Good crappie fishing found in most of Kansas
PRATT -- When it comes to freshwater fish that make the best table fare, white crappie are near the top of everyone's list. The best time to catch crappie is during the spawning season, usually late April through May. For many anglers, this is their favorite time of year, when crappie move into shallow water to spawn and may be caught from a boat or by wading.

While live bait such as minnows are excellent for crappie, most anglers use jigs with various tail configurations, from rubber twister tails to feather marabous, in numerous colors. Small spinner baits also work well. The wise angler will carry a variety of these in his tackle box and try several until he finds one that works.

Finding the right bait is secondary for crappie fishing success, however; finding the right water is most important. The following is a list of crappie lakes in Kansas that have been rated good or better, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP).

Region 1 (northwest, northcentral)

  • Kanopolis Reservoir -- This lake should offer good crappie fishing this spring. The fish are in deeper brushpiles on cooler days but when the weather warms, the docks, shallower brush, and the face of the dam should be good spots. Spawn is expected to peak about the second week in May.
  • Webster Reservoir -- Anglers have already caught some good stringers of crappie around the Breakwater and the North Shore and South Shore fish attractors. Look for better fishing in mid-May
  • Jewell State Fishing Lake (SFL) -- The crappie are concentrated around brushpiles, and anglers should have good luck as water warms.
  • Ottawa SFL -- This lake is rated good to excellent for crappie. On warmer sunny days, they have already moved to shallow areas in coves and along the dam. Although a few 1- to 2-pound crappie have been reported, the lake has too many smaller fish, so crappie fishing is encouraged.

Region 2 (northeast)

  • Clinton Reservoir -- Crappie are in close to shore, and most fish are being caught on jigs over rocky areas.
  • Hillsdale Reservoir -- Crappie are spawning now, and anglers are catching good numbers of fish in the shallows around structure.
  • Geary SFL -- Good numbers of crappie are being caught in 5 to 10 feet of water near brushpiles and gravel banks.
  • Miami SFL -- Crappie have moved close to the banks. White, black/chartreuse, and red/chartreuse jigs seem to work best.
  • Washington SFL -- Good numbers of crappie are being caught near weeds and along the rocks in 5 to 10 feet of water.
  • Douglas County Lone Star Lake -- Most crappie are being caught off rocky banks and brushpiles.
  • Herington City Lake -- Crappie are in 5 to 10 feet of water near brushpiles.
  • Herington City Lake Old -- Crappie weighing as much as 2 pounds are being caught in 3 to 5 feet of water.
  • Shawnee Mission Lake -- Brushpiles harbor crappie as large as 13 inches.
  • Lake Olathe -- Brushpiles and shoreline vegetation are yielding good numbers of crappie, most smaller than 7 inches.
  • Paola Lake -- Anglers are catching crappie from ¼ to 1 ¼ pounds using white twistertail jigs over brushpiles and off rocky banks in shallow water.
  • Lake Shawnee -- Crappie as large as 1 pound are being caught from the bank.

Region 3 (southwest)

  • Meade State Fishing Lake -- Crappie 10 to 17 inches long are being caught on jigs and minnows.

Region 4 (southcentral)

  • Council Grove Reservoir -- The Neosho River, Church Camp Cove, and the back of the Marina cove have been producing nice crappie. This lake has a creel limit of 20 per day.
  • El Dorado Reservoir -- Crappie up to 15 inches have been caught recently. Best times have been first thing in the morning and just before dark.
  • Marion Reservoir -- Crappie activity is just picking up, with fish as large as 15 inches being caught around brushpiles.
  • Kingman State Fishing Lake -- Crappie fishing is good for fish in the 8- to 12-inch range.
  • Wellington City Lake -- Crappie fishing is excellent in rocky areas around the lake. Most fish are in the 10- to 15-inch range.
  • Wellington Hargis Creek -- Most crappie are caught in shallow areas around points. The best baits are minnows.

Region 5 (southeast)

  • Big Hill Reservoir -- Crappie 7 to 17 inches are being caught in standing timber and brushpiles.
  • Coffey County Lake -- Crappie are now in traditional shallow-water spawning areas.
  • Fall River Reservoir -- Crappie up to 2 ½ pounds are being caught, mostly in flooded brush and rocky areas as found in Rock Ridge and Engineer Cove.
  • John Redmond Reservoir -- Crappie up to 2 pounds can be found. Best areas are Eagle Creek and the old river channel below the dam.
  • Melvern Reservoir -- This lake reports that fish are moving along the banks to spawn. Excellent fishing can be had, with fish ranging from 8 to 13 inches.
  • Pomona Reservoir -- Good crappie fishing is reported as fish move closer to the shore to spawn.
  • Toronto Reservoir -- Flooded timber in Manns Cove, Toronto Cove, and Walnut Creek should yield crappie weighing up to 2 ½ pounds.
  • Mined Land Wildlife Area -- Anglers should concentrate on areas around brush and other structure in 5 to 20 feet of water.
  • Osage SFL -- Good crappie fishing is expected during spawn.
  • Garnett City Lake North -- Brushpiles harbor fish 8 to 11 inches.
  • Mound City Lake -- Fish 8 to 10 inches can be found along the banks and near fish attractors.
  • Pleasanton City Lake West -- Anglers should fish the dam and brushpiles. Fish are still fairly deep, most measuring 7 to 10 inches and some larger.

Weekly fishing reports, updated throughout the season, are available here .