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#11392645 - 02/04/16 06:28 PM Let's Talk Spring Crappie
Ken Gaby Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 05/08/07
Posts: 2300
Loc: Belton, TX
Thereís already one thread discussing when people caught their first shallow crappie. Sometimes we confuse crappie being shallow with crappie actually spawning. There is a difference, sometimes a big difference. Below is just my opinion based on a few years of fishing. Letís not use this thread to argue over the right temp or time, but rather learn from what others have also observed and experienced.

Iíll start with some definitions:
Spawning crappie: females actually laying eggs. When you catch one, you notice eggs running out of the fish. When you clean one, the eggs are almost clear, with each egg individually separated and eggs very runny, no sign of any blood lines in the egg sac. Males in full dark color with milt running out of the sac.

Pre-spawn fish: females with large bellies stuffed full of eggs that are dark to light yellow in color with blood lines in the egg sac. Eggs are tightly held together and will not separate individually. Males with dark color but clean tails with few splits.

I read in a magazine this month about bass and staging areas. The author said bass move to those staging areas from deeper water and wait for the shallow areas to warm. I so wanted to ask him how the bass knew when those shallow areas were warm enough. Did they tune in to their favorite bass channel and get the daily water temp numbers in various coves on the lake? Or did they measure the air temp each day and keep track of how many hours of sun there was? So what do these fish do at this time of year?

My belief is, the crappie also stage at various places waiting for the right conditions. Mother Nature urges them on, when spring begins to arrive, (longer days and angle of the sun). They also tend to move around continuously looking for that comfort zone and food. Once those water temps start to rise, they are on the move. And I believe they may move ľ or Ĺ mile or more during a night of scouting.

Only way a fish is going to know if that water temp is OK, is swim over there. Which means you may find the crappie shallow at any particular time when the water starts to warm. I believe most of this scouting occurs at night after sunny days. And it may occur late afternoon when shallow areas warm. Iíve seen water temps vary as much as 7-8 degrees in shallow coves compared to the main lake. The shad also know this same warming occurs and some of them head shallow on the sunny afternoons. That same water that was 56 at 3pm, may be 51 the next morning because the night temp was 34 with a light breeze. And the crappie arenít there the next morning.

Hence we may catch crappie in a shallow area one afternoon and nothing there the next few days. Iíve done this many times finding a school of crappie shallow and returning the next day to catch nothing at the same spot. Were the crappie spawning? I donít think so. They were scouting for the right place and temps? Crappie tend to return to the same general area where they were hatched, to spawn. That is the same creek, river, general cove or arm of the lake. Where they actually build their nests depends on water clarity, temp, bottom hardness and maybe some structure. One of the best ways to catch limits from mid Feb thru March is at night. Set up on a travel corridor to shallow spawning areas with some lights and you may intercept those roaming crappie looking for the right place. There are plenty of good places bank fishermen do this all March. Those same areas hold very few fish during the day time.

When I find crappie shallow in spring, I donít always assume they are spawning. As others have stated, the crappie can be up shallow in water thatís in the low 50s. Theyíre there scouting and that water at 53 may be 4 degrees warmer than where they came from earlier in the day. So they stay there for a short time. If the night temp is warm and doesnít cool the water, they may be there the next morning also. But in Feb, that rarely happens unless there is un-seasonably warm weather.

Spring time is one of the most frustrating times finding crappie. They are very unpredictable and donít stay one place very long. When you find that spot where the spawn is actually taking place, catching may get more consistent. Places with the right bottom and temp will attract spawning fish over a several week period once they actually start laying eggs. At least thatís what Iíve experienced.

What's been your experience?
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#11392728 - 02/04/16 07:11 PM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
Grease Bath Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 03/15/11
Posts: 1692
Loc: Ft. Worth
Nice write up Ken, I'm on board with everything you said thumb
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#11392755 - 02/04/16 07:20 PM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
SheCrappieKilla Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 04/30/13
Posts: 2477
Loc: West of Ft Worth and South
Keep in mind that a black crappie and a white crappie are two different types of crappie, they both tolerate spawning water temperatures differently.

You done good Ken.

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#11393060 - 02/04/16 09:02 PM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
Stucky76 Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 11095
Loc: Bedford, TX
Good post Ken. thumb
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#11393129 - 02/04/16 09:25 PM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
Aquiles Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 04/24/11
Posts: 1233
Loc: Texas, Dallas
Thanks Ken , you should submit this to the crappie magazines !

