Shallow-water crappie action doesn’t last long at Lake Murray, but it’s sensational when it occurs, and the time is nigh. Guide Brad Taylor said there’s more good news than just crappie moving shallow; they’re already staging and being caught in good numbers and huge sizes.
“We’re catching slab crappie,” Taylor said. “Right now we’re catching many fish in the 1½- to 1¾-pound class. But what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks based on what I’m seeing now and my experience with water temperatures and crappie, is the fish will move to the shoreline first, but still in deeper water and then into the shallows by around the end of March and early April.
“Right now, the fish are mostly being caught trolling jigs in eight to 12 feet of water suspended over 20 feet of water,” he said. “I am using a 1/16-ounce jig and varying the colors quite a bit to determine what’s best on a particular day. Frankly, there are many color combinations that will produce when fish are in this pattern.
“With a few more days passing and the water temperature warming, fish will move toward the shoreline but still hold in the same depth range, around 10 feet, for a short period of time,” he said. “It’s the final place before moving to the shallows to spawn. Then, when the water temperature is right, which is not far off, they’ll move into the shallow brush and be caught in water two feet and sometimes less.”
Taylor said the key is that limits of crappie can be caught from now right though the spawn.
“By getting on crappie now, I know that they will move toward the shoreline in the same vicinity and thus to the shallows, as well,” he said. “Now is the time to pinpoint where all this is happening. Almost all large creeks will have this type of action going on at some stage. Some places will warm quicker, which actually will extend the shallow-water fishing for those who are willing to move and hunt the fish down.
“The key to this fishing is that not all of the fish will move and spawn at once,” Taylor said. “Crappie will move shallow in waves, and fishermen can catch a bunch from a shallow area and find more fish back in there the next day. But the fish can still be caught in the deeper water as they stage near the shoreline.
Taylor uses jigs but said minnows will work well.
“I vary colors when trolling, but when fishing shallow, I’ll use a 12-foot rod with a float (set) two feet or less, depending on the cover being fished, and I specifically prefer a black and chartreuse jig for shallow-water fishing” he said. “But for those using a minnow, the key is to hook it in the tail, because they wiggle more and seem to be more attractive to crappie.”