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any body care to share a little info on this subject !

I for one am not good at this and only ocassionally get lucky

what types of baits do most fish and where are you targeting them

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I would also be interested in this... I've never fished early spring panfish in MN so any info is great! thanks everybody

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Pre-spawn, ice out crappies will be holding/staging in deep water all while starting to move close to their spawning beds. They should be opportunistic feeders but remember, the water is cold, so you will have to use a very slow presentation and be prepared for a fairly light bite. You should also be focusing your efforts during the afternoon hours when the sky is brightest and the sun is giving off the most heat. Tube or hair jigs in the 1/16 or 1/32 oz. variety are most common but heavier blade baits and even a split shot and plain hook and minnow are worthy options. More than anything, though, location is key. Begin your search at the last place you made contact with crappies through the ice. Fish will likely be holding there or in the general area. If you're not an ice fisherman or woman, ask around OR focus on areas in and adjacent to deeper boat channels, funnel areas between main lake points or mid-lake structure and shore and/or inlet and outlets to and from the lake.

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Pre-spawn, ice out crappies will be holding/staging in deep water all while starting to move close to their spawning beds.

Look for some structure in the deep water/pre shallow , be it a point, rock pile, humps, brush, etcetra. Then wait for their gradual shift to the warmer shallows. That's what spring fishing's all about!

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Look for shallow black bottom bays with 2-4 foot of water. This is where the water warms the fastest. Insects will be hatching and the food chain will setup quickly. Look for bays without a large water flow through it at first. For an example, the bay at the Buckmasters Bridge (the other side from the lake). In the evening as it gets dark the crappies will come flooding out of the bay to head for deep water at night. Time it right and it is as fast as you can get them off the hook and get your line back in the water. Buckmasters Bridge is not the only spot this happens, it is just one of many. Look at map of lake and find the bays. Set up a milk route and check them out, there is a good chance you’ll find fish. You don’t need a boat!

This time of year I love to use a 3 or 4wt fly rod with 2 or 3 Black Goat streamers tied on. This works right up to Bass opener when they spawn in most lakes in this area.

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Great info, thanks everyone. I too usually don't put the boat in right after ice out. I usually target the crappies a couple of weeks before the opener when they're shallow, but really never knew where to start right after ice out. I may give it a try this year.

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Look for shallow black bottom bays with 2-4 foot of water. This is where the water warms the fastest. Insects will be hatching and the food chain will setup quickly. Look for bays without a large water flow through it at first. For an example, the bay at the Buckmasters Bridge (the other side from the lake). In the evening as it gets dark the crappies will come flooding out of the bay to head for deep water at night. Time it right and it is as fast as you can get them off the hook and get your line back in the water. Buckmasters Bridge is not the only spot this happens, it is just one of many. Look at map of lake and find the bays. Set up a milk route and check them out, there is a good chance you’ll find fish. You don’t need a boat!

This time of year I love to use a 3 or 4wt fly rod with 2 or 3 Black Goat streamers tied on. This works right up to Bass opener when they spawn in most lakes in this area.

Personally, I would not focus on this type of area until closer to spawning time but in any event, it's great information and should be considered and utilized, especially during low light.

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i always use 1/16 ounce jigs tipped with a tube jig. depending on water temperatures the fish may or may not be active. but when they are active they will hit them with no bait cast after cast. and when temperatures are cooler they tend to get a little picky sometimes but not all the time. time and location is critical. if u dont time it right u still will catch a few but u might be a little disappointed in the numbers and possibly size. when the fish are not active bait such as a minnow head will do. waxies will work but for some reason the crappies dont like them but will take anything if they are feeding.

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Originally Posted By: Muddog
Look for shallow black bottom bays with 2-4 foot of water. This is where the water warms the fastest. Insects will be hatching and the food chain will setup quickly. Look for bays without a large water flow through it at first. For an example, the bay at the Buckmasters Bridge (the other side from the lake). In the evening as it gets dark the crappies will come flooding out of the bay to head for deep water at night. Time it right and it is as fast as you can get them off the hook and get your line back in the water. Buckmasters Bridge is not the only spot this happens, it is just one of many. Look at map of lake and find the bays. Set up a milk route and check them out, there is a good chance you’ll find fish. You don’t need a boat!

