Let’s give a great fish the recognition it deserves. It may not be the most glamorous, the most televised, advertised, marketed, pictured, mounted, and certainly not the fish that gathers the most national and international attention.
Indeed, largemouth bass and walleyes are the headliners, but the fish that ought to considered for a least a share of the popularity contest is the everyday crappie.
We’re talking about one of the most common of real-game fish an angler can engage here in Ohio and darn near anywhere in the country.
I claim crappie as a true game fish, simply because in my book, they are.
And better than that, crappies bite cheap lures, crappie fishermen can ride in nearly any boat from oar-powered jon boats to dented aluminum clunkers, and there’s no rocket science involved in crappie fishing beginning to end.
If crappies wore shirts, they would most certainly be cotton pullovers adorned with blue collars and pocket, probably a stained shirt, one with a bait shop printed name on it.
That’s just how common and far from fancy crappies are. But give them several positive, not so common attributes.
Find one crappie and you’ll find more; they travel in gangs. When one bites, the whole gang is ready to eat.
Crappies, especially at this time of year, are reachable from a dock or near shore boat.
They live in about every lake and river and they grow big enough to put on a good fight.
And lastly, they are excellent eating. Best rigs are light, even ultra-light, and the business end of the line needs to be a tiny jig or plain hook with a minnow or twister tail on it.
Crappies aren’t bass cousins. They are of the pan fish family tree, and they come in just two colors, black and white.
While any 12-inch crappie caught in our region is commonly called a slab, they are quite often seen and caught up to 14 inches and occasionally even larger.
Ohio’s state records include an 18-inch black crappie, weighing 4.5 pounds, and an 18 1/2 inch white crappie. Those might be considered super slabs.
Nationally renowned Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake produces enough big crappies that a commercial crappie industry operated there in until 2003.
ClubCrappie fishing fans can find
Crappie fishing fans can find like-minded company by becoming a dues-paying member of the area’s fastest growing fishing club, the Northeast Ohio Crappie Club, an organization that holds multiple tournaments around the area. Find it online.