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    Crappie Kingdom 03 Mar 2019

    Crappie Kingdom




    I believe it would be safe to say that March came in like a Lion this year.   It has been a long drawn out winter and time for a change.  March is a month that changes the game plan almost daily. Weather temperatures warm up with wind and then it decides to cool down with wind.  All these conditions change lake conditions and can affect the fishing as well.  The one common denominator that remains constant from year to year is the length of daylight hours.  That single factor plays an important role in the transition of fishing patterns. 

    When the length of daylight hours increases, the radiant heat from the daylight will cause the water temperature to increase.  As the temperature increases the fish transition to spawning areas begins to occur.  The change of temperature can be quick or slow depending upon the air temperature, wind, and the length of daylight hours.  March can be a month where weather can change in a heartbeat.  These changes dictate how quickly water conditions will change.  The lake water temperature plays a vital role on when the spawn will actually occur.  My theory is, the length of day dictates the movement of the fish to pre-spawn locations. 

    In addition to the lake conditions, the movement of bait fish will play a role in this transition as well.  Once the fish transition to these holding areas, they will feed upon available food sources and move in and out of spawning areas.  This situation creates a day to day pattern that can easily change.  Once the lake conditions stabilize, catching fish becomes more consistent.  The lake conditions will begin to stabilize more quickly in the upper tributaries of the lake.  This area is shallower and also has fresh warmer water flowing in at a regular pace.  With this consideration, one can determine that the spawn begins in these tributaries first and progresses down the lake to the deeper water.  The deeper water is in the main lake areas and warms last.  The spawn does not occur over the entire body of water at once.  It can vary over a several day period of time dictated by warm water conditions. 

    Walleye and white bass will be the first fish to begin the push to spawn.  They will begin staging in the 40+ degree water and move to spawn areas in the low 50 to mid-50 degree water.  The Crappie will follow when the water warms to the upper 50 to low 60 degree water.  One note that I have found is that the sub-species Black Crappie seems to spawn in a little cooler water than the White Crappie.  I’ve never read any scientific conclusions on this observation but rely only on my past experiences.  Bass will follow the Crappie.  Bluegill and catfish will last and round out the basic game fish spawn in our lakes.

    Male fish will be the first to appear in the nesting areas.  Generally low light conditions will trigger the male fish movement to the extremely shallow spawn areas.  The male is very aggressive and therefore very vulnerable during this spawn condition.  The larger female crappie are suspended in deeper water waiting for the right time to move to the nest.  She will lay eggs in more than one nest but only be in the nesting area for around twenty four hours.  Once she has completed laying eggs, she will retreat to deeper water to recover from the spawn.  The male will stay at the nest until the eggs hatch.  The female will always retain a small amount of eggs in her body.  It is normal to catch a female and find eggs in her after she has spawned when you clean the fish.  Slow trolling or drifting through staged fish will catch fish.  During the spawn, cast and retrieve is generally the method used for catching the fish.

    Remember that conditions change day to day so you got to be on the water to monitor changes.  Good Luck and Good Fishing!

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