Understanding prespawn crappies pays big dividends. Up North, catching early-season panfish fills the time between ice-out and the walleye opener. In the South, fish national tournaments that move from Florida north in the spring seem to be perpetually ahead of the big event. While the shallow crappie bite peaks for only a few days, prespawn patterns cover multiple months from midwinter into the warmer weather of summer.
A big-fish attitude helps. Prespawn isn’t a time to load the boat because all crappies are spread out a bit. Forward-facing sonar is here to stay and, quite simply, 2-pounders make larger dots. This goes against the limit-everyday attitude that panfish anglers crave, but battling a tackle-testing crappie on a long single pole can become addictive while more than enough bites can be had from a few dinner-sized fish along the way. This is big-bait season, too. When you find crappies this time of year they fire up over almost anything, so stock up on 1/4-ounce jigs and 3-inch plastics that show up easily on sonar. And, chilly water keeps crappies from moving too fast, so when you find one you have a chance.
Big fish and big baits take big confidence. Winter and summer are the times when fish are concentrated. Spring and fall are when fish are dispersed. This doesn’t mean that fishing is poor; it means the attitude of the angler must match the attitude of the fish for success.
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