Among the fishermen of our neck of the woods, some do not go after crappie in early April. But most do — or at least want to go after them.
Arkansas. Crappie, Spring. They go hand-in-hand.
Here are an assortment of crappie action reports from bait shops in our area. These were compiled over the past week or so, and yes, we all know fishing conditions can change quickly.
"The crappie are starting to spawn, and they are biting well at night on yo-yos and minnows around green cypress trees. Jigs and minnows fished along bedding areas are also catching quite a few crappie when it’s not too windy.
"Crappie are biting well in 2-9 feet of water early in the morning and late in the afternoon on chartreuse jigs and pink minnows."
Greers Ferry Lake
"Crappie fishing is on and off, with some being right on the bank and some out to 40 feet, as well as some in-between — try jigs and jigs tipped with minnows.
"Crappie can be caught in the pole timber in 20-26 feet of water, slowly trolling minnows and jigs 4-8 feet deep."
Harris Brake Lake
"Crappie are biting well on minnows, Slab Slay’rs and Stroll’rs in white, salt-and-pepper, red/chartreuse shad, Cajun cricket, pink cotton candy, monkey milk, barbecue chicken and blue/white with a Power Bait crappie nibble."
Hmm, we are curious about a couple of colors — Cajun cricket and monkey milk.
"Crappie are excellent on white and pink grubs with pink heads, either vertically jigged in brush or swum near shallow cover."
"Crappie are being caught on yo-yos and noodles baited with minnows. A few crappie also are being caught on white/chartruese and pink/white/chartreuse jigs."
"Crappie are biting well on brightly-colored jigs fished around grass in 1-5 feet of water.
"Crappie fishing is excellent on 1/8-ounce Johnson spoons, white and chartreuse and red and chartreuse jigs and pink minnows."
"Crappie fishing is excellent in backwaters on pink minnows, red/chartreuse jigs and Beetle Spins. Crappie fishing is excellent on white/chartreuse jigs and chartreuse twister tails on 1/8 ounce jig heads fished around brush. Crappie also are excellent below the dams on black and yellow jigs."
A never-ending argument among crappie fishermen is whether live minnows or artificial jigs are best for catching crappie. They both work, one better than the other at times, although some devout jig users won’t admit it.
They also work well when combined — a jig tipped with a minnow.
But what type and color of jig is the most productive? There are hair jigs, chicken feather jigs, plastic jigs, tube jigs, mylar jigs. And that’s just for starters.
For years, a frequently heard bit of advice for Lake Conway crappie anglers was "use any color jig as long as it’s white or chartreuse."
Then yellow came into popular use, and today other colors are also taking crappie.
Some fishermen paint the heads of jigs various colors instead of the familiar lead or silver tones. One time, a red-head jig with a chartreuse skirt brings in the crappie. Next time, it might be a black-head jig with a white skirt. White-head jigs with chartreuse skirts could catch crappie some days, but a chartreuse-head jig with white skirt would work the next time out.
One Arkansas crappie veteran advises that if you have doubts about jig head colors, go with red.
And a final bit of advice from a long-time crappie jig user: "Don’t forget black. Keep a few black jig bodies handy just in case nothing else works."