Crappie are not indigenous to Ontario. They are shallow spawners so their eggs get stuck to the feathers of waterfowl and get carried north in the spring and since Merkel's Camp is within the Mississippi Flyway that's a lot of ducks dropping Crappie eggs into Wabigoon Lake and Dinorwic Lake. Even thought they are a foreign species they are not considered an invasive species because it appears that they have caused no ill-effects on natural fish populations.
Crappie populations seemed to have had a really slow start until the early 90s when their numbers just exploded. Now Wabigoon Lake and Dinorwic Lake are stuffed with them. We welcome the Crappie because it's just one more fish to help our Pike and Muskie get fat. Guests also love Crappie because they are fun to catch and taste fantastic. Every year we have more and more people specifically inquiring about our Crappie fishing.
Crappie can be caught in great numbers as well as good sizes. If you specifically target Crappie and use baits the Pike, Walleyes, Perch and bass with stay away from, you should catch 30 or 40 in a day. Because the water in the lake is so nutrient along with many structures the Crappie love such as weedy bays and patches of Wild Rice, the Crappie can reach great sizes. You should be able to catch a few well over a pound. Many of them are in the 13-inch to 17-inch range. Since you are allowed to keep 15 of them with a sport license, it's a great way to help maximize the amount of fish fillets for the big fish fry back home.
The main appeal of Crappie is they taste fantastic and they are fun to catch. They are a small fish species and rarely get over 1.5 pounds but there are occasionally some Crappie that are taken that get much bigger and the big ones can give up a great fight on light equipment.
A Crappie's method of eating is to suck food into their mouth because they do not have the jaws, teeth or mouth membranes designed to chomp down on prey like other fish. With this in mind, the Crappie baits that are most effective are small and because of their thin delicate mouths, a light touch with light equipment is necessary.
The best rod is usually a long ultra-light rod. Some people go as far as using a Fly Rod or a Noodle Rod, which was originally designed to fishing open-area rapids for trout. You want the light action but still are able to reach out and drop your baits into the clear spaces in the middle of thick weed cover. When you are a smaller species of fish living in a lake like Wabigoon Lake or Dinorwic Lake, there is a gauntlet of Muskie and Pike teeth to deal with, which is why they hide in the weeds. The Crappie want to stay in thick cover for protection and because there is more food. You also want to use light line. Four-pound test is a good line to start with. It's thin enough to tie on the tiny jigs and lures you will be using but still strong enough to pull your fish out of the weeds.
There are all kinds of Crappie baits available on the market but a small hook with a small piece of worm or a 1/32 to 1/16 oz jig tipped with a worm works best. If you have tiny minnows available to you then a minnow on a hook and a small trout float work great. You can also put a tiny minnow on a tiny jig but you have to let the Crappie get a good hold of it before you set the hook. It's not like Walleye fishing where you set the hook right away.
You want to be in the weeds or on the edge of the weeds. Sometimes in late summer the Crappie will head towards areas with lots of sand and logs. They go there because that's where the Smallmouth Spawn and by late summer there are lots of baby bass to feed on. Generally your best bet is in the weeds in a back protected bay.
You have to look at what kind of weed cover you have. If it's open spots in the middle of thick weeds then you use a float and a hook with a tiny piece of worm. If you have clear paths running through the weeds then you can cast a tiny jig and make slow jig motions while you retrieve your line. If you do sharp jigs you will attract Pike and lose your jig. In some lakes tiny lures and spinners work great but in Wabigoon and Dinorwic, there are so many Pike that you would have to use steal leaders or lose all your lures. Really Small lures will not work properly with leaders.