Story by Tom Pagliaroli

Not crappy, but “crappie”.

As in more civil monikers such as bachelor perch and calico bass.

However, crappie is the overwhelming name of choice, at least in most part of the country where both the black and white varieties are found. In the Midwest and upper southeast, it’s called “croppie” for whatever reason, perhaps the Bible Belt thing, but there is no “o” in crappie, so that’s it.

March is the magic time when this delectable panfish puts on the feed bags as it readies for the rigors of spawning later in the month into April. The black crappie (actually a green and gold-flecked coloration) is far more plentiful than its white (silvery coloration) kin. The former also grows a bit larger: the current state record is whopping 4 lbs. 8 oz. with the white’s top ranked mark a very husky 3 lbs.11 oz. The latter are scattered from Mercer County down through Salem and east through southern Ocean and into Cumberland and Cape May counties. Black crappie populations are heavy in these areas, and it dominates most of the central and all of the northern tier county ponds, lakes and reservoirs.

No matter the color, the crappie is very aggressive at this point in the early season and will put the raspy lips to one to three-inch Mr. Twister curly tail grubs, 1/32 to 1/8 oz. hair jigs, tiny spinnerbaits, miniature plugs like the Yo-Zuri Pin’s Minnow, and also a live killie or fathead minnow, or a thread of grass shrimp on a #6 hook under a bobber. One incredibly effective plastic is the uniquely shaped Crappie Magnet. A schooler like the majority of the panfish clan, catch one crappie and you’ll most likely catch a bunch, and these are a rod-bending ball on ultra-light tackle. The daily limit is 10 (same species or in aggregate)

Some good crappie waters in The Hawk listening area include Ocean Acres Lake, Lake Assunpink, Allentown Lake, Lake Carasaljo, Shenandoah Lake, Manasquan Reservoir, Oakford (New Egypt) Lake, and Prospertown Lake.

Oh yeah…a platter of golden fried crappie fillets will make your tongue wanna slap your brains out!

Atlantic City Boat Show Seminars

The Atlantic City Boat Show opened yesterday and will run through Sunday. Adult admission is $16 big ones (youngsters 16 band under are in free with a paying adult), but a discount price is available via www.thefisherman.com and click the link. Hey, a few bucks here and there add up! Plenty of fishing boats to see, as well as deck and pontoon boats, luxury cruisers, RIBS and PWCs.

It’s the 28-strong seminar lineup that is most noteworthy, though. Granted, there are a couple of snoozers, but for the most part, great topics from extremely knowledgeable presenters. Following are “must attend” if you are there on the particular day.

Thursday: Noon-Night Stripers; 1 p.m.-Grass Shrimping Weakfish; 2 p.m.-Deep Water Fluking.

Friday: 2 p.m.-Sheepshead and Tog on Sweeper Rigs; 4 p.m.-Bucktailing Fluke; 5 p.m.-Mojos for Stripers.

Saturday: 11 a.m.-Hunting Monster Blackfish; 2 p.m.-Fluke Tactics.

Sunday: 11 a.m.-South Jersey Wreck Fishing; 1 [p.m. Trolling for Stripers; 4 p.m.-Slammer Weakfish Tactics.

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