Crappie fishing is heating up in and around the Twin Cities.
Lakes with shallow bays that warm quickly already have provided fairly good action, among them Minnetonka, Bald Eagle and Chisago-area lakes, while deeper portions of those and other waters are just approaching peak times for first-run crappies.
Water between 52 and 54 degrees triggers the first of two spring and early-summer crappie runs. On the first run, crappies aren't spawning but instead are seeking zooplankton, baitfish and other food.
The initial run can provide some of the best crappie action of the year, and shore anglers can catch as many fish as -- or more than -- anglers in boats.
That's because shore anglers typically have access only to shallow water, while boat anglers sometimes fish too deep for first-run crappies.
How quickly lake water warms in spring can determine how long crappie action is hot. Best, first, are canals, shallow bays and other waters that warm quickly. Among the first to heat up are waters with dark, shallow bottoms.
When the crappie bite is good, these fish will hit almost anything thrown their way. Experienced anglers will tip the odds in their favor, however, by using the lightest gear possible.
Jigs in 1/64th-ounce size can work best, with line no heavier than 4-pound test.
Bobbers aren't necessary, but they provide a visual element that's exciting. Plus, they give shore anglers a chance to fish a broader section of water.
Best for shore anglers are bobbers that can be cast a long distance. Bobbers can be hung as little as 6 inches or as many as 18 inches above an angler's bait and jig.
Crappie minnows are a favored bait. But plastic Twister Tails can be effective, as well. Some longtime crappie seekers prefer marabou jigs.
After the first run, crappies usually retreat to deeper water, between 8 and 12 feet.
This second run begins when water temperatures rise to about 60 degrees. Crappies spawn at this time.
Anglers should look for second-run crappies in water 6 to 8 feet deep.
Phalen in St. Paul, Whaletail in the west metro, Forest Lake and Prior Lake are among the many waters in the metro area favored by crappie anglers.