Warmer Water Temps Give Crappie Anglers an Early Jump
Written by Doug Wynn - Published on February 20, 2023
Hello from the Excel Storm Cat 230.
As I type this, the weather outside has finally calmed down from all the rain and storms. I told Miss Vicki this morning there would be lots of fishermen out for the first time today. I just hope everybody took the time to get the boat ready rather than spending a beautiful day blocking a ramp somewhere because your engine won’t start.
I’ve been seeing some pictures of nice stringers of crappie caught mostly by Livescope but some by longline trolling with jigs and casting. One common theme I’m hearing is the huge numbers of crappie that will not be keepers this season.
To a hungry fisherman, a hand-sized crappie looks like a meal. That crappie MUST be over 10 inches long to be legal on Kentucky or Barkley lakes. I’m sure the temptation is there to keep small crappie but if one is dragged into court to answer to a judge as to why they decided to keep a bucket full of undersized crappie, the fines will make one’s wallet go up in smoke.
The future of our wonderful resource is at stake if we don’t abide by fish regulations set up by Fish and Wildlife agencies.
Keep enough to have a couple of good meals. Stocking one’s freezer shouldn’t be the reason to be on the lakes. Many fishermen I know have started tagging and releasing the largest crappie they catch. That gives another fisherman a chance to enjoy what might be their personal best crappie.
By keeping a log of the fish they tagged as well as photos, if they should catch a fish they tagged earlier, they can log the second catch them see how far that fish has traveled in what amount of time.
Having been a taxidermist for the last 20 years, I will be the last person to criticize someone for keeping a trophy fish. The availability of a wide range of fiberglass replicas fish now gives the angler a chance to release the fish then enjoy the replica mount, painted exactly like the photos taken at the time of the catch.
As a soon-to-retire taxidermist, I have a few replicas I must do before I close up shop. One is of a beautiful 16.5-inch crappie Vicki caught last year on her first ever trip to Blood River.
The surface temperature on Kentucky Lake is now above 50 degrees in many spots. This is usually the temperature that many crappie fishermen start getting excited about getting back on the water. The crappie are now still found on deep structure near shad schools but also starting to move into the mouths of the major creeks and bays.
Tactics will vary greatly but one thing most fishermen will have in common now is working channel ledges and drop-offs. I’m hearing of some fish being caught in as little as five feet of water. Most will be located in 10 to 25 feet.
I’m excited to be associated with Murray Bait Company and the new owners. The store has been a staple among fishermen for generations. I was talking to Tony Sheppard recently at Grizzly Jig and he said he had bought minnows for most of his life at Murray Bait before the store opened for the day.
They have been known for years as allowing the honor system for minnow purchases prior to daily business hours. James and the guys plan on keeping that tradition going. Look for their new opening soon.
I will be working the Catfish and Crappie Conference at the Fairgrounds in Louisville next Friday and Saturday. That will thankfully wrap up my fishing shows for the winter. I’ll be helping Off Shore Tackle and Crappie Monster Lures.
If you happen to be in the neighborhood, come by and say hello. While you are there, check out the close to 100 vendors who are scheduled there.
Also, make sure you check out this episode of On The Hook as the guys were down here hanging out with me in Storm Cat for a nice feature on Kentucky Lake.
Be careful out there! The water is warming but still not warm enough to enjoy taking a swim. Help those who need help on the water. Wear your PFDs. Spring will be here soon.
Welcome to our Slice of Heaven!
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