This time of year I love to use a 3 or 4wt fly rod with 2 or 3 Black Goat streamers tied on. This works right up to Bass opener when they spawn in most lakes in this area.

Personally, I would not focus on this type of area until closer to spawning time but in any event, it's great information and should be considered and utilized, especially during low light.

Normally, I would tend to agree with you T.O. but the last couple springs, teamed with the fact that the pannies held in these shallow "warmer" spot's all winter make me think that looking shallow first would be your best bet.

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I would have to second MD's statement in that all my pannies came in less than 10fow this winter and the fact that last spring i slaughtered the slabs in shallow bays early....but this is against conventional wisdom but with unconventional times come unconventional methods.....(global warming) confused Not too gang up on you TO because your info here is indespensible....

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For years I have followed the crappies from the deeper water 30fow to the shallows as the water temps warm. After ice out, I will look for crappies in the deerper water next to a break and a bay also. I will follow these crappies up to the spawn into the shallows. Most days the fish will move back out into the deeper water if the day before was cooler.

As far as bait goes, I have used a smaller tinsel jig to anything smaller than 1/32oz. Once the fish are in the shallows spawning, then I will use a slip bobber set up.

There have been years when I have followed the crappies from the deeps to the beds and fished them for a month straight.

I would have to say that my best bite every spring is along a first break in approx 6-10 fow. Once on the beds, then I can smack them in 2-5 fow.

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I would check shallow bays on calm sunny days, and deeper water on cloudy windy days. There are crappies up in a couple feet of water now already.

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I have caught many of crappies (and gills) in open water shallows in 2-4' when the rest of the lake was froze tight. You can never start to early looking for shallow fish. They move shallow to feed then spawn in many of our small still bays. They are the most active late in the day.

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They are the most active late in the day.

That is key in this discussion because of the focus on pre-spawn and ice out. I indicated this in an earlier post too.

Lots of good stuff within this thread folks. Thank you for contributing.

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We found the 'gills and Crappies moving shallow today on the ice as water warmed and the holes we where fishing getting bigger. Last hardwater tip for me in SC!

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Quote:
We found the 'gills and Crappies moving shallow today on the ice as water warmed and the holes we where fishing getting bigger. Last hardwater tip for me in SC!

Now that is what I've been looking for.

Quote:
Last hardwater tip for me in SC!

All is right with the world!

See you on the water.

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Look for shallow black bottom bays with 2-4 foot of water. This is where the water warms the fastest. Insects will be hatching and the food chain will setup quickly. Look for bays without a large water flow through it at first. For an example, the back bay at the Buckmasters Bridge (the other side from the lake). In the evening as it gets dark the crappies will come flooding out of the bay to head for deep water at night. Time it right and it is as fast as you can get them off the hook and get your line back in the water. Buckmasters Bridge is not the only spot this happens, it is just one of many. Look at map of lake and find the bays. Set up a milk route and check them out, there is a good chance you’ll find fish. You don’t need a boat

Spot on!! The stripped bass and bull gills are awesome to! whistle

I have a preference for black and white tubes on a 1/16th jig head, 5 ft UL. What a blast.

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Quote:
We found the 'gills and Crappies moving shallow today on the ice as water warmed and the holes we where fishing getting bigger. Last hardwater tip for me in SC!

Now that is what I've been looking for.

Quote:
Last hardwater tip for me in SC!

All is right with the world!

See you on the water.

So in other words MD you don't like my tips???

I meant to say trip's lol!

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Lucky, just bring the Skeeter out 2moro and well bust ice just like we were doing only 5months ago with a boat full Buffies! It will work I promise! Let me know when you go out though, I need to get out of this house! tired

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I have found I do my best in 2-4 FOW on a certain lake between farbo and mankato....

However, I will be trying TOs technique next week (ok, im am hoping!) this next week, or week and a half.

