What is it about spring that makes you want to go fishing? The first warm sunny day and I'm ready to go. The problem is, even though it may be warm where you are, in the water where the fish are it won't be warming up for another week or two.
But let's say sometime soon it starts getting warm and sunny (it is coming) and you get bit by the fishing bug, crappie are one of the most low key, best eating fish that you can ask for.
So how to we get to them? Water temperature is probably the biggest key to catching crappie. The change in water temperature spurs crappie to start moving in from their deeper wintering holes to their spawning areas. So, to be successful you either need to have a good reliable fishing report, a good buddy that is out there all time or go yourself so as to be on top of things. To know right when it kicks off you need to be out there a few days early so when it does start you won't miss the kick-off.
Everyone will tell you that crappie start moving out of their deeper wintering holes when the water hits something like 45-50 degrees and stage outside of their spawning areas when it raises another five degrees. Then near 60 the males will move in and fan out a bed. Crappie will be on a pre-spawn feeding binge during this time. And then when the water temp gets up at 60-65 they start spawning.
These temps are general. I somewhat think that southern fish, due to their locale, may require a little higher temps than their northern cousins.
Anyway, let's say that conditions are right. Where do you fish? Crappie are unique. In north Texas, where I was raised, they always went up in the willows and spawned. In other states it's been up in the brush piles and in Idaho, where I live now, it's right up against a bare rocky bank. So in a nutshell, they're going to be right up against the bank. In Nebraska I use to run my boat right up on the bank in a cove and fish literally a foot off the shore.
There are a lot of methods to catch them, but I think minnows are best. Some states that I fish in don't allow minnows so here's another setup that is effective: I like to put on a small pencil bobber. I don't know why I catch more fish with a pencil bobber than with a round bobber but it sure works better for me. Below the pencil bobber I put on a small jig. We'll throw it out right up along the bank and let it set there. The action of the water will draw a bite.
As a kid, yellow was always the hot spring color but the last two years I've smoked them on black and white jigs. I don't know if you catch all the crappies out of the gene pool that sees black/white best, but it seems to change every few years. Maybe it's the amount of light, clarity of water at that time — who knows.
I've also had good luck locating them with Rat-L-Traps or Chrome Hot Spots. I troll them out in 10-15 feet of water to locate where a school is staged up waiting to go in and spawn. Then you can anchor and jig them.
And one last word of advice: Don't you dare pronounce them as "*** eze" like my Georgia buddies do. It's "Crop eze" or you'll be walking the plank out of my boat.