LINCOLN, Neb. – Anyone looking for a fun springtime outdoor activity will find it in fishing. April and May are a great time to fish for crappies.
“Crappies tend to move into shallow water near the shore in the spring, making them easily accessible to all anglers, whether they are in boats or on the bank,” said Daryl Bauer, fisheries outreach program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Bauer said crappies start moving on warm afternoons shortly after ice-out as they seek protected areas where the water may be warmer. Bays and coves protected from the wind are crappie habitat, especially where there is some shallow-water cover such as wood, aquatic vegetation or rocks.
As spring progresses, the crappies will stay shallow for their spawning activities. In many Nebraska waters, the same bays and coves that harbored crappies soon after ice-out will continue to hold fish right through the spawn period.
“Crappies are not difficult to catch,” Bauer said. “Old-fashioned cane poles work just fine, and in some cases may be the best way to catch crappies. Light- to medium-action spincast and spinning gear with 4- to 10-pound test line also will do just fine.”
On waters where live baitfish are permitted, a small, lively minnow suspended underneath a small bobber is a good option, but 1/64- to 1/16-ounce jigs in a variety of shapes and colors also will work. Marabou jigs work well, or choose one of the variety of small plastic bodies. Consider using a bobber above jigs, as well, especially to slow down and tempt nonaggressive fish.
Good crappie fishing can be found across the state, with pits, ponds, and small reservoirs being some of the best crappie habitats. However, some of Nebraska’s largest reservoirs also have good crappie populations, especially where there are bays with shallow-water cover.
Check out the 2018 Fishing Forecast at outdoornebraska.gov/fishingforecast to find the best crappie waters across the state. Visit outdoornebraska.org for additional fishing resources and to purchase permits.