June 6, 2014 Share

The Crappies Are In!

Originally Published on Mar 22, 2012 “From the Dock” NBC Sports

I killed the first mosquito of the year yesterday. I believe its the first I’ve ever crushed in March in Minnesota before. I also witnessed another first. When I awoke the lake in front of my house was about half-covered in ice. By 1:00, the ice had disappeared as high winds pushed by a major storm slammed it against the northern shoreline where it dissolved in a matter of hours. In four decades of springs in the Northland, I have never seen ice disappear so quickly.

Late in the afternoon, I snuck across the road to a friend’s place which abuts a shallow canal that is only a short cast wide and maybe 500 yards long. It weaves through a cattail bog so the water is dark and the bottom muddy, which means it was an idealy place to find spring crappies and other panfish seeking the warmest water in the system. A couple buddies, Mitch and Dave, came with on this exploritory trip. All three of us were armed with light spinning rods, a few small ice flies/jigs (Northland Tackle Slug Bugs www.northlandtackle.com) and a bunch of waxworms in the case the fishing was tough.

It wasn’t. In a matter of a couple hours we landed a hundred or more bluegills and other sunfish, as well as bass, perch and a few crappies. I had hoped to find more crappies than we did as I planned to save a few for dinner, but in the end released everything we had caught. But for the first open-water fishing of the year, the trip was fantastic; I never realized how much I’d missed the call of the redwing or the sight of a twitching bobber.

The key to finding spring panfish is a matter of looking for the warmest water in the system. Shallow, protected channels, back bays and creeks can all be good, especially if they feature a dark, heat-absorbing bottom. It’s amazing how warm the spring sun feels early in the year and for fish, it must feel just as good because they seek heat in early spring. Once you find the fish, realize they while they are actively feeding they are not willing to chase baits far.It makes sense to fish a small bait on light line and fish it below a sensitive float that gives fish a chance to feed. I once fished a light jig below a float and then without one and the catch rate with the float was 10 times better than when fishing without it.
So get out and enjoy some of the best fishing of the year…the crapppies are in!–Steve