The end of February is upon us and Crappie Time is right around the corner on Roosevelt Lake.
With a week of warm weather and the water temperature inching up to that magical 60 degrees Fahrenheit, these fish will be heading to the bank for that springtime spawn.
Until then, the best plan will be to fish the staging areas in the deeper water in the mouth of the Tonto or Salt River. Longtime crappie expert Curt Rambo said, “The Salt is my choice first when it comes to slow trolling a jig or minnow.”
He also added that these fish may be suspended in the top 12 feet of water, even though the overall depth may be 40 feet.
Curt continued, “Be ready to fish the bank during that 30- day period from March 15 to April 15 for the best shallow fishing results.”
After 40 years of fishing for those tasty panfish, he knows what he is talking about. I have gone on many crappie trips with Curt, and every one of them has been productive.
For the best results, I would have an ample supply of 2-inch grubs made by Kalins in John Deere or black, blue, chartreuse and some of the other popular colors for Roosevelt. Other color patterns have also been productive, so variety in the tackle box is very important in the springtime.
Finding the right color can be a challenge, but the reward is a livewell full of crappies.
The size of the jighead can vary from 1/8 ounce for deeper water where trolling is necessary to the very light 1/32 ounce for shallow brushy shorelines.
It is necessary to have an ample supply of jigheads because snagging the brush is common in the tight spots where the crappies are normally located.
Rod selection can be important to feel that very light bite, so an open face spinning outfit is a good bet. A medium-light or ultralight rod which is 5 to 6 feet long will do the trick with 4- to 6-pound test line on the spool.
The more sensitive the rod and line, the better your chances are of catching fish.
If you are making the first trip of the spring, then I would encourage you to watch for a concentration of boats and try that place first. It is common in early spring to have as many as 100 boats trolling in the crappie regatta with everyone catching fish.
After a long winter in the high country, crappie fishing is a good excuse to get some of that desert warmth and, who knows, maybe some tasty fresh fillets for the skillet. This weekend, take a friend fishing and enjoy God’s creation.