bud fields

With some of the ice diminishing, I have been receiving reports of a number of anglers catching some really nice-sized slab crappie. The aggressive angler can catch crappie in most lakes around the state, and if you dress appropriately, I personally have taken some impressive crappie just shortly after ice out.

As an unwritten rule, a 10-inch crappie will weigh about a half-pound, and the size will vary depending on the quality of forage available. Don’t overlook farm ponds and retention ponds in your search for crappie, and, remember, crappie are very gregarious. They congregate in numbers, so if you catch one, you normally can present your lure in the same place and catch quite a few.

Some of the places I can recommend for your search are Sylvan Lake in Noble County. I fished this location in a number of bass tournaments, and I observed a lot of crappie anglers hoisting impressive crappie out of the crystal-clear water. They were using a combination of live minnows, small crankbaits, spoons, and blade baits, and you can’t go wrong using small jigs. Another great crappie spot in Noble County is Skinner Lake. I can almost promise you that you will hook up with a bunch of crappie, but catching larger slabs will be difficult. Most of the crappie I have caught were in the eight- to nine-inch range.

Other nearby options would be the Salamonie, Mississenewa Reservoir, Geist Reservoir, Raccoon Lake, Eagle Creek, and also Webster Lake. Lake Manitou, South Mud Lake, and Nyona Lake also harbor crappie.

If travel limitations are not a consideration, Lake Monroe in Bloomington, Patoka Lake just south of French Lick, West Baden, Brookeville Lake, and Dogwood Lake are long-time favorites. Waveland and West Boggs are also another consideration.

I personally have fished these locations and can recommend them all, but I know for a fact there are numerous other spots that have crappie waiting to gobble up your offering. I always enjoyed the thrill of using ultra-light spinning tackle and using four-pound Stren monofilament. When you set the hook on a nice slab crappie, the fight is on!

Just remember that crappie have a paper mouth, and you really do not have to set the hook hard. Many beginning crappie anglers get excited, and when they set the hook they actually rip the mouth of the fish. All you need to do is simply raise your rod tip and reel the crappie in.

You do not have to use ultra-light tackle it just adds a little more excitement and fight to the experience. Live minnows are probably the most popular offering, but don’t forget the other lures I mentioned and start searching close to shore and around any type of structure, such as lily pads, stumps, and rocks.

I know for many years the crappie was the main focus of my angling adventures, and my family and I have enjoyed numerous adventures to different Indiana lakes, ponds, and campgrounds.

Nothing could compete with the memories we made with our children in the boat catching crappie and then the fun of teaching the kids how to filet the crappie. The fish fry was the frosting on the cake. Most of our grandchildren and, now, great-grandchildren have started out fishing for crappie, and that is fine with us!