It’s Go-Time for Slab Crappie

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I recently had great success in one of my favorite springtime crappie spots in Connecticut. Fishing late night into the morning in 2 to 5 feet of water with 1/16- to 1/8-ounce finesse jigs, I caught a mess of big calicos with bellies so fat that I thought they were going to pop. The smallest fish was 15 inches long with a 13-inch girth. The biggest was a whopping 17 inches long with a 14-inch girth, that may have been close to a Connecticut State Record. I considered keeping it to be weighed officially, but I settled for a quick picture.

Spring is the best time to catch big crappie. When the big females wander into the shallows and stage for the spawn, there is a small window of opportunity to catch a platter-sized crappie.

Crappie spawn once water temperature reach the high 60s to low 70s. Unlike bass, crappie don’t sit on their spawning beds. The actually hide near the beds, and attack anything that comes near it.  Their speckled camouflage allows them to hide among weeds and over darker colored bottoms, even in very shallow water.

This time of year, crappie are aggressive, hitting lures that they won’t even touch the rest of the year.. Bass fishermen often catch a slab while fishing spinnerbaits or swim jigs. I’ve had the most success by jigging micro soft plastics and small finesse jigs. Smaller baits have always done better for me when chasing crappie.

The micro Entyzer Jigs sink slowly, making them deadly on shallow, spring crappies.
The micro Entyzer Jigs sink slowly, making them deadly on shallow, spring crappies.

Some of my favorite finesse are the Entyzer Jigs in 1/16- to 1/8-ounce weights. Micro soft plastics can be just as effective and I also catch on The Joker from Mr. Crappie, the Berkley Power Nymph, and Crappie Magnet soft plastics. You can fish these tiny soft plastics in a variety of ways. Lighter jig heads allow for a slower fall that can make a huge difference. Crappie feed upward, so I can cover an area more effectively while keeping fishing a slow-sinking jig and keeping it above the fish. I like to pop and flutter my jigs above and near spawning beds until I see gills flare up out of the darkness as my bait disappears.

The time is now to dunk some shiners or jig small baits for some huge slabs.  Take your trout setup and give it a new purpose. We have a few more weeks before the crappie head to deeper waters after the spawn.

Crappie are overlooked as gamefish here in the Northeast, but they are one of my favorite fish. If you get into a school of big slabs this spring, you’ll find out why. Get out there and good luck!

10 on “It’s Go-Time for Slab Crappie

  1. watertown

    Nice article there, i see your posts on fishing ct. I may consider targeting them after seeing some of the crappie you catch.

    1. David Rascoe

      I love Fishing for crappie. Can you share some lake with me in ct thanks.

  2. michael swirzewski

    awesome slab!-got a bunch while fishing soft finesse plastics for bass in the shallows!-And there’s been an unbelievable evening bite on top twitching smaller rapalas!= Great crappie season!

  3. John Moriarty

    I miss you when you’re not on here Kyle! Excellent piece and I appreciate the pic. Hope to get out this week.

  4. Steven Austin

    Great picture. I love fishing for Crappie. Can you share some of your lakes, ponds or coves for the monster slabs.

  5. Shawn Nichols

    Wow I started reading this post as a skeptic, but I have been killing them on a green and white spinner bait. You hit the mark with this one. I’m going to bring my daugther tomorrow to get some of these awesome fish.

  6. Phil

    Nice fish.

    My best CT Crappie were two 18″ fish caught in mid-summer, at night, in deep (~20-ft) water, on different lakes. Neither fish was close to any record with their summer weight, but they were great to catch. Currently I am fishing a small private lake that is producing many crappie in the 15″ – 17″ range. Crappie populations tend to boom/bust and fishing pressure makes a difference. Heavy fishing pressure leaves many large ones for those who know how to catch them. Fall and winter before freeze up is a great time to target the largest Crappie. Better yet, I usually have the lake to myself after temps fall below 45-degrees.

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