Droppin' & Poppin' Panfish

Droppin' & Poppin' Panfish

Reader Tommy Maullin, writing from Louisiana, asks if we can share a "secret" crappie lure with him for his winter fishing.

Editor In Chief Doug Stange: We share everything we know with readers. There are tips, however, that are hot and that generally still haven't caught on around the country. For one, try adding baits like Berkley Crappie Nibbles or the Nitro Gems (by Eagle Claw) to lures and hooks, for added color contrast and scent on crappie presentations. The other overlooked item is the simple addition of a tiny spinner and beads (and perhaps a Crappie Nibble) to an Aberdeen hook to enhance the effectiveness of the rig when a minnow's placed on the hook for panfish. These rigs may also be available commercially from companies like Eagle Claw and H.T. Enterprises.

6 Arc of Slabs, Northeast Mississippi

Like the Bordeaux region grows world-class wine grapes, the Arc of Slabs is famous for producing giant crappies. Grenada, Sardis, Enid, and Arkabutla — it's a tossup which of these reservoirs might be best for giant white crappies during March and April. Jigging in brush and spider-rigging are the best bets. Wading, too, at times. Contact: Guide John Woods, 731/334-9669; Guide John Harrison, 662/983-5999.

2 Lake Erie, Ohio

The best opportunities are between Port Clinton and Vermilion, says Ohio fishery biologist Travis Hartman. Many marinas and backwaters have excellent crappie fishing in the spring, peaking in late April to early May, and occasionally in the fall. Good open-water spots are East and West harbors and Sandusky Bay. Check connected rivers, too. Lots of fish to 12 inches, with 14-inchers not uncommon, Hartman says. Craig Lewis of Erie Outfitters says Lake Erie is a surprisingly overlooked crappie fishery, considering the numbers of fish caught, up to 18 inches, as big as any in the state. Contact: Erie Outfitters, 440/949-8934; Ohio DNR, dnr.state.oh.us.

4 Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee

Guide Billy Blakley says the crappie forecast for the 'œEarthquake Lake' is excellent for 2013, with average fish running 1 to 11⁄4 pounds and catches up to 23⁄4 pounds. The lake contains both black and white crappies. From March through May, spider-rig and jig around underwater wood, and jig around exposed cypress stumps. The bite picks up again in the fall. Top-notch lodging and food at Blue Bank Resort. Contact: Guide Billy Blakley at Blue Bank Resort 877/258-3226, bluebankresort.com.

7 Weiss Lake, Alabama

The crappie outlook is very good for 2013, reports Alabama district fisheries supervisor Dan Catchings. Samples indicate one, and possibly two, strong year-classes of crappies in 2010 and 2011. Expect good numbers of harvestable-size fish from the 2010 spawn this spring, with the 2011 year-class contributing to the fishing in mid- to late 2013. Fishing picks up in February as crappies move shallow. March through early May is best, with April being the peak. Contact: Guide Richard Green, 859/983-0673, or book through Little River Marina and Lodge (256/779-6461); Guide Mark Collins, markcollinsguideservice.com, 256/779-3387.

8 Kentucky Lake, Kentucky / Tennessee

Anglers look forward to the 'œCrappie Capital' living up to its name in 2013, says guide Steve ­McCadams. Expect numbers of quality fish with a shot at slabs over 2 pounds. While action during the spawn in late March into April is outstanding, don't overlook May and June, when stable lake levels and weather patterns find crappies concentrating around fish attractors at midrange depths, he says. Contact: Guide Steve ­McCadams, stevemccadams.com.

9 Kerr (Buggs Island) Reservoir, Virginia/North Carolina

Numbers of crappies from 1 to 13⁄4 pounds with a chance for 2- to 3-pounders. Once the spider-rigging bite wanes in shallower creek channels by April, action turns to jigging deeper brushpiles. Contact: Guide Bud Haynes, 434/374-0308; Guide Keith Wray, 434/635-0207; Bobcats Bait and Tackle, 434/374-8381.