As said by others, follow the path. If they are deep x week, and not there now...move shallower ...cause they are there.

I find them IMO very active at ice out. Small and slow seems to be key.

...now If I could find the walleye pattern like the crappies....man. laugh ug.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • redlabguy
      Mark, Glad your crew had another great outing. It’s always good to read your reports. Just wish there were more of them like the old days. Sorry you hit the storm. One of the worst in our 14 years. We’ll be dealing with dock issues for a long time but nothing like the good folks in Cook have.  The fishing has come around a little since the storm. Definitely nightcrawler now. I don’t get far out of Frazer but the reefs are where the action is. Looking forward to hearing from you in September.  My best to you and Linda, RLG p.s. Our good old red lab, Ole, cashed it in last summer, but we have a 6 month old lab now who is learning the ropes up here (and teaching us we’re older than we think we are!)
    • Mike89
    • leech~~
      No can see?  
    • smurfy
      yeppers......nuttin more aggravating the boat motor issues!!!!!!!   what was the problem the first time???????
    • Hookmaster
      Nice fish Kettle. Hope it's really "fixed" next time.
    • Rivergroup
      Our group will be returning in September as well. Wish we were able to be there now to lend a hand.
    • smurfy
      dang...tough to hear..........hope the good people up there recover soon!!!!!!!!!
    • MarkB
      We just returned this afternoon from 6 days on Vermilion. We arrived Saturday and enjoyed 3 fantastic days of walleye fishing. My cousin, our friend Greg, and myself fished several of our spring spots and found fish on all of them. Water temperatures were pretty much 65-67 degrees everywhere we fished. The wind was variable and made boat control a challenge at times. Bait was not an issue and we had success on crawlers(Tim), leeches(Greg), and minnows(me). If I had to pick one of those as catching the most fish, it would be crawlers. Our best day totalled 48 walleyes, 4 smallmouth, and 2 big JUMBOS. We ended up with over a hundred walleyes, 12 jumbos 11"-13", and 10 smallmouth to 18". Our biggest walleye was 24.5" and the balance went from 13"-22". There are lots of 14"-16" walleyes this year which are perfect eaters. The mayfly hatch was in full bloom in some areas but we found very few mayflies in the water column over rock reefs. We caught our fish in depths ranging from 10' to 32'. I didn't fish in any area where I could see mayflies top to bottom in the water column. Slow trolling in the .3mph to .6mph worked and we caught nothing using slip bobbers. Terminal tackle was a 3'-4' 10# flurocarbon leader, 2 lime colored beads, and a plain #6 Gamakatsu walleye hook . Snags are always an issue when fishing in and around the rocks and when the fish are biting they are acceptable. NOW, for the bad news.......Tuesday was a day I won't soon forget. The area suffered devastating torrential rainfall. Lightning was non-stop for several hours and when things settled down, flood damage was everywhere. We checked our rain guage on the side of the cabin and we got 7 3/4 " in a little over 4 hours! Breezy Point road washed out, Mud Creek road washed out as did several others in the area. Cooke business area was completely covered with flood water. I would consider it a disaster area and should be declared as such. We couldn't find a dock anywhere that wasn't covered with water. People were stranded behind flood covered and washed out roads. Dock decking, limbs and such were floating everywhere in the big water. My group sends our prayers to the people of that beautiful country that lost their businesses, homes, and suffered damage to their lake properties. The people of that north country are resilient and we have confidence that they will recover. We stayed our final 3 days but didn't fish at all Tuesday. Our last 2 days showed the effects of the storm. Water temps dropped to 64 degrees and our premo fishing became 10 walleye days. We did manage to catch a dozen really nice jumbos. We plan on returning in September and we pray the area will have returned to normal by then. I haven't figured out how to transfer photos from my phone to my computer yet so no pictures at this time. Good Fishing and God be with you. MarkB
    • SkunkedAgain
      Word is that the river has peaked and therefore the town can start the process of recovering sooner.
    • smurfy
      Heard that too. Also heard 38 was closed for a but north of rapids due to flooding.    I know the water really came up when I was up last week compared to when I was there in April. 
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