Don’t Bank on Bank-Bound Crappie in the Spring
Day 1: Fishing for Discharge Crappie in the Spring
Editor’s Note: To find bank-bound crappie, you must know the temperature of the water. Forget about the time of year. When the water temperature becomes warm-enough for crappie to spawn, they will move to the bank. With a not-just-right water temperature, the crappie will pull away from the bank. Throughout March and April, various sections of even the South may experience unexpected cold fronts that will cause the crappie to swim-away from the bank.
The late Steve Pope of Centre on Alabama’s Weiss Lake, taught me that a 2- or a 3-degree difference in water temperature would cause the crappie to concentrate in certain creeks and not in others. The warmer creeks had more crappie; the cooler creeks homed fewer crappie. The time of day also affected the shallowness of the crappie. Early in the morning we caught crappie in 8 feet of water, but by 1:00 p.m. we took crappie in 1-1/2-feet of water. Let's look at how and where other anglers pinpoint and take crappie that isn’t bank-bound. In March in the northern sections of the Gulf Coast states, anglers may find still-cool water and crappie that are hunting warmer and more-shallow water in preparation for the spawn. A friend of mine, Robert Holland, had found a small stream used by a major factory near Rome, Georgia, to dump warm-water discharge. The stream flowed into a nearby river that had plenty of crappie in it. "I've seen some folks fishing down by the bridge, and they had some pretty nice-sized crappie," Holland told me one day. Using jigs and corks, we cast-out into the warm water and let our jigs wash downstream. After taking about 10 crappie, I decided to move further down the bank to see if I could locate a better place to fish. I noticed a narrow point jutting out into the current and forming an eddy pool on the backside of the point. I cast my jig out and allowed the cork to carry the jig around the point and into the eddy hole where the cork sank. My rod bowed, my line sang, and I brought a fat, 1-1/2-pound crappie to the bank. Quickly unhooking the fish, I threw out again – letting the cork drift the jig into the same eddy hole. Once more the cork sank, and I took a nice crappie.
After I had put my 15th fish on the stringer, Holland yelled out from upstream, "Hey, John, you catching any fish? These up here have just about quit biting." "Yeah, I'm catching a few," I replied, trying to sound unexcited. In a few minutes, Holland came down the bank, pulled up my stringer and said, "Golly, why didn't you tell me you were catching these kinds of crappie? Move over. I'm gonna catch me some of those slabs." Anywhere you can find warm-water discharge in small creeks and streams that run into major reservoirs, often you will locate a honey hole for big, prespawn crappie in March and April.