Well it’s hard to believe only a few weeks ago there were ¾ ton pickups and 20 foot fish houses all over the lakes. Then, a week later we were down to ATV travel only. Now there’s no evidence the ice even existed. It was one of the fasted ice outs I can remember.
The ice fishing season around the Alexandria area was a short one, but in my opinion it was a very productive one. We had some outstanding walleye fishing during February, and once that closed the crappie action took the spot light. The first couple weeks of March yielded some of the best crappie action I’ve seen. We were able to catch literally hundreds of crappie that were 12-13 inches, as well as a number of them that measured 14-15 inches!
When targeting big crappie like this you can use much more aggressive techniques as they will hit almost anything. The hardest part is finding them and then staying on them. These larger fish roam quickly in schools, ambushing bait as they go. Being most of the lakes in the area are quite clear, these fish also get spooked easily. This makes them even tougher to catch consistently.
I’ve found the two biggest things that help me catch these fish on a regular basis is using a heavy lure that can get down to the fish quickly like a Tungsten jig or a small spoon. The second this is having a lot of holes drilled in the area. Usually you can only pull 2-3 crappie from a hole before they get spooked out of the area. With a large number of holes predrilled you can follow these fish as they move. We had a number of days where the fish would circle in a 100 yard area and if you continued to follow them throughout the day they would end up back where they started.
Even though our ice season was cut short, I look forward to chasing these big crappie out of a boat over the next month. These fish will be congregating in the shallow black bottom bays as these areas warm the fastest. The past couple years we had ice nearly up to walleye opener, so for me I had very little time to target crappie on open water. This year will be much different in a lot of ways. Not only will we have more time to fish crappie before walleye opener, we should also expect the walleye bite on opener to be much better than previous years. The water will be much warmer on opener which will ensure the walleye are done spawning and ready to start eating!
Let me know if you have any questions regarding the upcoming crappie bite or walleye opener. Based on the short but productive winter we had I expect this summer to be one of our best! Good luck!