Most Crappie Hesitant to Spawn With Coolish Water Temperatures
Written by Doug Wynn - Published on April 28, 2021
Hey folks from the Excel Storm Cat 230. What a week of change it has been. We’ve seen beautiful calm weather with seasonable temperatures to winds and just above freezing temperatures. The crappie are sitting there, willing and able to spawn but the low 60s surface temps are holding them back.
We have caught fish from 10 feet of water to 25 feet. The shallow water bite has been very slow for most. I talk to a lot of folks around Sportsman’s Anchor Resort Marina who are using a vast array of tactics with mostly slim results.
Many folks who come to Kentucky and Barkley lakes do it out of nostalgia. It’s what Grandad did. It may have been something they did in their youth. Many come equipped to fish the same way they did years ago and those folks typically find the results disappointing.
The shallow buck brush or button ball bushes they recall most likely no longer exist in the quantities they remember. The buck brush, shallow water fishing has been replaced by man-made stake beds and other cover. Many of those destinations require a number to get in line to fish, if they can be located in the allotted time.
There’s no doubt we locals have the advantage of knowing many of the prime shallow spots. Even most locals are not doing very well with the shallow water bite with surface temperatures in the same range they were a month ago. Until the surface temperatures approach 70 degrees, we probably won’t see a mass migration toward shallower spawning areas.
Many fish, including crappie, have become accustom to spawning in slightly deeper areas around the first drop-off deeper than the shallows. We are really seeing that happen with bluegills and Redears. Where they might have been taken in 2-4 feet of water prior to the arrival of Asian carp invaders, many will now spawn deeper. It just takes time on the water to find them.
I want to bring up a touchy subject to some. The lack of Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers on the lakes is unacceptable. I witness almost daily people catching obviously undersized crappie, sauger, bass, etc. that are unceremoniously dropped into a livewell or cooler.
These fishermen are well aware of game laws but also know their chance of getting caught with violations is close to zero. In the past, I have called in violations only to have zero response. It is not my or your job to enforce fish and wildlife laws. All the great spawns or catch and release practices can easily be nullified by violators.
Today I did see a nice catch from 2-3 feet of water but most were still carrying eggs. A couple of days in the 80s followed by nights in the 60s should get the spawn into high gear.
I did have a nice experience today. This morning, as I waited for clients at Sportsman’s Marina, I was approached by a gentleman who was looking my boat and equipment over. He asked if we had been doing any good. I said yes, we had been having fair catches with several nice crappie on crankbaits. He said he had never heard of targeting crappie with cranks, much less catching them on baits he considered bass baits.
I reached in one of my Pico lure boxes and picked out a new color pattern called Yellow Jacket. As he looked it over and marveled at the golf-ball texture of the lure, I told him to drop it over the side of his boat and pull it at 1.5-1.8mph. He left with a smile on his face.
This afternoon as I docked the Storm Cat, I was greeted by a cell phone in my face before I even got dock lines tied to the boat. On it was a picture of a nice crappie with a Pico Yellow Jacket crank in its mouth. It was the same gentleman with a smile from ear to ear. He said that was the only keeper crappie he had caught all day.
He asked how we did then got his answer when I opened the lid to my ice box and showed him well over a dozen keepers we had caught in high wind conditions. He said I had just made a believer out of him!
By the way, Sportsman’s has just received their latest shipment of Pico lures in many great colors. Check them out.
Be careful out there! We have rain and storms in the forecast that make my decision to buy the top for the Storm Cat look like a good move. I don’t fish in storms though. Lightening is to be feared in a boat.
Wear your PFDs. Watch out for those who won’t watch out for you. Help those who need help. A few minutes you spend assisting another fisherman will be added back to you in multiples.
Welcome it our slice of Heaven!