As the cold hard, winter begins to loosen its hold on our West Tennessee waters, those of us who Crappie fish are getting new lines on reels and heading to our favorite Tennessee lake.
Crappie Anglers know that just a few days of warm temperatures and sunshine will make baitfish move back and forth from the deep waters to the warmth of the shallows. And the Crappie will not be far behind.
In the late winter month of March and into early April, Crappie begin to chase baitfish such as small Shad. These baitfish search for the warmer waters that the overhead sunlight heats up by a few degrees. As they move into these shallow waters, they stage up in just about any type of structure that they can find. Where the warmer waters along the shoreline provide such a habitat, a crappie fisherman can bet that there will be a few crappie staging in the same structure as the baitfish.
There are some keys to fishing this type of structure and, in some lakes, a crappie angler can build the structure to encourage minnows and crappie to come to shallow water.
Here is what I believe makes a difference: sunlight warms the waters during the middle of the day and having wooden structures such as stakes sticking out of the water’s surface. The structure and the waters around it warm as well. I also have noticed that a structure that is near a shoreline with small gravel seems to warm faster than that of dirt or sand.
As baitfish move into this warmer structure and crappie pull into the area to feed, they tend to bite both jigs and minnows when coerced into the structure.
I like to use a spinning rod and reel in this situation. The reason is that I can stay away from the structure that is holding crappie while casting beyond it then drag my lure back into the structure and stop it there. I use a small balsa float for this type of fishing as it seems to cast better than the bigger floats. A slip float would work as well but because of the clear shallow waters in which I am fishing, I like the dark bottom of the painted balsa float.
I also try to stay away from the wind if possible. Even the slightest breeze can cause the surface temps to warm up less during the day. So, for this type of fishing calm waters are the best. In my experience, most of the crappie tend to stack up in one spot in the structure. So I target that one spot once I catch a fish there I continue until I know that there is no more crappie there, and then I move on. Soft and slow is the way to go in this type of crappie fishing.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Once you have made a cast beyond the structure that you are wanting to fish, slowly reel up to a spot in it then stop. Watch your float. Crappie tend to feed upwards and as they take the bait your float can lean over as opposed to going down into the water. Knowing that Crappie are feeding in this manner can help you catch more fish. If you see your float lean, you may just have a nice Crappie on the hook.
My set up: I use a B and M Sam Heaton 7 foot two piece light action rod with a Shimano spinning reel. I spool my reels with six pound CX Premium P Line in fluorescent green.
My go-to bait this time of year is a white Charlie Brewer Slider Grub with a chartreuse tail on a Charlie Brewer 1/16 double light wire jig head placed about one foot below a balsa float.
If you decide to try this technique on your favorite lake just remember one thing: I have a rod an I am willing to travel! Lol.
Good luck and great fishing.
Charlie Brewer Slider Co
Bass Pro Shops
My favorite Tennessee Crappie Lakes
Blue Bank Resort
Carroll County One Thousand Acre Recreational Lake