One of my favorite species to target is black crappie. I particularly like catching really big black crappie, larger than 14 inches. Spring and Fall are definitely the best times to try to get those slabs, and for my money Spring is the more likely of the two to produce true giants. On bigger water where I have shore access and know big crappies are present, I focus on the northern end- especially wherever muddy bottom is present -and I fish the hour after sunset. Big, egg laden female crappies and smaller males concentrate themselves in these areas prior to spawning and feed most heavily late in the day.
I've put a fair bit of time into giant crappies this spring. I wouldn't say I've been wildly successful, but I've certainly caught quite a few good fish. Most evenings only produced a few crappies but when each of them is well over a foot long, well, that's not too shabby.
The trickiest thing about catching big crappies on the fly after finding a place that has them is detecting strikes. Sometimes they slam flies aggressively, but more often than not the take isn't that obvious. Usually I perform something like a Leisenring Lift when crappie fishing, because the sag of the line allows me to see when a fish has interrupted my fly. When I can't see the line the same presentation still works because the rod tip is moving continuously. When a fish takes I usually feel sudden light tension, set the hook low to the side and usually the game is one. Of course these are crappie, so the game usually doesn't last that long. I had a couple giant crappie this spring perform uncharacteristically hard fights. One jumped like a smallmouth, another performed a blistering run in shallow water. Clearly they can't all be said to come in like a wet sock.
With about dozen big crappies to hand close to home, I soon started to get curious about some other areas. Big panfish fever had set in. I want big everything. Bluegills, pumpkinseeds, redbreast sunfish, perch, rock bass, golden shiners... this spring m focus has been and will continue to be focusing on getting trophy specimens of each species I target.
Until next time,