Crowds Leave After Crappie Spawn, Perfect Time To Fish

OUTDOORS UNDER THE RIM

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Early spring is traditionally the time to catch big numbers of crappies on Roosevelt and other Arizona desert impoundments.

In the months of March and April, during the spawning period, the fish are in the shallows and fishermen will concentrate around specific areas on the Salt or Tonto arm. They are fishing in less than 10 feet of water, in hopes of filling up a livewell of crappies, which will be fillets for a later fish dinner.

Well, if you missed the spawning, don't put that crappie rod away. The post-spawn period of May and June can be the best time on Roosevelt Lake. The fish are sliding off the bank and are schooling in 15 to 20 feet of water.

During this period, the bite can even be better than during March and April.

Locating the fish is the key, so a graph that shows fish is a very important tool on your boat. When numbers of fish show on the screen, pay attention to the depth and location.

Some anglers use small orange buoys to mark the spot, instead of always having to view the graph.

As you lower your bait to the correct depth, give those fish a chance to bite. The jig or minnow should be held stationary and slightly above the schooling crappies.

Many fishermen prefer to slow-troll baits through the schooling fish. Local guide Art Chamberlin has been having good success doing this with an .08 ounce jighead and Kalin's grubs or live minnows.

He said the speed of the bait should be one mile per hour or less, which will entice the delicate bite of the crappie.

As late spring turns into summer, water temperatures climb and fish slide deeper into the depths. Fish that were found in 15 to 20 feet, a month later, may be in 20-25 feet of water.

Again, the key point is to pay attention to your graph and, when you locate those fish, mark the spot with a small buoy and begin fishing. Longtime crappie expert Curt Rambo has had his best fishing days during the post-spawn, when the crowds of fishermen have left the lake. His tip is to fish very slowly in the presentation of the jig or minnow and spend time locating the fish with the aid of your graph.

The fish may be a little tougher to find, but when you do, the bite is on. Crappie fishing can be almost year-round if you pay attention to your graph and are willing to hunt them out on Roosevelt Lake.

Enjoy God's creation and take a friend fishing.

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