Everyone knows that pencil reeds are an early-season crappie angler’s best friend. As a result, choice reed beds typically get hammered by every angler on the lake. When that happens, look instead for fallen, submerged trees—the gnarlier and more complex the better. But don’t make the same mistake as many crappie anglers and rush your first casts into the heart of the cover, which might spook all the plate-sized slabs suspended on the periphery.
Instead, pitch a two-inch tube or marabou jig to the outside edges of the tree and slowly swim it back to the boat. A tiny minnow suspended under a slip bobber and allowed to drift in with the waves is equally deadly. Only after I’ve caught all the fish guarding the edges do I move in closer and target the middle.