I got several reports from anglers this weekend that the crappie bite is turning on.
Crappie fishing is a blast! These scrappy fighting fish are held in high esteem by many Nebraska anglers.
Lake Wannahoo and Czechland Lake seem to be the “hot” places to go for crappie closest to Beatrice…if the sun would shine! The cold wet weather we’ve had this week may have shut down the fishing again for a few days. Don’t overlook Holmes Lake or farm ponds, either.
Fishing for crappie is not difficult but finding the right spot may be a challenge. Crappie must have some sort of structure to relate to. It may be rocks on the bottom of a lake, deadfalls along a bank or sunken Christmas trees tied together in an artificial reef. Regardless of the composition of the structure, crappie will consistently hang out in these spots and often in large numbers. You may have to spend some time searching for a good “crappie bed”, but it will be worth it.
As a kid, I used to fish for crappie and bluegill with long bamboo cane poles. The concept of fishing with a long jigging pole is making a comeback. Today’s specialized crappie poles are usually fiberglass or graphite composite telescopic models, which sometimes extend out to 20 feet.
Crappies are schooling fish, and if you start catching some, odds are that more are nearby. They are spooky fish, too! If you are too noisy or getting to close, you can chase the fish away from their holding spot. Southern anglers pioneered the technique of using the long cane poles to reach out and slowly lower bait in right on top of them! It works great!
Crappie can also be taken with more familiar spinning outfits and the bait and bobber techniques are relatively easy to master. A rod 6 to 8 feet in length is just the ticket. Reel choice is a matter of personal taste. Open or closed face reels work equally well for crappie fishing. Crappies aren’t big fish, so light tackle is all you really need.
I routinely go after crappies with ultralite rods and reels. I also like to use small pencil bobbers so I don’t make any big splashes that might alarm the fish. The lighter the rod, the more fun you’ll have. A crappie on an ultralite outfit pulls like a tarpon.
There are two species of crappie in Nebraska waters, the black crappie and the white crappie. The fish look very similar to one another, but the black crappie is generally darker with a dark mottled pattern on its skin.
Crappies are carnivorous, meaning they eat other smaller fish. They use any cover they can find to conceal themselves, then dart out from the shadows and ambush their prey. Minnows, small jigs or doll flies that imitate minnows are good choices for bait.
When the water gets into the 55-65 degree range, crappie will move on to their spawning beds, that’s where we are now. Look for places in shallow water that have a rocky, gravel or sandy bottom. Combine this feature with some type of cover which the crappie can get in close to, and you have a good place to start fishing.
Crappie move to deeper parts when spawning is over and the water warms. Look for the same types of structure that provides cover. A sharp drop-off, submerged trees, rocky points or things like bridge pilings are all good places to look for crappie. Fish the “edges” of these areas.
Crappie, like many other species of fresh water fish, have eyes set on the upper part of their heads. They are designed to look up, so position your bait a foot or two above the spot that is likely holding fish.
I hope you have a chance to get out and do some crappie fishing. If you get into a school of crappie, I guarantee you’ll enjoy it. If we can get some nice summer-like weather, the crappie will get active again.
Good luck with all your summer fishing adventures and have a safe Memorial Day weekend.