John's Journal...

Catching the First Crappie Spawners

Day 4: How to Catch Crappie Before They Get to the Bed and How to Catch Duck Pond Crappie

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“I catch some of the biggest and best crappie of the year, 2 to 4 weeks before the fish go on the bed,” Charlie Ingram of Eufaula, Alabama, says. When I went to Lake Eufaula on the Alabama/Georgia line to find out how Ingram caught those fish, I learned a tactic that would pay off in the pre-spawn and in the post-spawn. “When crappie get ready to spawn, they’ll move to the mouths of creeks and usually will hold on any type of cover they can find there, sit on that cover and wait for the creek to warm up enough for them to move into the shallow water for them to spawn,” Ingram reports. “So I’ll put out brush piles in 8 to 10 feet of water in the mouths of creeks that I know generally have good crappie spawns. I’ll go to this brush in late February or early March and find those big pre-spawners sitting on that brush. I can catch them with either jigs or minnows, but I prefer to catch them on jigs." That day we fished about 10 brush piles at the mouths of creeks and loaded the cooler.

The Eufaula National Waterfowl Refuge at Lake Eufaula, a federal waterfowl refuge, has crops planted. The biologists flood the crops to provide food for ducks that migrate to the South during the winter months. The shallow flooded areas have an abundance of nutrients and usually fill-up with ducks in the wintertime. But in February and March when the ducks head back north, the workers at the wildlife refuge have to pump out the ponds to let the ground dry. Then the workers can replant the ponds in the spring with more crops for waterfowl. These shallow ponds, also high in nutrition, contain numbers of minnows and all types of tiny animals that shad and crappie eat. When the waterfowl refuge pumps out its ponds, and their warm water flows into Lake Eufaula, the shad respond like hundreds of starving cowboys to the ringing of a dinner
bell at a ranch house, and the crappie in the lake move up to the pipe from where the refuge water comes. For about a week, you can’t find better crappie fishing anywhere. Anglers line the banks, and you almost can step from boat to boat around the pump gushing water from those duck ponds.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewMany duck-hunting clubs as well as state wildlife management areas and federal refuges farm for waterfowl and have dewatering areas. In the early spring, these organizations have to pump the water out of the duck ponds they have created to attract and feed ducks. If you can locate a place where that duck-pond water flows into rivers or lakes, many times you can catch large numbers of crappie in a very-short time. Regardless of the source, warm water coming into a cool lake in the early spring always will attract the first spawners.

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 Troll Early Season Crappie Up

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 4