Already April is almost over, and summer will be here soon. This is a great time of year for fishing. Anglers from coast to coast are furiously in pursuit of spawning and post-spawning bass. Just the thought of reeling in one of those 10-plus pound monsters that everyone associates with springtime bass fishing will make anglers spend sunup ‘til sundown throwing everything but the kitchen sink at these bass. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t any fun, but sometimes a change of pace can do a lot of good.
Fishing is supposed to be fun, and crappie fishing in late spring can be one of the most fun fishing trips of the year. Crappie fishing is a great opportunity to take the spouse and the kids along since there’s a better chance of catching more fish than your typical day on the lake in pursuit of bass. Even if there isn’t room enough for everyone on the boat, you and the family can have just as much fun fishing from the bank or a dock.
For those that will be fishing from the bank, reaching these fish is easier than you think. Crappie can be in found in 1 to 8 feet of water once the water temperatures rise above 55 degrees. Like bass, crappie will hold tight to structure, so concentrate your efforts around standing timber, brushpiles, rip-raps, docks and bridge pilings. Because they are holding tight to structure, I like to use a white with red dots, 1/32-oz. Berkley Beetle Spin. The lightweight lure has a slow fall and stays in the strike zone. When retrieved, this lure has a quick rise and plenty of flash from the blade to attract attention. Use a stop-and-go method when fishing visible structures or a steady retrieve when fishing riprap to keep lure in the strike zone longer.
Small lakes and ponds with cattails or other vegetation near the shore will also hold crappie during the spawn. After the spawn, as the water temperature warms, crappie will seek vegetation that offers quick access to both shallow and deep water as well as a prime location to ambush prey. During both of these times, I cast a chartreuse, 1/16-oz. Berkley Scent Vent Spinner. This is a small in-line spinner with a single blade and a feathered tail. The inside of the lure can be filled with something like PowerBait Crappie Nibbles that disperse scent through the water, enticing not only those fish that see the bait but those that smell it, as well. I cast the lure parallel to the weed line and retrieve it just fast enough to get it to spin. The Crappie Nibble are also great for tipping lightweight jigs when fishing around structure.
Undoubtedly, many of us will spend plenty of time this year searching for bass. But in the meantime, don’t miss the opportunity to take a friend, the family or yourself out for some exciting and relaxing crappie fishing.
Ken Cook is the 1991 Bassmaster Classic winner and a 14-time Classic qualifier. A former fisheries biologist, Cook lives on his ranch in Meers, Okla.