It is interesting that crappie spawn in a similar manner as do largemouth bass. There are some key differences, which I will discuss in a moment. But needless to say, if you can get out on the lake when the crappie are spawning, then you stand a serious chance of catching some great fish. It is no problem to limit out on crappie, if you know what type of spawning grounds they like, when they spawn, and what type of crappie lures to throw at them.
Favorite Crappie Spawning Grounds
When you are on the lake and looking for crappie during the spawn, look for shallow, timber or other cover loaded coves. Try to find areas where the water is 1 to 2 feet, has a sandy bottom, but has plenty of cover like bulrushes, submerged timber or branches, lilly pads, and the like. Also, if possible, you should look for an area where the bottom has a slow sloping decent, not places where there are sharp drop offs and cuts.
These type of coves offer great protection for the crappie spawn, as well as warm, slow moving water. So the crappie are able to clear out a spawning area, and don’t have to combat currents pulling away their nests or dispersing their eggs.
How to Time the Crappie Spawn
Crappie tend to be one of the first specie of fish to spawn in the spring. They generally precede the bass spawn, and could spawn as early as late December, depending on the water temperature. The ideal water temperature for the crappie to spawn is the low 60 degrees, and finding water temperature in the 62 to 65 degree range will most certainly get the crappie in the spawning mode. Because bass like the water temperature to be a little warmer, around 63 to 68 degrees, the crappie will often have already spawned before the bass spawn.
So, like I have said about largemouth bass spawning, it isn’t the month or date, it is the water temperature that you need to focus on. And water temperatures in the upper 50s and low 60s are what you want to go for when looking for the crappie spawn. This may happen as early as late December, and all the way through to March or April, depending on what part of the country you live in.
Using Crappie-Licious Bait
If you are going to use live bait for crappie, you’ll want to stick with small shad or minnows. Get them in the 1 to 2 inch size, and hook them with a small hook through the eyes or tail, and use a split shot or two to keep them down in the water. Larger crappie will tend to hit at deeper levels than smaller crappie.
But I like to use artificials. And probably the best crappie lure by far is the marabou jig. You should do some experimentation to find out what the fish want on the day you are fishing, but generally speaking using white, yellow, green, and chartreuse in clear waters will work better; and using dark colors like black, purple, and dark orange will work better in stained water situations.
So that’s the basic run down of the crappie spawn and how to catch them during this time of year.