If all you can see are disappearing corks when you close your eyes to go to sleep, you know you have had a good April day crappie fishing at Clark's Hill. I have been fortunate enough to have many of those nights over the years, and can't wait for some more during the next few weeks.
As the days get longer and the water warms in mid-March, Clark's Hill Crappie get the spawning urge. They head into the small creeks and coves, looking for a place to bed. When they hit the shoreline cover, usually by the first of April, they provide some of the fastest fishing of the year. During this time you can see boat loads of families, from pre-school kids to grandmas, pulling in slab after slab.
This year (1996), the record setting cold on March 9th slowed everything down. Two weeks ago, small buck crappie were just beginning to move into the shallows. Although I found 65 degree water in some coves on March 16th and caught a few small fish, the water was still in the mid-50s on the main creeks and was slowing up the migration. By now, the big females should be in the shallows.
I grew up 22 miles from Raysville Boat Club located on Germany Creek at Clark's Hill. My first memory of catching crappie near the bank was during a trip that a friend of the family took me on when I was about 10 years old. Early that morning, he threw top water plugs around the bushes and caught several bass, including a huge 7 pound monster - the biggest live bass I had ever seen at that time.
After the sun got mid-morning high, we pulled out the cane poles and minnows and started fishing for crappie. As long as I live I will remember one small willow, just barely sticking out of the high water, where I caught eight crappie on the same minnow. Although that trip was about 35 years ago, the crappie fishing is still good enough to make memories like that for you in April.
Clark's Hill is known for its bushes. Button bushes line the backs of many coves. Willows dot low areas on all banks. Sweetgum trees grow in the edge of the water. Crappie are drawn to all of them in early April. Catching these crappie is easy and fun, and fills the freezer with some of the best fish to eat in the state. You can often limit out in a few hours.