Forget walleyes and make slab crappies your May fishing priority

Terry TumaEveryone talks about crappies as a backup to walleyes on opener. Consider them a top priority this year. They’re typically very active in 47- to 49-degree water, and many lakes will register at that temperature in mid-May.

These fish enter the shallows after ice-out not to spawn, but to feed. They won’t spawn until water temperatures reach around 68 degrees, so that’s a long ways off right now. Most of the summer, they’re suspended, roaming, and hard to find. They don’t always school in summer, so they’re a more challenging fish to catch then.

In spring, they enter the shallows to feed. In areas with warmer water, a food chain develops, and the crappies follow. Search rock piles, sandy shorelines, and windward shorelines. Dark-bottomed north-end bays always warm quickly, but most anglers know that tip, so expect some fishing competition.

Noise is a huge factor with spooky cold-water crappies. Keep electric trolling at constant, slow speeds, leave the radio off, and avoid banging tackle boxes or dropping that anchor.

Use a longer rod and cast past the fish. If using artificials, I’ll even cast lightly onto shore if I think I can avoid getting snagged, then slowly and quietly drag your lure into the water.

Generally though, you’re employing a jig and minnow presentation. In really shallow water, like 2 to 5 feet, use a bobber with a plain hook or small jig and a minnow.  That bobber-jig setup is great in a tougher bite and shallow fish scenario.

Spring slabs are a worthwhile angling target because crappies are the real deal!

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