Monday, October 27, 2008

How To Catch Winter Crappie

Many Crappie Fishermen believe that you can't catch Crappie in the Winter. That just isn't so! Just take a look at ice fishermen. They routinely learn how to catch Crappie beneath the ice. If they can catch Crappie beneath the ice, then us Southern Anglers surely can catch Winter Crappie. Here's how to do it.

I suspect many winter Crappie fishermen have a hard time locating the Crappie. Just like trying to find them in the Summer and Fall. It has been my experience that finding Crappie in the Winter is easier on average than finding them during the Summer. For example, on Lake Oologah in Oklahoma, there is a Crappie Guide who consistently catches huge numbers of good sized Crappie. To find out more just visit Lake Oologah fishing guide.

To catch Winter Crappie, start your search along old submerged creek and river channels in the 15 to 30 foot depths. Using a good quality depth finder will make this job a lot easier. What you want to be on the look out for is brush along these channels. Crappie will be holding somewhere around that brush.

Some days the Crappie might be holding tight to the brush. If this is the case, you'll have to work a jig in tight. This is where a graphite rod and light line will come in handy so you can "feel" your way around. Face it, you're going to loose some jigs and Crappie on these days!

Using a minnow during these times can drive you nuts. The Minnow will want to get into the brush also so he can hide from predatory fish. As he swims into the brush, he takes your hook along with him!

Other days you'll find the Crappie hanging at the outer edges or even suspended above the brush. I've seen Crappie suspended at 15 feet over a brush pile in 30 feet of water.

Land locked fishermen can also get into catching Winter Crappie, although they'll have to work a little harder.

First you'll want to take note of the Marina's on your lake. Then see if they have slips over deep water. These will generally be for large sailboats and the big Cruisers. If you have a portable fish finder, use it here! What you're looking for is the drop offs from the bank to the furthest slip. It's along these drop offs and even beneath the larger boats that you'll find Winter Crappie. Just make sure the Marina allows fishing from the docks. Some do not!

Another place bank fishermen can try for Winter Crappie is anywhere a bridge crosses over a lake. In some cases, the bridge will be over a creek or river channel. This is where you'll have to experiment with minnows below slip floats to find the depth the Crappie are holding.

The best bridges are the ones with piers out in deep water near the edge of the channel. Try drifting jigs or minnows right up against these piers. Vary the depth of your Crappie jig and minnow until you find the Crappie.

Winter crappie are not as aggressive chasing bait as they are during the Spring. This means you'll have to move your bait slowly or very little. They also are light biters during the Winter. Many times you'll just feel a little extra pressure on the line when they hit. Again, a good graphite rod like a B&M Crappie rod will really come in handy.

If you're using a slip float, I suggest the tiny quill or pencil floats. Watch them closely because it can be difficult to tell when you're getting a hit or if the minnow is swimming around.

On really warm Winter days, you may find Crappie a little scattered on flats next to river and creek channels in a lake. This is the time I like to drift fish using a spider rig. Normally these days are few and far between so be prepared for them when they happen.

Catching Winter Crappie is not magic trick. They're fish like any other fish. They get hungry, they have to eat. Weather affects them just like it does a Bass, Catfish or Walleye. Sure, they can be difficult to locate, but a little extra patience can pay off in some great Winter Crappie filets!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fall Crappie Fishing Tips

Fall is just around the corner. While most people are thinking about the upcoming hunting season, fall is a excellent time to think about Crappie fishing. These crappie fishing tips will help you locate the Crappie and put some fillets in your freezer for the Winter!

First, as the water cools in the Fall, Crappie will begin to move from their deep water Summer hangouts to relatively shallow water I typically find Fall Crappie in 6 to 12 feet of water. After the first good Fall cool front, look for Crappie at the first good drop off from the bank.

Fall Crappie can be very aggressive. You may have to experiment, but I like to find Crappie using jigs using either the Spider rigs or floating with corks. As I drift along the drop off, I'll put the corks at different depths until I find the Crappie.

