Chris Huskilson - May 17th 2021
Black Crappie - A Spring Time Tradition
Spring has officially sprung here in the Kawarthas! And while things seem to be a few weeks behind from a fishing perspective, the time to catch a lot of Crappie is now!
While Crappie can adapt to a wide variety of habitats, they are typically structure/cover oriented fish. They relate to available aquatic vegetation, especially when this element is adjacent to deep water. In my experience over the years, here in the Kawarthas, flooded timber on a mud bottom or emergent lily pads on a soft bottom will be the preferred cover. One thing to note is that they prefer areas absent of current during their spawn.
When water temps are around 48-50 degrees, these fish are positioned just outside the prime shallow spawning areas. In my go-to lakes, black crappie are suspended in 15’ of water in thick schools. I catch active fish on a 1/32oz jig paired with a Lake Fork trophy Lures Live Baby Shad. I will locate the school of crappie on my 2D sonar, drop a waypoint on my GPS unit and then back off and retrieve through the school. As the bite tapers off/slows down I will switch to a jig and float system consisting of a 1/16oz jig head paired with the same ‘Baby Shad’. I’ll run this bait 7’ under a float, which keeps it in the strike zone of the suspended crappie.
The breeding season will differ geographically as black crappie are so widely distributed. Spawning occurs shortly after water temperatures reach 55 degrees with optimal temps being about 58-68 degrees. Males will fan the nest in mud bottom close to the shoreline, in the most protected areas near timber and/or active vegetation. Females drop their eggs and males will then guard the nest until the eggs hatch within 3-5 days. The newly hatched larvae are approximately 2mm long and appear translucent. These offspring will remain under the watchful eye of the male for several days before moving to the shallow protected waters such as flooded timber, vegetation and undercut banks. When the fish begin to setup shallow I prefer to swim the same baits I lean on in the pre-spawn, as opposed to float fishing as I find it more exciting to feel the strikes. And a swimming presentation generates more bites than a stationary bait under a float. Some gear recommendations include a 7’ medium light spinning rod, paired with a 2500 size spinning reel. Spooled with 6-8lb braid tied to a 6lb fluorocarbon leader works very well for me. I prefer a larger reel to hold more line and increase my casting distance with these light rigs. I prefer Power Pro braid and Seaguar fluorocarbon.
I hope these tips and tricks give you an advantage on the water this spring. Get out there! The fish are in full spawn as we speak. Tight lines.