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    Crappie Kingdom 15 May 2018

    Crappie Kingdom




    Wow, what a spring!  The fish didn’t know what to do.  The lake temperatures would go up, a cold snap would bring it down. The Yo-Yo effect really caused a lot of confusion.  In reality according to my diaries, we are not too far off the scale for spawning conditions.  One factor that remained unchanged was the length of day, which in my opinion, plays a role with the spawn.  I was catching male crappie that were turning black in 53 degree water on Stockton.  That is probably the coldest water I’ve ever caught them in.  Generally speaking, water temperature needs to be in the mid to upper 50’s before the males move up shallow and start the color change.  It was the end of the first week of May before consistent 60 degree water was found on Stockton Lake.  That’s late for all practical purposes.  The actual spawn of the females did not get started lake wide until the second week of May.  Other local lakes began earlier but the water warmed quicker and stimulated the spawn.

    Pomme de Terre and Truman were hot for the last week of April through the first week of May with late spawners still on the nest.  Table Rock had a good run earlier in April but heavy rains changed conditions for a week and it started over.  I had a good trip to Table Rock in mid-April.  Good quality fish have been caught and the numbers have been good there also.  The size of fish from Pomme have been running a little on the small side.  A huge number of 9-9 ¾ inch fish have been harvested.  Some bigger fish were being caught as the spawn progressed.  Truman has produced some brutes.  A lot of big fish have been taken and proves it is still a premier crappie lake in the Midwest.  Before the spawn, spider riggers were catching lots of crappies in the creek channels up in the coves where spawning areas are located.  Rigging jigs and minnows did the trick.  Once the spawn began, the fish moved up.  Jigs under floats about 6-18 inches deep were the go to method. Casting the combination to the shoreline and slowly working it back was the method of preference by many.  Didn’t go far before a fish was on.

    The bite on Stockton during daytime hours has been spotty at best.  Limits can be taken if one is willing to put in the time.  During low light conditions (just before dark or in early morning hours) the bite is more aggressive as the males move up to shallower water.  The water clarity will change in different locations of the lake and change the depth of the bite.  The main lake is as clear as ten foot visibility.  Up the tributaries and on wind-blown banks, the clarity may drop to 2-3 feet.  The reason I mention this is because the clearer the water, the deeper the fish will spawn.  A rule of thumb is the fish will spawn a foot or two deeper than the water is clear.  By definition, that means if the water is clear two feet deep, the fish will spawn in 3-4 feet or there about.   Keep in mind also that the spawn does not finally occur until the females lay eggs.  Once the female lays the eggs, the male will stay on the nest until the eggs hatch.  The female will return to deeper water and recover from the spawning stress.  With this in mind, look for the females suspended in deeper water before and after the spawn. 

    The spawn of the year can be frustrating but that’s what the time of the year brings.  The best is yet to come as the year wears on.  Summer and fall crappie fishing is awesome and I for one can’t wait.  Good fishing and good catching!

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