As most of you know, the best time to go fishing in the Fall is just prior to a major cold front. This is the time you can find Crappie very shallow filling up their stomachs on everything from Shad to insects.

As the front passes, expect the Crappie to move back off the bank, possibly as far back to their deep water drop off.

If you're finding it hard to entice Crappie to bite, try minnows. When the Crappie get tight lipped, generally a Minnow in front of their face will be enough to trigget them into biting. I prefer small minnows and a slow drift to find post cold front Crappie.

Typically the cold temps after a Fall front doesn't last long. As the days warm up, you'll find the Crappie moving back shallow again. If the water is still a little cool, then start your search on a South facing bank and work your way out.

Once the Sun comes out and if there is a South wind, you'll find Crappie and other Gamefish prowling these warmer waters for baitfish.

This is the time a Spider rig can fill the boat with Crappie. In this situation Crappie are generally agressive and will gobble just about any offering down.

Now all you have to do is wait for that first Fall cold front to come barreling down from the North. Put these crappie fishing tips to good use and pull some slabs out of your favorite lake or river!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Crappie Jigs - A Basic Guide To Buying and Using Crappie Jigs

Crappie are generally caught with either minnows or jigs. There are Crappie lures such as floater/diving lures and I've caught Crappie on worms and nightcrawlers. But the vast majority are caught on either minnows or some type of Crappie jig. This guide will give you the basics of the most popular Crappie jigs on the market and tips to catch Crappie

The Road Runner Crappie Jig

road runner crappie jigThis is an old favorite of many Crappie fishermen. I've used this jig on a number of ocassions. I have to be honest with you, I normally use this type of jig for White Bass, Hybrids and other fish more than I do for Crappie.

When I do use the Road Runner Crappie Jig, it's normally in a stream or in muddy water where I want a little sound or vibration to help the Crappie find my lure. This is also a good choice when fishing for schooling Crappie in deep water.

When using the Road Runner, there is no telling what you'll catch. I've caught everything from Bluegill to Catfish on them. This includes a 16 lb Striper I caught on Beaver lake with 6 lb test while trying to convince a suspended school of Crappie to bite. Needless to say, it took me about a milisecond to realize I didn't have a Crappie on!

Beetle Spin

beetle spinThe Beetle Spin has been around for as long as I can remember. I don't use this jig for Crappie fishing much any longer. Over the years, I've used the Beetle Spin with great results in old strip mines and ponds. As with the Road Runner, hang on because you never know what will eat these things!

I primarily use Beetle Spins for remote streams when I'm fishing for Bass, Bluegill or other fish. When fishing the Beetle Spin and the Road Runner for Crappie, I use a slow retrieve. Just enough to make the blades spin. Crappie are not real agressive fish unless it's spawning season and they won't normally chase a lure very far. Also, I believe really loud and flashy lures will scare Crappie. It's not like they are at the top of the food chain!

Slider Weedless Crappie Jig

slider crappie jig vThe Slider Weedless Crappie Jig is a jig that I use when when I'm fishing heavy grass areas or lily pads. I'll also use this jig in timber depending on how thick and nasty it is. Although the name says "Weedless", you will get hung up once in a while on grass and other debris. As with any type of jig you throw at Crappie, be as delicate in your presentation as you can to minimalize hang ups.

One of the drawbacks to using the Slider Crappie Jig is that many fishermen barely insert the hook point into the body. Crappie are not Bass, their soft mouth and soft bites will leave you empty handed if you don't push the hook point to where it is almost coming out the other side.

Maribou Jigs

maribou jigsTried and true maribou jigs. The old favorite. They're not as popular as they should be. Crappie fishermen being like other types of Fishermen, are easily attracted to flashy lures and jigs that are designed more to catch your eye and wallet than to catch Crappie.

I use maribou jigs mostly around boat docks and other man made structures. The maribou hair gives the jigs a life like action that Crappie, and any other type of fish, can't resist. Sometimes, simplier is better!

