Springtime fish: It’s almost crappie time

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fisherman holding crappie
Crappies are often the first bite of the season and the preferred catch for members of the Ohio Crappie Club. (Submitted photo)

If there is a more popular springtime fish than the crappie, I don’t know what it is.

Nationally, crappies are already on the radar as crappie tournaments are in full swing across the southern states from Alabama to Texas.

Outdoor TV shows are flashing wide grins as crappie anglers hold high the best of the day and slicked up announcers are weighing five fish limits that often have a skinny spread of hundreds of a pound, not pounds or ounces. Shiny trophies, impressive checks, and more importantly, bragging rights are being awarded to the winners and yes, everyone on stage is adorned belt to chin with sponsor names.

What used to be pretty much a largemouth bass show is now being touted by dedicated crappie chasers. And why not?

Of course, around here, the best crappie fishing is yet to come.

Weather

Ice-covered lakes and slippery ramps have the best crappie time on hold but one can put money on the early to mid-March action to begin just as soon as weather allows.

The best part about crappie fishing is, although it gets a lot of hype nationally, it’s really about as blue collar as fishing gets.

Crappies don’t care if anglers are riding in a fancy sparkle covered and supercharged boat or Uncle Charley’s salvage yard tin tug.

And as proper tackle goes? Well, anything from cane to carbon will do, plus a bobber and hook. Add a minnow and hang on.

Appearance

Crappies come in two colors, white and black. White crappies are for the most part larger and slimmer. Black crappies are more deeply colored and generally a bit smaller.

In early spring, crappies are at their heaviest when females bloated with a tummy full of eggs can weight a full pound or considerably more.

The nicknames abound including tissue or paper mouth for all and slabs for the biggies.

A serious crappie angler can find shared interest company, friendly competition, and lots of advice (sought or not), by joining one or more crappies clubs.

Locally, it’s the Northeast Ohio Crappie Club, and nationally, there are several including Crappie Masters, the American Crappie Trail and Crappie USA. All have tourney schedules and events set for the upcoming season.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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