How to Catch, Clean and Cook Early Season Crappies

How to Catch, Clean and Cook Early Season Crappies

Crappies are America’s favorite panfish. Anglers from North to South often spend the early part of their seasons pursuing these bountiful and tasty targets as they make their annual movements into the shallows to feed and then spawn. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy Nature’s most perfect panfish, both on the line and as guests of honor at the dinner table.

The Catch

You’ll probably wonder where to even begin to look for crappies as you hit the lake early in the season. Water temperatures, food sources, and available cover are the key factors to consider. In early Spring, crappies move from their winter spots and slowly transition into shallow water, beginning this transition once the water warms to 55 to 60 degrees. Flats adjacent to wintering holes or along weed edges 10 to 12 feet deep are great places to look. As the water continues to warm, you’ll find crappies moving into muddy weedy bays as they are there to feed. The mud provides bugs and attracts small baitfish, while the dark bottom keeps the water warmer. You should also consider trying the areas near the mouths of small rivers and creeks that feed into the lake. As spring progresses, crappies will start moving into their spawning areas. They need a firm bottom for nest building, generally with cover such as brush, timber, or weeds and frequently near deeper water. In muddy or stained water, crappies may spawn in the extreme shallows, while they may spawn slightly deeper in clear water. Typically crappies will spawn when water temperatures reach 65 to 70 degrees.[…]


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