Fishing Trips · Tips

Memorial Day Crappie Fishing

This past Memorial Day was one of the hottest I can remember. While most Hoosiers were watching the Indy 500, my nephew and I were on the lake catching some crappies.


It was 90 degrees and super humid. This would have been a great day to relax in the water, like many others were doing. The water temperature actually rose 8 degrees during the time we were on the lake. It was 76 in the morning and 84 by the afternoon!


The crappies are pretty much done with the spawn and are transitioning to their deep water summer patterns. When the water temperatures get into the 80’s they are usually located in deep water. The pattern we found is almost done now for the summer. We caught our fish in shallow water around docks. The fish were located in the shadiest parts. Skipping plastic grubs worked the best. (Check out a previous post about my favorite crappie lures.)


Crappie fishing can be very difficult on hot, calm, sunny days. If you are faced with these conditions in late spring to early summer, it may be worth skipping some docks to see if you can get a few bites. I know we had a great Memorial Day on the water.


An App Every Fisherman Needs

I enjoy fishing new bodies of water. I like the challenge of catching fish on a lake that I have never seen. One tool that I use to catch more fish is the Navionics app. This app shows you the contours of the lake, fishing spots, boat ramps, marinas, and the weather among other features. I think it is a wise investment for fishermen and boaters.

The app will cost you $9.99, same as the cost of a new lure. I use this to study lakes before going fishing to identify productive fishing spots. I was surprised how many lake are listed. I was also pleasantly surprised to see all of the very small local lakes are on here too.

It is also very helpful if you do not have a fish finder with a mapping card built in. Simply pull your phone out and see exactly where you are on the lake. It plots your current location while using the app. I know ice fishermen who use this and love it because of this reason alone. They can walk exactly to the spot they want to fish, drill a hole, and start catching fish.

I also like this app because it shows you boat ramp locations and marinas. This is very helpful when driving to a lake that you are unfamiliar with. You can quickly see the ramp locations on the lake and plan your route. It also makes navigating the lake much safer because you can locate the shallow areas before you launch your boat.

If you love to fish or just want to be a safer boater, I would recommend downloading the Navionics app. I know it has helped me.

Fishing Trips · Tips

Early Spring Fishing

Early spring fishing can be some of the best trips of the year. I recently fished a small local lake that typically has a ton of people fishing it. To my delight, I had the entire place to myself. The fishing at this lake was much better than normal, mainly due to the lack of fishing pressure.


The water temperature was in the high 40’s, which was much warmer than I had anticipated. I found the bass in 3-4 foot of water, but close to deeper water. This is a standard place to look for bass in late winter and early spring. Bass like to move up and down the water column looking for the warmest water at this time of year. I caught the bass on a Rapala Shad Rap and a Berkley Flicker Shad.

The crappies and trout were located on a flat in about 3-5 foot of water. Both species seemed to be close to stumps and brush piles. This is a very common place to find crappies this time of year. Crappies will spawn in water temperatures between 50-60 degrees. These fish were already thinking about spawning. I caught the crappies and trout on a float and hair jig tipped with Berkley Gulp.

If you are willing to put on some extra layers of clothes and battle the cold, then I think you may be surprised how successful you might be. I was able to catch some nice bass, crappie, and trout on this trip. 



Spring Tackle Purchase

I recently spent a few dollars at Bass Pro Shops.  These are the baits and tackle that I will be using very soon.

I bought some new Sufix Performance Braid line for crappie fishing. I have heard good things about this line, so I thought I would give it a try. Braided line helps throw and skip light weight baits a long distance. It also has great sensitivity for feeling the fish bight. I also bought some weedless Nail Head Jigs. I started using these a couple of years ago, and really like them. They work great around wood cover and docks.

Swim baits are great in clear water. I like the Bass Pro Squirmin Shad and the Bass Pro Speed Shad. This time of the year the water can be very clear and these baits mimic a real bait fish almost identically. Swim baits can be used in both shallow and deep water depending on the weight of the jig head. I also like swim baits this time of year because they can be worked very slowly. The bass will be very lethargic right now, and you typically need a very slow presentation to entice the strike.

With the warm weather fast approaching, it’s just a matter of time before these baits start catching fish.


Shallow Water Crappie Tip

Crappies spend most of the year in deep water, but during the fall and spring they move into shallower water. These transitions to shallow water make them much easier to catch. I like to use a rattle bobber when the crappies are in the shallows.


I actually found this tip out by accident. I was crappie fishing one day and saw a green and yellow rattle bobber hanging in a tree. I had never tried one before, and I’m not one to pass up a free bobber, so I switched out mine for the new found rattle bobber I found.

I quickly found that crappies are really attracted to the sound of a rattle bobber. I was surprised by how well it started catching crappies. I had not been catching many crappies that day, but once I switched bobbers I started consistently catching nice crappies. The crappies were around boat docks in 3 to 4 feet of water. I know that the bobber helped turn my day around.

This bobber is only going to be effective catching fish in water no deeper than 6 feet. Fishing in water any deeper than this, the lure will be too far below the bobber and the crappies may not find it. Also, the crappies who are hanging out in deeper water won’t be able to hear the rattle. Next time you find yourself fishing in shallow water for crappies I would suggest trying this kind of bobber. You may be surprised as surprised as I was to see how well it works.


Favorite Crappie Lures

I love to bass fish, but catching crappies is a very close second. There are three things that I really enjoy about crappie fishing; First, the techniques for catching them is almost identical to bass fishing, second, you can catch a lot more of them, and last, they are great to eat.


Anyone who has fished with me knows that I am not a very patient fisherman. I like lures that I can fish fast, and cover a lot of water. Once I locate a school of crappies, then I will slow down long enough to thoroughly work the area. Here are some of my favorite crappie lures.

The Strike King Shad Pole is a fairly new crappie lure on the market. The little ball on the tail moves at every little twitch of the rod. It’s a great minnow imitator.


The Charlie Brewer’s Crappie Slider Grub is another great lure. The paddle tail of this lure gives off a ton of vibration. It looks just like a minnow swimming through the water.


Hair Jigs are great at catching all kinds of fish. I like to use them two different ways. One way is with a bobber and continually jigging it back to the boat. The other way is letting it sink slowly while twitching the rod tip. The hairs on the bait give off a lot of subtle action that fish can’t refuse.  Check out my post about how to make homemade hair jigs here.


Tube Jigs have been around for as long as I know, but they are hard to beat for catching crappies. These little lures work with a very light jig head and are probably my all time favorite crappie lures.




Fried Crappie Recipe

Who doesn’t love fried fish? Especially when you caught them yourself. Crappies are one of my favorite fish to eat. We caught these crappies from Lake Shafer in August.


We decided to cook these up for dinner one night. The seasoning I chose to use was Open Season, but I really like Uncle Bucks available at Bass Pro Shops. I like to mix together their original seasoning with their spicy flavor. I also add bread crumbs for a little extra crunch.

I use paper plates, because it makes clean up much easier. The only dishes I have to use are the bowl for the egg wash and the skillet.


Pat at the crappie fillets completely dry. Once dry drop them into the egg wash.

After they have been soaked in the egg mix coat them with the breading mix. Don’t be afraid to make the breading is thick.


I like to cook the fish outside on the grill gas burner. This keeps the fried fish smell outside. You also don’t have to worry about the fish splattering. Put enough oil in the skillet to cover at least half of the fish. Cook the side down until it turns golden brown. Flip the fillet over and cook the other side to golden brown. The fish will come out crunchy and ready to eat.


I almost like eating them as much as I like catching them. Okay, not really, but they sure are tasty!