With the warm winter we had this year, I think it was a shock to many that we didn’t get an early spring. I think it’s safe to say that most lakes are now ice-free, although I have still seen some remaining ice in shaded areas along shorelines and swamps. We have warm temperatures on the horizon in Southeastern Ontario so I think that spring has officially arrived! *The angels sing*!

Cold weather spring crappie!

Even though it hasn’t been all that warm yet this season, the black crappie bite has been hot! I’ve been focusing on them quite a bit over the past week and a half as soon as the ice vanished and was able to get to some shore fishing locations. My first day on open water actually included a sheet of floating ice and sliding fish over top to land them, LOL. Quite a sight!

If you’re keen to get out and target black crappie early in the season, you’ll want to focus on the areas with dark bottoms and the warmest water. These types of areas are typically found along northern shorelines and receive the most amount of sunlight, heating the water up faster. When the water begins to warm up, the bait moves in and crappie follow suit as they feed up pre-spawn. If you’re scouting new waters, keep your eyes peeled for surface activity too as bait can often be seen breaking the surface.

My black crappie set-up is simple. To break it down, I’m using: a 7-foot Rapala Finesse Ultralight rod, Shimano Sedona reel (500FD), 4-pound test monofilament mainline with a bobber stop, bead, Thill Stealth float and then a microswivel to a 4-pound test fluorocarbon leader. I have a few favourites when it comes to presentations for crappie early in the season but lately I’ve been using a 1/16th ounce tube jig with a 1-inch white tube. Other favourites include the Berkley Atomic Teaser and the VMC Hot Skirt Glow Jig.

My set-up for black crappie.

The crappie are most active during low light periods but they can be caught throughout the day as well. So far I have found that they are holding deeper during the day so I lower my float. As soon as it gets darker, the crappies are feeding higher up in the water column so I raise my float. The set-up mentioned above makes it simple to adjust without having to re-tie each time which can be a bother when your hands are cold. You’ll notice the surface activity increases during these low light times as the crappies are pushing the bait to the surface.

My partner in crime, Eric, with a nice gold one!

I’m looking forward to (hopefully) getting the chance to get out in my boat this weekend for the first boating adventure of the year! Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read my blog. You’ll find me posting more frequently on my social media pages listed below. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me here or reach out on social media as I always enjoy chatting all things fishing. Good luck on the water!

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4 responses to “Ice-Out Black Crappies”

  1. Awesome thanks Eric caught a beauty besides you lol good luck with your weather hopefully you can take your boat out . Yes I’m still up lol
    Time for me to go to sleep though but its hard to do reading all of your blogs there all fabulous have a great evening 😴👍🍁your friend from Florida 🌴

  2. Great fishing,I´m Ricardo from Argentina

  3. Ashley (& Eric),

    Nice Crappie! Looks like you’re having fun despite some ice!

    I agree about thinking it would be an early spring. First day out here in New Hampshire was April 7. I got ice in my rod guides! But the lake was ice free.

    The water was about 53 degrees. Now, more than 3 weeks later, the water is 53 degrees.

    I’m off to a smaller lake tomorrow, hoping the water will be warmer! No boat, I have a Hobie Float Cat 75.

    I fish for bass, but do catch the occasional crappie, nice fighters! One day when I was in California, I was fishing Lake Soulajule (Soo-la-hoo-lee) and must have hit the spawn? Caught about 30, one right after the other!

    Hope your first boat trip is fun!

    Tight lines!

    Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  4. Excellent story. Thanks for the useful information. I personally think the Crappie is one of the prettiest fish so I love the photos,

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