Department of Fish and Wildlife
Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Crappie time is just around the corner
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Although the redbud
trees haven’t bloomed yet, it isn’t too early to start fishing for crappie.
Black crappie are
likely along rocky banks now in lakes that have them.
“With the water
temperatures still in the mid-40s, white crappie are likely staging in deeper
water right now,” said Jeff Crosby, central fisheries district biologist for
the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “With the longer
photoperiod and the warmer temperatures on the way, they will be moving up to
The big twins of
western Kentucky, Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, along with Green River Lake
and Taylorsville Lake all receive oodles of fishing pressure for the crappie
that swim in their waters. However, Kentucky is also blessed with other less
known waters holding bountiful populations of crappie that don’t receive the
adulation and fishing pressure of their more well known brethren.
While known for
its excellent largemouth bass fishing, wood strewn 2,315-acre Yatesville Lake
in Lawrence County holds good numbers of quality white crappie with many in the
“In our latest
population sampling, Yatesville had the most crappie we’ve ever sampled in the
10- to 14-inch range,” said Kevin Frey, eastern fisheries district biologist
for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
near the West Virginia border, more resembles a flatland reservoir with
abundant woody cover than a mountain lake. Probe the fallen tree tops and
submerged trees with live minnows suspended under a bobber and adjust the depth
until you get bites. The timbered coves and banks near the confluence of Blaine
and Greenbrier creeks hold crappie.
“In the upper part
of Blaine Creek at the Rich Creek boat access, we’ve placed fish structures and
cut down trees for bank anglers to catch crappie,” Frey said. “There are
numerous pull offs along KY 32 for bank anglers. It is good fishing in that
area in spring.”
Cave Run Lake is
full of 2- to 3-year-old crappie, providing excellent opportunity for both
black and white crappie. The deep weedbeds in the mouths of Skidmore and
Leatherwood creeks in the Beaver Creek arm attract black crappie in March and
into April. Black crappie tend to move into the shallows earlier in the year
than white crappie. White crappie stay out in deeper water along creek channels
while blacks may be in just a few feet of water along rocky banks at the same
The abundant woody
structures around Bangor Boat Ramp and fallen trees along the island near
Poppin Rock Boat Ramp in the North Fork Arm of Cave Run provide excellent
fishing for white and black crappie.
One of the crappie
sleepers flows off of Pine Mountain all the way to northern Kentucky. The
Kentucky River holds considerable numbers of crappie a foot long or better.
“The river goes in cycles, but there are some good fish in there,” Crosby said.
“The crappie in the Kentucky like those creek mouths and backwater areas with
their confluence with the Kentucky River have abundant root wads, undercut
banks and washed in tree tops and brush. Probe all of these with live minnows
suspended under a bobber or with 1/16-ounce chartreuse Roadrunner style spinner
baits dressed with a matching 2-inch curly-tailed grub.
water to consider is the Ohio River. It is really, really good for crappie
right now,” Crosby said. The Ohio River offers good crappie fishing from
Ashland downstream to the Purchase Region in far western Kentucky.
backwater areas along the river, often formed where tributaries meet the main
stem of the Ohio. “With all of the flooding on the Ohio, those embayments
should have fish right now. Target brushy areas with live minnows in those
Guist Creek Lake
covers 317 acres in Shelby County. It is also overlooked for crappie. “We saw
some really nice crappie last fall in our population surveying,” Crosby said.
“I think most of the fishing pressure there is on largemouth bass.”
Early spring is a
good time to catch large white crappie 11 inches and longer on Barren River
Lake in Allen and Barren counties. Known throughout the Midwest and upper South
as a superior largemouth bass lake and written up in national magazines, Barren
River Lake holds a burgeoning population of black crappie as well, which now
make up 60 percent of the total crappie population in the lake.
composed of pea gravel with lime-green 2-inch curly-tailed grubs rigged on red
1/8-ounce leadheads is a productive presentation for black crappie. Drifting
live minnows along creek channels in March and early
April fools big white crappie on Barren before they move into the shallows to
The huge snows of
just a few weeks ago are now in the dustbin of history. It is time to get out
and catch some crappie.