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Catch Crappie Now in February, But Watch the Weather with John E. Phillips

Day 3: February’s Crappie Glory Holes – De-Watering Areas

Editor’s Note: You can fill your freezer with crappie during February in many areas of the country, if you watch the weather and look for warm-water intrusions in the major waterways.

Click for Larger ViewSome of the best crappie fishing you ever will be able to enjoy occurs from now until the end of March. Depending on where you live, deer hunting is one of the biggest hunting sports in the nation, but waterfowl hunting and turkey hunting both run a close second. For now, let’s forget about the deer and turkey and concentrate on waterfowl hunting. Along many major river systems, you’ll find duck-hunting clubs and landowners that create dewatering areas to attract waterfowl during February and March. These landowners will begin to release water from these dewatering areas (ponds and flooded timber). Most of these dewatering areas have crops and at least weeds and nut trees that attract waterfowl during the winter months. The critical key to attracting the waterfowl for the next hunting season is to release the water from these duck holes. Then the ground can dry-out before spring arrives, when the crops are planted once again to attract ducks the next winter.

Click for Larger ViewThe water in these de-watering areas is usually highly fertile with a large number of minnows and invertebrates on which the crappie can feed. When the water is released from these duck holes, this water is usually not only warmer than the water in the rivers and lakes, but also very-fertile, nutrient loaded and containing often a large amount of minnows. More importantly, this nutrient-loaded water that’s released from the duck holes is carrying the kind of food on which shad can gorge. When the water is released, it attracts shad and other baitfish that draw-in the crappie. One of the best places to look for this discharge water from the duck ponds is around National Wildlife Refuges, since many of these plant large acreages of corn, millet and other small grains to attract and hold the wildlife. When the refuges drain these large croplands, the water may run out of the duck pond for several weeks.

Click for Larger ViewOnce I followed a culvert on a National Wildlife Refuge near Eufaula, Alabama that came from the de-watering area. It spilled into a large bay just off the main lake. When the water started coming out of the wildlife refuge, you almost could walk from boat to boat about 200-yards from the pipe on the wildlife refuge where it dumped water into the lake. Crappie moved into this bay in large numbers, and the fishermen knew they were coming. For a week or two, the crappie fishing around that pipe was fantastic, even though a large number of anglers were fishing around it. The crappie we caught around the pipe were and are usually some of the biggest crappie of the year, often weighing 1-to 2-1/2-pounds each. If you fish the first week that the pipe starts running water, you often can get your limit within an hour or two.

Click for Larger ViewIf you’re looking for early-season crappie and lots of them, search the waterfowling areas in your state. Begin to scout them, and try to learn when water will be released from those waterfowling regions into the lakes and rivers that surround them. Also search for private duck-hunting clubs along the river systems and major reservoirs that have a good deal of waterfowl hunting on them. If you can determine when the water will be let-out-of those duck ponds and begin to crappie fish with either jigs or minnows where that warm water goes into the major waterways, you can find and catch some of the biggest crappie of the year before the spring spawn begins.

A new product coming to the market is the Mister Twister EZ-ScaleR. If you prefer to scale your crappie rather than fillet them, check-out this video:

Tomorrow: Follow the Sewage to Find Big Crappie in Early 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: Little Waters Mean Big February Crappie
Day 2: Shallow Water Warms-Up First for February Crappie
Day 3: February’s Crappie Glory Holes – De-Watering Areas
Day 4: Follow the Sewage to Find Big Crappie in Early Spring
Day 5: Look For Warm-Water Runoffs in Springs for Early-Season Crappie


Entry 600, Day 3