Crappie: King of Spring

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Published on: Mar. 18, 2014

fishing. Superlines have little-to-no stretch, which makes them very good for detecting light bites, especially in deep water. They also have very little “memory,” meaning that the line does not come off the spool looking like a stretched-out slinky. Line with lots of memory (like monofilament in subfreezing weather) can make detecting light crappie bites very difficult. Six-pound superline is strong enough to straighten the hook on a crappie jig hung in the brush, saving you tackle and time spent tying on another jig when you should be fishing. Also, when that 20-pound flathead catfish or 5-pound walleye grabs your crappie jig, you might actually land him. However, monofilament tends to be less visible in the water than superlines, which can be important if you are fishing in very clear water. A common situation where monofilament will out-fish superline is when the crappie are hesitant to hold onto your bait. Monofilament has enough stretch to it that the crappie may not detect you on the other end of the line as quickly, giving you more time to set the hook.

In summary, crappie can be pursued with a minimal amount of gear. A couple of light spinning rods (one strung with monofilament and one with superline), a handful of 1/32- to 1/4-ounce jigs, two or three colors of tube jig bodies, a couple small bobbers, and you’re good to go. Vary the depth and the speed of your retrieves from slow to slower, and experiment with different jig colors. Let the fish tell you what they want — that’s really what fishing is all about.

Managing for Crappie

Across the state, crappie populations are managed under a variety of size and creel limits depending upon biological characteristics of that fishery and local fishing pressure. At Truman Lake and Lake of the Ozarks, a 9-inch minimum size limit went into effect in 1989. Since that time, densities of crappie have declined while growth rates have increased in these reservoirs. In recent years, a growing number of anglers have expressed a desire for the Conservation Department to consider going to a 10-inch minimum length limit on these reservoirs, stating that there is not enough meat on a 9-inch crappie to justify harvesting it (on average, the fillets from a 10-inch crappie weigh 44 percent more than those from a 9-inch fish). Biologists on both reservoirs are taking a close look at crappie growth and mortality to determine how an increase in the length limits would affect both the crappie population and angler harvest.

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