Lasted Updated April 24,2013

Here in Minnesota I am looking out my window as I write this article. It is April 7 and there is still snow on the ground and the forecast includes more light snow. It is a late spring but within the next  2-3 weeks the ice will be going out. That means one thing for the early fisherman and that is crappies and sunfish in shallow water.


 As the ice receeds crappie and sunfish will move into the open water bays and channels even before ice out on warm days.  If possible key your fishing on days with stable warm weather. These conditions will likely make the movement of fish into the shallows to feed. This is not a spawning movement. Even before the ice is totally out it is still possible to have good fishing. 

The channels between lakes provide excellent fishing. Here in Minnesota Lake Minnetonka is a prime example which has many small sub lakes (or bays) connected by channels. The best time of day to fish for ice out crappies  would be the warmest part of the day (late afternoon). Favorite baits include a 1/32 or 1/64 ounce jig tipped with a minnow or waxy. My favorite is a jig with a gulp alive one inch minnow.  Some of the other power baits are very good also.

Fishing gear use a lightweight rod , the longer the rod the further you can cast. An open faced spinning reel with 4 pound line is ideal. You will get more strikes with 4 pound line as oppose to 6 or 8 pound line.

Here is another valuable tip. Look for spots on the north side of a lake. In the spring the predominant wind is from the south. That wind pushes warmer surface water into the north end of the lake. The temperature on the north end of the lake in the shallow bays will be a few degrees warmer than the main lake. These few degrees temperature increases makes all the difference and will draw the fish in to feed on insects and bait fish which are also drawn into the shallows. 

Your biggest crappies will come into the shallows after first ice. For fishing techniques will be to take a bobber and set it about two feet above your jig and minnow or your jig and power bait. Crappies and sunfish will feed up so do not set your bait more the 2 to 3 feet deep when fishing the shallow ice out fish. For early ice out a very slow stop and reel retrieve is generally best.

Here is another simple tip for early ice out crappie is to ask a bait shop where you can go and they can provide you with important information.  When you catch a few of those ice out crappies save a few cook for a meal.

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