John's Journal...

Secrets to Shallow Water Crappie by John E. Phillips

Day 3: How to Duck-Hunt Crappie and Catch Crappie in Isolated Areas

Editor’s Note: All crappie anglers know that during the spring, crappie move into shallow-water bays to spawn. Spawning activity generally takes place in extremely-shallow bays and creeks with plenty of brush in them. However, most crappie fishermen fish these regions from boats and fish the outer edges of the cover – usually the deepest part of the water.

Click for Larger ViewRarely will you see a duck hunter without a pair of waders. Duck hunters have to get out in shallow water to reach their blinds and often to pick-up their ducks, especially if they duck hunt in green-tree reservoirs off main-river systems or in the backs of pockets and creeks where they can’t use boats. You’ll find big, springtime crappie that no one else fishes for in these same green-tree reservoirs, shallow-water sloughs and bays where duck hunters hunt. Put on a pair of waders, carry a stringer to string your fish, place a small tackle box in your shirt pocket, and fish with a lightweight B’n’M jig pole. Click for Larger ViewThen, you can fish-around trees standing in the water, stumps, grass and brush in the same places where duck hunters hunt and crappie fishermen seldom fish. To pinpoint these duck-hunting crappie hot spots, talk to hunters, or go-out during duck season, and look for duck hunters. Where you see duck hunters in the wintertime, you’ll often discover big crappie in the spring.

On another springtime crappie-fishing trip, I fished some sloughs and creeks off a main river system. Although I’d found a few crappie, I hadn’t caught a bonanza of crappie. Then finally, late in the afternoon, I discovered a large brush pile that extended about 10-yards wide and 10-yards long both under and out of the water in the middle of a big slough. Apparently two trees had fallen over, and their tops lay one on top of the other out in the middle of this shallow-water bay, which had no other cover within 300 yards in any direction. I decided to test this isolated spot. Before my minnow fell even 2-inches under the surface, I had a slab attack. In 10 minutes, I’d fished with and used every minnow in my bucket, even recycling a couple of not-quite-dead minnows to take crappie. Click for Larger ViewSoon, the crappie still kept hitting, but I didn’t have any bait left. I couldn’t think of anything more frustrating than finding crappie, catching numbers of crappie and then running out of bait.

Digging through my small tackle box, I located a small pack of 1/32-ounce chartreuse-and-yellow grubs. Up until that time, I’d never fished with a jig pole much. However, in my desperation, I knew I had nothing but jigs to fish with for those anxious-to-bite crappie. I tied-on a jig, shortened the line on the tip of my pole to about 2 feet and swam the tiny jig next to the brush. I hadn’t had the jig in the water more than a second before I felt a heavy thump on the line. Click for Larger ViewI set the hook, the pole bent like a wet noodle, and I slid a nice-sized crappie across the top of the water and into my waiting dip net as it came to the surface. Again and again, I returned the jig to the brush pile and never came away disappointed. For some reason, in that location, on that day, the crappie had stacked-up in that shallow-water brush pile like cordwood. As night fell, the crappie stopped biting. But I’d caught and culled enough crappie that I had a limit of speckled sides that weighed from 1-1/2- to 2-1/2-pounds each in my cooler.

Tomorrow: John Holley Explains How to Take Big Crappie with Brute Force


Check back each day this week for more about "Secrets to Shallow Water Crappie by John E. Phillips "

Day 1: How Joe’s Champion’s Crappie Technique Beats the Boat Fisherman
Day 2: Locate Warm Water Discharges to Catch Crappie in Shallow Water
Day 3: How to Duck-Hunt Crappie and Catch Crappie in Isolated Areas
Day 4: John Holley Explains How to Take Big Crappie with Brute Force
Day 5: John Powell on How to Fish When a Cold Front Affects Shallow-Water Crappie

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Entry 607, Day 3