John's Journal...

Don’t Bank on Bank-Bound Crappie in the Spring

Day 4: Springtime’s Mid-Water Crappie, Sight-Fish Crappie and Planted Crappie

Editor’s Note: To find bank-bound crappie, you must know the temperature of the water. Forget about the time of year. When the water temperature becomes warm-enough for crappie to spawn, they will move to the bank. With a not-just-right water temperature, the crappie will pull away from the bank. Throughout March and April, various sections of even the South may experience unexpected cold fronts that will cause the crappie to swim-away from the bank.

Click for Larger ViewMost anglers know that before the crappie hit the bank, they usually try and move to some type of mid-water structure between the bank and the creek and river channels. So, troll crappie jigs between the bank and the edge of the creek channel. The crappie may hold on little stumps, small brush or sticks almost invisible to the depth finder. But by trolling, an angler can pick up these crappie holding in these staging areas. Click for Larger viewToo, large schools of crappie preparing for the spawn will hold suspended in these regions, not relating to any type of cover. Trolling will catch these fish.

Sight-Fish Crappie:

"I still find crappie the old way," John Hill of Town Creek, Alabama, on the Tennessee River, says. "Before and after the spawn, you can locate crappie in shallow water, if you know how to sight-fish for them." Although sight-fishing usually refers to an angler's skill in seeing fish and then catching those fish, when Hill uses the term sight-fish, he refers to his ability to read what's happening on the surface of the water to determine the location of the crappie. Click for Larger view"When you see diving and feeding coots or ducks along the bank of a point or in a cove before or after the spawn, you know a school of shad is in the area," Hill explains. "Usually crappie will be under or off to the side of the school of baitfish feeding on the same bait the waterfowl are eating." Hill also watches for diving gulls. When seagulls spot schools of shad swimming in open water and begin to dive on the baitfish, the shad will move deeper into the water where the crappie are feeding. As the crappie attack the shad and force them to the surface again, the gulls dive on them. The crappie in the water and the gulls above yo-yo a school of shad, as both predators feed on the bait. "Often shad feed along the top of the water with their mouths just out of the water," Click for Larger ViewHill comments. "When you see crappie hit in the school of shad, you can go to the school and catch crappie during the prespawn."

Planted Crappie:

Some crappie anglers sink brush or stake beds halfway between the creek channels and the creekbanks to help them take prespawn crappie. Sinking cover between the bank and the creek channel not only pays off during the prespawn period, but anglers also can catch crappie during the spawn and after the spawn on this same cover.

Tomorrow: Catching Flood-Water Crappie in the Spring

Check back each day this week for more about "Catch Crappie Now in February, But Watch the Weather with John E. Phillips "

Day 1: Fishing for Discharge Crappie in the Spring
Day 2: Catching Ditch Crappie and Stump Crappie in the Spring
Day 3: Fishing Docks and Feeder Creeks for Springtime Crappie
Day 4: Springtime’s Mid-Water Crappie, Sight-Fish Crappie and Planted Crappie
Day 5: Catching Flood-Water Crappie in the Spring

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Entry 605, Day 4