Department of Fish and Wildlife
Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Smaller waters hold crappie just like the big lakes
FRANKFORT, Ky. –
The wild striped bass in a ginger and red wine sauce at a restaurant in New
York City runs $135 before gratuity. At a Japanese restaurant in the same city,
a dinner of sushi costs nearly $600 per person.
These are some of
the highest rated and expensive restaurants in the country, but we in Kentucky
have a world class fish dish that is likely as delicious as those from a
highbrow restaurant that is practically free by comparison.
It costs some time
along with a few dozen small minnows or a bag of 2-inch chartreuse curly-tailed
grubs. This outlay yields a plate of delicious fried crappie filets to go with
homemade potato salad, baked beans and cole slaw, one of the best meals found
anywhere at any price.
You also don’t
have to own an expensive boat to catch crappie in Kentucky right now, either.
Many of our smaller waters across the state offer highly productive crappie
fishing for those with a canoe, johnboat, kayak, float tube or anglers who fish
from the bank.
northern Kentucky anglers have four excellent small lakes to catch numbers of crappie
this spring. Ninety-two acre Boltz Lake and 134-acre Bullock Pen Lake, both in
Grant County, as well as 183-acre Kincaid Lake in Pendleton County and 158-acre
Beaver Lake in Anderson County all offer fast action for crappie right now.
“These lakes offer
really good fishing for numbers of both white and black crappie,” said Jeff
Crosby, central fisheries district biologist for the Kentucky Department of
Fish and Wildlife Resources. “There is a really good population of 7- to 9-inch
crappie in Boltz along with bigger ones. Bullock Pen’s crappie population is
about the same as in Boltz. Kincaid has a lot of mid-range crappie as well with
some bigger ones mixed in. It has a pretty decent crappie population.”
anglers can help all three of these lakes by eating some of the crappie in
them, freeing up food for the remaining crappie to grow larger.
Local anglers report
catching nice 9- to 11-inch crappie from Beaver Lake on lime green with metal
flake 2-inch curly-tailed grubs rigged on 1/16-ounce leadheads. Fish weed edges
and woody cover on this lake for a mixture of white and black crappie.
Cedar Creek Lake
is known for producing some robust largemouth bass, but the crappie population
in the lake gets better with each year since the removal of the 9-inch minimum
size limit in 2008.
“The crappie are
growing pretty well in Cedar Creek,” said John Williams, southeastern fisheries
district biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “We saw a guy the other day
that caught 20 black crappie, with most of them about 13 inches or so.”
This angler caught
them on pink crappie jigs, but live minnows fished under bobbers from 6 to 8
feet deep are fooling many nice crappie in the lake. Black crappie prefer clear
water and the areas of the lake with less stain in the water make the best
fishing spots at this time.
division stocked 21,000 rainbow trout in Cedar Creek Lake earlier this year,
providing an excellent bonus fishing opportunity. Anglers fishing the bank
access areas on the lake should catch some trout by tossing white in-line
Shanty Hollow Lake
contains 185 acres of water in Warren County and holds an excellent population
of white crappie from 12 to 14 inches long. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife placed
brush, brush reefs and Christmas Trees in Shanty Hollow near the boat ramp on
KY 1592 (Shanty Hollow Road).
these structures with live minnows, chartreuse and red tube jigs or 1/16-ounce
chartreuse marabou Road Runners will score fish. You may find the GPS
coordinates of these fish holding structures on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife
website at fw.ky.gov. Click on the
“Fish” tab, then “Where to Fish.”
anglers should hit 710-acre Carr Creek Lake in Knott County for both white and
black crappie. The white crappie in Carr Creek can reach 16 inches, while the
black crappie mainly run from 9 to 12 inches long. The lake has a 9-inch
minimum size limit on crappie.
personnel placed a mixture of pallet stacks and Christmas trees for habitat in
Carr Creek and hinge cut trees along the shoreline. Anglers should probe these
areas with live minnows, 2-inch chartreuse curly-tailed grubs or blue and white
tube jigs rigged on 1/16-ounce leadheads for crappie.
Just like on
Shanty Hollow, the GPS coordinates of these fish holding structures are on the fw.ky.gov website under the “Where to Fish”
Crappie time is
now on these smaller waters. All you need is some time along with a few lures
or minnows to catch the makings of a world class meal. You will also need a
valid Kentucky fishing license, as the new license started March 1.
Author Lee McClellan is a
nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the
official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass
(Editors: Please email Lee.McClellan@ky.gov for photos.)