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Willard Crappie
#1
Ok so I am completely new at fishing for Crappie at Willard. Last year I got the smallies dialed in but this year I would really like to target crappies. Any help or tips would be greatly appreciated. Willard can be such a mystery to fish so I am basically concentrating on one or two species a year to figure out there. Thanks in advance for any info.
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#2
For me I pick them up by accident at Willard, but I seen folks doing well in the north marina the last time the water was high during the spawn. The ones doing best were in a float tube and stripping flies, but I'm not sure of the rest of the details there, but look for a chance anytime now as they move into that area. They also do okay with a jig under a bobber in the same area. Good luck. Jeff
When things get stressful think I'll go fish'en and worry about it tomorrow!
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#3
North Marina is where the crowd goes, because there are almost always crappie htere in the early part of the year.
Other places I have had good results are the shrubs in the NE corner and Freeway bay.
Crappie in the spring gather to spawn in those areas.  Water is warmer and prevailing winds push to those areas.

For bait I prefer chartruse jigs under a slip bobber, it has to be a small thin one because the bite it almost inperceptable most of the time.  I often use fly fishing indicators because they are so small.  I do cast and slowly, like dead slowly retrieve while I am trying to locate fish.  Once you find them, cast back to that EXACT same spot, 2, 3 feet either side seems not to work, for me.
Once I have found them I often switch to a crappie rod that is 16' long and just keep dropping straight down on the spot.

Once the spawn is over I have no idea where they go and I switch to Pineview for them.
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#4
I have been fishing for Willard Bay crappies since the 1970s...when the holy trinity of Willard was crappies, walleyes and catfish.  No shad and no wipers then.  Lots of green sunfish and some bluegills but precious few bass...largies or smallies.  In those early days, crappies were a primary forage species for all the predators.  The lake was full of them...all sizes and all year classes...all year long.  And because there were no shad to cause them to roam around the lake foraging for them, most of the fish of most species stayed pretty close to the rock dikes...most of the time.  A lot different these days.

Here is a two part writeup on Willard Bay crappies.  It was a full chapter in my CD/book on Willard but I had to break it down to be able to post it on our "new and improved" format.  Hope it helps.

Crappies have been showing in the north marina for some time now, but most are caught by dedicated crappieologists who know how to work the docks or finesse fish with small bobbers and jigs.  Water temps will be rising into the 55-60 degree range in the next week or so and fishing should get good.  The peak most years is right around Mothers' Day.
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#5
(04-21-2020, 11:08 PM)TubeDude Wrote: I have been fishing for Willard Bay crappies since the 1970s...when the holy trinity of Willard was crappies, walleyes and catfish.  No shad and no wipers then.  Lots of green sunfish and some bluegills but precious few bass...largies or smallies.  In those early days, crappies were a primary forage species for all the predators.  The lake was full of them...all sizes and all year classes...all year long.  And because there were no shad to cause them to roam around the lake foraging for them, most of the fish of most species stayed pretty close to the rock dikes...most of the time.  A lot different these days.

Here is a two part writeup on Willard Bay crappies.  It was a full chapter in my CD/book on Willard but I had to break it down to be able to post it on our "new and improved" format.  Hope it helps.

Crappies have been showing in the north marina for some time now, but most are caught by dedicated crappieologists who know how to work the docks or finesse fish with small bobbers and jigs.  Water temps will be rising into the 55-60 degree range in the next week or so and fishing should get good.  The peak most years is right around Mothers' Day.

TD, Thank you for the info on Willard. You are defenitly a Willard master. Hope to meet you out on the water one day.
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#6
Whoa TubeDude, you rock!  Thank you for sharing your great crappie resources here.  I feel hopeful now that I’ll finally be able to catch a crappie in Utah,  after a year of trying.

We appreciate you!
Linda
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#7
(04-23-2020, 04:48 PM)ShesGoneFishin Wrote: Whoa TubeDude, you rock!  Thank you for sharing your great crappie resources here.  I feel hopeful now that I’ll finally be able to catch a crappie in Utah,  after a year of trying.

We appreciate you!
Linda

If catching crappie in Utah is a goal, don't overlook Pineview.  Recent reports I have been hearing are that several are catching bucket fulls of good crappie at Pineview right now.  Same rigs Tube Dude mentions, just look for brush in the water with some depth around it and go for it.
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#8
(04-23-2020, 04:48 PM)ShesGoneFishin Wrote: Whoa TubeDude, you rock!  Thank you for sharing your great crappie resources here.  I feel hopeful now that I’ll finally be able to catch a crappie in Utah,  after a year of trying.

