How To Catch March Crappie

March Crappie Migration
Fin Spin Pro jigs by Crappie Magnet. Ken McBroom

Where To Find And Catch March Crappie During The March Migration In The South

Spring is a time for crappie fishing. With March beginning to warm and cabin fever at its peak, crappie anglers across Kentucky are preparing tackle and itching to get outdoors to enjoy the coming spring. March is a fickle month for all anglers. Cold fronts abound and sometimes old man winter refuses to let go. It’s a time for cold mornings and warm afternoons. The warm days make it tough to stay away from the fishing grounds, sending anglers out in search of crappie.

Those warm days of March will move hardcore and weekend anglers alike. The first response to these unseasonably warm days is to stalk the shallows for spring crappie. I’m to blame every year. Everyone loves catching crappie in shallow water. Fishing with a bobber and a minnow or a crappie jig is an angler’s first response to warm sunny days. However, it soon becomes evident that the crappie isn’t there.

Locating March Crappie

Locating crappie in March can be frustrating at times. Knowing where to look will shorten the search and have you catching crappie sooner rather than later. March weather will wreak havoc on crappie movement and while knowing these tricks will help you locate the schools of crappie; nothing is ever guaranteed. Cold fronts followed by high pressure can have crappie wondering just what to do. March is the transitional period for crappie in Kentucky. It is a time when they want to move up shallow to spawn, but they are often pushed back by fluctuating conditions. March crappie are often pushed back to their wintering grounds during a front. Or at least to the next drop.

Crappie can be in all depths during this time. They can even be suspended in the water column. Electronics are not a prerequisite for success, but they certainly make things easier. You can use your electronics or a map to locate creek channels that lead to and from the shallows. Many shallow spawning bays are well known and a great place to start. As you get better at locating and catching crappie in these popular areas you can venture out to lesser known or preferably unknown areas and find your own place to catch springtime crappie.

The springtime migration occurs around March in most mid-south and Southern states. Crappie migrates to spawning grounds using essentially the same route year after year. Learning this migration route will help you find and catch plenty of early spring crappie and extend your crappie season. There are plenty of crappie waters in Kentucky with a few listed on the next page. It’s time to grab some poles and get outside to enjoy the great outdoors.

Best Way To Catch Migrating March Crappie

When crappie begins migrating to their annual spawning grounds, usually sometime in March in many southern states. The best way I know of to catch them is by long lining. Long lining is an excellent way to cover a lot of water and intercept schools of crappie as you move along at a pretty good speed. Some will argue that spider rigging for March crappie is the way to go and I would definitely say that spider rigging is a great way to catch March crappie. The thing is spider rigging works any time of the year and not just in March. The reason I pick long lining for crappie in March is the ability to cover water much faster as mentioned above.

You can read about long lining in my article Tips For Longlining For Crappie the featured photo for Tips For Long lining For Crappie was caught in March on Dale Hollow Lake long lining with the jigs in the featured photo for this article. The Fin Spin jigs are excellent baits for March crappie.

Where To Long Line For Crappie In March

As crappie begin to migrate to their spawning areas each spring the weather is usually up and down in terms of cold fronts and storms with rain that affect water temperatures. Because of these varying conditions, each day can begin with a search for crappie. This could be depth or location. Here today and gone tomorrow as we sometimes say.

There is good news. When you know where these crappies are going and or where they are coming from the search can be quick. These crappies will not move far unless there’s a severe cold front or storm. This will send them back to their winter haunts temporarily. To wait out the cold front or storm. So, starting where you caught the crappie the day before is the best option and searching from there. Another great thing about the spring migration of Crappie during March is there are many schools of crappie as they don’t all hang out together. Therefore, long lining in my opinion is the best way to catch March crappie.

Why Is Long lining Effective On March Crappie

There will be what I call pods of crappie suspended and cruising at certain depths as they decide on the best time to move shallow. Because these various pods of crappie continuously moving throughout the area is the best way to effectively present your baits to as many crappies as possible.