Tube Jigs

tube jigTube jigs are my all time favorite. I dont' know why Crappie love these jigs as well as they do, but they just can't seem to get enough of them. Perhaps is the soft body that feels like food, or the the little bit of movement the tail ads to the the jig. Whatever the reason, Crappie love these "do nothing" jigs.

My favorite tactic for using tube jigs is to either pitch them along timber and weeds or delicately drop them into small openings in weeds or timber. My second favorite method is to drift them below a slip cork. I like this method when I'm working bridge pilings or submerged brush piles. If you know the depth of the brush, you can set the slip cork to carry the tube jig slightly above the brush pile. Crappie feed up an if you're close enough, they'll dart out and gobble the jig down.

The jig shown has the jig head outside the body. I like using the jig head inside the tube. Also, during the spawn when Crappie are more aggressive, I use the 1/8th ounce jig head from Cabela's that has the 1/0 hook. This big hook is great for hooking big slab Crappie deep in the roof of the mouth.

Another trick I like to use is simply take a split shot and mash it onto a Tru-Turn 1/0 Crappie hook, then pull the tube jig over the hook and split shot. The Tru Turn hooks are great for Crappie.

If you wanting to expand your Crappie catching methods, these 5 jigs and the tips to catch crappie will increase your Crappie filets in the freezer!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Ultimate List of Crappie Fishing Tips

crappie fishing tipsIf you're looking for a long list of Crappie fishing tips to take to the lake with you the next time you go, look no further fellow Crappie Fishermen (and Women) I have such a list as you're looking for. I hope you enjoy them.

Some type of stop-and-go demonstration normally works better. It could be anything from a long pull and then a pause to a series of abrupt jerks. Occasionally piling several jigs a foot or two a part works better because dissimilar depth levels can be covered and assorted color combinations can be tried out.

A deadly autumn strategy is to float the jig right across the tops of weeds that have been knocked down by a frigid nighttime or two. Try to mark the more utmost weeds to ascertain if you are at the correct depth level.The primary retrieve necessitates a slow pull of a foot or 2 and then allowing the jig slide to a position just below the float. This is duplicated unless you come up to cover or if the fish are assertive. Once the bobber nears cover, jerk or gently pop it to entice a crappie out of the brush.

The Old Time Crappie Masters don't use expensive gear, and they scoff at the latest hot lure or so called fishing TV Gurus. They know very few of these fads really help people catch crappie Instead, they absorbed every successful fishing secret and their crappie fishing tips that were passed down from their fathers, grandfathers, or local old masters of the day. Each one tested, each one proven to work by putting enough fish on the table to feed the whole family every single night.

When you're fishing for Crappie, bait selection and presentation is very important, especially during Winter and Summer when Crappie are more sluggish. You should also pay attention to the weather and the time of year. If you are fishing in the winter, you will want to move the bait slowly. When the water is cold the fish will still eat but they won't swim very far in cold water for food. They will count on an ambush to catch their meal. Winter time is a excellent time to use the bait flipping technique, but you need to be precise. If the bait is right in front of a Crappie, chances are good that the fish will eat the bait rather than chase something else through the water.

While a slip-float is often employed for deeper water and for getting into tight spots, most jig-float fishing involves using a fixed float that doesn't slid on your line. This is done because the gliding action that the jig has with a fixed float is more productive than the up-and-down motion that would be achieved if using a slip-float. The only negative aspect to using a fixed float is that if you want to get the jig much deeper than 5 to 6 feet, a longer rod should be used. A light, sensitive 8- to 9-foot spinning rod is perfect for depths over 6 feet.

Once the waters warm a bit, a jig with a swirl-tail type lure or tube is preferred. However, avoid cheap swirl-tails that don’t have action at minimal speeds. I like fine-cut tails that move seductively even at the slowest speeds. Lindy grubs are excellent, with the glow colors being favorites in stained waters and under low-light conditions. Pearl silver, fire smoke and opening night are killers in clearer waters. Jighead weights between 1/16 to 1/8 ounce are preferred with these lures in warmer weather.When using a jig-and-float combination in warmer water, you should try a variety of retrieves until you hit the jackpot. When the crappie aren’t too aggressive, a steady swimming action may be the key. Just remember that the faster you swim the jig, the higher it will ride in the water column.

