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Stopped at Duckfoot, today, channel was still iced up. Shockers was clear. Windy Point was mostly ice free in the channels, lake side still had quite a bit of ice. Not a lot of people fishing but a lot of traffic scoping out the situation,
 

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Discussion Starter · #5,324 ·
Stopped at Duckfoot, today, channel was still iced up. Shockers was clear. Windy Point was mostly ice free in the channels, lake side still had quite a bit of ice. Not a lot of people fishing but a lot of traffic scoping out the situation,
DavidRK.......this week should be the end of ice for winter. After tonight no more forecasts of sub-freezing temps for lows. This week lake should be ice free.
I heard a lot of good crappie reports last week. Look for channels with backends not far off the main lake. Fish those backends at 20-30" depths, out in middle of channel to find schools. Unlike those dink crappie I'm catching 400 yards back in my channel, the shorter channels see piggy crappie earlier. Reports show high % of 10-12" keepers in those shorter channels. A lot of different color patterns having success. When you cast into a school of feeding crappie, they aren't as particular as we give them credit. Experiment with types and colors of your plastics. Don't get stuck on a single variation. Crappie schools are following baitfish/shad and gorging. You can find some great fishing if you get on a school. Enjoy!
 

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You guys are giving me the itch to get out searching out my way. Ive dipped a couple main lake docks next to where I cast for eyes. But no takers yet. My buddy did hit a 16" eye dipping one of those docks.
The eye fishing has been just ok,looking forward to hitting some crappies, hopefully.
 

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Went up to the lake on Sunday 3/7. Expectations were mixed as we knew the cold nights would leave less open water. Therefore, there would be more fisherman in each confined space. That expectation was confirmed, although with less than enthusiastic reactions. Each place that we ventured to was littered to loaded with men, women, and kids trying their luck/skill. We picked up a few here and there in some less less dense crowds. We returned to a place that was mostly iced covered in the morning to find more open water, but anglers walking away with nearly empty buckets. I approached the channel and tossed my jig on the outside of some ice and the float never set........whomp! Miss! I cast out to the same spot, jigged a time or two and hooked and landed a healthy 10 1/2" fish. For the next 3 hours or so, the fish came in spurts. I was fishing shallow- 16"-24" at the most. I stayed within about 6 feet of shore to land most of my early fish. Gradually, I started fishing out further and further in the channel, although I did not adjust my depth. We would get a good run of 6-10 fish (1/2 keepers) at a time, then a slight lull. Purple and chartreuse (popsicle, I believe) was the color of choice. We took home 30 keepers, with several fish dropping off at the bank as we tried to lift them. We probably had as many throwbacks as well. A bullhead and a nice 2lb largemouth rounded out the day's catch.
 

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Harrison,sounds like a good time.
I am absolutely awful at fishing the entire channel and hitting the middle part. And know I'm missing out because of it . And I am going to make it a point to start trying it more.
exactly why i generally dont do well during these ice out times. i fish structure. i don't enjoy casting blindly into the dead sea of the main channel. guess i shouldn't call it the dead sea because that is exactly where these roaming schools of ice out crappie are right now. for the most part not holding to any type of structure. YET. my time is right around the corner....
 

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RMK,

I get ya. I am in no way- shape or form, an expert or even "experienced" at open channel fishing. I did not like doing this at all when I first started. I almost always fished relative to structure. I came to enjoy it a bit due to slowing down my fishing and being surprised by a "hit" in the middle of nowhere. I used to run and gun, thinking if they were there, they'd bite quickly. Not with open channel fishing. Slow presentations, longer pauses, and smaller profiles (not necessarily shorter) baits seemed to do the trick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5,331 ·
Hey, guys................a point of clarification. When we talk about open channel fishing, out in the middle of channels, fishing away from structure, whatever name you want to call it, we're not suggesting you won't find crappie on structure. Rather, the ballgame changes.....structure is almost irrelevant. If the shad are cruising/massed in an area of structure, predator crappie will use that structure to their advantage. However, structure isn't required for crappie to be there. They go where the shad mass goes, with or without any cover. Fish are relating to the bait ball/shad mass.......the buffet table becomes the structure. And, it's not stationary. It moves, expands, contracts. If you're ever blessed to be on a school without a crowd of anglers, you can intentionally try to find it's boundaries, define the size of it. Keep in mind the size and shape continuously changes. Usually if it moves, it won't be far.

The point is when we get on these schools, there may be structure down there but we don't know or don't think so. And, for readers who don't fish shallow water lakes, these schools that provide a lot of fun are in channels or bays with water 2-6' and as little as 50' wide. Structure is secondary.
 

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Hey, guys................a point of clarification. When we talk about open channel fishing, out in the middle of channels, fishing away from structure, whatever name you want to call it, we're not suggesting you won't find crappie on structure. Rather, the ballgame changes.....structure is almost irrelevant. If the shad are cruising/massed in an area of structure, predator crappie will use that structure to their advantage. However, structure isn't required for crappie to be there. They go where the shad mass goes, with or without any cover. Fish are relating to the bait ball/shad mass.......the buffet table becomes the structure. And, it's not stationary. It moves, expands, contracts. If you're ever blessed to be on a school without a crowd of anglers, you can intentionally try to find it's boundaries, define the size of it. Keep in mind the size and shape continuously changes. Usually if it moves, it won't be far.

