John's Journal...

Catching the First Crappie Spawners

Day 3: Where to Find the First Early Crappie to Catch

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewOne February when the air temperature hovered between 30 and 40 degrees, a friend of mine asked, “Do you want to go catch some really big crappie?” When I asked where we’d go to catch crappie at this time of year, he answered, “There’s a small creek that comes out of a steam plant at the upper end of the lake about 30 minutes from home. During February, big crappie pull out of the lake and come up into this little creek to spawn in the warm water. Nobody even knows those crappie are there, and I have a spot where we can catch them.”

I took my spinning rod, 6-pound-test line, a box of 1/32-ounce jigs and a small cork and piled into my friend's car. We turned off the main road, went up a dirt road and crossed a small stream that you almost could jump across. “We’re here,” my friend announced. I couldn't believe that this little stream would have crappie in it, especially in such cold weather. I wore a heavy coat, long underwear and gloves. We parked beside the road, took our ice chest and worked our way down the bank to a small point that jutted out in the creek just below the bridge.

“Cast upstream, allow your float to bring the jig around the point of this little peninsula, and let it wash back into the eddy area,” my friend demonstrated. He’d rigged a bobber about 1-1/2 feet above a chartreuse-green 1/32-ounce jig with a yellow head. I watched the bobber come around the point. As the bobber washed into the eddy area, it vanished. My friend pulled in a 1-pound crappie. Before he could get the hook out of the fish's mouth, I’d cast my jig and bobber into the water, moving downstream.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“These crappie hold in this eddy hole,” my friend explained. “When your jig comes around that point get ready.” Like my buddy’s cork, mine sank when it reached the spot where a back current had created an eddy. After 2-1/2 hours of fishing, we couldn't close the lid on our 48-quart cooler it had so many crappie in it.

As we drove home later, I asked my fishing friend how he knew we’d find the crappie, and he explained that, "They have always been there as long as the plant has been at the head of the creek. Anytime you can find a warm-water discharge coming into a lake or reservoir, you often can catch the first crappie to spawn in that lake or reservoir because they’ll move up in that warm water to spawn often 2 to 4 weeks before the rest of the crappie in the lake begin to spawn.”

For more crappie fishing tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks “Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall & Winter,” “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer,” and “Catch Cold Water Crappie Now.” Click here on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: How to Catch Crappie Before They Get to the Bed and How to Catch Duck Pond Crappie

Check back each day this week for more about Catching the First Crappie Spawners"

Day 1: I Learned on a Turkey Hunt How to Catch Early-Season Spawning Crappie
Day 2: Why Crappie Are Shallow Early in the Season
Day 3: Where to Find the First Early Crappie to Catch
Day 4: How to Catch Crappie Before They Get to the Bed and How to Catch Duck Pond Crappie
Day 5: How to Troll Early Season Crappie Up

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Entry 757, Day 3