Smaller waters hold crappie just like the big lakes

Smaller waters hold crappie just like the big lakes  

By Lee McClellan 

The wild striped bass in a ginger and red wine sauce at a restaurant in New York City runs $135 before gratuity. At a Japanese restaurant in the same city, a dinner of sushi costs nearly $600 per person.

These are some of the highest rated and expensive restaurants in the country, but we in Kentucky have a world class fish dish that is likely as delicious as those from a highbrow restaurant and practically free by comparison.

This meal costs some time along with a few dozen small minnows or a bag of 2-inch chartreuse curly-tailed grubs. This outlay yields a plate of delicious fried crappie filets to go with homemade potato salad, baked beans and cole slaw, one of the best meals found anywhere at any price.

You also don’t have to own an expensive boat to catch crappie in Kentucky right now, either. Many of our smaller waters across the state offer highly productive crappie fishing for those with a canoe, johnboat, kayak, float tube or anglers who fish from the bank.

Central and northern Kentucky anglers have three excellent small lakes to catch numbers of crappie this spring. Ninety-two acre Boltz Lake in Grant County, 88-acre Benjy Kinman Lake in Henry County and 158-acre Beaver Lake in Anderson County all offer fast action for crappie right now.

“These lakes offer really good fishing for numbers of both white and black crappie,” said Jeff Crosby, central fisheries district biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

Crosby said anglers can help all three of these lakes by eating some of the crappie in them, freeing up food for the remaining crappie to grow larger.

Beaver Lake holds a nice population of 9- to 11-inch crappie. Lime green with metal flake 2-inch curly-tailed grubs rigged on 1/16-ounce leadheads score on these fish. Fish weed edges and woody cover on this lake for a mixture of white and black crappie.

Cedar Creek Lake is known for producing some robust largemouth bass, but the crappie population in the lake gets better with each year since the removal of the 9-inch minimum size limit in 2008.

Live minnows fished under bobbers from 6- to 8-feet deep fool the nice crappie in the lake. Black crappie prefer clear water and the areas of the lake with less stain in the water make the best fishing spots at this time.

Shanty Hollow Lake covers 185 acres in Warren County and holds an excellent population of white crappie from 10- to 14-inches long. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife placed brush, brush reefs and Christmas Trees in Shanty Hollow near the boat ramp on KY 1592 (Shanty Hollow Road).

Anglers probing these structures with live minnows, chartreuse and red tube jigs or 1/16-ounce chartreuse marabou Road Runners will score fish. Eastern Kentucky anglers should hit 710-acre Carr Creek Lake in Knott County for both white and black crappie. The white crappie in Carr Creek can reach 16 inches, while the black crappie mainly run from 10- to 13- inches long. The lake has a 9-inch minimum size limit on crappie.

Fisheries personnel placed a mixture of pallet stacks and Christmas trees for habitat in Carr Creek and hinge cut trees along the shoreline. Anglers should probe these areas with live minnows, 2-inch chartreuse curly-tailed grubs or blue and white tube jigs rigged on 1/16-ounce leadheads for crappie. 

All of these lakes, like Carr Creek Lake, have fish attractors placed in them. You may view detailed maps of these lakes with GPS coordinates of fish attractors by visiting the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at Type in “Lakes with Fish Attractors” in the search bar on the top right hand of the page.

Crappie time is now on these smaller waters. All you need is some time along with a few lures or minnows to catch the makings of a world-class meal. Remember to buy a new Kentucky fishing license if you have not already.