It is finally here! The leaves are returning, the Dogwoods are blooming, and crappie are becoming aggressive and shallow. Spring is a prime time for almost every level of crappie angler in East Tennessee. All anglers need to catch these pre spawn/spawning crappie will be a float and minnow. Bank fishing can be phenomenal this time of year so, grab that son/daughter/grandchild and get them out there to catch those fish and make some memories.
Now, back to the basics of springtime crappie angling and where you’ll find them (in my opinion).
As the water warms, the crappie will be moving in from the deeper channels and usually stay staged on the break line (a break line is a sudden or sometimes gradual drop in water depth) before heading into the shallow flats to occupy their beds and start the spawn. My approach in boat fishing for staging crappie is to find these break lines.
After I have found the break line, I will back off of it and either anchor, or drift and fan cast towards the bank, past the break line. I use a float and hair jig set up or just cast a jig letting it fall to the bottom. After the jig has reached the bottom, I give one slight jerk up with my rod tip and start a slow retrieve, at about 2 ft from the bottom, back towards the boat. When I’ve reached the break line, I will let the bait/jig drop another foot or so and continue my retrieve. Once I have gotten a strike, I will repeat this process every cast.
If I am bank fishing, then I will pretty much do this technique in reverse. I cast past the break line out into deeper water, letting my bait sink to the bottom, and then give my rod tip a sudden jerk upwards and start my SLOW retrieve back to the bank until I get that thump.
Even though it is the time of year for the spawn, crappie are highly sensitive to weather. What crappie will do, if they have moved up into shallow water and a cold front moves through, is go back to the deeper water, just past the break line, until the front passes, steady water temperatures return, and they feel it’s time again.
In closing, it is my opinion, that for you to have the best chance for a good day in spring—or anytime you crappie fish—you must watch that weather and learn the characteristics of the fish so that you can find the patterns, methods, and techniques that will produce for you.
As always, God bless each of you and get those friends and family out there to make those memories on the water.
Tight lines! Perry Hensley