This has been an incredibly long winter in northwestern Pennsylvania. As of April 1, Pymatuning Lake still had large sheets of ice, preventing safe boating up and down the lake. However by April 3, the ice was gone and I heard the first report of crappies being taken in open water. Many Pennsylvanians look to the sound of spring peepers as the first sign of spring. But for me, the first open-water crappie of year is the true harbringer. An old school mate, Jim McClave, headed to Pymatuning on Sunday, April 6. My 20 horsepower motor started on the first pull of the rope - a real shocker! Then again, it had been properly winterized. We motored a short distance from the ramp to a shallow flat near the main lake point of the boat lunch bay. Casting a bobber with a live minnow, we probed a beaver lodge, a large submerged tree trunk and some spotty brush. No takers. Knowing friends across the lake had been catching crappies in old pad beds, we moved to back of the bay where I knew a large bed existed. Several boats were already anchored. I situated our boat on the north side of the hidden pad bed and dropped the anchor. It took several minutes to figure out that crappies were holding a very long cast from the boat in the heart of the pad bed. A Thill Slip Float with 1/32-ounce Pro Crappie Jighead sporting a skinny 2-inch white worm tipped with a Rosey Red fathead minnow produced the most fish through the afternoon. Jim wasn't accustomed to casting so such a distance with a bobber but but eventually mastered the slip float and began catching crappies. These were some of the largest black crappies I have ever encountered immediately after ice-out on Pymatuning. Jim took home approximately 20 to clean, with all others released.. I can now officially declared that spring has come to Northwest Pennsylvania! Watch for future reports as fishing continues to heat up through April and May.
Darl is a veteran outdoor communicator with a passion for fishing. Darl and his wife Marilyn Wolfe Black form Blackwolfe Communications L.L.C., which includes Fishing with Darl Black Guide Service. Follow Darl's freshwater fishing exploits on this blog, and check out additional fishing content plus the NW PA Fishing Report online at www.blackwolfecommunications.com.