3 Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma

This shallow reservoir boasts numbers of crappies in the 2- to 3-pound range, with 37-fish limits common. In spring, the action is shallow, doodlesocking flooded buckbrush in high water, or working rocky banks and brush cover in low water, says guide Todd Huckabee. Crappies move to deeper brush later in spring. Contact: Guide Todd Huckabee, toddhuckabee.net; Guide Barry Morrow, barrymro.com; Blue Heron Bait and Tackle, 918/334-5528.

5 Lake Fork, Texas

Numbers of slabs from 11⁄4 to 21⁄2 pounds tend to get overlooked in this lake famous for lunker bass. Mid-May through June is guide Terri Moon's favorite time for crappies, when the fish head to brushpiles and bridge abutments in 20 to 24 feet of water. Pitching Fork Tackle's Live Baby Shads on 1/16-ounce jigs is a top option. Ivan Martin and Rick Loomis also guide clients to Fork's crappies in November and December, when fish are on points and in deeper brush. Contact: Guide Terri Moon, 903/383-7773; Guide Ivan Martin, 918/260-7743; Guide Rick Loomis, rickloomis.com; Lake Fork Marina for lodging, food, and tackle, lakeforkmarina.com.

1 Lake of the Woods, Ontario

The Woods is top-notch for black crappies to 16 inches, says In-Fisherman contributor Jeff Gustafson. Many crappies on this massive water have never seen lures, so once you find them, the numbers and quality are second to none, he says. Action starts in mid-May, with fish moving to shallow areas with cover. After spawning in early June, target them on weedflats in 6 to 10 feet of water. Float-and-jig combinations excel. Also try small suspending jerkbaits and swimming marabou jigs. Contact: Guide Dave Bennett, davebennettoutdoors.com, 807/466-2140; Guide Jamie Bruce, brucescanadianangling.com, 807/466-7134.

10 St. Johns River, Florida

The stretch of the St. Johns River south of Lake George offers outstanding fishing. Crappies from 2 to 3 pounds are caught regularly, with average catches well over a pound. This was the scene of an In-Fisherman television episode that airs this spring. Weedflats hold fish that can't resist tubes fished under a float. Or troll channel edges using jigs or minnows. Contact: Lodging at Castaways on the River, 352/759-4522, castawaysontheriver.com; Guide Steve Niemoeller, 386/846-2861, cflfishing.com.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Across the Walleye Belt, early spring is prime time to tap some of the year's best bites. Walleye

Spring is Prime Time for River Walleyes

Dan Johnson - February 22, 2018

Across the Walleye Belt, early spring is prime time to tap some of the year's best bites.

Crankin' is almost a necessity for finding bass on the Great Lakes from summer through fall. Bass

Using Crankbaits For Smallmouth Bass

Matt Straw - January 31, 2016

Crankin' is almost a necessity for finding bass on the Great Lakes from summer through fall.

Which of the ten is the best? You decide. Bass

10 Best Bass Fishing States In America

Matt Straw - November 01, 2017

Which of the ten is the best? You decide.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Swimmer Magic for Largemouths

Swimmer Magic for Largemouths

The In-Fisherman staff shows how to get going when the going gets tough, as they apply a touch of magic for largemouth bass.

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

Bug-Repellent Clothing from L.L. Bean

Bug-Repellent Clothing from L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean No Fly Zone and Insect Shield apparel won't let bugs ruin a fishing trip. With Jeff Miller of L.L. Bean and Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a powerplant that best fits your personal needs and preferences. Boats & Motors

2- Vs. 4-Cycle Outboard Motors

Dan Johnson - April 16, 2018

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a...

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you can Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

See More Stories

More Panfish

It's all about that goliath 'gill living way up under a slimy mat of milfoil; that mega school of Panfish

Shooting Docks for More Panfish

Cory Schmidt - April 26, 2018

It's all about that goliath 'gill living way up under a slimy mat of milfoil; that mega school...

The old expression Panfish

Top Panfish Tackle

Steve Quinn - July 09, 2018

The old expression "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity" certainly pertains to...

Nothing near shore. Nothing on the weededge. Braid whistled through the guides as I decided to Panfish

Big Baits for Big Crappie

Matt Straw - April 19, 2018

Nothing near shore. Nothing on the weededge. Braid whistled through the guides as I decided to

See More Panfish

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.