By Northland Pro Craig Dickmeyer

We have been chomping at the bit for a while now, lakes are ice free,boats are out of storage
and ready to hit the water. Crappies are doing the same thing in preparation for their
spawning ritual, shallow water for rays to obtain warmth for egg development and feeding
opportunities.

This is the situation I would like to talk about, those times that crappies can be caught in shallow
water and the tactics used to greatly improve your catch rates.

Finesse, finesse, finesse:
Fishing memories can be of some relevance, but as water levels, water clarity and cover can
and do change on a yearly basis, these should just serve as a starting point.
Spot & Stalk: Yes you read that correctly, no different than deer hunting. Your intrusion into
their shallow water world must be of the most silent type, push poles and paddles can and
should be used to insure the most stealthy approach. My fishing partner Rick and I even have
employed a 12 ft. step ladder to gain a tactical advantage as well as the best anti glare
polarized sunglasses with bronze lenses you can afford, looking for fish skirting off to the sides
or holding tight to root balls, bog depressions, and root clusters.

Equipment: No place for your 5-6 ft panfish rods here, 7-7 ½ ft med light to medium fast tip
rods are the norm here, you will need that softer tip to not rip the soft lips and a little backbone
right away to get those fish up and over pads and other vegetation you are fishing.                                                                                                      The added length will also help in being able to mend your line to bring your presentation to the
desired location. Line is also a huge consideration, for us, mono has no place here. The
finest braid is what works for us. Because of weed growth and toothy critters encountered, these
wispy lines will handle these obstacles and allow the bait to be presented as naturally as
possible.

Jigs and hooks: This purely depends on presentation choice. If you choose to target
individual fish holding tight to cover, dipping an ultralight jig on their nose is one way. Some jig
choices would be Bro Bug head ,Mud Bug, Gill Getter, or Forage Minnow Fry jig heads adorned
with the different Impulse plastic creature baits. Stone Fly, Bloodworms, Mini Smelt, and
Waterbugs have all put fish topside. Experiment with color to let the fish tell you what they want
that given day. Plain hooks have their place here as well. Live bait style or aberdeen will work
on this more horizontal presentation. We use fathead minnows free lined under a fixed bobber.
Crappies have a hard time resisting a lively minnow that is slightly positioned just above their
line of sight.

Hope these tips will help you all catch a few more fish this year. As spring transitions to
summer, we will touch on tactics to catch crappies at a later date. Please think about taking the
younger kids out as well, as this generation is the future of our great sport. Practice selective
harvest, enjoy a great meal and insure the population stays healthy.

Posted in