John's Journal...

Catching March and April Crappie with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave

Day 4: Listen to Crappie Every Day to Catch Them with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave

Editor’s Note: Jackie Wayne Van Cleave (731-431-9700) of Samburg, Tennessee, has every fisherman’s dream job. He’s a touring pro on the Crappie Master’s National Crappie Tournament Circuit, and he’s a crappie guide on Reelfoot Lake. When he’s not fishing tournaments or guiding crappie fishermen, he catches crappie for his table. Van Cleave gives us weekly reports on where the crappie are and how to catch them at almost any time of the year at Too, because he’s a tournament crappie fisherman, he can report on the newest and best techniques that are being developed to catch crappie at the highest level of crappie fishing.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewAs I’ve mentioned earlier this week, during the spring, I give my anglers the option of fishing with a rod, cork and jig; a jig pole and a jig; or spider-rigging for crappie. I can usually carry five anglers besides myself and fish using any one of these three tactics. When I’m spider-rigging, I sit in the middle chair in the front of the boat. I have a fisherman on my left and one on my right. I have two fishermen fishing off the front of the boat and two off the back of the boat. In the front of the boat, we’ll have eight poles out. My two anglers on the back of the boat will have four - six poles out, and my two anglers in middle of the boat will have four - six poles out.

The number-one question I’m always asked is, “How do you keep the lines from all those poles from getting tangled when you’re slow trolling?” The distance that we have each pole from the boat allows all of us to fish new water and not get tangled up, when we’re slow trolling. Remember, when we’re using this technique, the boat will be moving at less than one mph, sometime less than .5 mph. Moving at this speed, the jigs and/or minnows will stay right below the poles. So, we don’t have lines crossing or running in to each other.

I use Driftmaster pole holders ( I can use individual pole holders, or I can use racks of 4, 6, 8 or more pole holders. Keeping the poles in the pole holders until the anglers catch a crappie helps to prevent getting the lines tangled. The pole holders allow each angler to fish more than one rod at a time. We have chairs we can to mount for each angler in the bottom of the War Eagle boat. On the end of each line, we use Strike King ( jig heads and tube jigs. We also can tip the jigs with minnows or fish with only minnows. We let the crappie decide what type bait they’ll eat most readily and/or what color jig they prefer, on each day we fish. Often, the color jig that the crappie prefer changes two or three times during the day. Water temperature, cloud cover, no cloud cover, water clarity and time of day all play a role in what color jigs crappie will take. Each day when we are fishing, I let the crappie tell me whether they want minnows or jigs, or minnows and jigs. Also, the crappie tell me which color of jigs they want at certain times of the day. Listening to the crappie is real simple. You try a variety of different types of baits and different color jigs. The type baits and jig color you’re catching the most crappie on is the bait the crappie are telling you to use, if you want to catch them.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewFor instance, early in the morning before the sun really gets bright in the sky, we may fish black-and-chartreuse or pink-and-chartreuse jigs. Then as the day brightens up, I’ll use black-and-chartreuse jigs. I can tell an angler what color jigs the crappie bit the day before they go fishing, but I can’t tell them what color jigs the crappie will bite on the day they’re fishing. Every day we have to put out multiple jig colors, some poles with minnows and some poles with jigs and minnows.

For more crappie fishing tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks “Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall & Winter,” “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer,” “Catch Cold Water Crappie Now,” and “Reelfoot Lake: How to Fish for Crappie, Bass, Bluegills and Catfish & Hunt for Ducks” Click on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Jig Pole Fishing for Springtime Crappie with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave

Check back each day this week for more about Catching March and April Crappie with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave"

Day 1: Black Crappie Are on the Banks in March – Mid-April with Jackie Wayne Van Cleave
Day 2: When Black Crappie Go to Deep Water the White Crappie Move to Shallow Water with Jackie Wayne Van Cleave
Day 3: Fishing for Spring Crappie with Three Tactics and Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave
Day 4: Listen to Crappie Every Day to Catch Them with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave
Day 5: Jig Pole Fishing for Springtime Crappie with Guide Jackie Wayne Van Cleave

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Entry 762, Day 4