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How to Find and Catch March and April Crappie

Day 4: Fishing the Tunica Cut-Off During March and April with Ed “Dawg” Weldon

Editor’s Note: Ed “Dawg” Weldon of Tunica, Mississippi, has fished the Tunica Cut-Off, a large oxbow lake off the Mississippi River in Tunica, Mississippi, for more than 60 years. Like most oxbows, the Tunica Cut-Off is affected by rising and falling river levels, as well as temperature changes.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Dawg, in late March and April, where do you find crappie at the Tunica Cut-Off?

Weldon: The crappie are moving toward the shallow banks, and at this time of year, they either will be preparing to spawn, spawning or just finished spawning. The crappie really like three things – rising water levels, which inundate new bushes, trees and grass; warm-water temperatures, which you generally will find in shallow oxbow lakes like the Tunica Cut-Off that warm-up quicker and stay warmer longer than the water in the Mississippi River; and areas where there’s no wind. One other factor that seems to influence the crappie and where to find them is the amount of new water created when the river level rises, and the water in the Tunica Cut-Off begins to back-up. All these elements come together during the period from mid-March to mid-April here at Tunica.

Question: At what depth will you find the crappie?

Weldon: The crappie generally will be in water from 1-1/2- to 3-feet deep. I’ve fished here my entire life, and the crappie always show-up in places where they historically have gone at this time of year. So, I usually know where to locate crappie every year.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Around what type of structure do you fish?

Weldon: I prefer to fish the little stick-ups, many of which are isolated, that you can see when the water rises. Usually these stick-ups are the top parts of a small bush or branch, and the rest of the limbs and the body of the tree will be underwater, providing plenty of cover for the pre-spawn or the spawning crappie.

Question: What jig, pole and line do you use to catch these shallow-water crappie?

Weldon: I use a 1/32-ounce jig with 12-pound-test Gold Stren line on a pole.

Question: Why do you use 12-pound-test line when most crappie fishermen fish with 6- to 4-pound-test line?

Weldon: At this time of year, we generally catch really-big crappie weighing from 1-1/2- to 2-pounds each. Occasionally, we’ll get a really-nice-sized bass on the line, so I want a line strong enough to hold a big crappie or bass that takes the jig and heads for thick cover. Too, I want a line strong enough that if I have to get a big fish in the boat quickly and don’t have a dip net, the line won’t break when I bring that slab over the side of my boat. Since I’m tight-line fishing, I prefer the gold-colored. I can see the bite better than on clear-colored line or other line colors. Now, I can’t tell if the big, gold-colored line makes any difference in the number of crappie I catch.

Question: What color jig do you like at this time of year?

Weldon: I prefer a black-head jig with either a chartreuse or a yellow body skirt.

Question: What pole do you use?

Weldon: I like the 10-foot B’n’M Buck’s Ultimate Pole. I fish to catch crappie, not play with crappie. So, when I get a bite, I want a pole strong enough to jack a 2- to a 3-pound crappie out of the water and bring it to the boat, without the crappie getting hung-up in the brush or around a stump. This pole has the strength, power and the hook-setting ability I need. Then when I set the hook on the crappie, as soon as the crappie feels the hook, the crappie’s head is coming out of the water and is airborne before it realizes it’s hooked.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: In a day of fishing the Tunica Cut-Off in March and April, how many crappie do the people fishing with you generally catch, and what size are they?

Weldon: We usually catch about 20 or 30 crappie per person, weighing from 1-1/2- to 2-pounds-plus each.

Question: What makes the Tunica Cut-Off such a great place to catch crappie at this time of year?

Weldon: When the Mississippi River begins to rise, and the crappie come out of the river and the deep holes looking for warmer water temperatures, freshly-inundated land and warm, sunny banks where they can spawn, the crappie just have to come to the Tunica Cut-Off. The Cut-Off has plenty of baitfish, ideal habitat, shallow water, warm-water temperatures and brushy places where the crappie can spawn. There’s nothing else these crappie can want that they won’t find in the Cut-Off. Too, the Cut-Off has deep holes, so if we get one of those freaky cold fronts that run the crappie off the bank, the crappie don’t have to travel far to get into a deep hole and stay close to the spawning grounds.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: How do you catch those crappie when your area gets those cold fronts or a dramatic weather change?

Weldon: When the crappie bite gets finicky at this time of year, I put Berkley PowerBait Crappie Nibbles on the backs of my jigs. Anytime I know where the crappie are holding, but I’m not catching them with a straight jig, I’ll use the Crappie Nibbles.

Question: What part of the lake is the best spot to find crappie right now?

Weldon: Generally the first place where the crappie start showing-up is in the upper end of the lake where the water’s usually warmer, and there’s less wind.

Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and SummerLearn more about catching crappie from some of the top pros, anglers and guides for crappie in the country. Get your copy of the Kindle eBook, “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer” by John E. Phillips by clicking here. Amazon Prime members can receive the book free for 5 days.




Tomorrow: Catching Black and White Crappie on Reelfoot Lake in March and April with Billy Blakely

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Find and Catch March and April Crappie "

Day 1: Finding Early-Spring Crappie in Kentucky with Malcolm Lane
Day 2: Minnesota Crappie through the Ice in March and April with Matt Johnson
Day 3: Taking South Carolina and North Carolina March and April Crappie with Stokes McClellan
Day 4: Fishing the Tunica Cut-Off During March and April with Ed “Dawg” Weldon
Day 5: Catching Black and White Crappie on Reelfoot Lake in March and April with Billy Blakely

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Entry 658, Day 4