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Lone Star Crappie Outlook
It's slab season all across the state, but these waters will be turning out crappie action that you can set your watch by. (April 2009)

Spring is a magical season for anglers, a time that allows for anticipation and action for young and old.

By now, the lull of winter has been replaced by the glorious trappings associated with a warm-up across the state, and lakes have become ripe with fishing opportunities. Although there are a fabulous variety of scaly targets in every body of water in every corner of the state that have shaken off their cold-weather slumber, perhaps none is as available as the crappie.

From small stock ponds to massive impoundments, the crappie seems at home anywhere, making its living among an array of subsurface habitat. With a little know-how, a dash of effort and maybe even a little luck, most anglers who hit the water this time of year in hopes of filling their freezer with some tasty fillets will cash in on lakes across the state.

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Here's a look at the top lakes for crappie fishing in Texas this year.

John Tibbs, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist in Central Texas, said his part of the state should be chock-full of crappie.

"It's looking good overall in this part of the state," he said. "The lakes have been down for the most part but that's to be expected with the drought conditions and everything that goes along with them."

Tibbs said two lakes stand out above the others in his district.

"One of the better crappie lakes in Central Texas is Limestone," he said. "It doesn't get as much pressure as the other lakes in the region and the state, and has always been a solid crappie spot. Waco looks to be doing pretty good and has seen benefits from a rise in pool level. There's plenty of good habitat there, like on Limestone, and anglers always expect to do well there when they're crappie fishing. If you had to rank them, Waco would be at the top followed by Limestone."

Tibbs said it's not always easy to predict ahead of time how a season will pan out, but that crappie numbers can change.

"The crappie populations tend to be kind of cyclical, so it's tough to predict with certainty how things are going to shake out, but the fishing should be good again on those two lakes," he said. "If you had a sleeper category, you could throw Whitney in there. The golden algae problem has been bad on some of the lakes fed by the Brazos River, but the past two years Whitney has been free of the algae. That lake has turned out to be good for crappie if you can find them and we've been getting some good reports from anglers catching them regularly -- and some with some size, too!

"Drought and loss of habitat has been the biggest concern for lakes in this region, but that's a relatively short-term thing, so it probably won't have too much of a negative impact in the spring."

Two other lakes anglers fishing Central Texas should include on the crappie "must-hit" list are Proctor and LBJ. Proctor, which is located between the towns of Comanche and Proctor in Comanche County, is rated excellent by TPWD for crappie. After having fished there several times, I can attest to the rating. Proctor is known primarily as a superb hybrid striper fishery, but the crappie population also is strong, and the lake features a variety of underwater structure that will hold schools of fish. One particular area that stands out on Proctor is the spillway, which often produces strong catches of crappie almost all year long.

Other hotspots in this part of the state are Granger and LBJ, both of which are near Austin.

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