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#11393149 - 02/04/16 09:32 PM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
Mckinneycrappiecatcher Online   content
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 12/20/10
Posts: 3168
Loc: mckinney, tx
I certainly back the statement about night fishing. I remember back when I used to fish at Texoma we would fish 8-20' all day long in early spring, but as soon as it got dark we would be catching them all through the night in 1-3' on jig and bobber.
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#11393150 - 02/04/16 09:33 PM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
Ledeez Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 09/01/15
Posts: 706
Loc: Lake lavon
Definitely not a dedicated crappie dude! I just learned something from your write up! Thanks for sharing
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#11393197 - 02/04/16 09:51 PM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
Draino Offline
Green Horn

Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 10
Great info,I have noticed some of the same patterns,especially the nite bite,aome of my favorite spots seem to turn on about 10pm..
.hmmm

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#11393313 - 02/04/16 11:08 PM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
Grenadaslabs Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 03/01/13
Posts: 977
Loc: burleson
Awesome write up ken, you hit the nail on the head big time thumb

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#11393433 - 02/05/16 06:45 AM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
leanin post Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 5386
Loc: TEXAS
Some good points but im not so sure that crappie actually have the intelligence to go scouting for the most suitable water temps, I believe it is all cycle related. Its the food chain and natural instinct.
Keep in mind, shad spawn sometimes twice a year, and spawn in the same areas as crappie. Anyone whose done alot of night fishing in the spring knows that shad frolic along the banks abt 1/2 hour before daybreak, and as soon as light breaks, theyre gone. When they are shallow spawning, (which can last up to 5 weeks or more), it looks like the water near the bank is boiling and you can hear it. Now keep the food chain in mind, in the fish world, one fish is eating another after the plankton stages. So once the crappie fry are mature enough, I believe they then move up to eating the shad fry , the bass eat the crappie fry, catfish eat the carp fry, and on and on.
As Tommy Tidwell told me, he believes crappie are like salmon and TRY to go spawn where they were spawned.
I think its in thier natural design, like penguins migrating thousands of miles to mate, geese and ducks flying south for winter, ect.
Staging and assembling together at certain times and hanging near thier potential spawn sites may also be written in thier genetic code instincts, but as far as them intelligently gathering and going swim around specifically looking for the warmest water, I dont know, I kind of feel more like its food runs, until the instinctive switch is flipped, then they go where they were spawned.
The female goes in drops her cargo, then shes gone. The males likely get ran off the nest pretty quickly, then its survival of the fittest and chance but the fry have to have fertile plankton rich water to survive .


Edited by leanin post (02/05/16 06:52 AM)
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#11393484 - 02/05/16 07:22 AM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
Ken Gaby Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 05/08/07
Posts: 2300
Loc: Belton, TX
There's another thread titled "Spring Crappie" with a post by Carver that's a good example of the inconsistencies of crappie in the spring.

And SCK is on target about the difference in habits of black and white crappie in the spring. Black crappie seem to tolerate about 5 degrees cooler water for spawning than white crappie.

I've heard for years that the full moon effects the spawn cycle. I used to put that in the myth category. However, after I was able to fish several days a week in the spring and pay close attention to conditions, I soon realized that wasn't a myth. Crappie and bass tend to make those shallow water runs much more often when there's a full moon. That period two days before and after the full moon can be very good. If weather conditions are good, warm night temps, the fish will be looking. If there's a strong norther, with cold rain, cold air temps, then the parade is usually cancelled. The other period I found that was a good spawning period is the dark of the moon. Seems the full moon is best and the dark of the moon is next best for early spring. That doesn't really make sense, but it's when I've found them in bigger numbers up shallow.

Later in the spring when the water temp is in the 60s, the fish will generally take advantage of good conditions almost any time. If fish are holding shallow and a cold norther pushes them out of shallow water, as soon as conditions are right, regardless of the moon, there will be a rush to the shallows again.

