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"A crappie may not have the flash of a brook trout, the battle instinct of a bass or the fight of a musky, but he provides fun and fishing for more people from 6 to 60, in more places from Maine to California, than any other species except the sunfish. Surely there must be a reason for such universal popularity. And there is."

   The crappie is one of our most prolific fish. More than 150,000 eggs have been taken from one adult female weighing a little over a pound. Moreover, when you fish for crappies you're doing other game fish a favor, for the schooling crappie is a terror on the young of other species. In season he readily takes minnows, young bass and walleye and northern pike fingerlings.

   Say its spring and you're on a strange lake looking for crappies. Find a spawning bed and you're in business. That would be in 6 to 12 feet of water, on a sandy bottom, near or among newly started weed beds. Bulrushes always indicate the kind of hard, sandy bottom crappies like. Have no fear you'll be hurting the brood stock by working a spawning bed, because crappie females have little to do with family rearing other than to deposit eggs in the nest.

   Males select the bed, scoop out a nest, drive a ripe female to it and induce her to drop her eggs. Then she disappears while the male fertilizes the eggs and stands guard over them until the fry emerge. At this time he'll strike at anything he can eat or whip.

   It's the season when streamer flies give their best performance. They resemble minnows, only they're better than minnows because you can't whip a minnow around on a fly rod to cover the area you should be fishing. And at spawning time you've got to put the bait within a few feet of a crappie. He won't come out to get it.

   Personally, I like the all-gray or all-white streamer patterns on No.4 or No.6 hooks behind a small spinner. Hook on behind the streamer an inch strip of thin, fly-rod pork rind with the split tail cut into it. Then you've got a lure that's irresistible to that male crappie guarding the nest. And he's not going to let it get away!

   When you've spotted a crappie bed, and before you approach it, let the streamer sink freely to the bottom, counting slowly as it sinks - 101, 102, and so on. That establishes your depth. Now cast out to the bed and give two counts less than you needed to hit bottom on the test cast. Crappies are overly fussy about the depth at which they will take lures. The bait must be within a foot or two of the fish's level or it's no crappie.

   The retrieve is important, too. It should be done with a slow hand-twist of the fly line, just enough to give the streamer and pork rind some action and to work the spinner. This spinner should be of the lightest material obtainable and attached to a clevis so it will flutter at the least movement.

Author:  D.M. Gardner
D.M. Gardner has been an avid fisherman for 35 years. He has fished extensively throughout the U.S. including Alaska and Canada. Discover new
crappie fishing tips and tactics at his website

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