John's Journal...

Catching March and April Crappie with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave

Day 3: Fishing for Spring Crappie with Three Tactics and Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave

Editor’s Note: Jackie Wayne Van Cleave (731-431-9700) of Samburg, Tennessee, has every fisherman’s dream job. He’s a touring pro on the Crappie Master’s National Crappie Tournament Circuit, and he’s a crappie guide on Reelfoot Lake. When he’s not fishing tournaments or guiding crappie fishermen, he catches crappie for his table. Van Cleave gives us weekly reports on where the crappie are and how to catch them at almost any time of the year at Too, because he’s a tournament crappie fisherman, he can report on the newest and best techniques that are being developed to catch crappie at the highest level of crappie fishing.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewDuring the spring, while fishing at Reelfoot Lake, I can give my fishermen the advantage of three different ways to catch crappie. My fishermen can use a rod with a jig and float to catch crappie in shallow water. If they prefer to fish with just a jig and pole, we can fish that way and catch just as many crappie. If they had rather spider-rig (slow-troll) for crappie, we’ll move out to deeper water, put pole holders around the boat and fish for the crappie holding in deeper water that are getting ready to move in and spawn, or are coming back out to deeper water to hold, until they’re ready to return to the shallow water and spawn again. I want to help my fishermen catch crappie, and I want them to be able to fish the way they feel most comfortable catching crappie. When we’re spider-rigging (slow-trolling) for crappie, we’ll usually catch both black and white crappie. When we’re fishing 5- to 16-feet deep, we’ll fish for crappie holding around stumps, logs, underwater trees, man-made crappie mats and brush that crappie fishermen have sunk to attract crappie. I prefer to slow troll over underwater wood rather than rocks, sand or mud bottoms. I really believe that crappie love to hold on some type of wood structure. Although the black crappie and the white crappie seem to spawn in shallow water, when the water temperature next to the shoreline heats up, the white crappie will move away from the bank and continue to spawn in 6-foot deep water or more. Even during the month of June, I’ll catch white crappie spawning in 6-foot deep water.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewThe crappie wait for certain temperatures to spawn. The white crappie like to spawn in water temperatures in the high 50 degrees. So, if we have a really-hot, early summer, and the water temperature around the bank reaches 70 or 80 degrees, the spawning white crappie will move out into that deeper cooler water that may be 6 - 8 feet deep and spawn. The water temperature and the amount of oxygen in the water will tell you where the crappie will be spawning during the spring. Many anglers believe that when the crappie move out of shallow water into the deep water, the spawn is over. But that’s not true! The crappie will continue to spawn, regardless of water depth, when and where they find the right temperature to release their eggs. To help the fishermen coming to Reelfoot who aren’t going to use a guide, every 2 weeks, I post a fishing report at I tell the crappie fishermen in what depth water the crappie are holding, whether the white or black crappie are in shallow, and what depth of water I’m catching them in, if they’ve moved deep.

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,” “Catch Cold Water Crappie Now,” and “Reelfoot Lake: How to Fish for Crappie, Bass, Bluegills and Catfish & Hunt for Ducks” Click 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: Listen to Crappie Every Day to Catch Them with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave

Check back each day this week for more about Catching March and April Crappie with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave"

Day 1: Black Crappie Are on the Banks in March – Mid-April with Jackie Wayne Van Cleave
Day 2: When Black Crappie Go to Deep Water the White Crappie Move to Shallow Water with Jackie Wayne Van Cleave
Day 3: Fishing for Spring Crappie with Three Tactics and Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave
Day 4: Listen to Crappie Every Day to Catch Them with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave
Day 5: Jig Pole Fishing for Springtime Crappie with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave

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Entry 762, Day 3