It is that time of year again when male crappie move into shallow water and make beds for the females to spawn. Even though this is the most popular time of the year to fish for them it is also the most important time of the year that determines the population of crappie in the years to follow so it's very important to practice catch and release if you are not planning to eat them.
Keep what you need and release the rest. Regularly you see someone driving around asking if anyone wants them and many times they are left to go to waste. I recently talked with Jerry Culberson about his voluntary catch and release program from March to April each year so to let you know how important it is to release what you don't need I'm going to try to explain how crappie spawn as best as I understand so that you can understand what it will take for Weiss Lake to be the "Crappie Capital of the World" once again.
Male crappie will fan beds with their tails and bellies by sweeping back and forth. On side imaging sonar it'll look like circles but not as defined as a bass or brim beds. They will usually do this near some type of cover. When the male finishes building the bed and when the water conditions are right the females will move in and lay their eggs and then the male will protect the nest at all cost and the females will move back out to deeper water. This is what makes them so aggressive in the spring. The eggs will hatch in 42 to 103 hours and the male will protect them until they leave the nest.
Many anglers think the spawn only lasts a couple of weeks but actually crappie will spawn as late as June. Crappie are known to spawn multiple times each spring by not laying all of their eggs at once but in stages. A female crappie will have a high spawning year and then will have multiple years of light spawns and sometimes will even skip a year.
A common myth is that crappie spawn in the fall but this isn't true. Female crappie start developing eggs as early as September for the following spring. It is common for people that eat crappie in the fall to think that they are spawning because of the presence of eggs.
I hope you will practice more catch and release this year as I promise to as well. ~ Tim Pentecost | Pentecost Fishing