We appreciate you!
Linda
I appreciate your appreciation.  Glad to help when I can.  Now there are only two things you need...good luck and good timing.  It's one thing to know the science and the options.  It's quite another to time your trips just right between Mama Nature and the annual cycles of water changes, spawning, food resources, etc.  But the more you learn and understand the more likely you are to put it all together for at least a few good trips.

Good advice from AA.  Pineview has a lot more crappies...and there have been some good catches lately.  Look for nearshore structure and fish with small plastics...cast and retrieve...or jigs under a bobber.  There was a big dieoff of the crappies on Pineview this past year but it seems to have benefitted the fishery by "thinning the herd" and leaving more food for the survivors.  Some of the current crop are footlongs and better.
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#9
I would like to hear what you do for the smallies.  I haven't targeted them at Willard.
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#10
(04-23-2020, 06:20 PM)Thorny Wrote: I would like to hear what you do for the smallies.  I haven't targeted them at Willard.

With improved water levels the past few years, the bass (smallmouth and largemouth) have had better spawning and more non-shad food...like crawdads.  Of course they chow down on shad when available too, but they tend to have a more varied diet than wipers or walleyes.  And they prefer hanging out around structure rather than roaming the lake like the two aforementioned predators.  Higher water provides more flooded brush and the water levels stay up into the rock dikes.  That's good for basskind.

Until recently, a high percentage of all smallies and largies caught at Willard were taken mostly on lures and baits being fished for "other species".  But with the increased numbers...and sizes...there are more anglers specifically targeting the "brown bass" (smallies) and green bass (largies).  So far the numbers and sizes are not greater than at Pineview, but the power squadron problems are a lot more tolerable.  Both species will hit the shad imitation plastics and hardbaits fished for walleyes and wipers.  But sometimes working crawdad colors in cranks or plastics will get more bass.

Here's a few words and pictures on the subject.
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#11
Anglinarcher pid= Wrote:If catching crappie in Utah is a goal, don't overlook Pineview.  Recent reports I have been hearing are that several are catching bucket fulls of good crappie at Pineview right now.  Same rigs Tube Dude mentions, just look for brush in the water with some depth around it and go for it.

Thanks AA!  Heading out tomorrow and have been trying to decide between Willard & Pineview all week.  How’s the water level at Pineview?  The last time I was there in the fall, it was so low on the east side where I like to fish, it was too far to lug my chair and all my gear to even get out to the water.  I’ve never seen it so low, but assume this time of year it’s pretty full?
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#12
There's plenty of water at both Willard and Pineview right now. I've been to both in the last 7 days and water levels are pretty high. Good luck!
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#13
Here is a link for you folks up north to see what the water levels are before you plan a trip.  I find it very handy.Wink

https://www.usbr.gov/uc/water/basin/
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#14
(04-26-2020, 12:36 AM)gofish435 Wrote: Here is a link for you folks up north to see what the water levels are before you plan a trip.  I find it very handy.Wink

https://www.usbr.gov/uc/water/basin/

Thank you for that link.
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#15
JUST AN FYI, if you will.  I am not sure the crappie have a chance at Willard.  Just left there and every single shore accesss in the North Marina had at least one fisherman in it.  Several boats as well.  

I did not see any caught, but for a Monday afternoon, there were more people there than most church services.   Confused
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#16
(04-28-2020, 01:38 AM)Anglinarcher Wrote: JUST AN FYI, if you will.  I am not sure the crappie have a chance at Willard.  Just left there and every single shore accesss in the North Marina had at least one fisherman in it.  Several boats as well.  

I did not see any caught, but for a Monday afternoon, there were more people there than most church services.   Confused

Thanks for the info. I was thinking of giving it a try this week because of the temps. Now I might rethink the idea. I'm retired and only fish weekdays but now because of the virus a lot more people are out fishing.
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#17
(04-23-2020, 05:25 PM)Anglinarcher Wrote:
Quote:If catching crappie in Utah is a goal, don't overlook Pineview.  Recent reports I have been hearing are that several are catching bucket fulls of good crappie at Pineview right now.  Same rigs Tube Dude mentions, just look for brush in the water with some depth around it and go for it.

Can one park in the turnouts at Pineview?  Many years ago I'd portage my canoe down to the water, but I thought I heard you can't do that anymore.
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#18
I have taken my kayak in from parking areas at Pineview TH and Quist beach area. I saw no signage and cannot locate any information on the various agencies sites to say it isn't allowed. At Quist beach there was a sheriff vehicle parked who watched me unload and take my kayak down to the water. I would say if you can get it to the water it should be fine.
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