Lake Fork Crappie

What is the best way to catch crappie on Lake Fork?

    The first thing to consider at Lake Fork Reservoir is that they have special regulations for crappie. Normally, crappie on this lake are subject to a 10 inch minimum length, however, in December, January and February, there is no minimum length, and all crappie caught must be kept (no C &R). The daily bag limit for Black and White crappie is still 25 in any combination.

     Lake Fork Reservoir is covered heavily with submerged timber and other structure, making it an ideal bass and crappie lake. The structure can also be a hazard to boats, so use caution while on the lake.

     During the Pre-Spawn period, from Feb-early March, you will most likely find crappie staging near drop-offs, points, coves and river inlets along lines of cover in 10-15′ of water, in preparation for spawning. They will travel along lines of cover, so sunken timber and brush piles near suitable spawning areas are a great place to start. They begin the migration when the water temperature approaches 60 degrees. The surface water temperature is usually several degrees warmer, so make sure you check the temperature at the 10′ depth. Your best bet is to fish vertical with small (1/16-1/8oz) jigs or live minnows on an ultralite rig. Remember not to drop your anchor when vertical fishing. You will scatter the fish and damage structure. Instead, tie up to trees and brush. Most hits will be very light, so you might want to use a strike indicator.

     During the spawn, females will lay their eggs in 4-6 feet of water in flats near structure, then move off to deeper water to recover, leaving the males to guard the nest. Anything will work now. Spawning is usually over by the end of April at Lake Fork.

     Post spawn crappie fishing can be tough. They will move off into 20+ feet of water, sulk, and suspend at a depth with a temperature to their liking, usually along the thermocline. Sometimes they will suspend over structure, or sometimes in just open water. A jig or minnow must be presented pretty much right in front of their nose for them to hit it.  Again, vertical fishing with jigs and minnows is the best tactic, along with the use of a good SONAR unit. Lake Fork has too much submerged brush and timber to make slow trolling a good option.

     In the fall, crappie fishing will pick up again. Crappie will follow schools of shad and baitfish, and become active active predators. They will congregate near structure with good populations of forage fish nearby. The best places to fish at this time of year on Lake Fork are the bridges at Hwy 154, Hwy 515, CR 2946 and CR 514, coves, winding creek beds  and any structure in 5-15 feet of water. Use jigs or live minnows, either vertically or with a bobber rig.

     Crappie on Lake Fork will pretty much stay in these areas all winter until the Pre-Spawn season comes around again.

    

    


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow crappie fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on crappie fishing since 2004.

One Response to “Lake Fork Crappie”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    My hubby and I love to crappie fish. We had a favorite tree we always tied up to, but now however, the tree has rotted and the stump that remains is submurged about a foot under the surface of the water. We use brush grippers to anchor our boat to the stump, but when the water level is high, we cannot reach the stump. Do you know if we could purchase brush grippers that have long handles.
    Also, where can we purchase the hula hoop device I have seen some fishermen using to secure their boat to bridge pilings? Any advise? Thanks, Eliza

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