If we have some decent warm weather right before Feb 22, and there's not a norther blowing that day, I'll probably be looking in some shallow water. I know it's way too early for spawning fish, but there will be some fish looking around. fish
_________________________
A life without God is like an unsharpened pencil, it has no point. Billy Graham
http://www.proanglertackle.com Best crappie and catfish rods/reels
http://www.crazyanglertackle.com Premium crappie baits and jig tying accessories
www.thermoclinelures.com / "Helping YOU catch MORE & LARGER fish!"
http://www.beereadys.com World's Best Rod Holders

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#11393509 - 02/05/16 07:32 AM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: leanin post]
SheCrappieKilla Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 04/30/13
Posts: 2477
Loc: West of Ft Worth and South
Originally Posted By: leanin post
Some good points but im not so sure that crappie actually have the intelligence to go scouting for the most suitable water temps, I believe it is all cycle related. Its the food chain and natural instinct.
Keep in mind, shad spawn sometimes twice a year, and spawn in the same areas as crappie. Anyone whose done alot of night fishing in the spring knows that shad frolic along the banks abt 1/2 hour before daybreak, and as soon as light breaks, theyre gone. When they are shallow spawning, (which can last up to 5 weeks or more), it looks like the water near the bank is boiling and you can hear it. Now keep the food chain in mind, in the fish world, one fish is eating another after the plankton stages. So once the crappie fry are mature enough, I believe they then move up to eating the shad fry , the bass eat the crappie fry, catfish eat the carp fry, and on and on.
As Tommy Tidwell told me, he believes crappie are like salmon and TRY to go spawn where they were spawned.
I think its in thier natural design, like penguins migrating thousands of miles to mate, geese and ducks flying south for winter, ect.
Staging and assembling together at certain times and hanging near thier potential spawn sites may also be written in thier genetic code instincts, but as far as them intelligently gathering and going swim around specifically looking for the warmest water, I dont know, I kind of feel more like its food runs, until the instinctive switch is flipped, then they go where they were spawned.
The female goes in drops her cargo, then shes gone. The males likely get ran off the nest pretty quickly, then its survival of the fittest and chance but the fry have to have fertile plankton rich water to survive .


Are you trying to say a crappie will eat 1 shad then move out of the shallow water, till it is hungry again?

I am confused. Grin.

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#11393537 - 02/05/16 07:42 AM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: SheCrappieKilla]
leanin post Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 5386
Loc: TEXAS
Originally Posted By: SheCrappieKilla
Originally Posted By: leanin post
Some good points but im not so sure that crappie actually have the intelligence to go scouting for the most suitable water temps, I believe it is all cycle related. Its the food chain and natural instinct.
Keep in mind, shad spawn sometimes twice a year, and spawn in the same areas as crappie. Anyone whose done alot of night fishing in the spring knows that shad frolic along the banks abt 1/2 hour before daybreak, and as soon as light breaks, theyre gone. When they are shallow spawning, (which can last up to 5 weeks or more), it looks like the water near the bank is boiling and you can hear it. Now keep the food chain in mind, in the fish world, one fish is eating another after the plankton stages. So once the crappie fry are mature enough, I believe they then move up to eating the shad fry , the bass eat the crappie fry, catfish eat the carp fry, and on and on.
As Tommy Tidwell told me, he believes crappie are like salmon and TRY to go spawn where they were spawned.
I think its in thier natural design, like penguins migrating thousands of miles to mate, geese and ducks flying south for winter, ect.
Staging and assembling together at certain times and hanging near thier potential spawn sites may also be written in thier genetic code instincts, but as far as them intelligently gathering and going swim around specifically looking for the warmest water, I dont know, I kind of feel more like its food runs, until the instinctive switch is flipped, then they go where they were spawned.
The female goes in drops her cargo, then shes gone. The males likely get ran off the nest pretty quickly, then its survival of the fittest and chance but the fry have to have fertile plankton rich water to survive .


Are you trying to say a crappie will eat 1 shad then move out of the shallow water, till it is hungry again?

I am confused. Grin.


I havent seen your evidence of crappie having 3 and 4 four inch shad in thier bellies yet, as you said, so im still thinking one good shad is abt thier limit per feed. GRIN
_________________________
The more gratitude you give to Jesus for the things you have, the more he will bless you with the things you need- Steve Harvey

www.nekidtackle.com
Ask Ron about his crappie trolling rigs designed with input from top crappie fisherman!!

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#11393550 - 02/05/16 07:46 AM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
Jig Man Offline
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 01/10/09
Posts: 3938
Loc: Over here...
Good thread... Lots of good info to ponder over.

Full moon March 23 and new moon April 7...yeehaw! popcorn2

Hey Keith, gonna be at Liberty Hill Park 8,9,and 10th, That is if they are open...
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#11393561 - 02/05/16 07:49 AM Re: Let's Talk Spring Crappie [Re: Ken Gaby]
tboxfish Online   content
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 12/08/07
Posts: 4934
Loc: A small blue spot on planet ea...
Great write up & subject Ken clap
It's in the back of all our minds and creeping towards the frontal globe right now.
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