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Illinois Outdoors

Crappie time here in Illinois

April 15, 2008 at 01:58 PM

While big bass get plenty of publicity in the spring, for many anglers now is crappie time. In fact, crappie tied for first place with bass as most popular species in the latest Illinois Sportfishing Survey.

So there should be plenty of busy anglers this week. Weather is finally stabilizing. Rain has stopped falling. And crappie are biting. Check our weekly Thursday fishing report and you can tell that action has been improving for the past two weeks.

Things should really heat up with a few warm days. And crappie should keep biting for another few weeks across the state. That said, Illinois is a long state. While fish are already headed to the spawn beds in parts of southern Illinois where water temperatures are already topping 50 degrees, they are just staging to spawn in northern Illinois where things are still cooler.

No matter where you fish, though, once nice thing about spring crappie is that when you find a hotspot you can catch plenty of fish.

The key to success, though, is finding the fish. In a recent article, Scott Richardson of the Bloomington Pantagraph wrote:

They tend to move around quite a bit. They also have a tendency to suspend somewhere between the surface and the bottom, depending on where they find their primary food source.

They eat the microscopic phytoplankton, which float up and down depending on sunlight and water clarity. Crappies will go move up and down with them.

So where to find them?

According to guide Steve Welch (pictured at right), who books trips on Lake Shelbyville and can be reached at , creek arms are best in early spring because water warms in the shallow water first. Illinois Outdoors

When fish are shallow, he uses slip bobbers.

But by now, Welch is back on the main lake targeting deeper brush piles along the river channel and fishing jigs with a tight line.

As those fish spawn, he adds a minnow.

And Welch told Richardson “A little-known migration occurs in mid-May ... The crappies move into the creeks again following spawning carp, but they head back to the main lake again after the carp are finished and the water clears.”

Click here to read a recent Bloomington Pantagraph article on crappie fishing.


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You can see a video of the whole thing on  It runs right behind an officer and he has no idea.  haha

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