When the water temperature dips down into the 40's, search for schooling crappie along deep creek channel edges from 15 to 30 feet deep. Concentrate on sharp bends or points and work both directions with a slow presentation until you find the right depth and color combination. Marking the line at five root intervals will allow you to place the jigs in the exact depth the fish are holding.

Some anglers use various jig-and-float combinations in late autumn over the tops of flattened weedbeds. In the cold water of early springtime, the most productive presentation is using small soft plastics that have little action such as tube jigs. These would include 1/32-ounce and 1/16-ounce tube jigs. Small maribou and hair jibs can also be effective, especially in baitfish patterns.

If you fish from a boat and use a fish finder you need to be able to target large schools of crappie when they appear on your fish finder. When you spot a signal that resembles an upside Evergreen tree on the lcd screen, you've more than likely found a school of Crappie. Being properly equipped is a big part of success when using this system. Use super-sensitive rods in 12-, 14- and 16-foot lengths.

In stained or muddy water, try using jigs that have dark and light patterns such as Brown and Chartreuse. The best depth range to fish stained water is in 1- to 8-foot depths. If the lake has a small bay or channel the crappies will be drawn in there like magnets, especially early in the Spring when the stained water heats faster than clear water.

Fallen timber, brush and last years weeds will attract more insects that are hatching that the crappies will feed upon. The water temp that typically starts this early season action is about 50 degrees. There are many fishermen who believe Crappies are coming in to spawn. This isn't true at all. They are coming in to feed on the insects and feel secure with all the over present. Crappies actually spawn a little later in the Spring when the water temperature is about 65 degrees.

When your fishing for Spring crappie the bite will most likely be very light. You need to be able to feel the bite to catch fish. Use super limp mono in 4 to 6 lb test and an open face reel and a graphite rod like a B&M. If the water is real muddy use chartreuse. I believe that “pushing” jigs dressed with minnows using long, sensitive poles off the front of the boat allows great control over the placement of the jigs around cover, structure and along edges. Plus, you can slow down the boat and let lively lip-hooked minnows dance around a spot to tease reluctant crappie into biting. This multi-rod presentation also covers a lot of water and may trick Crappie into thinking there is a school of bait to dine on!

When you locate a large school of crappie never fish in the middle of the school. Work the edges of the school so you don't spook the fish. If you really want the fast action switch your presentation to a tube jig. The best depths typically here are about 6 feet or less. When you rig you tube jig, place a small bobber a foot and a half up from the jig. Cast and retrieve it slow. The bobber basically simply keeps your jig at the same depth. In detecting the bite, crappies will often grab your jig and swim side to side or the bobber will tip up and then move slowly down. The tube jig body is plastic so give the crappie a little time to suck it down. The best thing about the tube jig is that if you miss you will often get another bite right away. When using minnows for bait, you miss your done.

When you locate a school of fish, start counting the line to the bottom. Slowly crank in your reel counting every turn until you get a hit. Now mark your line with a permanent magic marker , preferably a bright color. The reason you mark your line is so you can go right back to the same depth the next time you drop your line. Repeat this step until the crappie school moves.

When deploying traditional trolling methods, a zigzag or lazy-S trolling run allows you to cover the most water and keeps the lures from always being directly behind the boat. Toss out a floating structure marker when you get the first fish and troll around it. If you lose the school of crappie, keep in mind that they will likely head into the wind as opposed to go downwind.

Crappie rise to the bait their eyes are located on the top of their heads so the do not see anything below them. You must make sure your bait presentation is always above them.

