Spring Crappie Fishing

It has been a long winter here in East Tennessee. I often struggle to find and catch fish during the cold weather months and this year has been no exception. There have been several days where I have gotten completely skunked while catfishing. Even on the days where I have caught fish, it has been impossible to find any of decent size.

With as much trouble as I have had with the kitties lately, I decided to leave the heavy tackle at home and do some ultralight fishing this week. In addition to being a lot of fun, ultralight fishing always boosts my confidence because I never get skunked.

I went to Melton Hill Reservoir on Monday. Because of all the rain we have had lately, TVA is running a lot of water through Melton Hill dam right now. Normally, the water is crystal clear with visibility of 10+ feet. This week the water was stained and visibility was down to 1-2 feet. With surface temps of 51 degrees in the main channel, I decided to move back into a creek in search of warmer water.

I started about mid way back in the creek using my usual ultralight setup of 1" Gulp Minnows on a 1/64 ounce jig head. The bite was slow and sporadic as I made my way back in the creek. Once I got to the back of the creek, business started to pick up. I hooked and lost a very nice crappie off the end of a downed tree. A few more casts yielded a nice crappie that is pictured above and a largemouth bass.

As I continued to fish my way along the creek casting at docks and trees, I finally came across a downed tree that the crappie were stacked up on. I lost count of how many I ended up catching there. Every cast resulted in either a fish caught or a lost jig from getting hung. Most of the crappie were in the 9.5" to 11" range. It was a fun afternoon.
On Tuesday, I decided to try my luck there again. With only 2.5 hours to fish, I started out at the tree where I had lost my biggest crappie the previous day. I ended up not catching a single fish off that tree so I continued to work my way down the shoreline. After catching a couple smaller largemouth bass off the end of a tree, I hooked into a better fish. It turned out to be a 13 3/4" crappie that is pictured above. A few casts later, I hooked into another huge crappie that went 14 1/4" and was one of the biggest I have ever caught. I spent another 45 minutes or so working that area and caught some largemouth bass before moving on.
Next, I went back to the tree where I had found a school of crappie the day before. They were still there and I proceeded to catch several of them. The size was much smaller though as most were in the 7" to 9" range. Still a fun time on the ultralight rod.

With a limited amount of time left to fish and two other boats working the same area, I decided to take a gamble and move out to the front of the creek in search of some more bigger size crappie. The gamble didn't pay off as I didn't get another bite before having to end my trip.

I had an absolute blast catching the fish I caught though. It is great to get back out there and put some fish in the kayak again. Winter is finally releasing it's death grip and it should only get better from here. Be sure to check out the videos from these two trips. The first one will drop on Sunday, March 11th at 7pm.
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