Holly cow! Look at the size of the crappie in photo! Nice fish Audrey. To catch this crappie—we had to go to a lake where the water was cold. We had tried a couple “traditional” spring crappie spots–lakes with bays and shallow shorelines, and they didn’t work. They were void of crappie and even the sunfish were small. When ever I try traditional seasonal patterns that don’t work, I tend to flip my brain over and try opposite tactics. In this case (last week), I had an easier time finding good sized panfish on straight shorelines on cooler lakes. I didn’t change my bait or tackle approach, just my location. Right now, many shallow bays throughout Ottertail Lakes Country seem to be “past-prime.” As of last night, I was fishing bays that were 64 degrees—and full of lilli pads. Lilli pads are often a cue that crappie may have already migrated out? I prefer bays that are a bit deeper. Lilli pads don’t bother me if they are clumpy/sporadic throughout a bay or shoreline. If entire areas a choked with pads, then it seems the area is too shallow or the bottom isn’t quite right. I tend to do better in bays that have some contour/grade/drop-off towards the middle of the bay. While some crappie may linger in “mature” bays, most have wandered back out onto the lake in search of suitable spawning grounds (unless there is suitable spawning in the lilli pad zones). I’ve been seeing a lot of bays with out crappie—and even good sunfish lately. If you’re struggling with sunfish and crappie, change your location. When I take people on panfish outings right now, they are wondering why I’m not sitting still for very long. The simple answer I give them is because the panfish are biting right now so we shouldn’t have to wait to get a bite—no waiting. Once you find panfish anywhere around the county, you should be able to catch them quite rapidly. For bait—Gulp is the best choice. The fish love it and you can cast it 1,000,000—it doesn’t fly off your line like live baits do, especially when you’re casting in wind or from shore. Be selective—let the large crappie and bull sunfish go. The large crappie that Audrey is holding in the photo was released right after we took the picture. It feels as good to release large fish as it does to catch them. Keep an eye on your equipment when you’re taking your boats in and out of Ottertail County lakes—be sure to check for weeds and any other critters that might be hanging from your boat or trailer and drain all of the water from your boat hull and live wells. We all appreciate your efforts to keep our lakes free of aquatic invasive species! Have a great week on the lakes!