Calendar Confusion & Crappies

Springtime Fishing Destinations Devil's Lake, North Dakota

Leroy Morgan of Chanhassen, MN
Spring Giant Bluegill

Calendar Confusion

This goofy, early Spring weather is really starting to "get to me"......week after week of below normal temperatures and no rhyme or reason to the patterns.  This weather has really been creating havoc on the Dakotas.  The walleyes on the Missouri River system don't know whether to spawn or head back south to Yankton !  The water temperatures out there have been hovering near 45 degrees for weeks with very little deviation.  They even had a major walleye tournament recently that was fishable only one day of the three scheduled days so they settled for one day of high 20's and heavy winds to hit the water.

I have also found this same weather system has been affecting the eastern South Dakota inland lakes as well with many of the smaller to midsize lakes often re-freezing overnight and many anglers are faced with iced- over lakes when they get to the accesses in the morning. This has happened to me on many occasions over the years.  There's nothing worse than driving three hours only to turn around and head back again.  Be sure and get as current as you can on the lake information before making a long distance trek and always have a stash of lake maps so you can find other big water options if your first choice has refrozen overnight. This insane weather has really affected the walleye spawn both on the rivers and inland lakes.  The spawn has been "on again and off again" many times and the walleyes on the river have been "milking" sporadically  for many weeks instead of the usual days and this will definitely affect the success of the spawn. 


This weather pattern recently has also affected the crappie fishing as well.  This Spring weather, in my opinion, will delay the shallow movements of the crappies until early to mid-May making for a very late shallow water bite...maybe 3  weeks later than normal.     Many crappies anglers are on the water just after ice out.  This zeal to get on the water many times results in disappointment because the panfish are nowhere to be found.  The below average temps of the last few weeks will delay their movements.  These early crappies are attracted to the warming Spring waters because their foodsources are also moving to the warmer water.  This is not a spawning thing like many anglers believe..this is a food thing.  Many insects and larvae respond to the warming shallows but this Spring it will take much longer to happen.

You basically have two alternatives in the Spring when we are faced with extreme cold.  Number one is to spend your time working the deep water areas and try and pick off those crappies that are "staging" in deep water and forget the shallows entirely.  I can always manage a fish "here and there" when looking deep. It is never a fast and furious bite in deep water but you can always salvage some suspended crappies when other  anglers are getting blanked.  Number Two is to find yourself the smallest, muck-bottomed lake as an alternative.  This small, muck-bottom lake will warm faster and you have a better chance at catching crappies slightly earlier than the large water.  Think smaller bays off main lakes too .  The shallower and darker the water the better.

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