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Spring fishing may be the year's most unpredictable period, but it's also the primary time of year for the onset of the premier open water crappie bite . A tree blooms come about, the crappie move in towards their spawning grounds, most often conveniently in, around, and sometimes even on shoreline cover . 

A popular way to approach these particularly susceptible panfish under such conditions, either from shore or boat, is to remember that in the spring, crappie will most often set up and position themselves on the inside of cover like tree branches and many boat docks. The common way to approach these fish is with a live minnow under a bobber .Remember that crappie, like most fish, feed up and it's best to start of shallow and then go deeper if necessary . This approach also lessens the likelihood of snags that could spook the whole school. Another tip is to be using Aberdeen hooks (numbers 4 and 6 are best) that are formed from gold-colored light wire. Such hooks can be easily reshaped by hand after snaggings , from which they can often be straightened out and freed with a pull.

After the spawn most crappie will move out a bit deeper from the shore and suspend over deeper water, often over sunken brush and stumps. This when a bobberless, vertical jigging method is most productive. This is when a shorter, more sensitive rod comes into play. 1 and 2'' twistertails on a perhaps a 1/32 oz. jighead are appropriate. This can be a fun and most productive way to catch numbers of slabs. 

When casting for crappie at a distance, opt for 6 to 7' fiberglass ultra-light spinning outfits loaded with 2-4 lb. monofilament. 

A listing of Ohio's better crappie fisheries would have to include the likes of Mosquito, West Branch, Berlin, Caesar's Creek, Mogadore, Tappan Dam, and Deer Creek.

Get out now and enjoy the pursuit of America's most popular and delicious gamefish while the water's cool and the crappie are most vulnerable.


Jack Kiser is the host of Buckeye Angler and long time Outdoors Columnist for the Record-Courier and Angler and Midwest Outdoors magazines. He has also been radio and TV host for PBS and Fox Sports. You may reach him at the Buckeye Angler Facebook site.

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