Because crappie is a plentiful species of fish in several areas of the country and great fishing can be found almost year round, there are crappie fishing contests somewhere almost every weekend of the year. In cooler months of the year, you’ll find that most tournaments are concentrated further south where the waters don’t freeze and stay slightly warmer through the winter, while spring and summer hold promises of contests pretty much everywhere.
Often, some of the earliest events of the year can be found in Florida, where weather is warm year-round in the tropical southern part of the state. Here, you may find contests referred to as “super events” as early in the year as February. Early March may find contests beginning in other areas in the south as well, including several lakes in Alabama and Georgia. As spring moves forward, expect to see tournaments creeping farther north, to Tennessee and Kentucky, where there are some unbelievable lakes for spring crappie fishing. Later spring and early summer weather will work the lakes in areas like Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. Contests in these states can stretch into early fall before working back down to the southern coastal states in late November and December.
Events range from local to regional, culminating in week-long national tournaments at some of the best lakes in the country. Rules are somewhat typical, though exact start times may vary and some regulations differ slightly, especially when achieving the national level. For example, the Cabela’s Crappie USA Classic in 2007 will be held in Kentucky Barkley South Lake in Tennessee in early October. The tournament calls for the lake to be off limits to fishermen for the previous two weeks in order to guarantee that the lake isn’t stripped of crappie before the tournament. Rules state that tournament fishing is allowed between the hours of 6:30am and 3:00pm on Friday and Saturday, with anyone who is not in line for weigh-in at 4:00pm each day to be disqualified.
It is important to remember that all contests have a set of guidelines similar to this, and any violation is grounds for elimination. Many crappie fishing tournaments have size limitations that must be met in order to keep the catch, and some have regulations on boat sizes, motor sizes and types, and required distances between fishing boats for safety purposes.