Migrating March crappie are usually moving around feeding on baitfish in open water. They are also trying to stay in comfortable depths with the ever-changing conditions in the south. It is difficult to pinpoint where the crappie are. This makes it difficult to stay on one school of crappie to effectively fish for them. The most effective way is to move at a certain speed through the area. The “good” area can vary from day to day. You might have to search again the second day until you begin intercepting schools of crappie with your baits. If the crappie were relating to cover like a stake bed or brush pile you could sit over them and fish that cover for a group of crappie. However, in the spring, crappie is not always relating to cover. They are often scattered throughout a large area.

When March Crappie Bury Up In Thick Cover

Crappie in March is not always swimming in schools in open water. Sometimes, especially after a cold front, crappie will bury up in thick cover, like brush piles in deep water. When this happens single pole or spider rigging can be a better option over long lining. When a cold front moves through crappie will get sluggish. This is when the vertical presentation becomes the best and most efficient way to target March crappie.

march crappie

Hopefully while long lining for March crappie you were watching your graph and marking all the brush in the area. With these waypoints stored in your mapping unit, you are ready anytime the crappie decides to lock down in cover. You know they are around because you were just catching them the day before. Then a snowstorm moves in dropping the water temp by 8 degrees overnight. Call up those waypoints and start probing them with a jig or minnow. This can turn a long slow day into at least a few March crappie.

Vertical Jigging Brush For Crappie

As mentioned in the section above, crappie will retreat from open water and seek cover. This cover can be big rock, trees, stake beds and man made brush piles like sunken Christmas trees. When this happens nothing beats a little vertical jigging. Spider rigging can work if the crappie are aggressive enough to come up out of the cover. The problem is that the cold front that sent them running to the cover has also put a damper on their enthusiasm. Crappie will probably stay down in that brush unwilling to move very far to strike during a cold front.

Vertical jigging allows you to put that jig or minnow in the crappie’s face. Sometimes that is all it takes and other times you have to be patient either jiggling the jig a little or dead-sticking the jig, to get a bite. Dead-sticking a crappie jig is where you hold the rod as still as you can. Crappie like a dead sticked jig more than I ever thought. Something I learned fishing with the livescope technology where I can see what the crappie want. Keep in mind that no matter how still you think you are holding your rod there is still a little movement on the bait.

Fish Your Jig Inside the Brush

Fishing your jig inside the brush is often required to consistently catch crappie in March. When they decide to bury up in the brush. Even tapping your jighead into a tree limb lightly will entice strikes when nothing else will. You are essentially making the crappie mad and he just strikes to get the intruder out of his area. You will get hung up. That’s part of catching March crappie. When they are in the thick stuff. I have seen anglers dull their hook point a little so that they could feel the jig hit the wood without sticking it. With a little practice, you can fish an entire brush pile without hanging up and hopefully pull a few crappies out of it too.

Another great tip for catching March crappie, at least when the crappie are being picky, is to use a hair jig. Hair jigs are subtle and work great in the winter. They also work anytime that the crappie has lock jaw, like during the early spring. Rambling Angler Jigs and Rigs ties squirrel tail jigs for crappie. You can check them out our hair jigs for crappie at our Rambling Angler Jigs and Rigs store. 

 

Locate Brush piles In The Area For Best Success

Locating several brush piles in an area will help you catch more crappie in March. When you vertical jig in heavy cover you will inevitably get your bait hung up. Fish will also scatter fish from a brush pile when you pull it through it fighting the whole way. Having several brush piles marked in the area will let you leave that cover and fish another. This will allow the brush to settle down while you fish the others. Sometimes you will have to run down the lake to another productive brush pile if you don’t have a few in the same area.

Early Spring Migration

Spring is a time for crappie fishing. With March beginning to warm and cabin fever at its peak, crappie anglers all across Kentucky are preparing tackle and itching to get outdoors to enjoy the coming spring. March is a fickle month for all anglers. Cold fronts abound and sometimes old man winter refuses to let go. It’s a time for cold mornings and warm afternoons. The warm days make it tough to stay away from the fishing grounds, sending anglers out in search of crappie.

Those warm days of March will move hardcore and weekend anglers alike. The first response to these unseasonably warm days is to stalk the shallows for spring crappie. I’m to blame every year. Everyone loves catching crappie in shallow water. Fishing with a bobber and a minnow or a crappie jig is an angler’s first response to warm sunny days. However, it soon becomes evident that the crappie isn’t there.

Spring Crappie Fishing March Video

About Ken McBroom 216 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.