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Spring Crappie Fishing Tactics on Mark Twain

The G3 Sportsman crew highlight some late Spring crappie fishing tactics on Mark Twain Lake in Northeast Missouri.

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During late February and early March, the crappie in most reservoirs will begin congregating in traditional staging areas. These areas can be very different from one lake to the next. The move into these areas during the transitional period between winter and spring is caused by certain stimuli in the fish that trigger their spawning instincts.

After a few unseasonably warm and sunny days during this early spring period, the crappie might be found right up near the bank. “When anglers hook into a mess of these fish in the shallows during late winter/early spring, they sometimes believe that they are in for an early spring spawn,” says fisheries biologist Mike Colvin. “However, the crappie in these shallows are just reacting to their stimuli and aren’t actually spawning yet.” During this period, you might find crappie up near the banks in shallow water one day and then go back and find that the fish are 15 feet deep off of points over cover the next day.

“The actual spawning takes place throughout a wide range of water temperatures,” Colvin added. “It has been documented where crappie have begun spawning activity in water as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit and there will be spawning activity until the water temps are into the low 70s.”

Crappie are generalists when it comes to choosing staging and spawning areas. These fish don’t necessarily have to have gravelly bottoms to spawn in. Some reservoirs don’t have any gravel or rock bottoms at all and the crappie reproduce there quite well.

During the actual spawning period, the male is the fish that builds the nest, while the female deposits the eggs and leaves right away. For anglers, this means that you can catch males on the nest guarding the eggs and fry for about 10 days, but the females deposit their eggs and leave, giving anglers only about a 24-hour period to catch them in the actual nests. Just prior to the spawn, females can be found congregated in slightly deeper water, farther away from the banks where the males are building nests. It is a myth that the female crappie are larger than their male counterparts. Studies indicate that both male and female crappie have about an equal growth rate. “The only way to consistently distinguish a male crappie from a female one is by coloration just prior to and during spawning,” Colvin added. “The males begin to turn almost black on their fins and bellies during this time period.”

Don’t worry about catching too many crappie off of their nests. These prolific reproducers supply plenty of offspring for future anglers. “Our studies have shown that crappie spawn plenty of young and that it doesn’t matter how many adults are left to spawn. However, some years tend to be much better for the survival of the spawn than others we just haven’t learned what factors help or hinder the survival of the newly spawned crappie,” Colvin added. According to Colvin, catching adult crappie from the nests can have an effect on the size of the adult crappie population. That is why many reservoirs have begun to limit the size of crappie kept by anglers to 9 or 10 inches.

Read more: http://www.gameandfishmag.com/fishing/fishing_crappies-panfish-fishing_gf_aa013601a/#ixzz4YEJXYzxX

Featuring Scott Turnage Ron Molitor and G3 Sportsman 17


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