Try shallow for crappies

I pulled into one of my favourite spring crappie spots a few days ago, a patch of pencil reeds that I have fished many times in the past. As I dropped my trolling motor and looked at the depth reading on my sonar screen, I thought I was on the wrong spot. Instead of being four feet deep, it was now eight feet deep. It quickly became apparent that I was going to have to try some new spots if I wanted to catch dinner.

It’s no secret that crappies move shallow for a few weeks every spring to spawn before moving back to deeper water for the rest of the year. It’s during this shallow foray that anglers can have some fun catching these panfish that are plentiful across the region.

When it comes to finding crappies in the shallows, all you really need is a good pair of polarized sunglasses. Around when the water temperatures reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit until they get into the low 70s, crappies will hang out around shallow cover where they build small nests similar to a bass. The only difference being that crappies are typically found in larger groups so when you find one, it’s more than likely you’ve found a few.

Crappies are shallow water right now where anglers can have some fun catching them.

Similar to how I like to trust my electronics when I’m fishing in deeper water, I use my eyes to spot crappies when they are up in two to four feet of water around cover like reeds, beaver huts and fallen trees. Once you see a few of them, you’ll get an eye for spotting them. When they have been in shallow water for a few days their colour pattern becomes a lot darker and they become easier to see.

The easiest way to catch them is with a small jig tipped with a soft plastic body set beneath a bobber. The bobber allows the jig to suspend above the crappies, which is what they like and keeps it from crashing into the bottom and getting hung up. If the cover is not too thick, you can use a light jig tipped with a small plastic twister tail or some marabou feathers to catch crappies as well.

With the high water this year, many of the same reed patches will still hold fish but you might have to move in a little closer to the bank. As I mentioned earlier, any kind of wood cover can attract fish as well. The best places have a sand bottom rather than a mud, so while they do like to be in the shallow bays, try to find the places where the bottom is hard.

Like at other times throughout the year, crappies can be really grouped up and while this is fun for anglers, it can make it easy to clean out a population. Those bigger crappies don’t grow that fast in our northern waters, so consider just keeping a few for dinner instead of filling out limits. Crappies can be really easy to catch some days while the next day they can be really challenging and you need to try different baits and colours. They should remain in shallow water for the next couple of weeks.