Crappie: King of Spring
our public lakes and reservoirs. For a complete list with GPS coordinates, go to mdc.mo.gov/node/10182. Another tool for Missouri anglers is the Find MO Fish application for Android and Apple smartphones, which can be found at mdc.mo.gov/node/15421. This app essentially converts your phone into a handheld GPS with the brush pile locations already loaded!
Crappie can be caught on a wide variety of baits including jigs, crankbaits, flies, small spinners, and natural baits such as minnows and nightcrawlers. I once caught a 131/2-inch crappie on a jug baited for blue catfish with a 3-inch-long chunk of shad on a 9/0 circle hook. Not my go-to technique for crappie, but it did happen. Most crappie are caught on either minnows under a bobber or on small 1/32- to 1/4-ounce jigs, with 1/16-ounce being the most versatile. On very windy days, or when fishing in fast or deep water, you may need to use the larger jigs. When the fish just don’t seem to want to bite, try using a smaller, lighter jig. In large part, jig color is a matter of personal preference. I’ve come to the realization that most of those color combinations out there are for us, not the fish. If you talk to 10 crappie anglers you’ll likely get 10 different “best” jig colors to use. I’ll throw any color as long as it is red and chartreuse, except on those days when I just go wild and tie on a “smoke with red flake” or “blue and white.” I do believe that having two contrasting colors on a jig, like black and chartreuse or blue and white, makes the lure more visible to the fish and may be more important than any specific color combination.
For years there have been a number of products on the market, in the form of small pellets, which are scented to attract game fish including crappie. These are not always necessary, but I have noticed that they do seem to increase the number of bites you get on some days. I’ve also noticed that bluegill like them, too, and that they are very adept at stealing them off of your hook. By inserting these pellets into a syringe (minus the needle) you can inject them inside the commonly used crappie tube jigs. Protected from bluegill, they will slowly dissolve, leaving a scent trail for the crappie.