Time goes on, seasons change, and now it's time to fish for crappies. This isn't because northerns, walleyes and bass are on hold for a while, but because late winter is one of the best times of the year to catch silvery, sweet-tasting crappies.
Crappies are nomadic fish throughout the year. In March schools begin to move from the deep water they've been in all winter to springtime haunts in 15 feet or so. They prefer weedy areas near the top of dropoffs, submerged points and edges or flats adjacent to the deep water areas they frequented in winter.
Even though crappies can bite like crazy this time of year, catching them isn't always easy. Like any fish, they sometimes can get scarce or suddenly decide they've had enough food and refuse to bite.
What do you do when that happens?
Think small. Use lighter line, smaller hooks or jigs and tinier baits. A 1/16-ounce jig tipped with a big minnow might be too much for a crappie with a so-so appetite. But offer that fish a tiny minnow on a No. 12 hook, or larvae on a tiny ice fly, and Mr. Crappie might eat it.
Monofilament of 2-pound test or less isn't too small. If you're careful a nice-sized sunfish or crappie won't break it. Whether you use small ice flies or a small hook, use the smallest crappie minnows you can find. Bait dealers often will dip out smaller minnows for you. Golden rod grubs, Eurolarva and other tiny live baits also are super for finicky panfish. Either suspend your bait below a slender bobber or use a sensitive graphite jigging rod to detect subtle hits.
Panfish are hearty eaters and often go on big biting sprees. But when they eat light tempt them with morsels they can't refuse.
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