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures? Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip. Other Freshwater

240 Pounds! Massive Alligator Gar Taken on Father's Day

Lynn Burkhead - June 22, 2020

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip.

Various companies show appreciation to frontline defense – healthcare professionals – against the pandemic with special giveaway. News

Outdoors Industry Honoring Healthcare Heroes: COVID-19

April 27, 2020

Various companies show appreciation to frontline defense – healthcare professionals – against...

Where and how some of the state's best archery bucks were killed last season. Whitetail

Oklahoma's Big Archery Bucks of 2018

Kelly Bostian

Where and how some of the state's best archery bucks were killed last season.

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths. Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths. Fishing

Chase a Mixed-Bag Bite at Lake Oconee

Larry Larsen - April 28, 2020

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now