KATHY WATT ADMIRES A CRAPPIETrees are budding, birds are nesting, and crappies are active near structures in Lake Lanier’s northernmost areas. For birds and trees, air temperature is the key, which also equates somewhat to higher water temperatures, but other changes have a more direct impact on the water. The most profound of these are spring rains that accompany storms traveling north out of the Gulf of Mexico, which dump warm water directly into the lake and its tributaries. These rains also wash warmer topsoil into Lake Lanier which acts like a blanket that can be easily seen in the muddy stain of the water.

Most expert crappie fishermen would consider water temperature to be one of the most important factors that effect movement, behavior, and the location of crappies. Therefore, the use of a water temperature gauge can be very helpful in finding schools of these tasty fish in the fast-changing springtime waters.

Fishing For Crappies Where Water Is Running Into The LakeFishing For Crappies Where Water Is Running Into The LakeNormally, deeper, clearer water is cooler during the spring, so it is usually more productive to seek warmer water in protected coves or tributaries, especially on the north and west side of the lake. Since the water temperature is already in the range needed for crappies to move in around shallower structures, look for brush or docks with a direct path to deeper water.

Since many anglers are not familiar with much of the hidden structures below the surface of the water, boat docks are an excellent alternative. Lake Lanier only has floating docks, but these man-made structures are ideal crappie hangouts. Knowing which dock will produce and which one won’t is the key. The best floating docks draw abundant forage and afford plenty of protection from the sun.

Though spawning is the end result of all this spring maneuvering, the three aforementioned elements are extremely important ingredients to crappie-catching successes. As with most fish, food, comfort, survival, and reproduction are the rudiments of life for crappies.

Most older docks have algae growing on them, which attracts baitfish, and that in turn attracts the crappies. Crustaceans and minnows feed on the small plankton, and the crappies feed on them. The bright sunlight usually pushes crappies into the most shaded area under the docks, so it is not unusual for crappies to be on one side of a dock in the morning and then on the other side later in the day. These docks are greatly enhanced when they are near deeper water, and have brush, old tires, hay bales, or other underwater structures next to them. Also, the best docks at Lake Lanier should have between 15 and 20 feet of depth at the front edge of the floating structure.

Visible blown-down trees along a deeper shoreline are also magnets for crappies during the springtime. Granted both the docks and the obvious trees in the water will be noticed easily by other anglers, but they will still hold lots of crappies. Like my Dad told me a long time ago, “You ain’t gonna catch anything unless you’re out there trying, and the best time to go is when you can!”

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