How to Fish for Crappie in Ontario
Black crappie, also known as slabs, are small fish that can be caught in large numbers. These fish range in size from three to ten inches, with a few reaching twelve inches or more.
- Small tube jigs in a variety of colours with eighth-ounce or sixteenth-ounce jig heads.
- Small flies that are yellow or red in colour.
- Small spinners with grub tails made of plastic.
- Small jig heads with a live minnow attached.
- Live minnows on a single hook with a small split-shot one foot below the hook.
- Shallow shoals or the shore.
- The mouths of rivers
- Bays with weed growth
- Harbors Marinas operate from docks along the lake’s shore.
What you should look for.
Find shallow, protected areas along the shore with gravel bottoms and some small baitfish, such as minnows. Also, look for shaded areas near docks or along river banks. If the current is not too strong, you should be able to find them near docks or along the shoreline.
Finding sunken logs or docks, as well as large rocks that can provide shelter and a place to hide, can be beneficial.
I like the baiting technique of using a small minnow and a light split-shot. Put the split-shot at the bottom of the line and the hook about a foot up. Lower the line into the water and stop at one-foot intervals, the first one about two feet below the water’s surface. Wait a few moments to see if the crappie are still at this depth; if not, drop another foot down and try again. They frequently suspend off the bottom at various levels, and you must determine the depth at which they are holding. Place a small piece of rubber tubing on the line at this depth and a float on the line after you catch the first crappie. You can now return to the same spot every time you drop the line back into the water. A piece of the rubber skirt material from a spinner will suffice for this, as will a float stop. If the bites are slow, lower the bait slightly until you hit the main school of crappie.
Another method is to use a small jig with a grub on it and try jigging it at the depth you discovered the fish holding. With this presentation, a bobber or float can be used to cause the grub to wiggle by any movement of the water. Sometimes just a ripple on the surface is enough action.
Using a fly above the jig to attract crappie to the minnow or grub will also help, but don’t be surprised if they take the fly one day and not the next.
Cleaning these tasty little guys is a small task with a big payoff.
The stomach cavity is very small, with only a small incision from the anal fin to the head. Then, just below the gills, cut around the head. Place the fish on its side and insert the knife behind the gills, cutting down until you reach the back bone. Turn the blade towards the tail and slice along the body until you reach it. Continue to slice the skin off the fillet as you flip it over. Rep on the opposite side. Turn the fillet over so the ribs are facing up and cut the rib cage out with the tip of your knife. Just before cooking, wash the fillets.
If you want to keep the skin on the fish, scale it before cleaning or filleting it. Tacking a bottle cap (beer bottle works best) to a short stick is the simplest way to do this with smaller fish. You can now remove the scales by rubbing back and forth on the sides and back without worrying about cutting through the skin.