Crappie season kicks off in central Indiana

Fishing Editor Dean Shadley finds Indiana spring slabs and success with modern fishfinder.

I’ve always been intimidated by fish finders/depth finders. My first one was a flasher unit that I never did understand. Then I bought an old bass boat that had a paper graph on it when I bought it. I never figured it out either.

I bought a new unit this year and I’m amazed at how easy it is to use. The purpose of the purchase was to enable me to find offshore bass in late summer and crappie in the spring.

The unit is a Garmin Echomap UHD 93SV. I was going to buy a fish finder via the internet but after looking at reviews and prices I decided I wanted to talk to a real person.

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Cabelas seemed like the logical choice since I live within an hours drive. I lucked out and found a knowledgeable salesperson. I was about to pull the trigger on a $500 Humminbird unit when the salesperson approached me and led me to a Garmin unit that was on sale. It was a hundred dollars more but the nice gentleman assured me it was worth it. He said it retailed for $1,000.

I’ve been banging around the little 33-acre lake that I live on trying to learn the ins and outs of my new toy. Much to my surprise I was able to find fish, structure, determine water temperature and monitor my speed. Who would have thought!

Previously I’d marked some interesting looking structure that I thought should hold crappie. Today I was able to confirm there were fish on the structure I’d found earlier.

Even though I didn’t set the world on fire I did manage to catch a few fish. Two of the crappie would have measured 15” if I’d stepped on them just a little. They were an honest 14 ½” inches in length.

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The water is still pretty cold. The water temperature ranged from 54 degrees to 59 degrees. It seems like I have better luck when the temperature hits 60 degrees and a bit higher.

I was fishing with a little fly I came up with years ago to catch spring run white bass. The crappie like it too. It’s a small minnow imitation that is tied in white, chartreuse and sometimes pink. Today they wanted chartreuse. I fished the fly on a sink tip line with a 4-foot, 6lb leader.

I was careful to let the fly sink for several seconds before retrieving it in short strips. This turned out to be exactly wrong. My catching greatly improved when I let my fly sink no more than two feet. Catching crappie that close to the surface was a first for me.

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Dean Shadley
Shadley’s interest in hunting, fishing and a ton of other outdoor activities started at a very young age. He was hunting and fly-fishing on his own when he was eleven; it’s always been his passion. He was employed by the Indiana DNR as a conservation officer for 34 years. For the first 17 years, Shadley worked southeastern Indiana as a field officer. For the last 17 years he was in charge of Indiana’s Turn In a Poacher program (TIP) and was the chief public relations officer for the law enforcement division. Since his retirement he’s spent most of his time fly-fishing, shooting sporting clays, hunting and photographing wildlife. Shadley is Fishing Editor of Sportsman Magazine

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