Why is it the same crappie fisherman always catches a limit of crappie during the prespawn? You know
the guy always cleaning a bucket full of crappie after they get back to the boat dock. You would love to
ask him how he is catching them, but pride keeps you from talking to him.
So, what’s the secret to catching prespawn crappie? I asked professional crappie angler Travis Bunting
his secret to putting crappie in the livewell during this time of year. Travis and his father Charlie Bunting
had just won the Crappie Masters on Lake Washington, Mississippi, over the weekend and had figured
out the prespawn crappie bite.
“Crappie are always on the move this time of year. Here today and gone tomorrow so you have to go
find where they have moved to everyday. Most of the time it’s a short distance from where they were
the day before, but you still have to move to catch them,” said Travis.
When fishing for crappie during the prespawn, the Buntings start by fishing in stained or muddy water,
however, they will not fish in muddy water that is silty. They also stay away from areas of the lake where
the water clarity is clear.
During this time of year the crappie have moved out of their wintertime habitat to structure like shallow
flats, ditches, drop-off or other structure. The key areas Travis focuses on will have stumps, stake beds,
brush piles or something that is holding the crappie in that area. Some lakes Travis has his own cover
that he has put in otherwise he will use his electronics to find these key areas and cover.
Once Travis has found where the crappie are they use a technique called pushing to catch them. A
normal fishing rig consists of a 16 foot B’n’M Poles (www.bnmpoles.com) BGJP rigged with a B’n’M Poles
PRO 100 spinning reel spooled with high-vis fishing line and ¼-ounce jig head with a brightly colored 2 ½-
inch Muddy Water Baits carrot style soft plastic lure. Travis uses Viscous 12 pound main line high-vis and
ties a knot directly to a leader line of 8 pound test fishing line.
Normally, Travis will fish in water 8- to 6-foot deep using his Humminbird unit to graph the area to
locate and see how deep the crappie are holding. If he is fishing in 2- to 4-foot of water, Travis will fish
the area and graph it while fishing looking for where and how deep the crappie are holding.
When pushing the lures while moving forward can produce limits of crappie and big ones too. “I like to
keep the boat moving at .3 mph or all the way to stopped if possible. If the crappie don’t like the lure
going slow, I will speed it up until I get the crappie to bite a faster moving lure. Once, I know how fast
they want the lure moving, I may have to vary the depth of the lure. During this time of year that can be
from the top to the bottom. I will zone in on the depth after they start biting at a certain depth,” said
One key to the Bunting’s success Travis noted is his rod holders. “The Driftmaster Rod holders
(www.driftmaster.com) we use are Y-shaped instead of being on a U-shaped. This helps us do a side
swipe hook set which is perfect for hooking crappie when pushing. Also, we set the boat up with
individual Driftmaster Rod holders where most anglers use a multiple rod holder trolling rack that will
shake all the rods when the angler takes out a rod to re-bait a hook or set a hook on a crappie. With a
single rack, I don’t shake the other rods making it easier to see a strike,” said Travis.