John's Journal...

Fish Bass Baits for Cold-Weather Crappie

Why Pony-Up to Cold-Weather Crappie with Danny Wiles

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: We’d had a week’s worth of rain during cold weather, the dams around the state had their flood gates open, and the water looked like a chocolate milkshake.I didn’t really want to fish for crappie in the dead of winter under these conditions. But my fishing partner Danny Wiles of Birmingham, Alabama, told me we would load our boat with crappie. When we Click to enlargearrived at the lake, four or five flood gates already had opened, making me more concerned about my safety than catching crappie. However, Wiles insisted that, “We need this fast water to find stacked-up wintertime crappie. We’ll catch plenty.”

We started off fishing the rip-rap right below the dam, casting Pony Head jigs that Wilesusually fished with for spotted bass in the rocks. “You see that big boulder jutting out from the bank?” Wiles asked.“Cast in front of it, and keep tension on your line to feel the jig as it falls. During flood-water conditions in cool weather, Click to enlargecrappie will move upstream to follow the baitfish that will feed there on the tremendous amounts of nutrients coming in with the water. Since crappie don’t like swiftwater, they’ll concentrate and feed in eddy holes behind major current breaks where the baitfish is holding.” Each time I’d cast to the rock, that Pony Head jig washed around it andClick to enlarge entered the eddy pool. Quickly I’d feel a solid hit on the line, my rod would bend, and my drag would slip. Because we fished with 6-pound-test line to get the bait down quickly, when I started fighting the crappie, the fish felt twice as big when it moved out into the current. I kept my rod tip high to allow the current to force the crappie close to the surface. Also my rod’s limber tip ensured that I wouldn’t tear too big a gash in the crappie’s mouth, yet it kept tension on the fish’s jaw while I reeled it to the boat.

Later Wiles motored out to the main part of the river about 200-yards below the flood gates and instructed, “Watch where I’m casting and cast there.” Wiles’ jig hit the water, and in less than 5 seconds, Wiles had a nice crappie on his line downstream. I made a cast right behind Wiles and also caught a big crappie. Wiles explained, “The crappie in the middle of the river are holding on a huge, underwater boulder. When that Pony Head jig sweeps by the boulder into the eddy behind the rock, the crappie holding there and feeding on the baitfish will spot it.” In about 4 hours of fishing the swiftest water I’d ever fished for crappie, we both had our limit of crappie, weighing from 1- to 2-1/2-pounds each, in some very-cold weather.

Tomorrow: How to Spinner Bait Crappie Up with Phillip Criss

Check back each day this week for more about "Fish Bass Baits for Cold-Weather Crappie"

Day 1: What Kind of Tackle Works – Jigging Spoons with Charlie Ingram
Day 2: Where Charlie Ingram Finds Cool-Weather Crappie
Day 3: How to Use the Jigging-Spoon Technique with Charlie Ingram
Day 4: Why Pony-Up to Cold-Weather Crappie with Danny Wiles
Day 5: How to Spinner Bait Crappie Up with Phillip Criss


Entry 497, Day 4