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Possumhaw: Everything you wanted to know about crappie fishing


Shannon Bardwell



"Full limit stringers are starting to be taken with some heavy slabs. Fish deep, still, and slow." 


Posted anonymously by Grenada Lake fisherman 




I tried to tell Sam fishing the crappie spawn is a lot like spring shopping. You need to check out your favorite shopping "holes" or maybe go to a bigger, better venue to see what's there and, who knows, maybe on any given day you could catch your limit and come home with a creel full. 


Sam looked totally bewildered at my comparison, shook his head and said, "Crappie fishing is nothing like shopping. Crappie fishing is an art." 


For the last couple of weeks Sam's been intently checking weather for wind speed and water temperature at Grenada Lake, the Tombigbee River and Ross Barnett Reservoir. Preferably winds need to be at 5 mph or less and water temperatures between 58 and 60 degrees for pre-spawners, or even warmer.  


Crappie -- also called specks (black crappie), white perch, sac-a-lait, croppie, papermouth or slabs -- tend to stay away from wind and wave action They like to hang around structure, hiding in underwater brush piles, sunken logs, weeds and fallen trees. This is precisely why I do not enjoy crappie fishing because crappie hide where I'm most likely to get hung up, and that makes me mad.  


Crappie are versatile fish and can be found in ponds, lakes, rivers, sloughs, creeks and streams. Even though they like to hang out in structure, oftentimes a roving school of crappie can be found while trolling or drifting in open water. Sam bought a drift anchor, something like a tarp, to drag behind the boat while fishing open water. Sometimes spider-rigging where you have up to four poles per person. 


The largest crappie on record weighed in at 5 pounds 3 ounces. It was caught in 1957 by Mr. Fred Bright in Enid Lake. Most crappie weigh between a half-pound and a pound. Each body of water has a minimum length to be a keeper. Tombigbee is 9-inches, and Grenada is 12-inches. Those 12-inch crappie are what draw fishermen to Grenada Lake from all over, especially this time of year. 


Food for crappie consists of shad, small minnows and insects. Sam says a crappie like to feel the bait with its lips before it sucks it in. He says he can feel the fish bumping his bait and waits 'til just the right moment to set the hook. I used to think he was bluffing, but now I think he really does feel the fish's lips bumping the bait.  


Crappie fishermen fish with a light line, small lead-head jigs with plastic bodies resembling minnows, or jigs that mimic insects. During the spawn the female fish goes back and forth to the shallows laying her eggs at different times. The males follow. Water temperature is crucial for spawners and some say having daylight between 13.2 to 14.6 hours is the best fishing time. 


Last week Sam came home with a humdinger of a crappie, weighing in at 3.18 pounds. His best fish yet and probably one to be mounted. I'd say more if I knew more, but you know how those crappie fishermen are.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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