Its mid-April and the crappies on Roosevelt Lake are finally moving to the shallows for their annual spawn. Having said this, still the fishing is sporadic because it is so difficult to find a bank where there is a heavy concentration of those dark speckled beauties. A good day on the water might be a stringer of 20 fish, unless you can find a real hot spot.
On a recent trip to the Tonto arm, accompanied by Clay Randall and Don Heizer, we were able to catch a fair number of crappies in the one- to two-pound category by spending a lot of time peering into the submerged brush and the shady side of large logs. This is no easy task unless one is well prepared with the right equipment. Yellow lens polarized glasses with a side shade that reduces the glare created by the sun’s rays work best for detecting that dark shadow created by a hidden crappie. Oftentimes, standing in the boat on the front deck will give you an advantage of peering into the deeper water by creating a better angle to see the fish.
When fishing the shallows, make every attempt not to bump the adjoining logs or brush because these noises or any other sudden movements will cause the fish to swim to deeper water.
Obviously, a crappie that is facing away from the boat or has not been disturbed by sudden noises and shadows can be caught by a jig or minnow. If the fish swims off, remember the area and return there at a later time. Chances are good, that fish will be back in the same position prior to being alarmed.
Springtime sight fishing is very popular in bass angling, but not often practiced for crappies. It is much like fall hunting for big game where your eyes and suitable optics can make any hunt more productive. Quality sun glasses with proper shade around the eyes and positioning a boat to get the right angle of light on the water can make all the difference in putting those tasty crappies in the livewell.
When the fish is located, an underhanded cast works best in a pitching motion because most of the target zones are 10 yards or less. The best approach is to actually pitch beyond the fish a foot or two, which will allow the bait to drop into the area the crappie is located. These fish are not innately aggressive like a bass, consequently, they don’t normally travel long distances to chase a bait.
The springtime shallow bite of pitching to the shoreline or submerged logs requires a lightweight 1/32nd ounce jighead, which allows that Kalin’s two-inch John Deere grub to remain in the target zone longer. Most of the time the crappie will approach the grub ever so slowly and the slow sinking bait gives the angler more chance of catching the fish.
The Kalin’s John Deere colors of chartreuse and yellow are the perfect match for Roosevelt Lake crappies when starting any fishing trip. If the bite slows, be ready to switch baits to black and blue chartreuse or one of 20 other colors of Kalin’s baits, because sometimes a change in color will trigger them into striking the grub. I checked the wall at The Tackle Box in Tonto Basin, they have a complete line of all the colors presently on the market and can give you the latest crappie report for Roosevelt Lake.
The crappie bite appears to be very spread out and with thousands of acres of new brush, it may take some time and effort in locating any hot spot. With the proper equipment, you can be better prepared to put a few crappies in the livewell.
This weekend, take a friend fishing and enjoy God’s creation.