John's Journal...

The Five Best November and December Bass andCrappie Hot Spots with Kevin VanDam and Ronnie Capps

Table Rock Lake in Missouri for Bass and Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake and Grand Lake in Oklahoma for Crappie

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Although water and weather temperatures are cooling down, don’t put away your rod and reel just yet. There are plenty of big bass and fat crappie to be caught in November and December. To find out where to catch the biggest and the most bass and crappie this month, we asked two of the best professional fisherman in the industry – Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, four-time BASS Angler-of-the-Year and two-time Bassmaster Classic winner, and Ronnie Capps of Tiptonville, Tennessee, who, along with his partner, is co-winner of more than $1.4 million earned catching crappie, as well as co-winner of the 2009 Crappie USA South Region Regional Event – to name their favorites. VanDam has proven that he’s one of the best bass fishermen in the nation, and with his tournament wins so far in 2009, Click to enlargeVanDam has 15 victories on the BASS Elite Series and is approaching $3.5 million in bass career earnings. For more than 15 years, the team of Capps and Coleman has crappie fished all over the country at various times of the year. They’re the most-winning crappie team in the nation. Here are Capps’ picks for best crappie lakes in the nation for November and December. Today, VanDam and Capps will discuss their favorite lakes in Tennessee, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Capps’ Picks for Crappie:
Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee – Anytime after the first frost, the crappie bite turns-on at Reelfoot. Reelfoot Lake was created when an earthquake left a gigantic hole in the ground and all the timber on the land fell into the hole. After the earthquake, the Mississippi River ran backwards, filling-up the lake. Now the lake is full of trees and stumpClick to enlarges, which is ideal habitat for crappie. The water level doesn’t seem to fluctuate. My partner, Steve Coleman, and I will be slow trolling (often called spider rigging) for the crappie at this time of year, using B’n’M minnow rigs with two hooks and a weight. I’ll have out eight, 14-foot, three-section B’n’M Capps & Coleman Series Trolling rods, rigged with a 2 1/2-inch minnow. As the water cools-down, I prefer to fish the bigger minnows because that’s generally the size of the younger shad. I’ll be slow trolling over 12 to 15 feet of water. I’ve caught the crappie as shallow as 5-feet deep. I start slow trolling my minnows about 1 foot off the bottom and then I raise my minnows until I locate the depth at which the crappie are holding. Generally as the sun rises, the crappie move closer to the surface. Crappie will weigh about 8 ounces to 1- or 1-1/2-pounds each, and you can catch 2 pounders.

Grand Lake in Oklahoma near Muskogee, Oklahoma – To catch the crappie at Grand Lake, fish the main river channel of the grand river and the deep side of the underwater river ledge just like you’d fish Neely Henry in Alabama at this time of year. The crappie I’ll catch will weigh from 3/4- to 1-1/2-poundClick to enlarges each.

VanDam’s Choice for Bass:
Table Rock Lake in Missouri – As the water temperature starts to cool down, the bass in this lake will be moving toward their winter pattern. This lake has a tremendous spinner-bait bite, and that’s why I like it. Too, this lake homes big largemouths, smallmouths and spotted bass, and if you make three-different casts, you can catch a different species on each cast.

I prefer a 1/2-ounce willowleaf spinner bait in the Sexy Shad color because the bass are really keying-on shad at this time of year. I’ll primarily be fishing the main lake points that have wind blowing into them using 17-pound-test line. I’ll expect to catch 3- to 5-pound bass, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to catch a 7- to a 10-pound largemouth there.

To learn more about Ronnie Capps or to book a fishing trip with him visit

To learn more about 2009 Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam, visit

Tomorrow: Mississippi’s Grenada Lake and Sardis Lake for Winter Crappie

Check back each day this week for more about "The Five Best November and December Bass and Crappie Hot Spots with Kevin VanDam and Ronnie Capps"

Day 1: Texas and California – Falcon Lake, Lake Fork and the California Delta with Kevin VanDam
Day 2: Alabama – Lake Guntersville and Neely Henry for Wintertime Crappie
Day 3: Florida – The Kissimmee Chain for Cool-Weather Bass and Lake Harris for Crappie
Day 4: Table Rock Lake in Missouri for Bass and Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake and Grand Lake in Oklahoma for Crappie
Day 5: Mississippi’s Grenada Lake and Sardis Lake for Winter Crappie


Entry 535, Day 4