John's Journal...

Catching the First Crappie Spawners

Day 5: How to Troll Early Season Crappie Up

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewKent Driscoll of Cummings, Georgia, and his friend Terry Byrd catch plenty of big crappie during the early season by trolling creek mouths with jigs and crankbaits. "If we’re fishing a tournament, more than likely we’ll troll bass-fishing crankbaits,” Driscoll explains. “We have learned that big pre-spawn crappie will attack and try to eat deep-diving crankbaits just like bass. We locate the large schools of crappie on our depth finder and try and determine at what depth the crappie are holding. Then we choose the crankbait that applies to that depth and use a Cabela’s counter reel ( HYPERLINK "" to determine how much line to let out to get our crankbaits to the depth where the crappie are holding.

“A couple of factors affect our getting the crankbaits down to the depth we want to fish: the amount of line we let out, which we can determine by our counter reels; and the speed at which the boat is going, which we use a GPS receiver to note, because most of the time we troll slower than most speedometers will register between 1.5 and 1.8 miles per hour. We’ve learned that at this speed we usually can get our crankbaits to the depth where the crappie are holding. If the crappie are holding deeper than our crankbaits will dive, we’ll put a 1-ounce lead up the line, a barrel swivel below the lead, tie a 3- to 4-foot leader coming off the second eye of the barrel swivel and then tie a crankbait to the end of the leader. By using the leader, we can better regulate the depth at which the crankbait runs."

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewWith crappie high in the water, Driscoll and Byrd will troll with jigs in the mouths of creeks. The size of the crappie they want to catch and the depth at which the crappie are holding often determine whether they troll with jigs or with crankbaits. To catch the early spawners, fish the mouths of creeks, wood cover, shallow water, warm-water outlets, duck-pond drainages and/or wood cover in shallow water. You may know a more-productive way to find early-season spawners, but these tactics have produced big crappie for me and my friends.

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.

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 5