I am also waiting to hear from the crappie professor. I know that he keeps a count of the number of fish caught on each outing on his clicker. And keeps track of the amount keepers taken home that day. I am curious to hear if he keeps a count of Fish taken for the year. Don't mean to sound as if I'm blaming him just wondering if he is counts have gone down over the past couple years?
I've been hoping to see Crappie Professor's take on the size situation. He seems to be as good an authority on that water as there is. I've fished Shabbona for a good number of years and the past few seem to be worse than just part of a 'down-cycle'.
It's not unusual to see guys unloading limits of potato chip size crappie and announcing what a great day they had. I'm a firm believer in slot limits. I've seen it take a poor to OK walleye fishery to a dynamite spot where you have to work really hard to get your limit because the fish are too big!
I don't know what the right answer is exactly, but JSW84's proposal seems like a very good place to start. Oh, and like JSW84 I'm not a certified expert either in case you feel the need to tell me that.
MOON PHASE (0%)
11° - 15° F
late report... Went out Saturday AM with a couple of buddies. Fished some rock piles on road bed where I have found some decent gills in years past. Used Tungsten jigs tipped with plastics and waxies or spikes Marked a few fish caught one small 7" gill. fished the top of pile and a couple of the deeper sides.....too cold to hole hop. Nothing like it has been in years past. Moved to trees around noon. Set up in 30' of water away from everyone and found a fairly aggressive school of crappies. Stacked up From 5' to 10' off of bottom and no huge schools of shad running around. We managed 3 dozen or so fish for 2 of us, but no size ( this spot has always held big fish). Lots of 8s and some 9s. Fish caught on tungsten Mooska with finesse plastics. When It got dark fish were caught on a glow Swedish pimple tipped with a waxie. We left around 8 and took five, 9.5 " fish for me and my son to eat.
Current report... Went out with my father yesterday. Took him back to the spot in trees we fished on Saturday. Hoping for a good time and maybe a few bigger fish that were marked but not caught on Saturday. We were fishing by 830. We marked fish right away and got to work. Then the schools of shad came in and seemed to ruin it all. In between clouds of shad on the graph we would catch a couple bt the shad seemed to disrupt the school of crappies every time they came through to the point that we weren't marking many suspended crappie at all by mid afternoon. We may have managed a dozen fish. Should have moved bt was pretty cold to go hunting and hoped that things would pick up as we had only fished this spot PM on Saturday.
Most of the ice is snow covered now but spikes were still a must to pull gear out on the light fluffy snow. Hope to get out there a few times next week when we get some better temps for moving around to find the fish.
Good luck out there!
I obviously acknowledged that from the beginning so thank you for reinforcing my admitted lack of knowledge.
But,this is from DNR website on Mill Creek Lake in Marshall Il and where I got my idea.
"Both white crappie and black crappie are abundant. Growth rates have been good. Anglers may catch crappie up to 18 inches and 3+ lbs! Fishing quality is rated as excellent for 2016! Note: Regulations allowing the harvest of only 2 crappie, 12-inches or longer are in effect to maintain the high quality of this fishery. Remember, culling is illegal outside of tournaments as culled fish are more likely to die after being retained on stringers or in containers and handled multiple times. Site Regulation: 25 daily creel limit, of which only 2 fish can be 12 inches or longer. "
I would maybe suggest a size limit of ten inches and keep the keep limit at 10.
I think Shabbona has a healthy population of crappie in the lake. I hardly ever have a problem finding crappie. The big Crappie (12 inch on up) are few and far between though and I think anything much smaller then ten inches should be tossed back anyhow.
A few years back I could catch all the smaller crappie I wanted. But I chose to fish away from the crowds for the Bigger crappie.
Here is a picture of one of my days out. All fish about 12 inches and a few a little over......F.P.