Springtime on Roosevelt Lake is synonymous with crappie fishing for Arizona anglers. It is that time of the year when these fish head to the shallows and spawn, and can be caught by fishermen using the correct techniques. Having fished Roosevelt Lake for the last 30 years, I have learned a lot by trial and error as well as paying attention to other anglers who consistently catch crappies.
Now is the time to fish the shallow water pattern by focusing on ten feet or less. What this means is the water you are casting to may range from as shallow as two feet and could be as deep as ten feet, which would be considered the fish zone. By keeping your bait in this depth you have the opportunity to catch the greatest number of fish.
With the new high water mark of Roosevelt Lake, there is so much more fishable shoreline, which also allows the crappie to have so many new spawning areas. The key for the fisherman is to cover water and find those spawning beds. This dictates using that trolling motor and covering lots of shoreline until the fish are located.
If a fish is caught, slow down and spend time in that area. Chances are very good that there are more crappies in that spot, because they are typically a large school fish. All of this takes time on the water, which coincides with learning a lake and the typical haunts of the fish you are trying to catch. Local fishing guide Art Chamberlin of C and C Guide Service, has his favorite areas that he will try in a day's fishing with clients because he knows fish are there. Another longtime crappie expert is Curt Rambo, who said, "You must spend time on the water to learn where these fish are located and be willing to explore new possibilities."
Another often-asked question is what kind of rod and reel are the most effective at this time of year. A fishing friend of numerous trips to the lake, Don Heizer, prefers an ultra-light rod of six feet or less, which allows him to feel the tiniest bite by these fish.
Don't expect a rod shaking experience. The crappie bite is a very delicate tap. Consequently, the correct line selection will increase your chances of catching more fish. I use 4 to 6 lb. test depending on the clarity of the water. Fishing line has come a long way in the last ten years and there are many excellent brands to choose from. I am currently using Calcutta, which has good tinsel strength, very small diameter, and low memory, which dictates fewer twists from an afternoon of fishing.
Finally, the reel selected should be a small open faced spinning reel, which will increase the pleasure of catching a crappie in the 1- to 2-pound range. A quality reel will last many seasons of fishing. The Shimano Sedona 1500 is probably the best on the market for the price as well as warranty wise. Shimano as a fishing corporation has an excellent warranty system for all of their fishing equipment.
Now that you know where to go and what equipment to use, it's time to give crappie fishing a try. There is no better table fare than a tasty crappie fillet. This weekend, take someone fishing and enjoy God's creation.
Next week the conclusion: Bait selection and specific techniques.