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In search of crappie

Warm days in March herald early spring migration

March beginning to warm and cabin fever at its peak, crappie anglers all across Kentucky are preparing tackle and itching to get outdoors to enjoy the coming spring.

March is a fickle month for all anglers. Cold fronts abound and sometimes Old Man Winter refuses to let go. It’s a time for cold mornings and warm afternoons. The warm days make it tough to stay away from the fishing grounds, sending hardcore and weekend anglers alike out in search of crappie.

The first response to these unseasonably warm days is to stalk the shallows for spring crappie. I’m to blame every year. Everyone loves catching crappie in shallow water using a bobber and a minnow or a crappie jig. However, it soon becomes evident that the crappie aren’t there, despite those early warm days.

Locating crappie in March can be frustrating at times. Knowing where to look will shorten the search and have you catching crappie sooner rather than later. March weather can wreak havoc on crappie movement and while knowing these tricks will help you locate the schools of crappie, nothing is ever guaranteed. Cold fronts followed by high pressure can have crappie wondering just what to do.

March is the transitional period for crappie in Kentucky. It’s a time when they want to move up shallow to spawn, but are often pushed back by fluctuating conditions. They might be pushed back to their wintering grounds or just to the next drop.

Crappie can be located in all depths during this time. They can even be suspended in the water column. Electronics are not a prerequisite for success, but they certainly make things easier. You can use your electronics or a map to locate creek channels that lead to and from the shallows. Many shallow spawning bays are well known and a great place to start. As you get better at locating and catching crappie in these popular areas you can venture out to lesser known or preferably unknown areas and find your own place to catch springtime crappie. 

The springtime migration occurs each spring. Crappie migrate to spawning grounds using essentially the same route year after year. Learning this migration route will help you find and catch plenty of early spring crappie and extend your crappie season. There are plenty of crappie waters in Kentucky with a few listed below. It’s time to grab some poles and get outside to enjoy the great outdoors.

Try these lakes for spring crappie fishing

With more than 8,000 acres to explore at Green River Lake, you are sure to find a place to catch a few crappie. The scenery is great with plenty of history and sights to see for the whole family.

With 25,000-plus acres, Dale Hollow Lake sits in both Kentucky and Tennessee. Kentucky’s 6,600 acres provide plenty of great opportunities for springtime crappie fishing in the Bluegrass State.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ 2020 Fishing Forecast shows that Taylorsville Lake has excellent populations of crappie, with a great 2019 spawn.

For more information on any of these lakes, or to find the latest Fishing Forecast for Kentucky, visit

KEN MCBROOM, an outdoors writer/photographer, created Growing up in Lynchburg, Tennessee, he now lives in western Kentucky.

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