Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

April 17, 2000

Spring crappie bite is on

Ultralight gear and tackle, tube jigs, crappie minnows, Beetle Spins, enthusiasm, and maybe even a wax worm or two.

Throw in a big jacket or a snowmobile suit and that's the gear of a spring crappie angler.

Spring crappie fishing can mean big time action around here, and on several lakes, the bite is on.

Anglers have reported fair to decent action on Swan near Silver Lake, Mary, Winsted, and Ann. The bait and method of choice has been a tube jig tipped with a crappie minnow, slowly drifted or trolled over shallow flats.

Right now, a slow presentation with live bait is probably the trick, but that will change as the water warms up and the season moves along. When that happens, crappies almost become crazy and love to hit twister tails and beetle spins.

On a spring crappie venture a few years back, a friend and I found the hot spot on Swan Lake. Drifting across a shallow corner of the lake, casting with beetle spins, we nailed slab crappie after slab crappie.

It seemed the faster you retrieved the beetle spin, the harder the crappies hit it. If the boat was positioned right, you could see the crappies grab the bait. The action was fast, furious, and fun.

That action was also very difficult to repeat. We went back out the next day and couldn't catch a fish with our beetle spins, while anglers from shore were pulling in smaller size crappies with wax worms. That's kind of the story for spring crappies - what works one day might not work the next. You have to be flexible, patient, and in many cases, willing to catch five small fish for one slab.

Another method for spring crappies that I picked up on a few years ago is fly fishing. When the crappies are schooling near the surface and won't bite on anything, a fly carefully casted on top of the water will often do the trick.

Here a few tips for spring crappies:

  • Don't pay too much attention to where the crappies were biting yesterday. Find your own hot spots or head back to that old favorite hole.
  • Fish shallow and be flexible in your method and presentation.
  • Use lightweight equipment and tackle.
  • Fishing near creek or stream inlets is often productive.
  • Don't expect to catch monsters or even slabs around here. Fishing pressure is stiff and there just aren't many big ones. If you do fish the hot spot, keep only what you can use and don't shy away from throwing a few of the big ones back.

In next week's column, with help from Joe's Sport Shop and Li'l Angie's Bait and Tackle, we'll get rolling on some fishing reports from the area and get geared up for some more fishing. The walleye opener is only a month away.

Minnesota State Parks

Enjoy the outdoors, walk across the mighty Mississippi, sleep under the stars, hike, bike, fish, and explore. Minnesota's state parks have it to offer and much, much more.

If you're looking for a way or a place to get outside and enjoy our wonderful outdoors, you have to go no farther than a Minnesota State Park.

There are nearly 70 state parks and recreation areas located throughout Minnesota. Each one is somewhat unique and different.

For us, they are a treasure and an adventure just waiting to be explored.

For more information, call 1-888-646-6367.

For camping or lodging reservations, call 1-800-246-2267.

To visit Minnesota State Parks on the Web, click here.

Fish kill update

From the DNR

Additional dead fish have been discovered in the vicinity of Sumter gravel pit in McLeod County, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Initially, the DNR discovered several hundred dead fish of various species along a 7,400-foot stretch of Buffalo Creek in Renville County and in Sumter gravel pit. The gravel pit is located just east of Brownton in McLeod County along Buffalo Creek.

According to the DNR, an effluent of some type entered the waterway prior to March 31, causing oxygen levels to plummet and killing nearly 200 channel catfish, 65 walleye, and numerous other fish.

Lee Sundmark, DNR fisheries supervisor at Hutchinson, said more dead fish have been discovered this week and added that "we may continue to find dead or distressed fish in this area over time."

The incident remains under investigation by the DNR and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Outdoor notes

  • I'm still plugging away at information on the Crow River. When I get a chance to actually do a little research and pull some info together, you'll be able to read it here. The one thing I can tell you is that the river is very low for this time of year.
  • Minnesota's spring turkey hunting season is in full swing. In the next few weeks, we'll find out how local hunters heading to southeastern Minnesota fared.
  • Minnesota's regular trout fishing season opened April 15.
  • The 2000 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Saturday, May 13. With warm weather and an early spring, experts are predicting an excellent opener.
  • The application deadline for the 2000 Minnesota bear hunting season is May 5.
  • Starting next year, Minnesota residents will be able to purchase certain hunting and fishing licenses valid for their lifetime. Lifetime licenses will be a great gift idea for your son or daughter.
  • The regular fishing season in Wisconsin opens May 6.
  • Although electronics and all kinds of sophisticated gear are coming to the forefront of fishing, don't let yourself get intimidated. Fishing can still be simple, inexpensive, and fun.
  • Take some time to enjoy the outdoors and watch spring happen.

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