The water temperature right after ice out will be very frigid. After a few bright warm sunny days the lakes ecosystem will start to come alive. Many crappies in the early spring will be found deep. These deep water spots typically will be the last spots the ice fisherman were having success. By using light jigs and minnows in these deep-water spots, chances are you will have good success. But if you are really looking for fast action think shallow water. Use 2-4 pound test line , always make sure your hook is tied on a loop, not tied tight on the hook itself. The hook needs to move freely to give the bait some play. Remember the more natural the bait looks the more fish you will catch.

One of the most successful ways to fish for Crappie in the Spring is to find shallows and flats with a lot of timber. Then take a lesson from Bass fishermen and "flip" for the crappie. I use a slightly stiffer rod and 10lb line for this because it will be necessary to "pull" Crappie out of the brush from time to time. I rig up a tube jig suspended below a sliding cork pegged in place. This allows you to change the dept of the jig without retying. I generally start at a 6 inch depth and work my way down if I'm not getting bites. I then use my trolling motor to easily glide along the heavy brush "flipping" my jig into any hole or along side stumps and logs. Be easy when pulling crappie out of the brush, they're not called Paper Mouths for nothing. And don't be surprised when that cork get's sucked under by a big Bass or Catfish!

As the water starts warming up, the insects will start hatching and small baitfish will move closer to shore looking to spawn and feed their self. When this happens, you can be that Mr. Crappie won't be far behind! The best thing about early season crappie fishing is that the best times of the day to be fishing is late afternoon and early evening when the weather is the nicest. The best early season lakes tend to be the more shallow and muddy bottom lakes. These heat up faster because the mud and darker colors absorb heat quicker than clear water.

If a lake has a deep weed edge and it’s early or late in the day, start trolling right up against the weed edge. If the crappie aren’t there or they stop biting after a while, they have probably moved out over open water or suspended over a underwater creek bank. They will generally suspend at the same level they were when along the weed edge or a few feet deeper. A trolling speed that produces the first crappie or two can be duplicated by noting the speed on a GPS unit or the setting on the electric motor. Flexible graphite tips allow the fish to take the bait and turn with it. This reduces the chance of the crappie tearing the hook out of their mouth.

If you don’t find Crappie along the weed line in Spring, move out a ways. Crappie will tend to hold a little shallower under lower light penetration conditions. During the middle of the day, you're most likely to find them at the first drop off away from the shallow spawning and feeding areas.

Adding sound works well in dark water or under very low-light conditions when fishing for Crappie. Some Crappie fishermen make a small hole in the top of his plastic float, inserts a few small shot and then seals the hole with epoxy. Other Fishermen use a slip-float rig and put a split shot a few inches below a slider float. With this setup, you’ll get the same gliding action that you’d get with a fixed float, but you'll get the little ticking sound each time the float hits the split shot.

Well, it's taken me a while to compile this list of Crappie fishing tips, I hope you've enjoyed them. If you have any Crappie fishing tips you like to share, just post them in the comment sections.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Crappie Fishing

Welcome to Crappie Fishing Tips!

This is the first post in what I hope to be a long successful blog about one of my favorite pastimes, crappie fishing!

There are lots of things crappies aren't. They aren't the hardest fighters. They aren't the most beautiful fish (although I think they beautiful when golden brown), they aren't the smartest fish nor are they the hardest to catch.

I'm not sure why I love Crappie so much, maybe because they are just a fun fish to catch!

There are scores of ways to catch Crappie. Most people fish for Crappie in the Spring time when they spawn. This is when you can literally fill the freezer with Crappie fillets! This is one of my favorite times as well. However I enjoy catching Crappie at other times of the year also, such as Summer, Fall and Winter.

It's these times that many people say Crappie are impossible to catch. I love proven these people wrong and I will be giving you some tips in the upcoming post that will show you how to catch Crappie year round. Crappie are a lot like other fish. They have to eat to live and they have to hide to keep from being eaten by bigger fish, like Flathead Catfish...another one of my personal favorites!

If you're just getting into fishing or Crappie fishing specifically, you won't need a lot of expensive gear. You can get outfitted very nice for under $100. This will include rod, reels, lures and accessories.

So stay tuned as I get ramped up to share some of my favorite Crappie fishing tips.

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