Chasing Late Winter/ Early Spring Crappie


dsc_0006By the time temperatures outside reach the mid-fifties most anglers are looking to get out on the water. This time of the year the crappie fishing is getting heated up and the fish are very willing to eat, if you can find them.

They are not ready to spawn, but they have vacated their deeper water winter holding areas. So where does that leave the aspiring crappie angler? Well it leaves us catching just as many fish as we will during the spawn.

The key to late winter/early spring crappie fishing is to be versatile and mobile. Move from creek to creek until you locate a school of active fish. Deeper fish are still not as active but the crappie you see schooled up over deep water at about 10-12 feet are going to be thee schools you want to target.


This time of year, the fish are in transition areas. All that means is they are somewhere between their deep-water haunts and the spring spawning flats. The good news is they are never far from the spawning flats.

Something as simple as a creek channel with a little deeper water will hold fish. Pay close attention to the inside of those creek channel turns all year but, especially in the springtime.


Although the old standard minnow and bobber will always catch fish, this time of year a moving presentation is more productive.

Curly tailed grubs, small soft plastic shad imitations and paddle tail grubs are going to catch your dinner this time of year. Productive colors are going to be gray, pearl, chartreuse, and black/Pink. My personal go to soft plastic is the Kalins Triple Threat Grub, simply put it’s the most durable grub I have ever found.


Trolling is the most effective method, as you can cover more water and locate feeding fishing in an efficient manner. Spider rigging also works well, but in this time of transition, I want to be able to move around until I find aggressive fish.

The best speeds for trolling this time of year have been around .8 MPH. This will allow your jigs to get down to where the fish will be holding. My bread and butter jig head is an 1/8 ounce, but I never leave the house without some 1/16th ounce heads in case the fish are suspended over deep the channel; rather than near the bottom.

Water Temperature

Even though the weatherman says it’s going to be 60+ all week you must pay attention to the water temperature. Crappie will go on the move when the lakes start getting to 50 degrees and higher.

Once we get a week or more of warm water temperatures the fish go into the pre-spawn feeding mode. When mother nature hits us with a cold front and the lakes drop below fifty, the normally active fish will move back out to deeper water.

Once the water hits 60 look for the white crappie to move in shallow and spawn. Black Crappie will follow at around 67 degrees.

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