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.
Fish the Floods for Crappie:
For two days, I’d caught big crappie, averaging 1-1/2 pounds each, in a backwater area on the flood plain of the Tombigbee River running through west Alabama. On the second night of my trip, one of the biggest rainstorms I’d ever seen blew onto the river. The next morning when I awoke, the rain had stopped. The chocolate-colored lake had risen about 4 feet. Like most crappie fishermen would, I returned to the same spots where I’d caught crappie the day before. But they held no fish. I paddled my aluminum johnboat into the newly-flooded timber. I could see fish swirling against the bank. I set my cork 3-inches above my minnow, drop-fished against the bank in the newly-inundated cover and caught crappie almost every time I put my minnows in the water.
Beat the Crappie Spawn:
The edges of creek channels near spawning flats consistently will hold crappie from early spring until early summer. Either troll plastic jigs or minnows along the edges of the creek channels to catch these crappie. When all other tactics fail, fish the edges of creek channels leading into spawning flats. If you fish a creek channel with stumps or brush on it, you’ll have a good chance of catching spawning fish.
So, when I crappie fish during March, I don’t bet on the spawn. I fish different parts of a lake where crappie will concentrate before, during and after the spawn or the places they must go if cold weather hits. When I arrive at the lake on a bluebird day with warm-weather conditions and fish holding on the bank, I assume I’ll get lucky. But because I don’t bet on the spawn, I know other strategies to pinpoint crappie – no matter what the weather conditions.
To learn more about crappie fishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Crappie: The Year-Round River Fisherman’s Bible” at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07YDXB4G9/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p2_i5 available in Kindle, print and Audible. You may have to copy and paste this link into your browser. (When you click on the books, 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.