The most valuable piece of fishing tackle can’t be purchased at your local bait shop or ordered from an online retailer. It’s something that is freely given to those who seek it and it won’t ever rust or need to be replaced.
I’m talking about the wisdom passed down by old timers to young anglers who share the same enduring passion for fishing. There are plenty of sayings and bits of knowledge that seasoned anglers have accumulated over time and are eager to share it with those willing to listen.
My grandfather always had a saying that he liked to use when winter was tapering off in February and there was a hint of springtime in the air.
“When the dogwoods bloom, the crappie are biting.”
There are some variations of this old saying, but it certainly holds true for fishermen in the South who take to the water every March in search of slabs.
I grew up fishing in R.L. Harris Reservoir, fondly known by the locals as “Wedowee.” My grandfather and my dad had me out on the boat drowning worms as soon as I was old enough to even hold a fishing rod. Each year, I looked forward to spring break at school because I knew that I would spend the majority of that week on Wedowee reeling in crappie.
I remember one spring break when I was about 10 years old and my dad and grandfather took me and my two brothers fishing every single day that week, Monday through Saturday. We never got tired of it.
For anyone wondering when the best time to catch crappie is, they can always refer to the old saying about dogwoods blooming. I’m a
firm believer that the crappie bite is best when the pink dogwoods are in full bloom. This usually happens in mid-March and you can bank on there being an abundance of crappie that start their spawning rituals.
When the daylight hours start to lengthen and the temperatures begin to rise, crappie begin the earliest stages of spawning. Typically, water temperatures of at least 57 degrees will kick off the annual crappie spawn. You can usually find crappie in shallow water less than 10 feet deep, and where you find one, you can always find more—lots more.
For anyone who has experienced a crappie fishing trip at the peak of the spawn, they will attest to there being nothing like it. Anglers can sometimes catch fish on every single cast when they get into a school of crappie.
The main thing to look for is cover. Crappie will hold to cover in huge schools of dozens and dozens of fish. Crappie are creatures of habit and you’ll almost always find them spawning in the same places each year.
I still remember the best spots that my grandfather and I would go to when we were on a mission to catch a mess of crappie. Every now and then, we would catch one weighing in excess of 2 pounds. Those are what crappie anglers fondly refer to as “slabs.”
The best bait to use (in my opinion) is the Road Runner by Blakemore. There are many different sizes and variations of these magical lures, which leaves it up to the fisherman to find the right size, style, and color combination.
Without a doubt, the best time to catch a limit of these tasty fish is when the dogwoods come into bloom. Keep that bit of information in your back pocket and put it to the test. Once you’ve realized that it rings true, be sure to share it with the younger generations.
We will have more articles on crappie fishing in the near future, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some of the best fishing quotes I’ve heard.
“For the true angler, fishing produces a deep unspoken joy, bron of longing for that which is quiet and peaceful, and fostered by an inbred love of communing with nature.”
“One thing becomes clearer as one gets older and one’s fishing experience increases, and that is the paramount importance of one’s fishing companions.”
“The gods do not deduct from a man’s allotted span the hours spent in fishing.”
“All veteran anglers have their tricks of the trade…usually you have to fish a long time to pick them up.”
“Unless you have a ritual for getting your tackle box ready, no one with regard you as a serious fisherman.”
—John W. Randolph
“A fish wouldn’t get caught if it kept its mouth shut.”
“There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a gentleness of spirit and a pure serenity of mind.”