If you haven't seen them already, you will be seeing them soon--well-bundled
anglers fishing along causeways and man-made obstructions in lakes of the
They are fishing for crappies (pronounced croppies). Albeit slow, the
late-winter, early-spring crappie fishing cannot be denied by those who
seek and eat these tasty members of the sunfish family.
While both white and black crappies will be found in many standing waters
and sluggish streams and rivers of the state, some waters are considered
better than others.
To learn more about these favored waters, we went to the fisheries biologists
of the Division of Fish and Wildlife's eight fisheries management districts.
Here is what the fisheries biologists, who are in constant touch with the
waters of their respective districts, say:
Bob Robertson--(District 1, 16 northwestern counties): Bass Lake, Starke
County, has lots of crappies and they range up to 10-12 inches. Clear Lake,
LaPorte County is another good bet, and Worster Lake in Potato Creek State
Park (St. Joseph County), Manitou Lake at Rochester (Fulton County), and
Lake Freeman, at Monticello (White and Carroll counties) offer good fishing.
Neil Ledet--(District 2, Elkhart, Lagrange and Steuben counties on the
Michigan state line): Lake James at Pokagon State Park in Steuben County
probably best in the district, but the south end of Big Turkey on the Steuben-Lagrange
county line is very good. There are a lot of crappies in the 9-10 inch
class in these lakes and some run larger.
Jed Pearson--(District 3, Allen, Dekalb, Noble counties, and the upper
part of Kosciusko County): The West Lake Chain (more specifically Waldron,
Jones, Tamarack, and Steinbarger lakes, all in Noble County), give up a
lot of crappies in the 9-10 inch class, but the channels on the larger
lakes of the district also offer good fishing in late April and early
Ed Braun--(District 4, 14 northeastern counties and the lower part of
Kosciusko County): Salamonie Reservoir, (Wabash and Huntington counties)
and Mississinewa Reservoir (Miami and Wabash counties) Braun favors Salamonie
slightly because the water level probably will remain low at Mississinewa
Reservoir as repair work on the dam continues. The low-water level will
make it difficult to fish Mississinewa, but the river channel could offer
good fishing for crappies.
Doug Keller--(District 5, 20 counties across the central part
of the state): Raccoon Reservoir and Cataract Lake probably are best bets.
A fish survey at Raccoon last year showed half of the fish taken were crappies
and while there are a lot of small fish, they run up to 13-16 inches, averaging
8 ½ (eight and one-half) inches. Standing timber not easy to find
on these lakes, but any natural or man-made structure could hold crappies.
Eagle Creek and Brookville reservoirs also offer good fishing for smaller
Brian Schoenung--(District 6, 10 southwestern counties, made up
largely of strip-mined pits): Dogwood Lake at Glendale State Fish and Wildlife
Area), and West Boggs Creek Lake (at West Boggs Park on the Daviess/Martin
county line north of Loogootee): Crappies at Dogwood and West Boggs average
about ½ (one-half) pound, but they run much larger. Schoenung also
likes Sullivan Lake (at the town of Sullivan in the county of the same
name) for crappies, adding that this lake also has a good saugeye population
(a cross between walleye and sauger).
Dan Carnahan--(District 7, 10 southwestern counties, much of which
is in the strip-mined area): Carnahan likes Hovey Lake (at Hovey Lake State
Fish and Wildlife Area) best, but points out that anglers there can find
the crappie fishing tough until some knowledge of the lake and the fish
is gained. The lake holds a lot of fish in the10-12-inch class. Best place
to start is shoreline around the boat ramp.
Larry Lehman--(District 8, 15 southeastern counties, including
the embayments of streams above the Markland Dam, Versailles Lake
(in Versailles State Park), and Hardy Lake (east of Austin in Scott County):
Versailles is a tough place to fish for crappies, Lehman says, but fishing
the south banks is a good bet. At Hardy, Cedar Cove is a good bet, especially
around standing timber. The Bryant's Creek embayment near Markland Dam
offers good crappie water, but any of the small coves and creek channels
along the Indiana shoreline of the Ohio River offer crappie potential.
However, the district biologists emphasize that crappies are not as
widespread in Hoosier water as other members of the sunfish family,
especially bluegills and bass. In many cases if a body of water is not
fed by a stream, or has not been stocked with crappies at some time in
the past, they probably will not be present. Still crappies will be found
in many waters not known for crappie fishing.