The point is when we get on these schools, there may be structure down there but we don't know or don't think so. And, for readers who don't fish shallow water lakes, these schools that provide a lot of fun are in channels or bays with water 2-6' and as little as 50' wide. Structure is secondary.
Hello everyone! First time post, but long time follower of OGF and specifically this thread. I have learned a lot over the years of reading this thread and really appreciate all of you on here willing to share. With that being said, I have really witnessed first hand this week everything Zara has said in his post above. We caught probably 90-100 fish (did some sorting and kept 26) on Sunday. Fished the North side channel from bank and found a school out in middle, but also off of some structure. Other fishermen would come and go from that channel not catching anything. Tuesday and Weds. we boat fished. Used the livescope and found a few active schools of crappie out in middle of channels with no known structure but big balls of shad. Like other have said, in the past I would have my boat in the middle pitching up to structure etc and not fishing the middle and would miss this opportunity. We also tried another channel on South side and found some active fish hanging on typically tree structure. I guess in short, we found active fish with structure and without. Most of the keeper fish we found were in middle without structure. Sorry for lengthy post and glad to be participating!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5,333 ·
Hello everyone! First time post, but long time follower of OGF and specifically this thread. I have learned a lot over the years of reading this thread and really appreciate all of you on here willing to share. With that being said, I have really witnessed first hand this week everything Zara has said in his post above. We caught probably 90-100 fish (did some sorting and kept 26) on Sunday. Fished the North side channel from bank and found a school out in middle, but also off of some structure. Other fishermen would come and go from that channel not catching anything. Tuesday and Weds. we boat fished. Used the livescope and found a few active schools of crappie out in middle of channels with no known structure but big balls of shad. Like other have said, in the past I would have my boat in the middle pitching up to structure etc and not fishing the middle and would miss this opportunity. We also tried another channel on South side and found some active fish hanging on typically tree structure. I guess in short, we found active fish with structure and without. Most of the keeper fish we found were in middle without structure. Sorry for lengthy post and glad to be participating!
wannaB.......We're honored to have your 1st OGF post land on our thread and we appreciate your generous praise. Glad we could add a concept to your tool box. Great to get responses that an idea, technique, or bait helped put fish in the bucket or live-well. Don't be a stranger. Keep us posted with results. Share the wealth when you can.
 

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I guess one more quick thing to add... the active fish we found in the middle of channels were all suspended at about half the depth. If the channel was 6' the fish were suspended at about 3' and we fished about 30" deep. If we were in 4' the fish were at 2' and we fished 18" Anything Chartreuse seemed to work. I tried throwing Monkey milk at them but didn't seem to want it. Caught a few on bubblegum pink. Lastly, we did fair better on non painted jigheads versus painted. Could have been coincidental!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5,337 ·
I guess one more quick thing to add... the active fish we found in the middle of channels were all suspended at about half the depth. If the channel was 6' the fish were suspended at about 3' and we fished about 30" deep. If we were in 4' the fish were at 2' and we fished 18" Anything Chartreuse seemed to work. I tried throwing Monkey milk at them but didn't seem to want it. Caught a few on bubblegum pink. Lastly, we did fair better on non painted jigheads versus painted. Could have been coincidental!
Great info that fish were generally at half water depth of the channel. Keep up the good work!
 

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Friday late morning to mid afternoon. Water up to 53. That's up 15 degrees from 6 days ago. Fish are starting to relate more to structure. We caught fish on metal, wood, and brush. Small baits. Itty bits and similar. Chartreuse pepper better in one area compared to pinks doing better in another. Quite a few shorts and bluegill with enough keepers to keep it pretty interesting. Kept about 20 around 10" fish. 3 white crappie on the day. All shorts. Heard of a 13"ish white caught by another angler we talked to at the ramp. Crappie nibbles improved the bluegill bite and hook up percentage. No real big fish yet. Hoping they will follow shortly behind to the structure. Surprisingly crowded out there.
465999

466000
 

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Discussion Starter · #5,339 ·
Good report, RMK. Amazing rise in water temp you've noted. Bound to promote changes in activity level of craps.
Concur with your observation toward smaller baits. I was up 2 days early last week. My channel had decent numbers of craps, but size nothing like what you get when you hit open water schools. Caught 64, high percentage 4-6" clones. Could only manage 3 keepers at 10" or better, most on structure. It's typical for my channel, early fish dinks, takes a while for quality fish to make it back as far off the lake as my place is. Without Itty Bits would have tough to stay entertained.

Highpoint of my 2 days last week, momentarily had a pike on. Lasted maybe 6 seconds before unzipping. I usually land one of those toothy torpedoes ever other year. Occasionally get 2 this time of year. 2nd highlight was my 1st perchy critter of 2021. If I get photo to upload, it was smallest in several years. Maybe 5", but they always put smile on my face. It ate an Itty Bit, believe a Pearl color.
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Hope I make it back up in next couple days.
 

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It's always a good thing to see Zara's GLSM's crappie thread come back to life.
I finally made it out for my 1st trip since the ice shut us down yesterday. All the flooding we've had on the southern border (Ohio River) caused the COE to hold our lakes back which caused the lakes to flood. This recent dry spell has been good and although my home lake is still 6' high, it has dropped 10' but the ramps are all opened back up.
Like others have said smaller baits are always a favorite early in the year and I turned to my stand by (tube jigs) and color didn't seem to matter as we caught fish on every combo we tried but we mostly fished chart/black and chart/purple. We never kept track of how many we caught but the action was non-stop. Our biggest being a black just a tad under 12".
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It was a great day to be out and a great way to start the season.
 
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