Spring has finally arrived here in Ontario and that means it's time to bring out the open water gear! One of my favourite species to chase during the Spring months are Panfish, and more specifically, Crappie. They can be a lot of fun to catch and you don't need a ton of gear to get setup.
Crappie are much like Bass when it comes to their environments and variety ways to catch them - this might very well be the reason why I enjoy catching Crappie year after year. You can usually find Crappie in shallow water not too far after ice melts, typically safe to say by mid-March or shortly after.
As the temperature rises, Crappie will start to become much more active in schools and will be looking to spawn once water temperatures reach mid 60's, which usually happens at the beginning of May, give-or-take with Mother Nature.
3 of my favourite techniques to catch Crappie are;
1) Slip Float w/ Jigs and Plastics
2) Finesse Drop Shot
3) UL Crankbaits
Slip Floating Crappie has to be my #1 favourite technique when it comes to Crappie. It's very versatile, simple, and who doesn't love watching a float go down?!
Over the years of Panfishing, I've come to love the Raven SX floats due to their very low resistance which is exactly what you want when fishing Crappie as they can be 'shy biters'. The 2.8g SX floats work perfect when using a 1/16oz jig head tipped with a plastic and (1) AAA lead shot under the float. However, you can use the 3.8g SX float if want to add some weight for casting distance.
My preferred jigs are the Neon Moon Eye Jigs from VMC in 1/32oz and 1/16oz. The hooks are strong and tacky on these jigs but have a smaller gauge which in result pins the Crappie, but doesn't rip their 'Paper Mouths'. The shape of these jigs help create a steady and consistent fall-rate while sporting an eye that helps bring your presentation to life.
Finesse Dropshotting for Crappie can also be a great technique when fishing for Crappie. It's best used when the Crappie are suspended from the bottom and you need your bait at 4-6 - or however many inches off of the bottom and right in-front of their face. I also like using a drop shot if I'm offshore and found a piece of structure they are particularly holding onto.
You can see as a Bass angler, why I'd love to also chase Crappie.
When it comes to the Dropshot, I like to opt for a size 4 or 6 Dropshot Hook that has a lighter gauge and pair it up with a 1/8oz Ultra Tungsten Cylinder Weight. The tungsten weight greatly helps in those 'shy bite' situations with it's sensitivity. I don't get to crazy with knots, just a simple Palomar Knot will do you just fine when fishing for Crappie.
Last but not least, if you are a power angler - you'll love to know you can use Ultra Light Crankbaits like Rapala's Original Float Minnow's and Rippin' Rap to name off two of my favourites. I will typically use these as a search bait, especially during the mid-Spring mark when the Crappie are really active or in the Fall months.
In all these techniques I use a 6'9 UL and 7'0 LXF rod paired with a Daiwa Fuego 1000D. Spooled up I typically stay with 4lb Trilene XL but if needed I'll go to 6lb, but nothing more than 6. I find Monofilament to be the best choice for a few reasons. I choose mono due to its stretch, which ultimately helps you keep the Crappie pinned without tearing its mouth up and possibly losing the fish during battle.
I hope you enjoyed this blog, and look forward to writing more in the future.
Owner/Operator - Erie & Creek Tackle