I enjoy fishing and when the weather is perfect it is even more relaxing.

Roosevelt Lake in the springtime when the air temperature during the heat of the day hovers in the mid 70s is as good as it gets.

This is also the time when the crappie move to shallow water for the spawning ritual, which provides the fish of future years.

Water temperature is critical and the optimum spread is somewhere between 60-65 degrees. Most fishing graphs have this technology and make it far easier now than it used to be.

Before this technology, it was word of mouth and observation. If anglers were telling fish stories of a basketful of these tasty slabs, it was time to get on the water.

Be ready to go from mid-March to the middle of April if you want to fish the shallow water from eight feet to the bank.

Structure along the shore is a wise place to start fishing. Submerged salt cedars, cocklebur patches, and large logs are likely spots for a crappie to take up residence during the spawn.

It is common to fish a mile of shoreline looking for these spots and chances are good if you catch one, others will be close by. Crappies have a tendency to travel in schools and prefer some kind of protective structure.

Water clarity is beneficial peering into the depths near structure. A crappie may be only a dark shadow against a background so it is common for some anglers to miss them in an area. A good pair of polarized sunglasses on a bright spring day can be extremely helpful in locating fish.

Another essential is a brimmed hat that also will reduce the glare and improve the vision into the depths. When I do this kind of fishing, I am always standing as tall as possible to create the best angle to see deeper, especially if the water has some color to it.

In gin clear water it may be necessary to switch to extremely light line, four-pound test may be best. Otherwise, a good six-pound test monofilament line will work well.

Remember, you should expect to lose some tackle just because crappies tend to live in extreme wooded cover.

Because the target fish zone is eight feet or less, it is best to use a very light jighead, the best being a 1/32 ounce. This allows the bait to remain longer in the strike zone and reduces snagging frequently on the bottom.

If the fish are in four feet of water or less it would be best to place a small bobber 18 inches above the jighead. The retrieve is very slow because a crappie is far more tentative than the aggressive bass.

Even with lightweight jigs snagging will be frequent so an ample supply of terminal tackle is necessary.

Minnows are considered the old standby bait when crappie fishing, using a bobber about two feet above the bait.

But most minnow dealers are no longer in business so artificial soft baits are the next best bet. The Berkley two-inch curlytail power grub in pumpkin or chartreuse are extremely effective on Roosevelt Lake.

If the water is a bit murky, then try a Kalin’s crappie scrub in John Deere color or a black, blue, chartreuse curlytail. When the crappies are biting almost a two-inch or less soft bait will work on a 1/32-ounce jighead.

Always be aware that there is a pre-spawn and post-spawn period where crappies will be in deeper water waiting to come in or leaving to feed. The target zone may be in deeper water from 10-20 feet, frequently close to structure such as a submerged tree or rocky point. If this happens it will be necessary to switch to a larger jighead, a 1/16 or 1/8 ounce, depending on the depth.

Good luck trying to catch a few of those speckled beauties this spring. We hope the 2020 decade will bring the crappie back in big numbers at Roosevelt Lake.

Take a friend fishing and enjoy the great outdoors, God’s creation.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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(1) comment

Darren Enns

I enjoyed the crappie article. Good tips are always welcome as they can make the difference between a good day fishing and getting skunked :)

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