Crappie in the water

Crappie Fishing When a Cold Front Hits Day 1:...

A catch of crappie in a net

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Crappie Fishing When a Cold Front Hits Day 2: Bushwhack Crappie in the Spring

A crappie swims up to a lure
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Editor’s Note: Don’t bet on the crappie spawn in March, particularly if a cold front hits. Don’t spend your money or your vacation time on a fishing trip during March, expecting to find crappie spawning in shallow water. Although crappie usually spawn then, you may not locate them actively spawning and/or feeding in shallow water on the spring day you fish. I’ve learned strategies that help me take crappie almost every time I fish in the spring, and I always bet against the spawn. Let’s look at some ways to catch spawning crappie when they’re not holding in shallow water to lay their eggs.

An angler inspects his catchTo bushwhack crappie during March, April and May, you must know where fish hold before the spawn. When a cold front or bad weather moves onto the lake, crappie usually will swim back to their prespawn holding areas. You’ll find one of the most-productive places to bushwhack crappie at main creek channel points close to spawning regions. The late Charlie Ingram, an avid crappie fisherman on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama, once explained, “Crappie will hold on deep-water points along main creek channels when a cold front hits the lake or other water or weather conditions cause the fish to move off their shallow-water spawning grounds. I sink brush in 8 to 12 feet of water on main creek points and on secondary points to provide holding spots for crappie. Crappie usually will concentrate around these sunken trees just before the spawn. However, if cold weather causes them to move off the banks, they’ll return to these same treetops.” Also look for drop-offs and ledges in or near shallow spawning areas to bushwhack crappie.

Up close look at a crappie on the hook



Two of Our Favorite Crappie Recipes:

Crappie Hors d’oeuvres

We’ve made this recipe through the years with just about every kind of fish, and they’ve all tasted wonderful. A fishing friend gave this recipe to my wife when we first married, and everyone finds it delicious.

An angler pulls in her catchIngredients:

20 to 30 fillets of crappie (any white fish will work) in approximately 2-inch by 2-inch pieces
Soy-based steak sauce
Lemon juice
Strips of bacon


Place the fillets on a platter. Lightly salt, and allow to sit for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle each piece of crappie with steak sauce. Apply a small pat of butter to each fillet. Squeeze freshly-cut lemon over fillets, and cover fillets with slices of bacon. Cook in a smoker or an oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until the bacon is done.


An angler shows off his crappieNolen’s Blackened Crappie

This seasoning recipe to use to blacken crappie or any kind of fish comes from one of our longtime fishing friends, Nolen Shivers of Birmingham, Ala., a well-known crappie and bass fisherman.


1-1/2-teaspoons cayenne pepper
1-1/2-tablespoon paprika
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2-teaspoon white pepper
1/2-teaspoon black pepper
1/2-teaspoon oregano
1/2-teaspoon thyme

Cover for Crappie: The Year-Round River Fisherman's BiblePreparation:

Mix together the spices well. Dip a crappie fillet in melted butter. Sprinkle above mix lightly or to taste on both sides of the fillet. Lay on a hot gridiron for approximately 2 minutes per side for crappie or 3-5 minutes per side for other types of fish fillets. Serve with melted butter.

To learn more about crappie fishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Crappie: The Year-Round River Fisherman’s Bible” at, available in Kindle, print and Audible. You may have to copy and paste this link into your browser. When you click on the book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read and hear 10% of the book for free. On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book. To learn more about preparing crappie, go to John E. and Denise Phillips’ cookbook, “Cover: The Best Wild Game and Seafood Cookbook Ever: 350 Southern Recipes for Deer, Turkey, Fish, Seafood, Small Game and Birds,” available in Kindle and print and containing 1 dozen delicious crappie recipes that are proven and tested at

Tomorrow: Fish Ditches & Bridges for Spring Crappie

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