By Northland Pro Craig Dickmeyer

We have been chomping at the bit for a while now, lakes are ice-free, and boats are out of storage, and ready to hit the water. Spring 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 when crappies can be caught in shallow water and the tactics used to greatly improve your catch rates.

Angler with two early spring crappies

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. The 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 spring Crappies 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 ensure the population stays healthy.

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