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Panfish Fishing
Written by Rocky Madsen   
Saturday, 01 June 1996
Article Index
Late Spring - Early Summer Crappie Patterns
Fixed Floats
Slip Floats

Northern Crappie Views

Finally it's June, and I hope this cold weather pattern we've been experiencing is over. I, for one, have found it more than unusual to be fishing in May with ice forming at night and bitter cold weather in the daytime. Let's hope our late spring and early summer weather is normal, so I can put away my snow suit and gloves -- at least until next fall. With the cold weather we have been experiencing, you might have found the spring crappie patterns a little different than in the past. The reason is that the lack of warm days in May have prevented a strong plankton bloom in the shallower waters. Rather, the plankton will bloom in deeper and shallow water around the same time. I have found that the effect of this phenomenon will limit the number of crappie runs to the shallows (as described in the last issue).

This effect is more apparent with larger crappies, because they prefer the larger minnows. Weak shallow water plankton blooms equate to weak large minnow migrations. Therefore a weak large crappie migration will ensue.

Even at the best of times, June can be one of the most challenging times of the year to locate our quarry. Once the surface water temperature rises above 55 degrees F, crappies tend to cease their migrations, although you may still have smaller crappies visiting your favorite haunts. Look for larger fish in the general areas where you had been catching them in mid May.

In addition, this is the time of the year when crappies spawn, and as the water temperature starts to climb over 55 degrees, they start to move onto their spawning beds. Look for crappies in shallow bays (particularly those facing south), and in all the shallow areas that we have discussed in previous articles.

Crappies generally spawn where bottoms consists of either soft sand, sandy loam, or marl. The reason the crappies prefer the semi-soft bottoms is that it is easier for them to fan out a small depression for their nests. You will be able to spot the nests in three to six feet of water. They will appear as lighter circles then the surrounding bottom, and will often be tucked among bass nests.

You will notice the crappies that are caught in this shallow water spots appear to be turning black . This happens primarily to the males prior to, and during the spawn. In my colder northern waters, this process will start around the end of May and will end by the middle or end of June.

As I mentioned earlier (larger) crappies can be harder to locate from the end of May to the end of June. They have stopped their feeding migrations and have suspended over deep water in pre spawn locations. These locations will vary from lake to lake, with the main factor being lake size. In larger lakes, crappies will suspend over deep water near their spawning beds and will be hard to catch. For more active fish in large and small lakes, check for large crappies around drop-offs, new emerging weeds, bottom structure as well as the shallow water locations mentioned above.

I would like to take part of this article to address the subject of float fishing, as I feel that many of the new and less-advanced fisherman, seem to have problems.

9-1There are literally thousands of floats available to the fisherman on today's market. Which one is best to use? How do you use a float? Under what conditions? Well, lets answer some of these questions.

Each float has it's advantages and disadvantages. It depends on the application you have in mind. One rod, one line, or one float will not ensure success in all applications. But you can simplify your choices to just a few basic categories.

For our purposes (northern crappie fishing), we will first divide our float family into fixed floats and slip floats. A fixed float (Diagram 9.1 c, d,) is attached to the line at a fixed depth, and a slip float (Diagram 9.1 a, b,) allows the line to pass through it to a pre-set depth.



 
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