April 29 - May 1, 2011

The ice went out in the area lakes this week, but the water is still too cold to draw many crappies into the black bottom bays.  We caught a few nice 12-13 inchers, but no real big slabs like we have seen in years past.  The good crappie bite is still probably at least a week or more away, depending upon the warming conditions.  Typically, when these back water areas warm up to the mid 50s degree range, you start to get an algae bloom, especially on sunny days.  The water in these shallow bays will often be 6-8 degrees warmer than the main lake.  This starts the whole ball rolling.  The zooplankton starts feeding on the algae, the minnows come into the bay to feed on the zooplankton, the crappies and sunfish come in to feed on the distracted minnows, and the predator fish (northerns, bass, etc.) come in to feed on anything that moves.  When conditions are right it is a real feeding frenzy and the big slab crappie fishing doesn't get any better.  Most any crappie fishing technique will work, but the old Minnesota standby is simply a crappie minnow hanging under a bobber.  Some people fish a hair jig or a jig dressed with a plastic grub under a bobber, casting it out and slowing working it back to the boat or shore,  This can be very effective.  One thing I have found is that big fish like big bait, so sometimes fishing regular sized fatheads or even small shiners, instead of small crappie minnows, will attract the bigger slab crappies.

April 15-17, 2011

My close friend (now known as Capt. Ernest Shackelton) misjudged the ice out on our favorite local spring crappie black bottom bay, so we had to bust through 100 yards of 2+ inch ice to get there in his boat.  I thought we were going to get locked up in a big sheet of ice (like the real Shackleton), but busting cracks with an oar and holding the outboard at "ramming speed" allowed us to plow through.  It was a bright sunny day but the water in this back water bay was still quite cold, as you would imagine with the main lake still mostly covered in ice.  We wanted to discover how early the big crappies start moving into into their shallow water feeding spots.  Surprisingly, we managed to catch a few nice fish.  Just not many of them.  We went back in the following day with less effort, but had to break our way out after a wind shift moved the main ice sheet across the narrow opening to this bay.  It was quite an adventure.  Maybe next weekend will be more productive.